Thursday, July 9, 2009

There's No Place Like Dome

A week ago, I was waiting around at the observatory's visitor center to meet a reporter (who incidentally didn't show up) when I happened to meet a group of people with some amazing connections to the observatory.

I had no idea when I met them that they had ties to Corning Glass Works, James "Jimmie" Fassero (Author of The Photographic Giants of Palomar), 1930's Palomar plumber Thomas Young, and to the construction of our big dome. As the conversation went on I became more amazed. One of the ladies mentioned that she and her sister had even been here at the observatory and had their photo taken with the dome while it was under construction. Wow!

Thankfully, Betty and Ethel were kind enough to share that photo with me and have allowed me to share it with you.
That's Betty Dixon on the left and Ethel Dixon on the right. The photo was taken by their father Ralph E. Dixon, an Escondido citrus rancher.

For me this photo is unique of all the dome construction photos that I have ever seen at Palomar. It is not that I haven't seen people posing with the dome before. That's been going on since construction began in 1936.

To prove it, here's Edwin Hubble posed with the dome in 1936 1937:

Note the Betty & Ethel had their photo taken with the dome before Edwin Hubble did. (Of course, Dr. Hubble did make sure the camera got his good side.)

I have also seen many unidentified people posing in front of the dome. Here is an example of a nice group photo from the past (possibly 1938):

The picture is one the photos of Thomas R. Young that were donated to the observatory in 2005. I love this photo, but I have no idea who any of the people are.

What makes the photo of Betty and Ethel so special for me is that they are the only people who I have actually met who were here to witness the event and have had their picture taken with the dome in the background. (For the sake of total disclosure, I have met Thomas Young's son, Hugh, and I do have a construction-era photo of him taken during construction from inside the dome.)

No one else is going to have the chance to have their photo taken in the same way the Betty & Ethel did, but the tradition of having your picture taken in front of the dome continues and has now spanned 73 years. On your next visit, be sure to have your picture taken here. Remember, we want everyone to have a chance to get into the shot. That's why we installed camera posts earlier this year.

1 comment:

Kimber said...

That is an amazing photo of Betty & Ethel in front of the dome! Wow.