Mt. Wilson 60-inch telescope at night

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

If you missed the spectacular full and new moons all Summer, don’t despair. First, there will always be others. Second, it’s highly likely that you’ll get to see one up close and personal. Real soon.

Californians and especially Angelenos now have public access to formerly the most powerful telescope in the world, located right in their backyard at the re-invented Mt. Wilson Observatory.

This luminous eye to the stars (we mean the ones in the sky, not on Hollywood Blvd.) overlooking what used to be known as ‘The Valley of the Smokes’, is on a new mission. And it is directed squarely at the crossroads of science and entertainment.

Once known as the most important data measurement center for all things Universe, Mt. Wilson’s 60-inch was the world’s largest operational reflecting telescope (until the 100-inch was completed in 1917). It was, in fact, not even meant to be looked through, although traditionally has been used by UCLA & Cal-Tech students, working astrophysicists and even Einstein himself. And until the more advanced capabilities of the Hubble were developed, used to record data in the far crevices of the unknown. Today, although not defunct, the work-a-day duties of both the 60-inch and the 100-inch are definitely on the back burner.

Far more powerful than the telescope at the Griffith Park Observatory, Today the 60-inch is now a hub for a combined science and art endeavor. And, bonus, open to the public!

The Mt. Wilson scientific team whose most important daily transmission is still dedicated to recording sunsets, has decided to revitalize its importance by inviting everyone with a dream of live quasar-surfing to experience more than just the constellations above the man-made blink. No VR needed.

On offer is an exciting opportunity to experience the mystery of the galaxy while sampling the majesty of music, private parties, dinners, lectures, and other cultural events.

Our special preview visit to the 60-inch (the 100-inch telescope is right next door) offered spectacular views of the moon, Jupiter and other far reaches from the machinery inside, with an added almost tactile touch to an enormous Big Dipper sighting practically sitting atop the dome.

There is so much to experience, it would take at least a day. As luck would have it, Mt. Wilson is open to the public with a calendar of regular events. The next ones are in October.

  • October 6 will feature the last Sunday Afternoon Concert in the Dome of the year! Mozart and Brahms Quintets for Clarinet and strings. Pierre Génisson, clarinet, Ambroise Aubrun and Henry Gronnier, violins, Virginie d’Avezac, viola, Cécilia Tsan, cello.  World renown clarinetist living in Paris and also a graduate from USC, Pierre Génisson is joined by four other French musicians living in Los Angeles.
  • Saturday Evening, October 19, join them for their Talk and Telescopes night: The Monster at the Center of our Galaxy, by Dr. Andrea Ghez, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, UCLA.

After the lecture, the 100-inch Telescope will be opened for attendees to look through. This is contingent on the weather. The number of objects visitors will get to see will depend on the number in attendance.

In the meantime, here are some fun photos by Gia On The Move’s Matt Ritchey to whet your appetite for astrometric adventure.

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One response to “To the Moon, Alice! Stargazing at Mt. Wilson’s 60-Inch”

  1. Sunday Afternoon Concerts in the Dome Return to Mount Wilson Observatory – Gia On The Move Avatar

    […] Afternoon Concerts in the Dome are back at Mount Wilson Observatory with two live concerts on August 1 and September 5, held in the vaulted dome of the Observatory’s […]


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