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MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

AeroAstro Magazine Highlight

The following appears in the 2008–2009 issue of AeroAstro, the annual report/magazine of the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department. © 2009 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Boston Pops

A space trip of the imagination

Boston Pops

On October 29, 1918, an intimate group of 250 people gathered in London’s cavernous Queen’s Hall to hear British composer Gustav Holst premier his seven-movement orchestral suite, “The Planets.”

More than 90 years later, in Boston’s Symphony Hall, a group eight times that size was treated to the composer’s sonAldrin at Popsic tour of the solar system — narrated by Apollo astronaut and Aero- Astro alumnus Buzz Aldrin. The event was sponsored by MIT as part of the Giant Leaps Apollo Program 40th anniversary celebration. The packed house of 2,000 comprised invited luminaries; MIT faculty, staff, students, and their guests; and 200 local children invited by AeroAstro for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of taking a journey of the imagination lead by one of history’s most famous explorers.

While a video trip through space and time by Dr. José Francisco Salgado of Chicago’s Adler Planetarium played on a giant screen, Aldrin lent both depth and drama to movements from the crashing and vibrant “Mars: The Bringer of War” to the ethereal, distant and murky wash of “Neptune.” As the second of only 12 people who have walked the lunar surface, Buzz spoke with unique perspective on what he sees in the night sky: indeed he was the perfect guide to lead listeners, through words, music, and images, to the edge of their celestial neighborhood. The Boston Pops performance continued with popular favorites for all the aerospace fans in the audience, including the themes from “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and a “moon-tune sing-a-long” that had the entire audience standing and singing. The Boston Children’s Chorus then came to the stage to sing John Lennon’s “Imagine” as many in the audience waved blue lightsticks. The evening concluded in classic Pops style with “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

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