Sunday, September 29, 2013

Visitors are welcome at the Mount Palomar Observatory which has been operated by the California Institute of Technology since its inception in 1934.  Getting to the Observatory, situated atop 5,500 foot Mount Palomar is a pleasure in itself as one travels through the countryside described above.  The route is on Highway 76, then to County Road S6 which climbs a winding way to the huge dome of the Observatory.
The Hale telescope has been a wonder since it was first dedicated and put into service in 1948.  The finished mirror alone weighs fourteen and one half tons.  Then there is the 1,000 ton rotating dome and other moving parts weigh another 530 tons.
Visitors view the telescope from a special galley inside the Dome.  But first stop should be the small museum which offers color photographs of the outer reaches of space.  The exhibits also list some of the discoveries, many the first of their kind, that have been made at the Observatory.  It was here that Andromeda was first discovered as a sister galaxy to our Milky Way.  A 1956 discovery doubled the age of the universe and in the 1960s Quasars were revealed for the first time.  In 1994 the first dwarf star was revealed by Cal Tech astronomers.
There is also the Gus Weber delightful picnic area equipped with tables placed under huge California oaks.  We spent some time here munching cheese and crackers.

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