Keck and Subaru telescopes in the film “Don’t Look Up”

#DontLookUp is a new film on Netflix that shows the observatories where I do my research. At the very beginning there’s a shot of Subaru Observatory and the two Keck Telescopes on the summit of Maunakea🏔 at 4km altitude on Hawai`i.

This footage was actually captured by an astronomer, Dr. Sean Goebel, who was a Berkeley student that I taught back in 2010. He is a master artist in creating amazing time lapse video that you can watch here:


In the screenshot, I labeled the constellations Pleiades and Taurus ♉️, and marked where the camera was placed in front of Subaru Observatory facing East. There is some nice visual symbolism because the Japanese word Subaru signifies the constellation that the ancient Greeks called the Pleiades.


The laser is an astronomer’s tool for sharpening images by shining light on a bit of our own atmosphere so we can understand how blurry it is and then adapting our optics to take out the blurriness. It’s an amazing technology. Twenty-five years ago I was a project scientist for the very first such laser at a telescope in Spain and now they are quite common around the world.


Don’t Look Up is a fun movie 😄 and it may be the first time in history where advanced ground-based astronomy has been highlighted in a major motion picture.🎥🔭👍👍

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