Sunday, September 27, 2015

Mt. Wilson Observatory Hideout III: the Monastery

This was my first view of the Monastery at Mt. Wilson Observatory. Compare it to this photo

Here's how to orient yourself to it:
I took this from near the front door, looking between the main building and the cottage. The pooch in the linked photo was standing beside that chimney, behind the van.

No. They're pine cones.

Originally they called this a monastery because the only astronomers here in the early 20th century were men. That's not true anymore, but the name stuck.

I had always wanted to get a glimpse of the place but it's in one of the private areas of the mountaintop where astronomical researchers live while they're working here.

The monastery is only steps from my cabin. I took this picture from my front porch this morning while the sun rose. I'm not normally an early riser but I'm going circadian here.

Here's a better look at the Monastery Cabin. Someone is living in the front part now. The back houses a kitchen and dining room that was once staffed to provide meals for the astronomers. I was able to peek through a gauze curtain and see a dining table that might have seated 12 or more people. It looks like there's a clean, white tablecloth on it. There are also a couple of bells, the kind with handles on them that you ring to let folks know the chow is on. Couldn't get a good picture through the gauze.

The "day side" of the Monastery. Scientists studying the sun stay on this side. Those working at night stay down the hall behind me. There's also a second floor above the night side.

The night side hallway is plain and carpeted. At the end is this:
I don't know what it is, but keep in mind that it's outside Room 4.

This summer the Monastery housed students in the CUREA program. I hope they do it again next year. The professor in charge lived in my cabin. She had a dog. I know because of the pupkiss on the windows above the couch. It makes me feel at home.

You can see why the place is thought of as monastic. It's simple and clean. This room is luxurious; others I saw had bunk beds. Each has a sink. There's a communal bathroom and a laundry room (bring quarters).

Nice views from every room.

The Monastery is at the end of a promontory below the Observatory. Behind it this stairway leads down the steep hillside to buildings that are part of another entity. The warning works for me.

Heading uphill in the other direction on your way to the telescopes, you'll pass my cottage. Mine at least for another 24 hours.


Bellis said...

I've never got as close to the Monastery as you have. How interesting that there were day and night sections! The Monastery at Palomar is similar, and I've actually eaten there with the astronomers. We all sat at a long table and ate lovely food made by the resident cook/chef, while discussing interesting astronomy issues. Very sociable. Two things I'm intrigued about: what's in Room 4, and what's down those top secret stairs?

Petrea Burchard said...

I think Room 4 is just another room, though I didn't open the door. I only think I wouldn't want to stay in there, with all that weird machinery right outside.
The stairs apparently lead to a JPL outpost. I don't know what they do there, but Richard might. If you find out, let us know! (Unless it's top secret, of course.)

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Your at the perfect place to witness tonights moon magic. I'm 'blood red' with envy.

William Kendall said...

Ah, so that's the meaning of monastery in this context!

Petrea Burchard said...

PA, I didn't realize the eclipse was tonight until someone mentioned it to me yesterday. I am very lucky to be here. It should be easy viewing from the flatlands, but there's just something about being on the mountain.

William, even many locals don't know about it, so I'm not surprised you didn't. I think it's high time Mt. Wilson got some PR! It's such a special place, and easy to reach from LA and the suburbs. A great day trip into astronomical science.

Ms M said...

Love the tour you took us on.
And I hope the sky is clear tonight for you to see the eclipse!

Ted Thompson said...

I've only been once, but I loved it! Seems there used to be a rail link of sorts up there somewhere, back in the red car days. Or maybe that was another peak nearby? In any case, love the shots and am a little envious of your vantage point for tonight.

Pretty sure your "weird machinery" is a combination of wireless/wired network gear above and mundane breaker/fuse boxes below.

Enjoy your visit. I might have missed it, but how did you secure your "special permission"?

Petrea Burchard said...

I hope for clear skies too, Ms M. We have some clouds but it's not bad.

Ted, there was a Mt. Lowe Railway that went to a peak nearby. You can see remains of it if you climb the Sam Merrill Trail to Echo Mountain.
Thanks for the info on the weird machinery!
I'm going to be able to tell you all more one day, but it must now suffice to say that I have a friend who works here who got me a special deal.