Saturday, September 26, 2015

Mt. Wilson Observatory Hideout II

I kept getting up from my dinner last night to photograph the sunset. I finally had to stop because I was hungry. My kitchen window at my Mt. Wilson hideout looks out over Pasadena and Altadena, to the west of where I sit.

I'm fortunate to have a weekend getaway in a cabin at Mt. Wilson Observatory, high above Pasadena in the San Gabriel Mountains. Mt. Wilson was founded in 1904 by George Ellery Hale. Einstein visited here. Here, at the 100-inch telescope, Edwin Hubble discovered and proved the expansion of the universe.

While I thought of the great scientists, the moon rose almost full to shine over the places they'd walked. The valley to the west and south twinkled. The Observatory still houses scientists and experiments, but larger telescopes in Chile and Hawaii are used for the Hubble-type discoveries these days. We have too much light pollution here now.

Night critters began to make their moves. The windows and doors have screens and a breeze flows through, so I've got air conditioning without bugs. Depending on what time of year you come up, you might want a bug net that goes over your hat. I'm told the nets are $4 at Big 5. I'll have to get one for next time. The (seasonal) gnats adore me and escort my face wherever I go. Except in my cabin. They haven't figured that out yet. It's a good strategy for staying inside and writing.

It's been a long time since I've watched the sun rise. Today is the first time I've ever watched it from up on the mountain. After I had my coffee I took a walk to get some exercise, snoop and take pictures. I will never run out of Mt. Wilson pictures to post.

This walkway between an office and the machine room had some lovely light, so I photographed it without noticing the thing on the floor. Probably a drain. But of course I must go back and make sure.

This building houses the Snow Solar Telescope, which was the first telescope on the mountain. Hale brought it here in 1904. I've never seen it. Maybe that's because it's in use even now.

People live here. At least four cabins are occupied, as far as I know. I haven't snooped everywhere, but I can ask. I'm fascinated by the idea and I feel privileged and grateful to be here for my writing weekend.

I keep saying "my." I'm feeling ownership. I was sitting here typing when a family of tourists walked by, having ignored the "do not enter" signs and marched on into the private areas. I was immediately outraged. Then I understood their curiosity. I'm pretty sure they heeded the "DANGER: DO NOT ENTER!" signs beyond the monastery because if they hadn't they might not have come back.

I want you to have a proprietary feeling about the Mt. Wilson, too. As the Observatory ages it becomes more of a museum, and this amazing place will need you more and more, to be its protectors, visitors and benefactors.

Come on up. It's open 10am-5pm, 7 days a week, as long as the roads are open. And it'll take you longer to drive from Pasadena to Santa Monica than it'll take you to get here from just about anywhere.

I promised pictures of the monastery. I haven't forgotten.


John Sandel said...

Wow! Down here jn the flatlands, the most we get is the glow of occasional tail lights.

Petrea Burchard said...

It's pretty fine up here tonight, too.

altadenahiker said...

You know how stingy I am with my exclamation points, but !!!!!!

Bellis said...

Your photos are astonishing. What a beautiful sunset! The second two look like the woodcut prints I buy at the Gamble House. Is there any chance you can stay to watch the supermoon rising tonight? I had an experience up there once that I've never been able to repeat. Driving down the hill at moonrise, I stopped at a turnout and saw behind me the full moon rising behind the 100 inch dome, with huge fir trees in front of it. It was like an Ansel Adams photo. The moon looks so much bigger when it's behind things we can relate to. Perhaps you'll be able to capture something similar, though the direction from where the moon rises depends on the month and I've forgotten in which month I saw it.

Bellis said...

It's the pesky deer flies that annoy me up there. They're really after the eyes of deer and dogs - remember when they laid eggs in Abby's eyes and the worms had to be removed with tweezers? Thank goodness humans are safe from that.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

Gorgeous photos!.. bet the air is fresher... btw a citronella candle would help rid those gnats... love that moon pic!.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thank you for the exclamation points, Hiker. I'm posting at least once a day from here, so I hope for more!!!!!

Bellis, your moon experience sounds so memorable. Yes, I'm staying for the blood moon eclipse. Apparently it's too large an object/event to watch through the telescopes here, but it's still wonderful to be on the mountain to see it.

It is beautiful here, KBF. I think you're right, a citronella candle would do the trick.

William Kendall said...

What beautiful shots, Petrea, and quite an experience for you to have!

Petrea Burchard said...

I'm very fortunate to be here, William.

Ms M said...

Amazing shots from up there! Enjoying your series so much!