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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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Credited cast:
... Young Samuel Langley
Kurt Bell ... Himself
Robert R. Bell ... Josiah King (as Bob Bell)
Len Caric ... Harvey Childs
... Narrator
Tom D. Crouch ... Himself (as Tom Crouch)
William Fickinger ... Himself
George Gatewood ... Himself
Art Glaser ... Himself
Matthew Green ... Wealthy industrialist
Jay Keenan ... John Brashear (voice)
Daniel V. Klein ... Professor Lewis Bradley
... Assistant #1
Henry Lenard ... 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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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

18 April 2012 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$260,000 (estimated)
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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

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

The people that did this movie are certainly undaunted themselves for producing a story that is long overdue.
24 March 2013 | by See all my reviews

I watched this movie from the OMNIMAX theater in Pittsburgh, then borrowed it from the Carnegie library of Pittsburgh to watch it a second time.I plan on obtaining more copies so that my 3 children and 7 grandchildren can watch it. This movie is long overdue in describing in an amazing way the history of Old Allegheny and Pittsburgh. Two separate and then one amazing area of our country that has never been given proper credit for what it did for our country. This area helped to build this country and helped us win two world wars. Carnegie,Frick,Thaw,Langely,Schwab,Brashear,Mellon, Heinz and Westinghouse. Pittsburgh leaders not only in industry but in the study of the heaven and planets and stars.Leaders in air flight and astrophysics. The Observatory in Riverview park is not just a place to walk your dogs around .It was and still is a vital part of the history of science in the country . Thank you Dan Handley for an excellent presentation of an amazing story.

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