Arizona Public Media will broadcast "400 Years of the Telescope," an hour-long documentary that celebrates four centuries of astral discoveries, on KUAT6 and HD on Friday at 10 p.m.
This visually stunning program chronicles a sweeping journey, from 1609, when Galileo first used a telescope and discovered the moons of Jupiter, to today's thrilling quests to discover new worlds in the universe.
Emmy Award-winning producer and writer Kris Koenig and the Interstellar Studios production team traveled the globe, interviewing leading astronomers and cosmologists against a backdrop of the world's greatest observatories to create a vivid film that presents the human quest of the past 400 years to understand the structure and nature of the universe.
The world-class Mount Graham International Observatory, where the Large Binocular Telescope is located, and Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson are on the documentary tour.
University of Arizona Regents' professor of astronomy and Mirror Lab director Roger Angel, Vatican Observatory astronomer and adjunct Steward Observatory astronomer Chris Corbally, and Mark Giampapa of the National Solar Observatory are among southern Arizona astronomers who appear in the program.
They were interviewed at the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab on the UA campus, the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope on Mount Graham, and at the Kitt Peak National Observatory.
From reenactments of Galileo's invention and early pen drawings of the moons of Jupiter, to vivid multicolored nebulas captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, "400 Years of the Telescope" takes viewers from their armchairs into the wonders of space exploration.
With warmth and humor, the planet's top astrophysicists enthusiastically discuss momentous discoveries, and define dark energy – a mysterious vacuum energy that is accelerating the expansion of the universe.
Viewers also will preview next-generation telescopes, which include telescopes the size of stadiums and a massive radio telescope array that will be perched on one of the highest plateaus on the planet.
These enormous new instruments may detect life outside our solar system and allow humans to view the initial moments of the Big Bang. Like Galileo's first telescopic observations, these new technologies will reshape mankind's perception of the universe.
Narrated by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of NOVA ScienceNow, "400 Years of the Telescope" features a lush score performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.
The program is an official product of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. A companion coffee-table book and DVD will also be released this year.