Saturday, September 20, 2008

Palomar in Science Fiction - I

Thanks to Palomar Skies reader George S. for pointing out to me that the Palomar Observatory was featured in Rocketship X-M, a SciFi movie from 1950. The movie stars a very young looking Lloyd Bridges as one of the pilot of the rocket. Hugh O'Brian who plays Harry Chamberlain - an astronomer of the Mt. Wilson and Palomar Observatories.

In the film a crew of five takes off on the first voyage into space with the Moon as their destination. Somehow they end up off course and make it to Mars. Curiously enough as the rocketship decends to Mars the landscape does bear a resemlance to the real Red Planet. Craters and a dry riverbed can be seen.

Of course any hint of the real Mars is blown away as the intrepid explorers are greeted by a thunderstorm as they touchdown on the Martian surface.

Here is a video clip of the Palomar 200-inch telescope in Rocketship X-M.


The Palomar Observatory has appeared in other science fiction movies (and in novels too!). I'll post some clips from other movies in the near future, but if you know of any science fiction films that show the observatory please send me an email or post them in the comments. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

The Hale Telescope was also featured in When Worlds Collide, the 1951 SF film by George Pal.

You can see it in one still here:

Scott Kardel said...

Thanks, Anonymous! That one was on my list already, but I very much appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

You are welcome - and I suppose you might count the Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs is sent on a rocket to Mars and later encounters an observatory that looks a lot like Hale Observatory,
except that the astronomer present is using the telescope like a refractor.