Explore Scientific Experiences: Mount Wilson Observatory 60″ Telescope Stargazing and Lectures

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″ Telescope. This exclusive, rare, and intimate engagement will be conducted on Saturday September 8th, 2018. 

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 that include a leading JPL Planetary Mission Scientist who is the World's Leading Expert on Saturn's Ring System; An amazing science writer and prolific discoverer of comets and asteroids including the 'String Of Pearls Comet' that gained worldwide attention as it smashed into Jupiter in 1992; An astronomer and iconic protector of the world's dark sky heritage; And, one of the world's most knowledgable experts on life and history of George Ellery Hale and the world's largest astronomical refractor, the 40-inch Great Telescope. 

This event is perfect for anyone, beginners to experienced who share a passion for exploring the cosmos, and it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to observe the planets and the cosmos with the historic 60" Telescope in the company of these legendary space explorers and astronomers. 

Amazing Speakers

Your Telescope for the Night, the Venerable and Historic 60"

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" Telescope. Designed by George Willis Ritchey the 60" 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" 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. 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" (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. If we get a good view of Mars on September 8th using this eyepiece on this night with Mars being about 19 arc seconds of apparent diameter, the magnification will enlarge the image to your eye to increase the size of the Red Planet to appear to be 15,774 arc seconds (257.5 arc minutes or 4.3 degrees within the 100 degree apparent field-of-view in this eyepiece. At the risk of comparing this apparent magnified and enlarged view of Mars through the 60" telescope with a "naked eye" view of the full moon ('naked eye' means no telescope used), this magnified view of the planet through the 60" will appear 8.6X larger than the full moon does to your naked eye. 

Commemorative Items and Door Prizes

All Participants will receive a special to be announced commemorative item 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 8th, 2018


  • 1:30               Parking and Orientation; Walk to the Mt. Wilson Museum Google Map
  • 1:45 - 2:45:    Meet and Greet; Music & Refreshments - Explore Scientific Product Review with Greg Bragg
  • 2:45 - 3:00:    Break
  • 3:00 - 3:45:    Dan Koehler: George Ellery Hale's Telescopes Discoveries of our Place in the Universe
  • 3:45 - 4:00:    Break
  • 4:00 - 4:45:    Dr. David H. Levy: Living a Life of Astronomical Discovery, The Spirit of George Ellery Hale
  • 4:45 - 5:00:    Break
  • 5:00 - 6:00:    Dr. Linda Spilker: The Cassini Mission to Saturn - What We Learned
  • 6:00 - 6:45:    Fiesta! Food; Music; Big Screen Images
  • 6:45 - 7:15:    Dr. Tim Hunter: TBA
  • 7:15               Walk to the 60" Telescope

Observing Session with the 60" Telescope

  • Sunset:            07:07:05 p.m.; 19:07:05
  • Moon Phase:   0.1% Illumination; New Moon 0.3 Days Old
  • Moon Set:        07:30:27 p.m.; 19:30:27
  • 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:       07:30 p.m.; 19:30 to 01:00 a.m.; 01:00
  • Object List:      Jupiter, Saturn, Ring Nebula, Pluto, Mars, Neptune, Uranus, M31, NGC 253, M33, M74, M101, M13,                          M92, Suggestions by the Observers, Suggestions by the Telescope Operators


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