Keck Observatory Exhibit

July 2008Keck Center of the National Academies of Sciences, Washington DC

How do we know what’s out there?

The W. M. Keck Observatory includes two massive telescopes on the peak of Mauna Kea, a volcano in Hawaii. Its location affords views of the cosmos through little atmospheric turbulence, and its pioneering technologies deliver incredibly precise images of all of outer space. The exhibit celebrates the observatory and brings its telescopes to a mainland, general audience. A scale model allows visitors to look into the telescopes and consider their remarkable mirrors, which change shape 2,000 times per second. The video that accompanies it, and was shot by Moey on-location, provides unique views of the telescope at work in its ascendant landscape.

How to film in a gale

Winds at the nearly 14,000-foot summit of Mauna Kea can reach dangerously high speeds. Temperatures are typically cold and conditions can change without warning. We took our chances in the time we had to film the movements of the telescopes and beauty of the landscape.

How to stay clean

The tiniest speck of dust can drift from someone’s clothes into the telescope’s machinery. This can distort an important image, or worse. To gather information for the model and shoot interior scenes for the video, we donned protective gear and traveled with an observatory crew.

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