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EYES ON THE UNIVERSE: Southern California's Leadership in Astronomy Today
September 16th, 2019 7:30pm
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Photo Credit: The twin Carnegie Observatories Magellan Telescopes at Las Campanas, Chile, with the Milky Way overhead. Image by Yuri Beletsky.


Since the beginning of the 20th century, Southern California — and especially, Pasadena — has been world-renowned in the fields of astronomy, cosmology, and astrophysics. At the forefront of research in all these areas is the Carnegie Observatories, founded in 1904 by the great astronomer George Ellery Hale (who also founded Mt. Wilson Observatory and Caltech, and who built the three largest telescopes in the early and mid-20th centuries). More than anywhere, the Carnegie Observatories is “where the universe was discovered”: where Edwin Hubble and his colleagues found, for example, that the Milky Way is just one of billions of galaxies, and that the universe in which they exist is continually expanding.


Today, the Observatories is unique in its dedication to deep research and the training of new generations of astronomers. For the past 40 years most of this research has taken place at the Observatories’ large-telescope facilities in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, producing an astonishing array of discoveries about galaxy formation, the evolution of stars, dark matter, and much more.


Join Friends Of The Observatory for this Cosmic Musings with Dr. John Mulchaey, Director and Crawford H. Greenewalt Chair of the Carnegie Observatories, for a presentation covering many of these discoveries and some very recent amazing findings that will give guests a new understanding of today's “golden age” of astronomy, and the promises it holds for understanding our universe.


DR. JOHN MULCHAEY is Director and Crawford H. Greenewalt Chair at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science, one of Pasadena’s oldest establishments.


Mulchaey earned his B.S. in Astrophysics from UC Berkeley, and his Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of Maryland. He was a Carnegie Postdoctoral Fellow before joining the scientific staff in 1999, and served as Associate Director for Academic Affairs before being named the Observatories’ 11th Director in 2015. Today, Mulchaey oversees Carnegie’s main campus in Pasadena as well as the Observatories’ large-telescopes facility in Las Campanas, Chile. He is also on the board for the Giant Magellan Telescope, a next-generation telescope being designed in Pasadena.


Mulchaey’s research focuses on a wide range of scientific questions, including dark matter and black holes. In 1993, he led the team that discovered large amounts of dark matter in the local universe, a discovery that received front-page coverage in The New York Times and a feature in Time magazine. In 2016, Mulchaey appeared in the press as part of the team following a mysterious fast radio burst for the first time. He is also a frequent consultant to NASA and the National Science Foundation.


In addition to his research, Mulchaey is actively involved in public outreach and educational activities throughout Los Angeles. He created the annual Carnegie Observatories Astronomy Lectures, a popular series held each spring at The Huntington Library. He also hosts astronomy nights at many schools. Recently he secured funding for the creation of science rooms at three local elementary schools, and founded a program for gifted high school science students.


Check-in and the Café at the End of the Universe open at 6:00 p.m. The Observatory will be closed to the general public, and the only area/exhibits inside the building open to ticketed guests is in the immediate vicinity of the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon theater. The presentation begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon theater. The Stellar Emporium will be closed.



Reservations are required to access event parking and enter Griffith Observatory. In the case of sold-out shows, ticket sales will close. There is no wait-list. All registration closes SEPTEMBER 16, 4:00 p.m.

If your membership has lapsed or you would like to become a FOTO member, renew or join easily on-line at For event or membership questions, please send an email to or call 213.473.0879.

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