Celebrating 75 Years of Discovery

Palomar Media and News

Composite of the Pleiades (M45) from POSS II plates. (Palomar/Caltech/DSS/D.De Martin)

Palomar Observatory has been the subject of news and media reports since before it was operational. Coverage of the construction of what would become the largest scientific instrument in the world introduced Palomar into popular culture as early as the mid-1930s, when thousands gathered along train tracks to see the 200-inch mirror blank during its cross-country journey from the Corning factory in upstate New York to Pasadena. Countless articles in popular science magazines and a number of documentary films chronicled the progress of the project on site and in the shops, and profiled a few of the many engineers and scientists who made the Observatory and its instruments possible. Furthermore, Palomar Observatory and its science have been featured in TV series, postcards, souvenirs, collectibles, cartoons and comics, ads, software, and even toys.

After Palomar began scientific operations in November 1949, views of the Universe as seen through the Palomar telescopes filled astronomy textbooks and inspired several generations of men and women to become enthusiasts and professionals in the field. Prints from the photographic plates of the National Geographic Society – Palomar Observatory Sky Survey (POSS I) became the standard library reference for every major observatory worldwide. The Second Palomar Observatory Sky Survey (POSS II) produced some of the most iconic astronomical images of all time. The POSS II plates were digitized as part of the STSci Digital Sky Survey (DSS) and are available online to anyone from the DSS site. These plates provide a significant part of the optical wavelength imagery used by the virtual sky exploratory tools Google Sky and Microsoft's World Wide Telescope.

Images and media of the Observatory and the telescopes abound, particularly as part of historic document and image repositories such as those at the Caltech Archives. The Observatory’s own image collection includes thousands of photographs, vintage as well as recent. This website contains only a small fraction of these distributed throughout its pages and categorized in the media galleries listed on the left.

Media Use

Usage inquiries for existing media should be submitted to Palomar Observatory's Outreach and Event Coordinator Steve Flanders at sbf [at] astro.caltech.edu or (760) 742-2131. Please refer to our conditions of use for educational or non-commercial use of any images and multimedia found here.

Members of the news media and/or documentary crews intending to propose a new project should also contact Steve Flanders to discuss their proposal. For additional information on filming movies, television, or commercial projects at Palomar Observatory/Caltech please visit Caltech's media contacts.

Questions? We've answered many common visiting, media, and academic questions in our public FAQ page.
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Last updated: 27 March 2023 ACM/SBF/AFB