Back in 2010 Carol and I took a couple of weeks and went down to Borrego Springs for a little R & R. Did some hiking and took a day trip up to Mt. Palomar.
Some very nice scenery along the way :)
There weren't any tours going on the day we went up there, but the dome was open and you could still wander around and be impressed.
There are some additional observatories scattered around the property. We're all familiar with roll-off roofs, but these are roll-off buildings :)
From a distance, the dome doesn't look very big. Get up close, and wow!!!
in 1938, George Ellery Hale secured a grant, and began work on what was to be at the time the largest telescope ever built, the 200" Hale Telescope. It was the largerst telescope in the world until Russia built a 236" telescope. Here are a couple of interesting links.
Historty of George Hale and Mt. Palomar Observatory
The observatory is situated at 5,600' and was built on the only land that Hale could find that fit his observing requirements.
The dome itself is 137' in diameter and 135' tall. Work on the mirror had to be suspended for three years due to WW II. The cooks and undergraduate studuents were enlisted to help pour the concrete. Mt. Palomar is now owned and operated by Caltech in Pasadena.
You can take a self-guided tour on days when there are no regular tours. Inside the dome there is a viewing gallery from which you can see all of the equipment along with the telescope.
The gondola. Astronomers used to sit in here for hours on end with their eye to the eyepiece keeping the crosshairs on their target in order to get good round stars in the their images. It would be seriously cold at night so they would bundle up in theiir cold weather suits with a thermos of hot coffee. Imaging back then was done on photographic plates.
The telescope is on a yolk mount with a horseshoe bearing. The telescope weighs 530 tons.
Your basic telescope parts.
Pyrex was commissioned to build the mirror. They started out with two 40,000 lb. pieces of glass. One was ruined by a power failure during the cooling process and it cracked.
Another picture of the gondola.
Just a couple of the wheels that the dome sits on as it rotates.
That's me in the visitor's gallery.
A bust of Geoge Hale along with a plaque sits in the observartory entryway.
Carol, as we're getting ready to head over to Julian for some lunch.
A lot of very important people have worked here: Fritz Zwicky, Edwin Hubble, Walter Baade, and Allan Sandage just to name a few. Albert Einstein came out for the opening dedication in 1948 but was never associated with the project other than that visit.