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StarDate 4/22/2014: 50-Year Anniversary Of ‘Space Fair’

by Damond Benningfield
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The Unisphere at the World's Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, New York. (Ron White)

The Unisphere at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, New York. (Ron White)

FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS McDONALD OBSERVATORY, AS HEARD ON KCBS RADIO WEEKDAYS @ 9:52 A.M., 7:35 P.M. & 2:52 A.M

STARDATE 04/22/2014: The 1964 World’s Fair in Queens, New York, was all about the future. It opened 50 years ago today, offering visitors a chance to see TV phones, a computer that could read handwriting, and a futuristic new sports car: the Ford Mustang.

Mostly, though, the fair was about the Space Age. Fountains and courtyards were named for the astronauts, the planets, and the universe, and many pavilions offered space exhibits.

The transportation and travel pavilion was crowned by an 80-foot dome that was an accurate map of the lunar surface. And inside, visitors saw “Beyond the Moon,” a Cinerama movie projected on the dome itself.

A rocket park displayed a real Mercury capsule and replicas of the Apollo Moon ship, probes to Mars and Venus, and the rockets to get them there.

The fair’s centerpiece was the Unisphere, a 350-ton open-framework globe made of stainless steel. Three rings around the globe represented the orbits of early spacecraft.

Most of the structures from the fair are gone. But the Unisphere was refurbished 20 years ago. Of course, it was then promptly smashed in “Men in Black” by a flying saucer disguised as an observation tower — one more relic of the early Space Age at the World’s Fair.

Copyright ©2014 The University of Texas McDonald Observatory

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