HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Places » U.S. » California (Group) » Atop Mt. Wilson, retired ...

Mon Feb 13, 2017, 11:17 AM

Atop Mt. Wilson, retired engineers keep alive astronomy's 'Sistine Chapel'

Dressed in parkas and knit caps, the three volunteers lug crates of power tools and spooled wire into the gleaming mountaintop edifice that some have called astronomy’s “Sistine Chapel” and immediately start tinkering.

In 1904, workers installed the first telescope at the still uncompleted Mt. Wilson Observatory. For much of the 20th century, astronomers with names like Hale and Hubble used it and the new telescopes it sprouted — the 100-inch reflector and three solar telescopes followed the initial 60-incher — as a figurative launch pad for exploration that changed our understanding of the cosmos.

Gradually, though, financial support waned along with the observatory’s cutting-edge status, and for the last 20 years its telescopes, still impressive by any standard, rely on the kind attention of a small volunteer team of retired space industry electrical engineers, most now in their 70s and 80s.

So it is that on a morning when parts of the San Gabriels are topped with snow, Kenneth Evans is on a ladder, his head lamp fixed on a new sensor switch for a 100-inch reflecting telescope that dominated the world of astronomy for more than three decades.

http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-observatory-20170212-story.html

4 replies, 2895 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 4 replies Author Time Post
Reply Atop Mt. Wilson, retired engineers keep alive astronomy's 'Sistine Chapel' (Original post)
Zorro Feb 2017 OP
longship Feb 2017 #1
CaliforniaPeggy Feb 2017 #2
Galileo126 Feb 2017 #3
Jack-o-Lantern Feb 2017 #4

Response to Zorro (Original post)

Mon Feb 13, 2017, 12:24 PM

1. R&K for the venerable 100" Hooker telescope.



Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Zorro (Original post)

Mon Feb 13, 2017, 12:27 PM

2. Long may it observe our universe!

Kudos to those good people for keeping it working.


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Zorro (Original post)

Mon Feb 13, 2017, 01:08 PM

3. I love working with these guys

Their knowledge and experience is given freely, and I do all I can to help them in any way. And I learn so much from them, just by listening. They have some great stories, too.

The amount of effort required to retro-fit a 100+ year old telescope is amazing, especially the power aspects. Ken is a master in this effort. They all deserve the recognition given in this article - and more!

Rock on, boys!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Zorro (Original post)

Fri Feb 17, 2017, 03:36 PM

4. 60 years ago as a wee lad I bought and read a wonderful book called "Glass Giant of Palomar.

It was the complete story of the building of the 200 inch Hale telescope in 1934.
The book was fascinating from designing the mirror to selecting Pyrex glass for the mirror blank, to building a special rail car to transport the (“Giant Eye”) as the news media called it, from Corning New York to Cal Tech in Pasadena California where the grinding of the mirror to a perfect parabolic shape would take place.
With the reading of that book I was hooked, and I have been an amateur astronomer ever since.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread