a cross platform documentary by Alison Rose
September 2014

Athenaeum Enterprise Reunion, Dec. 23, 1960

Bringing the Universe down to Earth. 

In this documentary,  I follow  four retired astronomers on a two-week road trip through the American southwest and tell the story of our trip together.

I wanted to join their reunion because these were some of the leading astronomers of their generation and it was their first time together in 50 years.  As well they were going to be travelling through majestic landscape.

The combination of these elements informs a universal story about old age,  an infinite universe,  exploration and discovery, and  the resistance to our finite lives.

As young British post-docs in 1960 Donald Lynden-Bell, Nick Woolf, Wal Sargent and Roger Griffin came together at Caltech, began their research careers and took road trips over the long holiday breaks.

They participated in the richest period of astronomical research and discovery in human history, and they show us how that work has produced a revolutionary understanding of our place in the universe as significant as the Copernican revolution.

On the anniversary, we retraced their route, visiting the most important telescopes of the last century, and some of the world’s most beautiful red rock landscapes, and redoing the hardest hike they ever took.

We live in a time when science and intellectual achievement are not as respected as they used to be.  Funding for pure science is being cut back and governments are prioritizing research in applied science.  So, why do astronomy?

Nick Woolf, one of our characters says “Curiosity is a necessary part of survival”.

If we stifle that curiosity we lose something essential to our humanity.  It is in our nature to explore, to set out for the horizon in order to see what’s beyond it.  Astronomy puts us in perspective:  it makes us miraculous and insignificant all at the same time.


The film reunites the key creative team from  Love at the Twilight Motel  including editor Dave Kazala, cinematographer Daniel Grant, sound recordist Peter Sawade and composer Ken Myhr, and the web site team  includes Mike Robbins and Helios Design Labs.

STAR MEN is Producer-filmmaker Alison Rose and editor Dave Kazala’s third film together.  They first collaborated on Galileo’s Sons, a documentary about Jesuit astronomer-priests at the Vatican Observatory. Their second documentary was a feature length theatrical release, Love at the Twilight Motel, which premiered to four-star reviews at Hot Docs in 2009, and was nominated for two Gemini awards.  Rose has won National Magazine and National Newspaper awards for her writing.