Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mt. Wilson Week: Hubble and Beyond

Let's top off Mt. Wilson Week with a cool building on a hot day: the 100 inch telescope.

The knowledge that there are galaxies other than our own is relatively new. It was discovered by Edwin Hubble who worked right here in this building. You can go inside, see his bentwood chair and cool off while you contemplate the universe.

This building's innards are sealed up museum-style, but did you know you can book an observing session with the 60-inch telescope at Mt. Wilson? You were looking for an interesting gift. You needed an inspiring date location. There you go. You're welcome.

If that's a little steep for you, you can become a Friend of Mt. Wilson. Even handsome, famous, old observatories need friends.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mt. Wilson Week: Solar Telescope

I haven't described the Mt. Wilson Observatory landscape to you.

On a mountain top, wooded paths lead you amid the pines, and occasionally there looms a tower like something from a 1950's "Mars attacks" movie. You're not scared because it's sunny out, everything's in color and you can see the paint is peeling on the props.

If I have my notes right (I might not, this is why I'm not an astronomer)*, this is the 1904 Snow solar, the first telescope built at Mt. Wilson. I believe it still works. Mt. Wilson is an important, fully operational observatory even now, 107 years after its founding. So much so that when the Station Fire singed the crackly edges of its environs in 2009, many firefighters risked their lives to save it.

*I've gotten a note from Bellis, who knows: this is not the 1904 Snow telescope but the 1912, 150-foot solar tower/telescope. It's all for the best that I didn't pursue a career in astronomy--you may not believe this but I did once consider it.

From inside the dome at the top of this tower, the Mt. Wilson live towercam brings news and joy to the lowlanders. If you check out the towercam during the day (and you're not reading this twenty years from now) you'll detect green mountains in the foreground and brown ones not far in the distance, showing you some of the 250 square miles of Station Fire burn from 2009. There's some green on those hills, but they've got years 'til full recovery.

The Mt. Wilson website's history page is temptation to keep reading. George Ellery Hale founded Mt. Wilson. Edwin Hubble made historical discoveries there. Albert Einstein paid a visit. Talk about stars.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mt. Wilson Week: Cosmic Cafe

You probably won't go to the Cosmic Cafe* first. You'll probably walk around the grounds and check out the views--wear yourself out a little. That is, if you drove up. Some people hike, so they come pre-worn out. I wouldn't recommend hiking on a hot day; the trail is long and (necessarily) uphill, and it doesn't have much shade.

The first thing you'll see upon your approach to the Mt. Wilson Observatory, no matter which way you arrive, is this impressive set of towers. They mostly serve Los Angeles-area radio and television stations. This view of them is from the Cafe.

Two of us had their excellent hot dogs. A third had the hummus and didn't finish it, so I finished it for her. Piggy.

The Cosmic Cafe is popular and super-casual. Folks wear their hiking clothes. Dogs are welcome (there's a dish for them, too). Nothing fancy but the views.

*The Cafe is only open on weekends.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mt. Wilson Week: Haramokngna

It's easy to get to Mount Wilson. Just drive north on the Angeles Crest Highway (the 2) to Mount Wilson Road and turn right at the Haramokngna American Indian Cultural Center outpost.

This quiet spot is a small museum of artifacts of the Native Americans who lived in this area before the Spanish came. They were the Tongva, the Chumash and the people they traded with. They're not exactly gone, either. Their descendants still live in the LA basin today.

There's going to be a public Basketweavers Day this Saturday, August 6th, featuring a basketry exhibit in the Toypurina Gallery and workshops by Southern California weavers. It's a good day to stop in at Haramokngna, which means "Place where people gather."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Zen Tuesday: #9

This being Zen Tuesday, the rules aren't the same as Zen Monday. Not that there are any hard and fast rules on Zen Monday.

Please give us your interpretation of the photo, because on Zen days it's your turn.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Theme Day: Postcard-Worthy

You may be aware that the first of the month is Theme Day around the City Daily Photo world. Today's theme is "postcard-worthy." I think this eastward view of the San Gabriel Mountains from the lookout at Mount Wilson lives up to the theme.

If you've stopped in for your Monday Zen, never fear: we'll have one of our rare Zen Tuesdays tomorrow.

City Daily Photo is now 1408 blogs strong; the newest is Guatemala Daily Photo.

Wish you were here!

Click here to see other post cards from City Daily Photo bloggers around the world.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Project Housed

For me, the night is sweet. I snuggle in my home with my husband and my dog and we relax together, reading, surfing the web, enjoying each other's company.

(Boz doesn't read and surf the web, of course. We read to him. Otherwise how else is he going to keep up with current events?)

I find it hard to imagine what the night would be like if I didn't have my family and our home. Where would I sleep? Would I even feel safe enough to close my eyes? Where would I go when it gets cold?

Lately I've seen more homeless people on the streets. Have you? Have you wanted to do something but felt helpless? A handout on a street corner--where does that go? I wish I could say I've never suspected it went to the liquor store.

Thanks to Wired Women, Monica Hubbard's super local weekly email*, I heard about Project Housed-Pasadena. During the week of August 7-12, trained volunteers will "fan out on the streets of Pasadena to survey those [homeless] they find. From these responses, a list of the 20 most vulnerable homeless persons will be generated. Working from this list, Housing Works, a non-profit agency that serves homeless persons, will outreach to the identified homeless persons and work with them to become housed. Once housed, Housing Works and supportive service and healthcare agencies in the City of Pasadena will provide the services necessary to allow the participants to remain housed and integrate into the community."

Take a look at the website and watch the video. There are all kinds of ways you can participate. You can be trained to survey homeless people, you can give money, donate or assemble move-in kits and more.

Twenty people isn't everyone, but it's a start. A handout only changes a few minutes. Integration into the community changes a life.

*If you want to know more about Wired Women, email me and I'll get you hooked up.