I happened upon the PBS documentary The Journey To Palomar the other day, and quite a lot of the program takes place right here in Corning, NY. The story explores the life of George Ellery Hale and his struggle to build the worlds largest telescopes; the largest of which (the Hale Observatory on Palomar Mountain) was developed in part by Corning Glass Works. The story is fantastic, but one of the most impressive aspects is the technology behind the Palomar telescope. For anyone in the 1930s to imagine a project requiring such precision before the existence of computers is incredible in itself. To see that plan put into action – with many failures and the few successes – and watching the man behind it all slip into psychosis, you really sense the drama.
Corning Glass Works comes on board a little more than half way through the program and rescues the Palomar project from probable disaster. There’s great footage of Corning, and it’s fun to see our town packed with 1000s of people, including world leaders of science and technology, all hoping to glimpse the production of one of the most important scientific advancements in history.
View the trailer below. Local PBS station, WSKG, will be re-airing the documentary on Monday June 27th at 2:30AM – set your DVRs if you can’t stay up that late. If you miss it or are from out of town, check for local air times here.
Buy the DVD here (your purchase supports this blog). You can also find it at the Corning Museum of Glass Gift Shop.