At The Hamptons Observatory: May 2023

DATE:                         Thursday, May 18, 2023

TIME:                         7:00 – 8:00 PM

TITLE:                        “Space Craze: Exploring Space History & Science Fiction Through Artifacts”

PRESENTER:            Dr. Margaret Weitekamp, Space History Department Chair, Smithsonian

CO-HOST:                  Southampton Arts Center

ADDRESS:                 Online via Zoom

ADMISSION:             Free (but donations appreciated)



Dr. Margaret Weitekamp. Photo by Dane A. Penland, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Hamptons Observatory (HO) is pleased to partner with the Southampton Arts Center to present a free, virtual lecture by Dr. Margaret Weitekamp, the Chairperson and Director of the Space History Department at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The lecture is entitled, “Space Craze: Exploring Space History and Science Fiction Through Artifacts.”

“We’ve grown up in an exciting era where science fiction about space and its exploration has become a reality. Hamptons Observatory is honored to host Dr. Weitekamp who is a leading expert on our fascination with space, its history and how it’s reflected in our culture through the memorabilia we create and collect. I’m personally looking forward to Dr. Weitekamp’s presentation as it will be the next best thing to going to the Smithsonian for a private curator tour of its amazing collection. We are also pleased that the Southampton Arts Center, one of Long Island’s distinguished cultural institutions, is partnering with us to present this exceptional program,” said Donna L. McCormick, Hamptons Observatory’s Executive Director.

Christina Mossaides Strassfield, the Executive Director of the Southampton Arts Center, said, “We are delighted to collaborate with the Hamptons Observatory on this event. Growing up watching science fiction space-centered television programs such as ‘Lost in Space,’ ‘Star Trek,’ and all its later incarnations, I was keenly aware of its influence on the art and cultural references of generations of people, especially artists, for the following decades.”

– about the lecture –

In this special evening, you’ll experience a space historian’s tour through the history of spaceflight and space science fiction, as demonstrated through the Smithsonian’s collection of space and science fiction memorabilia. Dr. Weitekamp’s talk will be based on her new book, Space Craze (Smithsonian Books, 2022). Spanning from the 1929 debut of the futuristic Buck Rogers to present-day privatization of spaceflight, Space Craze celebrates America’s endless enthusiasm for space exploration. Featuring historical milestones in space exploration, films and TV shows, literature and comic strips, toys and games, and internet communities, Space Craze is a sci-fi lover’s dream. In her lecture, Dr. Weitekamp will also discuss how spaceflight, both real and imagined, has served as the nexus where contemporary American concerns, such as race, gender, sexuality, freedom, and national identity, have been explored and redefined.

This virtual presentation will begin at 7:00 PM on Thursday, May 18, 2023.

Admission is free but reservations are required:

more about Dr. Margaret Weitekamp –

Dr. Margaret A. Weitekamp serves as chair for the Space History Department at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and curates the Museum’s social and cultural history of spaceflight collection of more than 5,000 artifacts. Her book, Space Craze: America’s Enduring Fascination with Real and Imagined Spaceflight, is based on that work. She co-authored the 2023 edition of Spaceships: An Illustrated History of the Real and Imagined, authored numerous scholarly articles, as well as Right Stuff, Wrong Sex: America’s First Women in Space Program, and the award-winning children’s picture book, Pluto’s Secret: An Icy World’s Tale of Discovery. Weitekamp earned her PhD in history from Cornell University. During her graduate work, she was a Mellon fellow in the humanities and spent a year in residence at the NASA Headquarters History Office in Washington, D.C. as the American Historical Association / NASA Aerospace History Fellow. Before joining the Smithsonian, Weitekamp taught in the Women’s Studies Program at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Hamptons Observatory extends its deepest thanks to Dr. Weitekamp for generously taking the time to share her expertise and to co-host Southampton Arts Center for partnering with us on this special event.

– about Hamptons Observatory –

Hamptons Observatory (HO), a 501(c)(3) NYS nonprofit that relies on public support, has served the community since 2005. Its mission: to foster interest in science, particularly astronomy, through educational programs. Lectures, star parties, portable planetarium shows and other events are held, often in collaboration with other nonprofit organizations. Hamptons Observatory offers all of its programs free-of-charge (although donations are greatly appreciated) so that everyone can learn about and enjoy the universe around them. To join our email list for news and event notices, please email To make a tax-deductible donation to support our mission, please visit and click on Support Us. Thanks!