The Big Picture
The largest astronomical image in the world is glazed onto a porcelain enamel wall 152 feet long and 20 feet tall. Centered on the Virgo Cluster of galaxies (of which our Milky Way is a part), it reveals the amount of sky that your index finger would cover if held a foot from your eye at a resolution as if your eyes were 36-inch telescopes. Caltech estimates that the image includes over a million galaxies, ranging in distance from millions to billions of light years. You can also see hundreds of thousands of stars in the Milky Way and two asteroids and a comet here in our own solar system.
Richard and Lois Gunther
Benefactors of the Depths of Space
The naming of the Richard and Lois Gunther Depths of Space recognizes a generous contribution from southland natives Richard and Lois Gunther. Richard Gunther’s interest in science and astronomy was sparked by an inspirational visit he made as a 12-year-old to Mount Wilson Observatory. There, through the 60-inch telescope, he examined the Orion nebula and witnessed its immense, swirling red mass of brilliant colors contrasted with the blackness of space. This striking phenomenon turned him into an enthusiastic life-long astronomy fan. “I was dazzled,” Gunther recalls. “When I learned about some of the extraordinary exhibits the new Griffith Observatory would have, I wanted to be a part of that project.” He continues, “It is our hope that we can develop an exhibit program that will offer a vision of the universe that will excite young people, awaken their interest in astronomy, and make a life-long contribution to enriching their lives as it has mine.”
Gunther, who is listed in “Who’s Who in the West” (1994), is a venture capitalist and securities investor and the former chairman of United Continental Development Corporation. Gunther graduated summa cum laude from UCLA and earned a master’s degree from the University of Southern California. His philanthropy and volunteerism cover a wide spectrum of interests. He has served on numerous boards, including those for public television station KCET, the Esalen Institute, the California School of Professional Psychology, as well as on Los Angeles City, County, and California State commissions.