Starting the second week of the astronomy workshop, we were able to tour the Big Bear Solar Observatory. The New Solar Telescope at BBSO has a 1.6M primary mirror, and saw first light in 2009. Outfitted with cutting-edge technology, the NST provides some of the highest resolution images of our sun currently available.
If you’d like to learn more about BBSO, visit: http://www.bbso.njit.edu/
Carnival of Space #255 is available at Vintage Space!
This edition features great articles about:
Check it out at: http://amyshirateitel.com/2012/06/24/carnival-of-space-255/
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As the astronomy workshop at Mt. Wilson Observatory continues, we took some time to tour what could be considered one of the most important telescopes of the early 20th century – the 100″ Hooker Telescope at Mt. Wilson Observatory.
Named after John T. Hooker, who funded the 100″ mirror, the 100″ telescope at Mt. Wilson Observatory had the distinction of being the largest telescope in the world until the Palomar 200″ telescope was completed in 1948. Notable research performed with the 100″ telescope includes Edwin Hubble’s famous research on the expansion rate of the Universe, and work on the cosmic distance scale.
Researchers can use one of three optical configurations for their research projects. Located at the telescope’s Coudé focus is a high-resolution spectrograph. After being dormant from 1986 until 1994, the telescope underwent significant upgrades which made the telescope suitable for research purposes.
Despite the major upgrades, workers made great strides to preserve many elements of the telescope’s rich history. Included in the upgrades were a modern “adaptive” optics system which allows for new high-resolution studies of astronomical objects.
Unlike the 60″ telescope, the 100″ is not open to the public for observations, however the telescope is suitable (and available) for experimental and long-term research programs. Researchers from JPL, Caltech, the USNO, and The University of Illinois have utilized the 100″ for a variety of research projects.
While the 100″ telescope isn’t available for public observations, there are public tours of the telescope during the day by means of a visitors gallery entered on the west side of the 100-inch telescope dome.
If you’d like to learn more about the Hooker 100″ telescope at Mt. Wilson Observatory, visit: http://www.mtwilson.edu/vir/100in.php
As you may have noticed, posts have been rather light recently. I’ve been attending an astronomy research workshop at the historic Mt. Wilson Observatory. The first week is more-or-less an astronomy “boot camp”, so free time has been scarce. That being said, our group has been given incredible access to many of the historic instruments at the observatory.
The 60″ reflecting telescope saw first light in 1908 and was funded by Andrew Carnegie. At the time the 60″ reflector was the world’s largest telescope, until 1918 when it was surpassed by the 100″ telescope, also at Mt. Wilson Observatory.
According to Mt. Wilson Observatory, the telescope was used by Harlow Shapley to convince astronomers of the time that our sun was not at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, and instead was in the “suburbs” of our galaxy. Other famous astronomers such as Edwin Hubble, Walter Baade, and Allan Sandage used the 60″ telescope for over half a century, making discoveries that helped provide our current understanding of the universe.
While no longer used for scientific research, the 60″ telescope still carries an important distinction as the world’s largest telescope devoted completely to public astronomy.
Between the incredible size of the 60″ telescope, and the amazing night-sky quality, I highly recommend those visiting the L.A region to make a trip to Mount Wilson Observatory. If you’d like to learn more about the 60″ reflecting telescope at Mt. Wilson Observatory, visit: http://www.mtwilson.edu/60in.php