Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hale Telescope Guided Tours Return This Weekend!

Can you spot the people on the catwalk? Click the image to enlarge.
Read on to see how you can get there too.

Guided tours of the 200-inch Hale Telescope return this weekend. The hour-long tours are given on Saturdays and Sundays from April through October at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Tickets are sold in the Palomar Observatory Gift Shop on a first-come, first-served basis.

The tours explain how the telescope works, its history, research and (weather permitting) includes a visit to the outside catwalk. More details on the tours can be found here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Now Open Until . . .

Yes, the observatory is back open to the public and we have returned to our non-winter hours - meaning that we are now open daily from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

I had an amazing time in Corning, NY. I will be posting about that soon.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Still Closed

Yes, Palomar Observatory is still closed to the public due today.

I will be traveling for the next several days and may not be able to update the blog. Don't forget that you can check to see if the observatory is open or not by calling (760) 742-2119.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Observatory Closed due to Snow

The calendar says spring, but winter weather conditions will keep Palomar Observatory closed to the public today.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Palomar History Photo of the Week - Molten Glass

This dramatic photo expertly captured the drama as on March 25, 1934 men working with molten Pyrex glass were pouring what was then the biggest mirror ever made. This casting was unsuccessful, but a second attempt to pour the 200-inch Pyrex disc was successfully completed December 2, 1934.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Speaking at Corning

In just two weeks I will be giving a talk at the Corning Museum of Glass, the birthplace of Palomar's 200-inch mirror.

I am looking forward to having the opportunity to see their new Mirror to Discovery exhibit and to visit again with the first, failed disc that was cast for Palomar.

The talk will not be on the history of the creation of the glass giant, nor on the construction of the 200-inch telescope or the 1000-ton dome that houses it. Instead, the talk will focus on what the astronomers at Palomar have done and are doing with the giant telescope that was made possible by Corning Glass Works.

I am told that the talk will also be available on line. I will post details of how to catch it as soon as they come in.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Palomar History Photo of the Week - Corning Glass Works

March is a good time to celebrate the contribution that Corning Glass Works made in creating Palomar Observatory's 200-inch mirror. 77 years ago this month they made their first attempt at casting the 200-inch. It was unsuccessful, but you can check out a previous post on it here.

If you get the chance you really should see the first disc, which is on display at the Corning Museum of Glass. You can also check out their Mirror to Discovery exhibit, at which can be seen until the end of October in their Rakow Library.

Our "photo" this week is a detailed drawing of Corning's factory as it was set up for casting the 20-ton disc. Click on the image or this link to see a huge and richly detailed version of the drawing from the June 1934 issue of Popular Science Monthly.

This month also marks the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the trip westward for their second, successful disc. I will be posting other images this month that fit with both anniversaries.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Another Day. Another Sunset.

Here is tonight's sunset from two vantage points. Looking toward the west:

and the light of the sunset illuminating the dome of the Hale Telescope:

As the Sun goes down everyone inside the dome is just getting started for 11 hours or so of work.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Hale Telescope Sunset - March 4, 2011

Here is tonight's sunset from the catwalk of the dome of the 200-inch Hale Telescope:

Thursday, March 3, 2011


The word is that Palomar Observatory will be open today for our regular daytime visiting hours.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Observatory Closed

Yup, we got dumped on with snow last weekend and are currently closed to the public.