Wednesday, November 19, 2014

About Mount Wilson Observatory: Introduction

There are many observatories around the world where significant astronomical research is and has been done. Likewise there are many important assets, historic and more recent that have come close to being destroyed by wildfire or have been destroyed by wildfires. Observatories tend to be located on remote mountains and hilltops for obvious reasons. Sometimes these remote mountain top observatories are located in areas where wildfires pose a threat. 

One of the nightmares of those who love an observatory, is the destruction of  their observatory and her equipment and related infrastructure in a wildfire. Such was the nightmare that happened to the Mount Stromolo Observatory when a fire storm destroyed most of the observatory buildings and equipment in January 2003 (Space Daily on fire at Mt. Stromlo, Photos of Mt Stromlo fire from Canberra Times  and Sky and Telescope on fire at Mt. Stromlo). Such was the nightmare that almost happened, but did not, to the Mount Wilson Observatory during the 2009 Station Fire.

The Mount Wilson Observatory (MWO) was not destroyed by the Station Fire. I am not here to tell the story of  MWO and the Station Fire. If you are interested in the story of the 2009 Station Fire’s impact on the Mt. Wilson Observatory, you will want to read Hal McAlister’s e-book, Diary of a Fire: the 2009 Station Fire Threat to Mount Wilson. Edited to add on April 8, 2018, I don't know if this book is still available. 

If you are interested about more general coverage of the Station Fire, I wrote some articles at the time with links to photos, and videos (Sept. 1, 2009, Sept. 2, 2009, Sept. 3, 2009, Sept. 4, 2009 , and Sept, 6, 2009).

While I would like, at some point to talk about what has happened on Mount Wilson five years after the Station Fire, that story will have to come later. I am here because when I was following the Station Fire in 2009, Mount Wilson played a prominent role and as someone who likes the night sky, I decided that I wanted to learn more about Mount Wilson. 

Outline of series:
Day 1: a little history of MWO (November 21)
Day 2: MWO today (November 24)
Day 3: A drive up the Angeles Crest Highway on Sept. 3, 2009 (November 26)
Day 4: Wrap-up and Reflections (November 28)

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