The Discovery Channel Telescope’s Eight-Year Journey Captured in Sunday’s ‘Scanning the Skies’

Discovery Channel TelescopeIt’s always an unexpected pleasure when I am reminded that I work for a company who knows how important it is to answer the essential questions of life and explore the world around us. When you work at Discovery Communications, you have many such reminders (see: my life-changing trip to NASA’s final shuttle launch, song transmissions from Mars, etc.), but I had another today when viewing a special eight-years in the making, which, as Lowell Putnam of the Lowell Observatory pointed out, “is equal to infinity in television time.”

The show, Scanning the Skies: The Discovery Channel Telescope, premieres Sunday on Discovery Channel and chronicles the creation of the Discovery Channel Telescope, born of a partnership between the Lowell Observatory and Discovery Communications.

Lowell Observatory (the observatory where Pluto was discovered!) sought a partner to create a new, state-of-the-art telescope to remain competitive as an observatory. Though most prospective partners were less than enthusiastic about the expensive and time consuming project, knowing Discovery Founder and Chairman John Hendricks’ passion for space and exploring our planet and beyond, it’s no surprise to me that the Observatory found us as a partner.

There was an obstacle at every turn when making the telescope and each measurement and movement must be so precise and perfectly calculated, or else risk derailing the multi-year, multi-million dollar project. Spoiler alert: it has a happy ending but not without some difficulties along the way.

Don’t miss Scanning the Skies Sunday on Discovery Channel at 7pm ET/PT. You can also catch Science‘s premiere of Scanning the Skies, September 12 at 10pm ET/PT.