Are you curious about astronomy and do you love star gazing at night? Most people probably only know the most well-know star constellations, such as the big dipper or the Orion, but the different star constellations are only one small part of astronomy, so why not dig a bit deeper and discover all the other fascinating facts about our universe as well?

The Mount Wilson Solar Observatory

In 1904, the astronomer George Ellery Hale moved from his native Chicago in search of clearer skies, and eventually settled near the mountains around Pasadena. After he received support from the Carnegie Institution of Washington, he founded the Mount Wilson Solar Observatory. Hale was determined to push beyond old-fashioned astronomy and invested in a massive 100-inch telescope, which was the biggest telescope in the world at the time.

This magnificent telescope, along with the approach taken regarding the management of staff, really transformed astronomy and astrophysics. Staff and fellows of the observatory have no other responsibilities other than to do science, which means they have to neither teach, nor do they have to look and apply for funding. All staff members are free to use their time as they see fit, and because of that Hale and his colleagues who worked at the observatory over the years were able to do amazing things for astronomy and astrophysics, including mapping the globular cluster system of the galaxy, better understanding the expanding universe, recognizing the phenomenon of stellar populations, and establishing the empirical basis for theories of stellar structures and cosmic evolution. Hale’s legendary drive made him one of the most famous astronomers, as he invented the spectroheliograph, and also discoverered solar magnetism.

Where to find the Observatory

The main offices of the Carnegie Observatories are located on Santa Barbara Street in Pasadena. The observatory employs some 65 scientific, support, and technical staff. It has an extensive library and a large photographic plate collection. The building also has a lecture hall, a conference room, a machine shop, and different labs.

When to visit the Observatory

Each year the Observatory organizes a series of public lectures on various astronomical topics. The lectures are either given by astronomers from the various Carnegie Observatories, or other research institutions. There is an annual spring astronomy lecture series, annual open houses, and outreach activities to local schools. Approximately 4000 attendees have come to hear presentations on topics such as supernovae, black holes, and many more.

As you can see, the observatory is a fascinating place to learn more about our galaxy and solar system. If you are in Pasadena you should definitely time your visit to coincide with the spring lecture series, so make sure to check dates on their website. For other unique things to do in Pasadena, you could check out the website Vayable. If you are visiting in January don’t forget to book your hotel in Pasadena well in advance, as January attracts thousands of visitors for its famous New Year’s Parade.

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About Tammyonthemove

Tammy & Chris are a couple hailing from Germany and England, meaning between them they are efficient and polite, but unable to talk about football. Find out why they stopped pushing pens around the British civil service to travel the world on their blog.

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