Mount Wilson Observatory

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Mount Wilson Observatory,

astronomical observatoryobservatory,
scientific facility especially equipped to detect and record naturally occurring scientific phenomena. Although geological and meteorological observatories exist, the term is generally applied to astronomical observatories.
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 located in California on Mt. Wilson, near Pasadena. Mt. Wilson Observatory was founded in 1904 by George E. HaleHale, George Ellery,
1868–1938, American astronomer, b. Chicago, grad. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1890. He founded and directed three great observatories (Yerkes, Mt.
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. Its equipment includes 100-in. (2.5-m) and 60-in. (1.50-m) reflecting telescopestelescope,
traditionally, a system of lenses, mirrors, or both, used to gather light from a distant object and form an image of it. Traditional optical telescopes, which are the subject of this article, also are used to magnify objects on earth and in astronomy; other types of
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 and two solar-tower telescopes 150 ft. (46 m) and 60 ft. (18 m) in length. The most recent addition is the CHARA (Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy) array operated by Georgia State Univ.; it consists of six 39-in. (1-m) aperture telescopes arranged in a Y-shape and contained in a 1,300-ft (400-m) diameter circle. When it becomes operational in 2000, the signals from the six telescopes will be combined and analyzed by a computer using optical interferometry techniques, producing the equivalent of the light-gathering power of a single telescope with a 1,300-ft (400-m) aperture. Principal research programs that have been conducted at the observatory include studies of the structure and dimensions of the universe and the physical nature, chemical composition, and evolution of celestial bodies. An ongoing program on the 60-in. telescope is a long-term study of singly ionized calcium lines to monitor sunspot cycles on nearby solar-type stars. The CHARA array will measure details of the surfaces of stars like the sun; the movements of double stars orbiting around each other and of planets orbiting distant stars; and planet formation around stars. The observatory, along with the Palomar Observatory (see under Palomar MountainPalomar Mountain
, peak, 6,126 ft (1,867 m) high, S Calif., NE of San Diego, in Cleveland National Forest. It is the site of the Palomar Observatory, operated by the California Institute of Technology.
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), was formerly part of the Hale Observatories, which were jointly administered by the California Institute of Technology and the Carnegie Institution. In 1986 the Carnegie Institution transferred the observatory's management to the newly formed Mount Wilson Institute.

Mount Wilson Observatory

An observatory located on Mount Wilson near Pasadena, California, at an altitude of 1740 meters; the seeing is often better than 1 arcsecond. It was founded in 1904 by George Ellery Hale. Until 1985 it was operated by the Carnegie Institution, and is now managed by the Mount Wilson Institute. The first major instrument was a 60-inch (1.5-meter) reflector, completed in 1908, which was followed by a 100-inch (2.5-meter) reflector. The 100-inch, named the Hooker telescope after its benefactor, began operation in 1917 as the world's largest telescope. Its great success led Hale to consider an even larger telescope, eventually sited at Palomar Observatory. The Hooker underwent renovation from 1985 to 1993. Mount Wilson is also the site of two solar telescopes and the Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy, which operates the six optical telescopes of the CHARA interferometric array.

Mount Wilson Observatory


a scientific institution of the Carnegie Institution of Washington (USA). Located in California, 13 km north of Pasadena, it was founded in 1904 for the purpose of studying the sun. The work conducted at the observatory has played an outstanding role in the study of the sun, the stars, and the Milky Way Galaxy and other stellar systems.

The following instruments were first designed and used at the observatory for solar research: the tower telescope, the spectrohelioscope, the spectroheliograph, and the magnetograph. Among the observatory’s instruments are a horizontal telescope, two tower telescopes with focal lengths of 14.4 and 45.8 m and with spectroscopic equipment, a 257-cm reflector for spectroscopic and photometric work, a 152-cm reflector, and a 25-cm refractor. The principal areas of research are the sun and the physics of stars, nebulae, and extragalactic objects. In 1949, Mount Wilson Observatory was administratively merged with Palomar Observatory.

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