November 13, 1949, sixty Years ago tonight, the 200-inch Hale Telescope began being used for astronomical observations. Earlier in 1949, Edwin Hubble took the first astronomical photographs with the 200-inch, but additional work was needed to tune up the telescope before scientific observations could begin.
To celebrate I thought I would give you a look at first the 200" log book. Here's what is looks like:
And here is the first page of entries:
Click to embiggen and you'll be able to read everything.
Notice that the first entries are for November 11 & 12, 1949 as observatory director Ira Bowen was performing mirror tests. The first regularly scheduled observer was Milton Humason. He observed from prime focus for just six hours, capturing four images on photographic plates in the process. After Humason's three nights, he was followed by Walter Baade and then Rudolph Minkowski. The Night Assistant (aka Telescope Operator) for each of the nights was Ben Traxler.
After 60 years the Hale Telescope continues to be used nightly and is one of the top telescopes in the world. Tonight's observer is from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and she will be using the 200-inch to study the re-ionization era of the early universe.