Sputnikfest 2014


Rahr-West Art Museum - click HERE for more info!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The space debris that fell to Earth in Manitowoc, Wisconsin fifty years ago this month was from Sputnik IV.  There were three Sputnik's before this one - and many after.  Over the next few weeks we will take a brief look at the first four Sputniks. 

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite in history from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.  The lauch took place on a Monday - the day being dubbed "Red Monday" in the popular press - and is generally accepted to mark the beginning of the Space Age.

Sputnik I was more than twice the size of a basketball, a silvery sphere, polished to a high sheen to aid in telescope tracking.  This is the shiny ball with four trailing antennas design that most of us will think of when we hear the word "Sputnik."  This iconic design is incorporated into the Sputnikfest logo and has been memorialized on one of Tina Kugler's popular annual Sputnikfest posters.

In a world in the grip of the cold war, during a time when the Soviet Union and the United States stared each other down with the implied threat of mutual mass destruction, Sputnik altered the nature and scope of the cold war.  Sputnik I contained two radio transmitters, which sent back the “beep-beep-beep” heard round the world.   Click here for a short podcast from NASA featuring audio of the "Beep Heard 'Round the World."

Sputnik I remained in orbit just three months.  Its orbit decayed and it burned up on re-entry into Earth's atmosphere on January 4, 1958.  Planet Terry

Sunday, June 17, 2012

While mysterious things have been seen in the skies throughout history, the modern-day UFO craze can be traced to 1947 and the well-known incident at Roswell, New Mexico.  The term “flying saucer” was coined in 1947 in relation to that wave of sightings.  The term “UFO” was first used during 1952, a year that saw another wave of  sightings. UFO sightings seem to be cyclical in nature and with so many people looking skyward during the Sputnik years, the increase in UFO sightings may have been inevitable.  True Believers were convinced the increase in sightings meant the flying saucer occupants were taking note of mankind’s first tentative steps into the cosmos.  One of the more sought-after souivenirs at each year's Sputnikfest are the inflatable Sputnikfest Aliens available for purchase in various colors.  So - for those of you who "Want To Believe" - continue to watch the skies - or, better yet - join us at Sputnikfest this year and just take a look around.  You never know what you might see.  Planet Terry

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sputnikfest - It's Like Crazy, Man! 
Sputnik 1 went into orbit one month after the publication of On the Road, Jack Kerouac’s stream-of-consciousness autobiographical novel that defined the post-war Beat Generation. Within six months of the launch, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen came up with what has been called one of the most successful “intentionally coined” slang terms in the English language – “beatnik.”  The term described an anti-materialistic literary movement characterized by men with goatees, wearing loose-fitting hooped t-shirts, berets, and sunglasses, who played bongos and recited poetry (these were the "hip cats") – and women who wore black leotards and wore their hair straight and long (the "cool chicks").  The movement struck a chord in a post-Sputnik America suffering the humiliation of losing the first round of the Space Race to the Soviet Union.  This is an open call to all you hip cats and cool chicks to share one "crazy" event with us in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.  See you at Sputnikfest - September 8, 2012!  Planet Terry

Friday, June 1, 2012

You may remember the scene from the movie “Signs” where the characters put on aluminum foil hats so the aliens can’t read their minds.  Aluminum foil hats have long been associated with paranoid conspiracy theorists – worn, supposedly, to block signals from outer space or government mind-control rays.  The effectiveness of an aluminum foil hat in blocking certain types of radio signals has actually been studied by some engineering students at MIT, who found their utility to be a bit questionable.  In fact, the study concluded that an aluminum foil hat may actually amplify certain frequencies!  If you are really serious about blocking those mind control rays – why stop at just a hat?  Why not a complete aluminum foil suit?  You can perfect your aluminum foil wardrobe and compete with others for prizes at the annual Sputnikfest Aluminum Foil Costume Contest!  So many of the activities at Sputnikfest are completely free – and this is one of them.  All you have to do is show up and register!  When you register, you get: 10 yards of aluminum foil, some colored tape, a few Sputnikfest decals, and a coat hanger.  Using only those materials, you fashion your most creative aluminum foil costume.  Judging takes place three hours after registration opens – so the sooner you register and get your materials, the more time you have to work on your costume.  Pictured on the right is one creative contestant from a previous Sputnikfest.  So – put your thinking caps on (foil, of course) and start thinking of what you could create with thirty feet of aluminum foil.  You could win valuable prizes – while blocking government mind-control rays at the same time!  See you on September 8.  Planet Terry