Saturday, August 23, 2008

Keep on Truckin'

Back in early July I posted this photo and promised to explain the story behind it. Sorry for not getting around to it until now.

If you make a visit to the observatory you'll likely notice that our picnic area is named for former employee Gus Weber. I have been told that Gus planted many of the now tall trees on the observatory grounds. Apparently Gus also liked to drive his pickup truck through the big back door and park it inside the dome of the 200-inch telescope. Observatory superintendent Byron Hill had had enough of that and decided one day to teach him a lesson. While Gus was off working Hill had his truck lifted to the top of the dome. According to The Perfect Machine by Ronald Florence:

Weber, suspecting a practical joke, search the mountain before he came into the dome and saw the visitors staring up above the telescope. His barrage of swearing was another treat for the visitors.

Speaking of trucks. Here's another old photo for you.

Here you can see the inside of the dome of the 200-inch telescope from back in the time of construction. The panels that cover the inside of the dome have not yet been installed. Also six of the dome's 32 dome trucks are visible. They support the 1,000-ton dome and ride around on the rails as the dome rotates. You may not be able to tell from the photo, but each of the trucks has four wheels. Each wheel supports at weight of 15,625 pounds.

I'll be presenting some of the observatory's history and new research to the Riverside Astronomical Society in two weeks.

By the way, I haven't forgotten about finishing up the story of the re-aluminumizing of our 60-inch mirror. I just need to catch up on my photography.

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