Astronomy Goes to “Hollywood”: The Magic of Movie Special Effects

Astronomy Goes to “Hollywood”:  The Magic of Movie Special Effects

From pre-Star Wars to Avatar, “Hollywood” has taken us to other worlds in galaxies both close to home … and far away and long ago.   While the science frequently can be lacking, we are nonetheless enthralled by the special effects.  From George Melies’ Le Voyage dans la Lune to the 1950s classics When Worlds Collide, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Conquest of Space to the early Star Wars Trilogy and beyond, we’ll journey to Hollywood and Lucasfilm to take a peek behind the curtain and see how, using both science and art, some of the principal tricks of the trade are done.


About Bill Gutsch

Former Chairman of the American Museum-Hayden Planetarium, Past President of the Board of Directors of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and a former Network Science Correspondent for ABC Television in the US,  Dr. Gutsch is Distinguished Professor of the College of Arts & Sciences at Saint Peter’s University (a Jesuit University just outside of New York City).  His Masters and Ph.D. are from the University of Virginia.   Dr. Gutsch teaches in four departments at the Saint Peter’s specifically:  Applied Science & Technology, Sociology, Graduate Education, and Communications. His principal interests include: astrophysics, forecast meteorology,  astro-archaeology, non-parametric statistics, and production and post-production for film and video.  He has traveled to and produced programs about astro-archaeological sites around the world; writes, produces, and directs video documentaries for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; and has directed many Academy and Golden Globe Award winning actors in Hollywood (from Gregory Peck and Burt Lancaster to Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock) as well as the famous droids R2D2 and C-3P0 at Lucasfilm.