Mount Wilson Observatory was founded in 1904 by George Ellery Hale, who encouraged the likes of Edwin Hubble and who also had a great deal to do with the way Pasadena looks today. Think the city center plaza and City Hall. Think Caltech. Thank you, Mr. Hale.
More than 100 years later, important astronomical research continues at Mount Wilson, especially the CHARA Array, operated by Georgia State University. Don't ask me what it does. I've had it explained to me twice, once by John and once by Craig Woods, and I still don't get it. But it looks cool from above.
Craig Woods, by the way, is the reason John and I got a behind-the-scenes tour. He's our friend and the superintendent at Mount Wilson, the guy with all the keys. He's up on all the experiments, the history, and the equipment at Mount Wilson. Plus he's willing to climb some precarious ladders.
I hope you'll take another look at my May 10th post about Mount Wilson. Here's a further explanation of those photos:
First, that big engine, and its rheostat, power the tool-making shed. 110 years ago, when you got up to Mount Wilson with your mule cart or your Model-T, you weren't about to run down to Flintridge if you forgot your screwdriver. If you needed a tool or a part, you made it. Many of those magnificent old things are still there. Some explain themselves, some don't. Unless you're Craig, then you know what they are.
Near the tool shed is another shed that's a treasure trove of maps, blueprints and files. There's a small library with early Scientific American magazines and other works. There's an ancient and dusty stand-up grand piano and a pool table that hasn't been used in, I would guess, 20 years.
Newer, larger telescopes dot the planet. The larger the telescope, the deeper into space an astronomer can study. Although Mount Wilson still has many uses, it's now in a transition phase, becoming a museum. Funding will be needed to preserve all those beautiful blueprints and plans, to maintain those telescopes and historic buildings, to keep it all available so the public can visit and learn about the early days of astronomy.