NASA Student Launch team in Balboa Park!

Participants in the NASA Student Launch rocket project were greeting visitors to Balboa Park today!

The NASA Student Launch Initiative is a competitive, experimental challenge where student teams design, build and launch rockets, then analyze the results.

The challenge for 2023 is to design a rocket that will reach 5000 feet. The rocket must autonomously receive NASA’s radio frequency transmissions, commanding a maneuverable camera.

The students also get to meet NASA engineers to present their findings!

Team Hydra, from MATHmania Robotics, with members from around Southern California, were in Balboa Park demonstrating how the rockets they’ve designed work. Why? Participants in NASA Student Launch are also tasked with STEM education.

Kids passing by were instantly drawn to the big rockets and were eager to learn all about them!

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Exhibit celebrates San Diego aviation pioneer.

Did you know the world’s first ever controlled glider flight took place in Otay Mesa? This important late 19th century breakthrough, which preceded the invention of motorized airplanes, was the achievement of John J. Montgomery.

There’s an exhibit at the San Diego Air and Space Museum that explores the life of Montgomery and his important contributions to aviation history. Photographs, ephemera, rare documents and a video tell his story. I noticed the display today when I visited the museum in Balboa Park.

I immediately took interest because I have visited the impressive monument to Montgomery’s first controlled heavier-than-air flight. It stands upon a hilltop south of Chula Vista in West Otay Mesa. A couple years ago I blogged about the Montgomery Memorial and posted information and photographs here.

One thing I was surprised to learn while watching the exhibit’s video is that a movie was made in 1946 about John J. Montgomery’s history-making flight. It’s titled Gallant Journey and stars Glenn Ford!

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I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Drop hammer in Chula Vista park recalls history.

Those who visit Bay Boulevard Park in Chula Vista can’t miss it: a 12-foot tall steel contraption with the word ROHR written boldly upon it.

This relic from the past is a drop hammer. These innovative, gravity-powered metal presses were utilized by Rohr Aircraft Corporation in Chula Vista to mass produce aluminum airplane parts.

Frederick H. Rohr, who owned a sheet metal shop in San Diego in the 1920s, helped to create the fuel tanks for Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis. He later invented the drop hammer. In 1940 he founded Rohr Aircraft Corporation with the help of Reuben H. Fleet (who in 1961 would found the San Diego Air and Space Museum).

Rohr Aircraft Corporation would begin in Fred Rohr’s backyard, before operations moved into the San Diego wholesale district near the Western Metals Company, then finally in 1941 to its building in Chula Vista. Rohr’s drop hammers would be instrumental in producing the many aircraft that helped the Allies win World War II.

Today the public can see a bit of Chula Vista’s history when they regard the drop hammer in one corner of Bay Boulevard Park. Appropriately, it now stands footsteps from the location of the old Rohr factory buildings.

For the history of Rohr in Chula Vista, check out this website. For a collection of Rohr employee memories, click here. To see a loudly clanging drop hammer in action, click here!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

The brilliant Stellarium: 100 light-years across!

Do you know the friendly gentleman who plays the didgeridoo in Balboa Park? That’s Mitchell Walker.

He loves astronomy. He’s super creative. He never stops dreaming. That’s how he managed to shrink a volume of space 100 light-years across and fit it inside a plexiglass cube!

Mitchell’s one-of-a-kind, incredible Stellarium shows all of the stars within 50 light-years of the sun, placed in their correct spatial positions. That makes 166 stars in our stellar neighborhood. (Mitchell is now playfully calling his unique cube SITH–Stars in the ‘Hood!)

The colors of his tiny illuminated stars are based on spectral classification: the Morgan-Keenan system. Press a button and you hear a recording made by Mitchell describing his Stellarium.

I first blogged about The Great Stellarium Project over three years ago. You can see a smiling Mitchell and learn more about his brilliant creation here.

Since then modifications have been made to the Stellarium, including a visible ultraviolet light.

Today I heard that more improvements are coming!

During Stars in the Park this evening, Mitchell showed me his detailed plan to have each star light up individually with a touch of a button. That way the position of a particular star can be seen in relation to others and to our sun.

Mitchell starts with a dream. Then he makes it come true.

What are your dreams?

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Playing with design at the Mingei!

A super fun and enjoyable exhibit is now on display at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park!

Toying with Design intentionally coincides with San Diego Design Week 2022, which concludes today. Fortunately, however, this very unique exhibit will continue on until February 2023.

So what will visitors to one corner of the Mingei’s upstairs gallery see? Lots of clever designs! Including all sorts of inspired designs that make common functional household items as playful as toys!

I particularly enjoyed how ordinary kitchen utensils were creatively infused with surprising humor!

Check it out!

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Makers, dreamers, inventors come together in San Diego!

After a long pause during the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Diego Makers Guild is looking to reenergize. Innovators and fun-loving creators are welcome to join!

I stumbled upon the San Diego Makers Guild tent at the Escondido Street Festival today. They are seeking cool new ideas and pathways to follow as makers move into a technology driven, ever evolving future. Interested? Hook up with them!

I was surprised to hear Dexter explain he’d helped build those awesome Cupcake Cars that have roamed around Balboa Park during past Maker Faires!

You can learn more about the San Diego Makers Guild by visiting their website here!

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Will this be your futuristic “wearable” car in 2050?

A futuristic car–a new form of wearable machine–is presently on display at the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park.

The Nissan GT-R 2050 is a full-size prototype made at Nissan Design America, San Diego. It was designed by student intern Jaebum “JB” Choi to be an autonomous, human-connected vehicle of the far future!

According to the Nissan website, The completed project runs just under 10 feet long and sits just over two feet high. The single occupant, the driver, rests horizontally in a “prone” position with limbs extended in an X-shape. The driver wears a futuristic, form-fitting suit and helmet that resembles a superbike riders’ protective helmets and leathers.

Does it come with a Bat Cave, too?

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Ben Franklin and Thomas Edison in North Park!

What in the world are Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison doing in North Park?

They’re decorating the exterior of the very unique San Diego Gas & Electric Company’s Substation F!

I happened to look up and see the two historical figures as I walked along the El Cajon Boulevard sidewalk just east of Iowa Street.

These gentleman made groundbreaking discoveries and inventions that remain important in our electricity dependent world. Both esteemed men, in North Park, are busts made of cast stone!

Learn more about SDG&E’s beautifully restored Station F, originally built in 1926, at this web page.

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Star III submersible outside Birch Aquarium.

Should you walk from the parking lot by Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to the popular attraction’s entrance, you’ll see what looks like a small submarine. On its side is written Star III.

Star III is actually a submersible that was used for undersea studies back in the mid-20th century.

I looked at the cool little marvel of technology and wondered about its history.

A nearby sign provides interesting information concerning the submersible, which was built by General Dynamics.

When I got home, I found a book published in 1968 by the Naval Oceanographic Office titled Undersea Studies With the Deep Research Vehicle Star III which you can preview here. It concerns a series of 21 dives off Key West Florida in March 1967…to evaluate the Star III system as a platform from which to conduct underwater photogrammetric and various surveying tasks.

I also found the following old public domain photograph of Star III suspended above the water from a seagoing vessel.

Launched in 1966, Star III was capable of carrying a two-person crew and as much as 1,000 pounds of scientific equipment to a depth of 2,000 feet. The sub and its occupants could remain underwater for up to 120 hours…

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World’s longest running IMAX film projector!

The world’s longest running IMAX film projector is on display in San Diego’s Balboa Park. That’s because this venerable old projector operated for 48 years at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center!

Tonight I headed over to the Fleet Science Center to watch The Sky Tonight, a once-a-month astronomy presentation on the giant space-like IMAX dome. As I waited in the theater lobby for the show to begin seating, I noticed the historic projector on display to one side, behind an open curtain.

A gentleman briefly explained the projector’s history. The very durable, then state-of-the-art projector was originally installed in 1973. It was the second IMAX projector made. Apparently nobody knows what became of the first!

When I got home, I found this link to a great article concerning the projector, and its replacement last year with a new, improved IMAX Laser digital video projector.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!