Sunday, August 30, 2015

Solset on Mount Wilson

THIS POST UPDATED 9/8/15:
Ken Evans, a 15-year volunteer at Mt. Wilson Observatory, wrote to share information about the Solar Tower: 
"The 'little platform' is not the bucket elevator. The platform is a service stop for the bucket elevator. There is equipment inside the tower inner column that needs service and the elevator would stop there. The elevator is stored at the bottom of the tower when not in use. The group of cables on the far right in the photos is what is used by the elevator. The bucket only holds two people easily, but could hold three if one stands in the middle.

I also enjoyed the views inside the 100" telescope. I am part of a team of three that is installing a new control system for the telescope and at times I forget the beauty of the building. I have spent many hours inside the building, on the telescope and in it doing service. I am awed by the engineering of the place having been built in 1912 to 1917. The other day, [we] were studying a problem with the shutter opening system and I had to use binoculars to see the top area. I discovered that the idler pulleys for the cables that operate the upper part have pipes and grease fittings for the pulley. They come from the pulley hub and curve around so that they can be reached from the Newtonian platform as it rides up the dome."

Thanks for the corrections, Ken! They are much appreciated.

Public access to the Mount Wilson Observatory ends at 5pm, unless you're going to a special event. So when I had the chance to be on the Observatory grounds during evening hours, you can bet I grabbed it.

Approaching the 150-foot Solar Tower at sunset...

 ...magic.

Take a closer look. The little platform on the right is an elevator you can ride to the top IF you don't fear heights and IF you know the right people. I don't fear heights. I have to work on the people.

My next post takes place inside the building, with more magic. Or, uh, science.


13 comments:

altadenahiker said...

If you get to ride on that elevator, I will stalk you with my envy through time and space.

Petrea Burchard said...

Hmm. That's tempting.

William Kendall said...

The tower certainly stands out, Petrea! I look forward to what's to come.

Petrea Burchard said...

It's way up on the mountain, William, but you can see the solar tower from Pasadena, even from the freeway. It's recently been painted so it's shiny white.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Is that all there is to the platform - one little cross pipe to hold onto? Yikes.

So was this an evening of amateur astronomers for the full moon? I did one of those evenings many years back. It was fun.

Petrea Burchard said...

I think that's it, PA. I can't find anything else on the building that could be an elevator, but I know there is one. That's got to be it.

This was a private party last week. I would have loved to have been up there for the Super Moon.

beckynot said...

Man, that's an odd structure. It's easy to say something's phallic, but it's hard to say that's not. It also looks like an old sci-fi Earth energy stealer,

Petrea Burchard said...

It was built in the early 20th century so I get the old sci-fi reference. As to the other, well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Bellis said...

You captured the setting sun trapped inside the solar tower - magical. I've never seen a better photo of the tower. Rather you than me in that elevator, but if you do get to the top, perhaps you could check that the webcam is working? It was my go-to website for checking the weather on days with a thick marine layer over Pasadena. If it was sunny on the mountain, we'd drive up into the San Gabriels for a hike.

llandudnopictures said...

It positively glows, fabulous!

Petrea Burchard said...

Here you go, Bellis. It's cloudy over Pasadena today, but as usual, Mount Wilson is above it all.
http://obs.astro.ucla.edu/towercam.htm

It was heart-stopping to see, Geoff. I didn't do a thing to the photo!

Petrea Burchard said...

This post has been updated. The platform is not the elevator! Bummer! But truth most override fantasy, at least in this case.

Shell Sherree said...

I'll run with the fantasy version, Petrea! It's a gorgeous thing.