50 years af­ter “Planet of the Apes”; is truth is still stranger than fic­tion?

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Opinion - 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 two 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” https://www.bfi.org.uk/new­sopin­ion/news-bfi/fea­tures/planet-apes-sci-fi-charl­ton-he­ston 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, Oct. 8 best 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 13th from 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 jhowse@phas.ucal­gary.ca, (403) 931-2366. Their­web­site https://www.ucal­gary.ca/rao/ 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, www.ptc­canada.com. The mem­bers meet once a month on week­ends at Cal­gary’s Roth­ney Ob­ser­va­tory near Prid­dis and you can check out times at https://www.ucal­gary.ca/ rao/cal­en­dar. Like them at Face­book at https://www.face­book.com/groups /272037680377/, Twit­ter https://twit­ter.com/Cal­gar­yRASC & YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/RASCCal­gary.

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