Speachless Sunday ~ Palomar Observatory
Located at 5500 feet above sea level, Palomar Observatory is home to 5 different telescopes that are used nightly by the California Institute of Technology. It is a world class location for astronomical research. The largest, most recognized telescope at Palomar Observatory is the 200" Hale Telescope. For 45 years (1948-1993) the Hale Telescopewas the worlds largest telescope. It has been used to identify numerous nebula, Neptune, Mars, and earth bound comets. Weather permitting, this specific telescope will collect data 290 nights out of the year.
The construction of the Palomar Observatory dome to house the Hale Telescope began in 1936. The piers are anchored to the bedrock 22 feet below ground. The finished dome is 135 feet tall and 137 feet in diameter. Coincidentally, these dimensions are similar to the Parthenon in Rome. The dome weighs approximately 1000 tons. It is hard to imagine from these pictures, but it really is an amazing sight. Once the dome had been completed, the construction of the telescope began. Construction was temporarily suspended during World War II as many of the engineers and scientists were reassigned to war related projects. Completion of the telescope occurred in 1948 and was dedicated to George Hale (who was responsible for getting the project approved but died in 1938) on June 3, 1948.
The Palomar Observatoryis open 363 days of the year. They are closed on December 24th and 25th. They are open from 9:00 am to 3 pm Standard timeand 9:00 to 4 pm during Daylight Savings. There is a small museum and you have the option of a self-guided tour of the telescope or if there are enough people, they offer guided tours. It is a great day adventure and half the fun is getting there! It is worth the drive-go check it out!