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Talk by Steve Flanders, Palomar Observatory

I am often asked to list the most important discoveries made at Palomar Observatory. To provide an answer, this presentation addresses six key aspects of the Observatory’s work over the last 86 years:

  • Calibrating the cosmic expansion
  • Cosmic chemistry and the theory of nucleosynthesis
  • Quasars, AGN and other objects in the high energy Universe
  • Digital imaging and other technological innovations
  • Investigations of planetary systems — our own and others nearby
  • Sky surveys, time-domain astronomy and multi-messenger astronomy

In discussing these six topics, as time allows, I will talk about what has been done here, about the people who have done it, and about the process of science, that is, how science gets done at Palomar.

Steve Flanders:
As I was getting interested in astronomy in the late 1950s, Palomar Observatory was a place of great significance. But, rather than pursuing a career in science, I worked in corporate IT management for 30 years. In 2009, I moved to southern California and joined Palomar Observatory’s docent program. After several years, Caltech hired me to run the Observatory’s public outreach program. A Caltech employee now for ten years, my job involves overseeing the work of 36 volunteer docents who conduct tours of the Hale Telescope, host star parties at our Outreach Center, and participate in a variety of special events at the Observatory.

IMAGE CREDIT: Caltech/Palomar Observatory