Palomar Observatory About to Get a Whole Lot of National Attention


Mark your calendars for November 10th. That’s the day PBS will premier The Journey to Palomar – America’s First Journey into Space. The documentary chronicles one of science’s greatest achievements – the development of the 200 inch Hale Telescope, which took its first photograph in 1949. As I mentioned in a post last month, the Hale Telescope took the clearest outer space pictures ever, of any ground or space spaced telescope, in 2007. Its ability to operate in such an impeccable manner over several decades demonstrates the level of precision and foresight exhibited by George Hale and all those who took part in the development of the telescope.

The Journey to Palomar is based on the book The Perfect Machine: Building the Palomar Telescope by Ronald Florence. You will learn how the giant mirror for the telescope provided a ray of excitement during the Great Depression. As it was transported across the country from the Corning glass factory in New York to Southern California, thousands of spectators came out to the tracks to cheer it along its journey.

Although it is in a remote location of our county, make plans to pay it a visit some day and appreciate the significance of one of our nation’s greatest science marvels here in our own backyard. Check out my previous post to learn about the different programs available for visitors.

If you are a student or amateur astronomer, check out this “once in a lifetime” opportunity being presented through a Live NASA Webcast. On October 8th, participants will get to interact with the producers of The Journey to Palomar along with America’s Top Astronomers, who are featured in the documentary and will be talking to you live from the Kennedy Space Center.

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