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You Can Get There From Here

Sunday, July 8, 2007

What will your family probably use this summer on vacation that also was used by Zheng Ho, a famous Chinese explorer in the 1400s?

Answer: a map!

National Geographic Maps: Tools for Adventure is a fun, interactive exhibit about how maps have changed the way we explore our world. The exhibit includes a musical map of Disneyland from 1955, the year the California amusement park opened. (It's important to know how to get from, say, Sleeping Beauty Castle to the spinning teacups.) There's also a chart used to plot the path of the Apollo 13 command module as it returned to Earth in 1970.

Best of all, visitors see how maps can be used. Climb into a Hawaiian canoe and try to navigate by using only the night sky as your guide. Use terrain maps to help steer a Mars rover across the Red Planet. Or, on a huge magnetic wall map, plot places where you have been or want to go. You'll never look at a map the same way again.

National Geographic Maps runs through July 29 at Explorers Hall, 17th and M streets in Northwest. The free exhibit is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For information, call 202-857-7588 or go to http://www.nationalgeographic.com/museum.

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