Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Palomar's Star in Hollywood

In the Palomar Observatory gift shop we sell a coffee mug with the photo of a globular cluster on it and the words:

Palomar Observatory - More Stars than Hollywood

Yet there is one person from the movie business who has a star on the Hollywood's Walk of Fame and is pretty famous in the astronomical world too. That person is Mark Serrurier. For those in the telescope business, Mark Serrurier is well known for his invention that is commonly called the "Serrurier truss".

The open framework that makes up the "tube" of the Hale Telescope was the first application of Mark Serrurier's truss and it has been used on a great many telescopes since. The Serrurier truss was invented for the 200-inch telescope to solve the problem of bending or flexing steel. The telescope is so large that the steel beams it is constructed of bend under gravity. Serrurier's remarkable truss allows for this but still keeps the telescope's optical elements in perfect alignment and focus.

Serrurier did this design work for Palomar in the 1930s a few years after his father invented the Moviola, a tool for editing movies. After World War II he returned to the family business of editing movies and greatly improved his father's invention. It obviously worked out well for him because in 1979 he accepted a special Academy Award for Technical Achievement.

If you are looking for Mark Serrurier's star you can find it at 6667 Hollywood Blvd. If you can't make the trip to see it for yourself, here is how it looked when I visited it earlier this month:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I happened to be researching Mark Serrurier for an essay I am writing for school and came accross your recent blog regarding his work on the Hale telescope and other accomplishments--they were many. How nice to see a picture of the star at last! Mark Serrurier was my great uncle, and I have never seen the star, although I was raised in Pasadena and San Diego. He was a wonderful and talented man and it was nice to see your recent tribute. You also have a very nice and informative website!