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Mount Wilson Observatory

Astronomical observatory in Los Angeles County, California, USA / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Mount Wilson Observatory (MWO) is an astronomical observatory in Los Angeles County, California, United States. The MWO is located on Mount Wilson, a 1,740-meter (5,710-foot) peak in the San Gabriel Mountains near Pasadena, northeast of Los Angeles.

Quick facts: Organization, Observatory code, Location...
Mount Wilson Observatory
Looking down on the top of Mount Wilson, including the historic 100" Hooker telescope (center), the 60" telescope (center left), and the CHARA array
OrganizationCarnegie Institution for Science 
Observatory code 672 
LocationMount Wilson, California, US
Coordinates34°13′30″N 118°03′26″W
Altitude1,742 m (5,715 ft)
60-inch telescope1.5 meter reflector
Hooker telescope2.5 meter reflector
Infrared Spatial Interferometer3 65-inch (~1.65 meter) reflectors
CHARA array6 40-inch (~1.02 meter) reflectors
Location of Mount Wilson Observatory
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The observatory contains two historically important telescopes: the 100-inch (2.5 m) Hooker telescope, which was the largest aperture telescope in the world from its completion in 1917 to 1949, and the 60-inch telescope which was the largest operational telescope in the world when it was completed in 1908. It also contains the Snow solar telescope completed in 1905, the 60 foot (18 m) solar tower completed in 1908, the 150 foot (46 m) solar tower completed in 1912, and the CHARA array, built by Georgia State University, which became fully operational in 2004 and was the largest optical interferometer in the world at its completion.

Due to the inversion layer that traps warm air and smog over Los Angeles, Mount Wilson has steadier air than any other location in North America, making it ideal for astronomy and in particular for interferometry.[1] The increasing light pollution due to the growth of greater Los Angeles has limited the ability of the observatory to engage in deep space astronomy, but it remains a productive center, with the CHARA Array continuing important stellar research.

The initial efforts to mount a telescope to Mount Wilson occurred in the 1880s by one of the founders of University of Southern California, Edward Falles Spence, but he died without finishing the funding effort.[2] The observatory was conceived and founded by George Ellery Hale, who had previously built the 1 meter telescope at the Yerkes Observatory, then the world's largest telescope. The Mount Wilson Solar Observatory was first funded by the Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1904, leasing the land from the owners of the Mount Wilson Hotel in 1904. Among the conditions of the lease was that it allow public access.[3]