MWO founder George Ellery Hale atop Mt. Wilson, 1904 Huntington Library


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Mount Wilson Observatory is operated by the Mount Wilson Institute under an agreement with the Carnegie Institution of Washington. The Observatory occupies lands belonging to the USDA Forest Service set aside under a long-term leasehold agreement between CIW and the USDA Forest Service. The Observatory subscribes to the USDA non-discrimination policy as expressed here.

Banner photographs by David Jurasevich

A New Visitor Center for Mount Wilson Observatory

The Mount Wilson Observatory Visitor Center - the key element of the Observatory's "Second Century Campaign" - will be located in the Pavilion area of Skyline Park, forming a new entry gateway to this historic site. Scroll down through these wonderful preliminary design drawings, created by the distinguished Pasadena architectural firm of Moule & Polyzoides for a virtual walk through. The plan below shows the layout of the Visitor Center which will create a new entry gateway to the historic Observatory grounds. In the lower left, just above the main Skyline Park parking lot, are the main buildings of the Visitor Center. The circular structure to the northeast is the Night Sky Amphitheater, while the red-roofed structures are a phase II concept for a Retreat and Education Center.



The Visitor Center complex consists of a dramatic circular Entry Hall featuring a Welcoming and Ticketing Center leading to a gift shop, preview theater and exhibit halls in the northern wing and a cafe in the southern wing featuring a spectacular view of the Los Angeles basin. A colonnaded passageway sweeps around an open courtyard terminating at the Sun Pavilion and then continuing onto a tram stop for transportation back to the Observatory.



A welcoming blend of stone, stucco, steel and glass symbolizes the merger of the old with the new - the essence of the Mount Wilson story where discoveries in the early part of the last century launched the astrophysics and cosmology of the 21st century.



Exiting the Welcoming Hall, one sees the colonnaded Exhibit Hall, the Sun Pavilion and the telescope domes adjacent to the Night Sky Amphitheater. The Exhibit Halls will contain displays, artifacts and interactive media to convey the wonderful story of the discoveries made by the brilliant Mount Wilson astronomers utilizing then unparalleled astronomical facilities.



On the approach to the Amphitheater, the historic 60-ft Solar Tower Telescope - where the magnetic field and true nature of the sunpspot cycle were discovered nearly a century ago - beckons visitors back onto the Observatory grounds.



From the Amphitheater, the 60-ft and 150-ft Solar Towers are now clearly visible. Sky and constellation shows will be presented in the Night Sky Amphitheater following which participants will be welcomed into the two adjacent domes to look at celestial objects through a modern 16-inch reflecting telescope and a historic 6-inch refracting telescope.



A roughly west-to-east section takes you through the elements of the new Mount Wilson Visitor Center. These facilities will transform Mount Wilson Observatory into an important Southern California destination celebrating the creation of modern astronomy.



Your Support of our Second Century Campaign through a Friends of Mount Wilson Observatory membership will help ensure the realization of this spectular new gateway to one of the most significant and historic scientific sites on Earth.