Neel Roberts

When producer Arthur P. Jacobs approached 20th Century Fox executives in 1966 about a science fiction motive featuring talking apes, the immediate concern was how could they avoid it being taken for a comedy? Based on the 1963 French novel by Pierre Boulle named “La Planète des singes” it was a paradigm shift for the entertainment industry. With famous stars Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowell, Maurice Evans and Kim Hunter the script written by paranormal legend Rod Serling still made investors nervous with a budget of just under $6 million dollars. Marketed as “Beyond your wildest dreams” it opened in the winter of 1968 grossing over $32,000,000 while spawning of one of the biggest sci-fi franchises in the world. Most of the actors, etc. are long gone but it has been well received by critics and fans after half a century. The original movie highlighted astronaut George Taylor played by Heston arriving 2,000 years into a future Earth inhabited by speaking apes dominating mute humans. Needless to say, this was a culture shock to Taylor and his 2 colleagues determined to get to the bottom of it. Long story short, the apes capture Taylor and discover he can not only talk but is more intelligent than imagined. Dr. Zaius, played by Evans was not only minister of science but of faith which indoctrinated the population that a supreme ape created all. Taylor called his bluff and exposed Zaius’s 900-year-old ancestral fraud by visiting forbidden archeology sites proving humans were there before apes. With much empirical evidence refuting today’s fake news, fake history, fake religious, etc. narratives today, we ask; was this movie monkey business or more predictive than they expected? A recent article called “50 years of Planet of the Apes: why the original series still holds a warning for us all”  agrees; truth is stranger than fiction!

Sky watch for the next month:   

1. Mercury and Jupiter near conjunction-  Tuesday October 30th look SWW after sunset until 19:00 to see these two-planet set into the horizon.

2. Zodiacal Light- Did you catch this last month? It’s a faint, roughly triangular, whitish glow seen in the night sky extended up from the vicinity of the sun along the ecliptic or zodiac. Best time is from Saturday, October 13th for 2 weeks in the East before dawn.

3. Orionids Meteor Shower Peaks- Sunday, October 21st1-2 hours before dawn just to the north of constellation Orion's bright star Betelgeuse. With the second-fastest entry velocity of the annual showers at 10-20 per hour, meteors from the Orionids produce yellow and green colors and have been known to produce an odd fireball but will be limited with the near full Moon. With only one day after new moon, so there will be no moonlight.

4. Draconid Meteor Shower Peaks-Monday, October 08thbest seen after twilight facing North high up. While not as dramatic as other showers it can occasionally spew hundreds an hour. The new moon will be a bonus for a dark sky.

Public Events for the next month:

Monthly Open House at Calgary’s Rothney Observatory near Priddis-Mark down Saturday, October 13thfrom 20:00 to 23:00 for Sci-Fi night. Steve Vance, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology Jessie Andjelic & Philip Vandermey, SPECTACLE Bureau for Architecture and Urbanism Inc. There will be an array of scopes operated by University of Calgary astronomers and members of the RASC Calgary.Saturn found in the western sky in the constellation Sagittarius will be followed by Mars. Cygnus the Swan will be flying straight over head with its thousands of exoplanets.The entrance fee $30 per car. further information, contact Jennifer Howse at, (403) 931-2366. Theirwebsite updated regularly.

Happy Fall and cooler days!

Neel Roberts is a member of the Calgary chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada-the nation’s leading astronomy club founded in 1868 with over 5,000 members and 29 centers across Canada. Neel welcomes your questions and comments at (403)560-6574, The members meet once a month on weekends at Calgary’s Rothney Observatory near Priddis and you can check out times at Like them at Facebook at, Twitter & YouTube

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