400 Years of the Telescope


400 Years of the Telescope: A Journey of Science, Technology and Thought is a 2009 American documentary film that was created to coincide with the International Year of Astronomy in 2009. Directed by Kris Koenig, it chronicles the history of the telescope from the time of Galileo and features interviews with leading astrophysicists and cosmologists from around the world, who explain concepts ranging from Galileo's first use of the telescope to view the moons of Jupiter, to the latest discoveries in space, including new ideas about life on other planets and dark energy, a mysterious vacuum energy that is accelerating the expansion of the universe.

400 Years of the Telescope
400 Years of the Telescope poster.jpg
Directed byKris Koenig
Written byDonald Goldsmith
Albert van Helden
Kris Koenig
Produced byKris Koenig
Dan Koehler
Narrated byNeil deGrasse Tyson
CinematographyScott Stender
Edited byKimberly Generous White
Music byMark Slater
Interstellar Media Productions
Distributed byPBS
Release date
  • January 6, 2009 (2009-01-06)
Running time
60 minutes
CountryUnited States



  • Han Beekman
  • Mavt Steketee
  • Stefano Lecci
  • Herman Boerman
  • Irma Hartog
  • Hallam Murray
  • Nils Koenig
  • Madison Royal
Galileo voices
  • Stefano Lecci
  • Francesca Giannini


The film's development team included Donald Goldsmith, a well-known astronomy writer on the Carl Sagan Cosmos team, and Albert Van Helden, a leading authority on the history of the telescope. It was shot on RED Digital Cinema at the world's leading universities and observatories including the European Southern Observatory, Institute for Astronomy, SETI Institute, Space Telescope Science Institute, Anglo-Australian Observatory, and Harvard University. Among the production team's challenges were shooting the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) at 5000m on the Atacama Desert. The original score was composed by Mark Slater and recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios.

Broadcast and release detailsEdit


30th Annual Telly Awards
  • Silver - Excellent achievement in videography/cinematography[1]
  • Bronze (3) - Outstanding achievement in use of animation, copywriting and the documentary over all[2]
  • Best Director[3]
2009 W3 Awards
  • Silver Winner: Website Design (Michael Moretti)[4]


  1. ^ The 32nd Annual TELLY Awards | Winners
  2. ^ The 32nd Annual TELLY Awards | Winners
  3. ^ Scinema 2011 | Travelling Program
  4. ^ W3 Awards | Home

External linksEdit

  • 400 Years of the Telescope at PBS
  • 400 Years of the Telescope at IMDb
  • IYA2009 website