Cosmic Sounds-Mount Wilson Observatory
August 22, 2019
I felt as if I was on the set of a Star Wars film when I entered the famous Mount Wilson Observatory 100-inch telescope structure to attend the inaugural “Cosmic Sounds” music and stargazing event.
After a magical journey up the Angeles Crest Highway, a telescope docent led us into the structure where composer Jeff Talman, composer of the evenings “Of Sound Before the Stars,” was waiting to present his piece, which was commissioned by the museum for this event. Talman, a sound installation specialist, said that he tuned into the natural frequencies of the telescope structure to create a cosmic sound using eight channels and surround sound with eight speakers.
Talman went on to say that he captured the original plasma material from which the universe was formed. Waves from photons which formed matter that became the stars in the universe. Talman transposed the information from scientist Mark Whittle, who tried to create audibility from 3.7-billion-year-old data of the original universe soundtrack.
As we strolled around inside the telescope structure to hear different perspectives of the sound of this 30-minute piece, the sunset was all aglow in a mystical orange, similar to what one experiences when flying in an airplane above the clouds. It was a sensational sound. Attendees felt as if they were floating in outer space.
After the musical presentation, we (40 attendees) were given the opportunity to look through the telescope at Jupiter and a few other stars in the galaxy. It was awe-inspiring witnessing the telescope structure rotating to get the best viewing angle.
This event was planned on the eve of the Apollo moon landing’s 50th anniversary, making it even that much more special. And it happened to be three days after the full moon, as well.
As I exited the structure at the conclusion of the program, the slightly waning orange moon filled the night-sky. I sat in a chair at the mountains edge and gazed in wonderment as it ascended into the heavens.