Explore Scientific Experiences: Mount Wilson Observatory 60-inch Telescope Star Party & Lectures
"What an epic night. Thanks Scott for putting it on and making it a wonderful experience. Here's a picture of Saturn I got with my iPhone from the 60 inch."
- Will Young
As part of the ongoing celebration of the legacy of George Ellery Hale's astronomy outreach, Explore Scientific is very pleased to announce that we will conduct an astronomy experience unlike any other on the historic Mount Wilson Observatory 60-inch Telescope. This exclusive, rare, and intimate engagement will be conducted on Saturday September 28th, 2019.
Participation is limited which will give you generous observing time and a once in a lifetime opportunity to interact through the observing session with our amazing group of speakers.
This event is perfect for anyone, beginners to experienced who share a passion for exploring the cosmos, and it will be a very rare opportunity to observe the planets and the cosmos with the iconic and historic 60-inch Telescope in the company of these legendary space explorers and astronomers.
Last year's event included an incredible lineup of amazing speakers including: Dr. Tom Spilker (Voyager Mission; Cassini Mission), Dan Koehler (Yerkes Observatory), and Alberto Levy (Astronomy Research in Mexico). And 2019’s Event will deepen your understanding of the universe even further with these featured speakers:
Keynote Speaker, Author, Discoverer
Author, JPL Planetary Scientist, Professional Astronomer
Mr. Claude Plymate
Claude Plymate is the Big Bear Solar Observatory Telescope Engineer and Chief Observer. His talk will be about spectrographs, how they work, and their importance in the field of astronomy.
Tim Thompson Mt. Wilson Observatory Session Director
Tim’s breadth of knowledge and experience in professional and amateur astronomy is vast. He has been the Session Director for the historic 60-inch Telescope for over three decades and his familiarity of the observatory complex is second to none. He will conduct the special tour of Mt. Wilson for the attendees and guide them through the stars with the massive telescope.
Your Telescope for the Night, the Venerable and Historic 60-inch
As you climb the stairs into the observatory dome, you will pass by the original lockers that still bear the names of the astronomers that used one of the most productive and successful telescopes in astronomical history, the 60-inch Telescope. Designed by George Willis Ritchey the 60-inch heralded the innovations that all modern telescopes today are influenced by. It was built under the guidance of George Ellery Hale who received the 60-inch (1.5 m) mirror blank, cast by glass manufacturer Saint-Gobain in France in 1896 as a gift from William Hale, his father. Hale finally received funding from Carnegie eight years later to begin work on the telescope with mirror grinding and polishing by Ritchey with First Light occurring in 1908. The 60-inch Telescope has been in continuous use almost every clear night to this day since its inception, and was the world™s largest operational telescope until Hale went on to complete the Mt. Wilson 100-inch telescope in 1918.
The 60-inch was used by a long list of iconic astronomers including George Ellery Hale, Edwin Hubble, Bade, and Shapely who joined the staff at Mt. Wilson in 1914. HIs study of the distribution of globular clusters in the Milky Way proved that our solar system did not lie in the center of our galaxy as was commonly believed, deducing that the Sun lies at a distance of 30,000 light years from the galactic center. Harlow Shapely's work with the 60-inch Telescope led to the first realistic estimate for the actual size of the Milky Way Galaxy, thus was a milestone in galactic astronomy.
Although there are few larger telescopes that are used for public observations, the telescope's diffraction-limited aperture of 60-inches, and the routinely good seeing conditions of Mt. Wilson may be one of the world's best visual instruments available anywhere. You will be treated to unforgettable super high-resolution views of the galaxies, nebulae, globular star clusters, planetary nebulae, and solar system objects. Objects like Saturn reveal subtleties and splits in the Rings that are rarely directly seen, amazing features and hues on Mars will leave you stunned. Because of the shear aperture of the telescope combined with proper eyepieces you can directly see vivid colors in planetary nebulae and intense color saturation in many stars is undeniable.
For those familiar with using telescopes, the 60-inch (1524mm aperture) has a focal length of 24,384mm. There are several specialized eyepieces used on the telescope's 4-inch focuser including the Explore Scientific 30mm 100 Degree Series Waterproof Eyepiece, which produces 813X producing a 7.4 arc minute true field of view.
Commemorative Items and Door Prizes
All Participants will receive a special Mt. Wilson Astronomer Certificate signed by the Session Director and the Telescope Operator to remember your Explore Scientific Experience at Mount Wilson, and you will receive a ticket for the chance to win valuable door prizes with easy odds since this is a small group!
Schedule: September 28th, 2019
- 10:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Parking and Orientation at the 60-inch Dome with overflow parking in the main parking lot below; Walk to the Mt. Wilson Museum Google Map
- 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Claude Plymate Lecture
- 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. Lunch with our Speakers and Session Staff
- 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Dr. Stephen J. Edberg Lecture
- 2:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Door Prizes and Book Signings
- 3:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Dr. David H. Levy Lecture
- 4:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Special Tour by Tim Thompson
- 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Light Dinner and Refreshments in the 60-inch Dome; Orientation with the 60-inch
- 8:00 p.m. - 1:00 a.m. 60-inch Telescope Observing Session
Observing Session with the 60-inchTelescope
- Sunset: 6:40 p.m.; 18:40
- Moon Phase: 0.0% Illumination; New Moon
- Moon Set: 7:33 p.m.; 19:32:47
- Site Location: Mt. Wilson Observatory 60" Telescope; Lat: 34:13:33 N Long: 118:03:26 W; Google Map
- Time Zone: -08 Hours from GMT
- Observing: 8:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.
- Object List: Suggestions by the Observers, Suggestions by the Telescope Operators