Wish the Observatory Good Luck!

60 inch at mount wilson The fires are racing up the sides of Mount Wilson as I write (19:38). They expect the burn to get to the top sometime in the next few hours, and yes, I imagine it’ll affect the Mount Wilson Observatory in some way.

[Update (20:59): You can get regular updates from the director at this page*. Seems that fire crews will remain on site for when/if the fires sweep through the grounds. ]

All of the working scientific equipment, including the solar telescopes and of course the historic telescopes (the 60 inch is pictured to the right) with which astounding discoveries were made about our universe (such as the fact that it is expanding, and the fact that the universe is vastly more than just our Milky Way Galaxy) are presumably in some danger, as well as support buildings of various kinds. I’ve no idea how much since I do not know what fire-proofing measures are in place up there, although I am sure there are several – such as keeping brush away from the buildings themselves. Here’s a camera up there on one of the solar telescopes where you can see regularly updated pictures that it snaps. I grabbed this one just now (click for larger view):


So keep your fingers crossed for luck for the instruments, and of course for all the people in various neighbourhoods down the mountain still affected by the fires (the situation is still ongoing down there in various places, and the firefighters doing their work – I’ve focused here on the observatory since there’s less coverage of the matter in the mainstream). If I learn more than you can get immediately on the regular news outlets (they seem to be more focused on loss of TV and radio communication) I will update this post and/or the comments. See also Phil’s blog for updates. He did a post here.

To get more perspective about the site, see the observatory’s website, and also a couple of posts I did about Mount Wilson and the Observatory, here and here.


* Thanks Shelley B.

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9 Responses to Wish the Observatory Good Luck!

  1. Pingback: Wish the Observatory Good Luck!

  2. fvngvs says:

    Good luck Mt. Wilson. We lost Mt. Stromlo in 2003; don’t join them.

  3. Nige Cook says:

    Being the place where Hubble discovered the big bang, it will be a shame if it burns down. It’s one place I’d love to visit.

    ‘… I do not know what fire-proofing measures are in place up there, although I am sure there are several – such as keeping brush away from the buildings themselves.’

    I hope the buildings, especially the roofs, are fire-resistant in case there are wind-carried hot firebrands like burning twigs and embers.

  4. theoreticalminimum says:

    Having personally visited the grounds of the Mt Stromlo Observatory about a year after the devastating January 2003 Canberra firestorm, and seen the extent of the damages and the terrible loss to the scientists’ work and common heritage, I hope that the Mt Wilson Observatory will not suffer a similar fate. All the best to the firefighters, the volunteers and the local population engaged in this fierce battle.

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  6. Wow, scary stuff. Thinking of you.


  7. Clifford says:

    Good News Everyone!

    Apparently after a battle of sorts (including lighting of backfires, bulldozing, and other measures) the top of Mount Wilson has so far been saved, and conditions are such that the fire is mostly moving away from that area… The fire continues, but things are ok at the top for a while…


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