The Documentrary

FreedmanWendy Freedman

Dr. Wendy Freedman is Director of The Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, "the most famous address in astronomy." Dr. Freedman says of George Ellery Hale, "His legacy has been unsurpassed in terms of what he set in motion and what he was able to achieve ... he never gave up!"


MillerDonald L. Miller

Dr. Donald L. Miller is historian and author of City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America, which became a major television documentary on PBS's American Experience series. He shares unique insights into the story of George Ellery Hale's rise to fame in the tumultuous powerhouse that was Chicago in the 1890s.


Florence1Ronald Florence

Harvard Ph.D. Dr. Ronald Florence spent ten years writing The Perfect Machine, the book that inspired The Journey to Palomar. The book is a dramatic account of the epic struggles it took to build Hale's great telescopes, culminating with the greatest of them all on Palomar Mountain. His genuine fascination and knowledge of the events translate into superb storytelling.


StarrKevin Starr

Dr. Kevin Starr, California State Librarian Emeritus, describes the impact that Hale's observatories had on science, culture, philosophy and the development of early 20th century California set against the complexity of Hale's fragile personality. Dr. Starr is also author of a six-volume series entitled Americans and the California Dream. He is a contributing editor to The Los Angeles Times, and Professor of History at the University of Southern California.


DeVorkin1David DeVorkin

Dr. David DeVorkin is curator for the history of astronomy at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. He adds invaluable historical and scientific perspective about George Ellery Hale's struggle to develop ever larger telescopes in the face of profound technical and personal challenges.


PrestonRichard Preston

"I like to narrate the lives of little known people who do extraordinary things," says author and Princeton Ph.D. Richard Preston. His recent popular books on bioterrorism have been best sellers. His book First Light is an awe inspiring account of the Palomar astronomers' achievements in the 1980s. Preston spent a year living at Palomar documenting their work. He eloquently conveys the wonder for astronomy that he experienced in his own journey to Palomar.


EllisRichard Ellis

Dr. Richard Ellis is the Steele Professor of Astronomy and former Director of the Caltech Optical Observatories, which includes the Keck and Palomar Telescopes and also the planned Thirty Meter Telescope. Dr. Ellis is an internationally recognized cosmologist who describes some of the most amazing discoveries being made at Palomar today.

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On-camera guests

Todd and Robin Mason

MasonsLos Angeles filmmakers Todd and Robin Mason produced, directed and wrote The Journey to Palomar. They researched, filmed and collected invaluable images for nearly five years. With the help of top archives and Hale relatives, they uncovered never-before-seen footage and photographs of Hale's journey. They admit to being consumed by a passion to preserve for a new generation one of the most fascinating stories in American history.


PBSArtsmDownload or own The Journey to Palomar



"The Journey to Palomar is a triumph! "

- Dr. David DeVorkin, Curator, Smithsonian Air & Space Museum

"This is one of the best films on science I've seen. Indeed, I'm overwhelmed by it!"

- Dr. John Mather, Science Director, James Webb Space Telescope NASA

Major funding for The Journey to Palomar was provided by


Recommended Reading relating to The Journey to Palomar

The Perfect Machine

by Ronald Florence

First Light

by Richard Preston

The Dream Endures

by Kevin Starr

City of the Century

by Donald L. Miller

The Glass Giant

by David Woodbury

(Available used and at some libraries)

Explorer of the Universe

by Helen Wright

(Available used and at some libraries)

Additional funding was provided by