Pasadena is celebrating its roots in astronomy, and the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory is joining in the festivities, which include an exhibit at the Pasadena
Museum of History through December 1, and a Celestial Ball on Saturday, Sept. 28.

The museum exhibit, entitled “Pasadena Looks at the Universe,” features rich
photographs and films depicting Pasadena’s history intertwined with the cosmos.
Highlights include views of the birth of new galaxies, taken by the Wide Field and
Planetary Camera 2 onboard NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The camera was
developed by JPL.

The exhibit also features a plethora of images captured by infrared astronomy,
which penetrates cosmic dust to see distant stars and galaxies. The JPL/Caltech
Infrared Processing and Analysis Center handles volumes of data for several infrared
missions, including the upcoming Space Infrared Telescope Facility, launching in
January 2003.

Also on display are such artifacts as hand-painted lantern slides that taught
Victorian schoolchildren about constellations, and the preliminary model of the
Palomar Telescope, made in 1936. A six-part lecture series at Caltech’s Beckman
Auditorium will enlighten visitors on how Pasadena made it to the forefront of
astronomy. The JPL guest speakers are:

-Dr. Victoria Meadows, principal investigator of a lead team for NASA’s
Astrobiology Institute at JPL, on “The Search for Habitable Planets” on
November 13
-Larry Simmons, director of astronomy and physics at JPL, a participant in a
panel discussion on “Where Astronomy is Going: The Next 100 Years” on
November 20

The Celestial Ball on Sept. 28 will feature an evening under the stars to honor
the following leaders from both the field of astronomy and the City of Pasadena:

  • Dr. David Baltimore, Nobel Laureate and president of Caltech
  • Dr. William Pickering, former JPL director
  • Dr. Maxine Singer, president of the Carnegie Institution
  • George Ellery Hale, founder of Mt. Wilson and Palomar Mountain Observatories (being honored posthumously)

Information on purchasing tickets for the Celestial Ball, which includes a
reception, dinner, silent auction and dancing, is available by calling (818) 242-9108.

The museum exhibit, sponsored by the Pasadena Hall of Science and the
Paloheimo Foundation, is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5
p.m. The Pasadena Museum of History is located at 470 West Walnut St. (on the
corner of Orange Grove Boulevard and Walnut Street). Information is available
online at: or by calling (626) 577-1660.