60″ Reflector at Mt. Wilson Observatory
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