Seeing In the Dark

8 August 2007

Just finished watching Seeing In the Dark, a new PBS documentary by Timothy Ferris, based on his book of the same name. The documentary was very good, with understated Jon Lomberg-style fly-throughs and some realistic telescope images of planets (although mini-Ferris in the 1956 Florida segment has some kick-ass optics to see Mars so well at what must be about five ten airmasses).

Many of the people and places are familiar to me, if only by association and not direct introduction. Unfortunately, it seems that Meade product placements–at least 3–outpaced Mauna Kea references–only 2 that I could find (I’m assuming it’s the same VIS t-shirt several times).

Also, there is much good blues music, including some by Mark Knopfler.  And some great steel guitar and slide acoustic from the Ferris fils et pere playing songs by various Blind Willies. By the way, it’s too late, there’s already a band named that. And a bar. Anyone who has either heard or been is welcome to comment and assuage my curiosity.

Anyway, the documentary is great, with Ferris’ trademark plain language and sheer wonder much in evidence. Not exactly a breathless scramble over new science, but definitely an inspiring and illuminating journey through important territory. I’d recommend it if you are interested in astronomy, or think you might be if you tried it.

Startling piece of trivia: according to Ferris, only one in five people alive today has seen the Milky Way. I guess that almost all of the readers here will be counterbalanced by four others somewhere.

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