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Undaunted: The Forgotten Giants of the Allegheny Observatory (2012)

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This film tells the surprising story of how the Allegheny Observatory has been a world leader in the study of the stars since the 1860s. Self-educated, and often facing unrelenting ... See full summary »



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Title: Undaunted: The Forgotten Giants of the Allegheny Observatory (2012)

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Credited cast:
Cain Alexander ...
Young Samuel Langley
Kurt Bell ...
Robert R. Bell ...
Josiah King (as Bob Bell)
Len Caric ...
Harvey Childs
Tom Crouch ...
William Fickinger ...
George Gatewood ...
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Wealthy industrialist
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John Brashear (voice)
Daniel V. Klein ...
Professor Lewis Bradley
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Dr. James Keeler
Demetria Marsh ...
Julia Smith Brashear (voice)


This film tells the surprising story of how the Allegheny Observatory has been a world leader in the study of the stars since the 1860s. Self-educated, and often facing unrelenting hardships, the people associated with the Allegheny Observatory defied the odds to make enormous contributions to the founding of astrophysics and early aviation. Among its many distinctions, the Allegheny Observatory is often regarded as the birthplace of astrophysics, laid the foundation for climate and solar energy research, had made major discoveries in planetary science, and have discovered and studied planets outside our solar system. Samuel Pierpont Langley made the first truly scientific studies of the principles of flight and published a textbook on the subject in 1891. He was also the first person to fly a documented heavier-than-air powered flying machine in 1896. Starting with only a grade school education, John Brashear taught himself physics and astronomy to become one of the world's foremost ... Written by Dan Handley

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Release Date:

18 April 2012 (USA)  »

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$260,000 (estimated)

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16:9 HD
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Did You Know?


During production, with the permission of Dr. Tyson, the crew completely dismantled and took nearly everything out of his office in order to set up lighting and cameras. After setup, there was almost no room left to walk in his office, and Dr. Tyson had to dodge and weave through a forest of light stands and C-stands to get into position for his interview. Within 20 minutes after the end of his interview, the crew restored everything exactly the way it had been previously (certainly to Dr. Tyson's great relief, and the producer's!). See more »

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User Reviews

Great Documentary About an Influential Observatory
26 July 2012 | by (Texas) – See all my reviews

I bought this DVD without knowing exactly what to expect. I am related to someone who worked in the Allegheny Observatory many years ago so I knew of this project and was eager to see the finished movie. Still, with unknown production people involved and no idea what their goals or budget were like, I didn't know if the movie would be interesting to other possible viewers.

I shouldn't have worried. This is actually a very well-told, well-researched bit of American scientific history, smoothly packaged into a one-hour retelling. The interviews and narration are informative but not preachy; the images and graphics are tasteful and pleasing to look at. And, what do you know? It's possible to learn a thing or two along the way. I knew the names of most of the observatory's principal supporters but not all the details of their involvement. I also learned a bit more science.

Although the topic may be a niche one for most people the movie itself is engaging. I am glad I bought it.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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