Historical and Vintage Media

The following is a collection of media pertaining the history of Palomar Observatory for educational and public relations purposes—please see conditions of use. For context, please visit chronology, and the Hale Telescope and 18-inch Schmidt telescope history sections. For use of media not credited to Palomar Observatory, contact its original source.


The 18-inch Schmidt in the instrument shop, 1936. (Palomar/​Caltech Archives)

The 18-inch Schmidt in the instrument shop, 1936. (Palomar/​Caltech Archives)

Domes and cottages, ca. October 1937. (Palomar/​Gray Collection)

Yoke assembly at Westinghouse, July 1938. (Palomar/​Froebel Collection)

Hale Telescope dome from the 18-inch, ca. 1938. (Palomar/​Gray Collection)

200-inch Pyrex disk in the Caltech optical shop. (Palomar/​Caltech)

The 200-inch disk, 1939. (Palomar/​Carpenter Collection)

Telescope truss, 1939. (Palomar/​Carpenter Collection)

18-inch Schmidt dome, 1939. (Palomar/​Carpenter Collection)

Hale Telescope dome, 1940. (Palomar/​Carpenter Collection)

Hale Telescope dome with open shutters, 1941. (Palomar/​Caltech Archives)

Transporting of the 200-inch disk, 1947. (Palomar/​Belyea Collection)

Dedication of the Hale Telescope, June 1948. (Palomar/​Caltech)

Horseshoe and truss, July 1948. (Palomar/​Carpenter Collection)

Hale Telescope dome in moonlight, 1950.

Hale Telescope dome in winter, 1959. (Palomar/​Caltech)

Vintage Documentaries

The following is a collection of decades-old videos and stock footage about the origins and science of Palomar Observatory.

Pouring the World's Largest Eye (1934)

Silent video documenting the pouring of the first 200-inch Pyrex disk on March 25, 1934. Duration: 11:26 minutes. (© Corning Museum of Glass).

The Story of Palomar (1948)

Film about the building of the Hale Telescope. Includes footage of E. Hubble, M. Humason, B. Rule, R. Porter, M. Mason, J. Anderson, M. Brown, L. DuBridge, I. Bowen, and technicians working on the 200-inch mirror. Duration: 38:42 minutes. (Public domain)

Gene & Carolyn Shoemaker and David Levy

Bill Spizzirri interviewed the astronomers at the 18-inch telescope. Duration: 10:53 minutes. (W. Spizzirri)

The Universe from Palomar (1967)

Covers both the history of the building of the Hale Telescope, especially the mirror, and its operation from its dedication in 1948 until the date of the film. Includes footage of the casting of the mirror at Corning. Astronomers who appear in the film are I. Bowen (who also narrates), E. Hubble, M. Humason, B. Rule; also footage of R. Porter and some of his drawings. There are voice-overs by G. McCauley and M. Johnson. Duration: 29:03 minutes (© NETRC)

Additional Footage

Some vintage stock footage from the Observatory's first few decades has been digitized and is available online.

Pathé Newsreel Footage (1947)

Pathé footage of the Caltech optical shop showing the 200-inch Pyrex blank, and a moving model of the future Hale Telescope and dome. Duration: 0:53 minutes. (© British Pathé)

Palomar Archives (1935–1948)

Part 1 includes footage of all aspects of the construction of the Palomar 200-inch Hale Telescope. Part 2 includes footage of the 200-inch mirror, its grinding and cleaning. Follows the mirror through loading onto flatbed truck and transportation from Caltech to Palomar mountain. Part 3 begins with views of the site, vignettes on the engineers and proceeds to detail the contruction of the dome. Footage of other structures' construction follows. Part 4 focuses on the arrival of the 200-inch mirror blank by train in Pasadena. (Caltech Archives)

48-inch Telescope Assembly (1947)

Footage of the 48-inch telescope mount arriving and being assembled at Palomar. Short clip of the Mt. Wilson optical shop. Duration: 5:29 minutes. (Palomar/Caltech)

Palomar Stock Footage (1960)

Part 1 shows exterior views of landscape surrounding the dome of the 200-inch Hale Telescope. Parts 2 through 5 are various shots covering the operation the Hale Telescope including footage of control console, elevator, cooling fans, dome rotation, prime focus cage. In Part 6 an astronomer in coude room loads and unloads the spectrograph plate holder. Part 7 includes shots of various instruments used by astronomers at Palomar. (Public domain)

Observatory History

A collection of short videos that summarize highlights of observatory history.

George E. Hale (2020)

Introduces solar astronomer George E. Hale, father of the largest telescopes in the world and the founder of Palomar Observatory. Duration: 2:12 min. (Palomar/Caltech)

The Rockefeller Foundation Grant (2020)

About the Rockefeller Foundation multi-million-dollar grant that funded Palomar Observatory construction. Duration: 1:58 min. (Palomar/Caltech)

Building Palomar Observatory (2021)

Discusses the construction of the largest scientific instrument at the time, and its cultural impact during and after the American Great Depression. Duration: 4:18 min. (Palomar/Caltech)

Dedication of the Hale Telescope (2018)

This video, created in 2018 for the 70th anniversary of the Observatory's dedication, is composed of surviving original audio and footage, stock Palomar footage, and photographs taken during the June 3, 1948 ceremony. Duration: 2:37 minutes. (Caltech Optical Observatories)

Other media (documentaries, footage, lectures, etc.) related to Palomar Observatory and its history can be found at our YouTube channel.

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Vintage Media / v 1.0.4
Last updated: 30 January 2021 ACM