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This programme is an evolving study of how scientists have uncovered the structure of the Universe. It ranges from Emmanuel Kant's early speculations that there may be galaxies exterior to our own ...galaxy to Edwin Hubble's observations of these exterior galaxies. These observations were made using the world's largest optical telescopes and current research using the modern telescopes shows that our Universe consists of millions of galaxies which expand to the farthest reaches of space and time. The programme includes this recent research by visiting the observatory on Palomar Mountain which is conducting this research.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: S354, Understanding space and time
Item code: S354; 13
First transmission date: 29-08-1979
Published: 1979
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Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:34
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Producer: Andrew Creilly
Contributor: George Abell
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Andromeda; Edwin Hubble; Emmauel Kant; Galaxies; Herschel; Optical telescope; Palomar Mountain; Rift nebula; Royal Society; Shapley
Footage description: Exterior shots of the Hale Observatories and interior shots of the photographic vaults there. Commentary by George Abell introduces the programme. George Abell looks at a photographic plate of the Andromeda Nebula made by Hubble with the 100 inch Mt. Wilson telescope in 1923. Abell goes on to discuss the speculations of Hersche that Nebulae like Andromeda were actually 'island universes'. To demonstrate the difficulty of determining distances in space, Abell relates an anecdote about Herschel's deception of Charles II and the royal princesses when he placed a model of Saturn in Windsor Great Park for them to view because cloud cover made actual observations impossible. Abell, at the Royal Society, examines some of Herschel's manuscripts. He explains Herschel's method of 'gauging' the stars and how Herschel built up a three dimensional structure of our galaxy. With the aid of photographs of globular cluster of a spiral galaxy, and of an animation, Abell discusses the work of Harlow Shapley between 1917 and 1919 in formulating the three dimensional structure of our galaxy from the distribution of globular clusters within it. George Abell, on the observation platform of the 100 inch Mt. Wilson telescope, explains how that instrument works. He points out some of its various component parts. Over still shots of galaxies and of the Mt. Wilson telescope, Abell explains Hubble's method of surveying galaxies and how this led him to discover that galaxies tend to cluster. Shots of the wide angled Schmidt telescope at Palomar Observatory. George Abell examines a photographic plate taken from this telescope which shows several clusters of galaxies. He goes on to tell of his own discovery that galactic clusters themselves formed even larger, so called super clusters extending over a hundred million light years of space. Over aerial shots of Los Angeles, Abell describes the structure of the universe by referring to a large metropolitan area like Los Angeles as an analogue.
Master spool number: DOU2986
Production number: FOUS074P
Videofinder number: 2045
Available to public: no