Saturday, October 17, 2009

Palomar in Science Fiction - Adventures of Superman

I was pretty excited when I first read that an episode of the 1950s TV series Adventures of Superman featured Palomar Observatory. Alas, there was no on-location filming here, but there is a bit of stock footage of the exterior of the Hale Telescope's dome that appears multiple times in the 1953 episode "Panic in the Sky".

It is a pretty good episode. A five-mile wide asteroid is threatening Metropolis (presumably the rest of the planet too) and Superman is the only one who can do something about it.

Here is the Palomar dome as it appears in the show:

The telescope inside is less than impressive when compared to the 200":

There are two things that I really like about this episode. After the astronomer makes his observations, he says that Superman's eyes would probably do a better job than the telescope. If so, then why has Superman been withholding his supervision from astronomical research for all these years?

The real gem is this:

Superman: It's stopped moving now.
Professor: You can't see it move because now it is heading straight toward us.
Superman: Straight? Straight toward Metropolis?!
Professor: [nods]
Superman: Excuse me professor. I've got a date in outer space.

The professor warns that the unknown composition of the asteroid may endanger Superman. I will leave it up to you to watch the episode to see what happens. You can buy the episode directly from iTunes and full seasons of the show are available on DVD.


Anonymous said...

Have you seen the 1954 SF flick Riders to the Stars?

It has lots of stock footage, including some glorious color shots of V-2 being prepared at White Sands, NM.

But what you will really care about are the stock images of Hale Observatory, which bear a strong resemblance to the still you have for this Superman thread.

Just FYI. The FX in Riders are bad, even by 1950s standards. But the stock footage is great!

Scott Kardel said...

Yes! I featured Riders to the Stars on this blog just over a year ago!

Right here.