Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Don't Stop Believing

The career of George Ellery Hale was one of the most remarkable in all of science. His unrelenting drive and determination brought forth the world's largest telescope four times. First at the Yerkes Observatory where the 40" refractor was completed in 1897.

Hale then moved on and in 1904 founded the Mt. Wilson Observatory. There the first modern research telescope, the 60 ", was completed in 1908. It was followed up by the 100-inch Hooker Telescope, completed in 1917. Edwin Hubble used the 100" to discover the true nature of the "spiral nebulae" (galaxies) and the expansion of the universe.

Again Hale moved on to a bigger project. In 1928 he secured a six million dollar grant to build what would become the Palomar Observatory.

The Palomar story is brilliantly chronicled in the book The Perfect Machine by author Ronald Florence. The book has inspired a TV documentary called The Journey to Palomar, which follows Hale's remarkable path.
TV viewers will have to wait until after the November elections to see The Journey to Palomar on PBS, however a special advance-screening will be held at the University Club of Pasadena on Saturday February 23, 2008.

The event and screening of the film is to help offset broadcast costs for this PBS Special. To sweeten the offer, some valuable extras are included for those who attend, such as dinner and a preview of one of the next giant telescopes on the horizon ($150 donation). The $250 donation level includes the same plus some pretty amazing stuff: a rare tour of the Hale Solar Lab, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Mt. Wilson 100-inch and viewing through the Mt. Wilson 60-inch.

A discount on those rates is being offered for astronomy club members. Those who sign up at the $250 level will get a $75 discount. At the $150 levels, astronomy club members will receive a $25 discount. Plus, all donations are tax deductible.

Full information on the sneak preview and the extras are detailed here, but to get your discount you should call the filmmakers at 310-313-6005.

I highly recommend both the book and the documentary.

1 comment:

Edward said...

I fully agree. G.E. Hale was quite the remarkable person, and his life story is an interesting one.

Over the past years of working as a Docent at Palomar, I have had the pleasure to learn the history of the man that made it possible for scientists and himself to continue unlocking the mysteries of the Universe.

To those of you who have not read The Perfect Machine, I highly recommend it. The history is nothing short of fascinating.

The Journey to Palomar is a wonderful documentary. I also highly recommend it to anyone that has an interest in Astronomy and/or History. Personally I have seen it twice. Once at the Hale Solar Lab in Pasadena, and the second time at the Temecula Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award for Best Documentary.