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

Mount Wilson and the Station Fire

The Station Fire, the largest fire in the history of Los Angeles County, threatened Mount Wilson Observatory from August 26 until September 25, 2009. Director Hal McAlister's Station Fire blog, reported frequently during the height the Station Fire, was linked more than 320,000 times. In recognition of the fire's anniversary, ignited on August 26, 2009 by an as yet unknown arsonist, the blog has been edited and newly released as an Amazon Kindle ebook. The book contains a new prologue and afterward with previously unreported details of the fire's origins and aftermath. It can be downloaded to free Kindle readers for PCs, Macs, iPhones, Blackberrys, etc as well as to the great new Kindle readers themselves. The book and ordering information can be found here. All royalties from the $2.99 sales price go to the Observatory.

Granite Mountain Hotshots at the Station Fire - Hundreds of firefighters participated on a rotating basis in the enormous effort to protect the Observatory, including the brave men and women of a number of Hotshot crews from all over the U.S. Those of us who were privileged to be on the mountain to witness this astonishing activity gained a special regard for the Hotshots who are so often and so aptly referred to as the Special Forces of America's firefighters. Not only do they have an incredible physical capacity to work in terrain and under conditions most of us would consider nightmarish, they have a seriousness and devotion to the duty of protecting our wildlands found only in the special and thoughtful people that they are.

The Granite Mountain Hotshots, who suffered such a terrible loss on Sunday, June 30, 2013, were in the Angeles National Forest to battle the Station Fire, although the nature of their assignments did not let us get to know them as well as other Hotshot crews such as the Helenas, the El Carisos, the Lewis and Clarks, and the Cherokees. But, CHARA Site Manager Larry Webster recalls seeing them on the mountain in early September, and official records show that on Friday, September 4, 2009 the Prescott-based crew embarked from the parking lot below the Pavilion (now housing our Cosmic Cafe) on an assignment to construct a handtool-cut fireline from the parking lot down to the saddle between Mount Wilson and Mount Harvard. Eric Marsh, the Granite Mountain Superintendent and founder, was their leader that day. Eric died Sunday alongside 18 of his colleagues at the Yarnell Fire.

An extended investigation will hopefully unravel whatever terrible and perfect storm of circumstances took the lives of these brave, young firefighters and diminish the chances of a repeat of this tragedy. In the meantime, we can be assured that the remaining 2,000 or so men and women in the 100+ crews stationed across the U.S. will continue the heroic work of the Hotshots.

If ebooks aren't to your taste, you might want to remember that terrible period in August and September of 2009 with a donation to our "Fire Recovery Fund" to which so many gave generously during the crisis. Your donation can be made on-line here:


As of October 7, 2010, those who have contributed to this appeal or joined our Friends of Mount Wilson Observatory organization as a result of the Station Fire are:

Peter Abrahams - Portland, OR
Pamela Adams - Laguna Beach, CA
Lynda Akin - Los Angeles, CA
Larry Allen - Rosemead, CA
Jack Anderson - Los Angeles, CA
Linda & Dave Anderson - Jenison, MI
P.J. Anway - Munising, MI
Nicholas Arkimovich - Pasadena, CA
Astro-Physics, Inc. - Rockford, IL
Dave Aultman - Granada Hills, CA
Ellyn Baines - Hyattsville, MD
Rick Baldridge - Campbell, CA
Lance Benner - Altadena, CA
Dag Bering - Hafrsfjord, Norway
Paulina Borsook - Berkeley, CA
Teresa Boruff - Chatsworth, CA
Tabetha Boyajian - Atlanta, GA
L. William Bradford - Thousand Oaks, CA
Patrick Brigham - Parkton, MD
James Bromley - Glendale, AZ
Dr. Ralph Buice - Atlanta, GA
John Bundy - Wheaton, IL
Dr. Donald Caldwell - Pasadena, CA
Scott Callaghan & Suzanne Welcome - London, Ontario, Canada
Rebecca Calinsky - Los Angeles, CA
Jeffrey Carlson - Los Angeles, CA
Eli Carrico - Los Angeles, CA
Phillip Carskaddan - Borrego Springs, CA
Robert Cartland - Alhambra, CA
Mary Castillo - Los Angeles, CA
Marietta Cerruti - Sonoma, CA
Joan Chamberlain - Parsonsfield, ME
Robert Chave - Altadena, CA
Marsha Cifarelli - Los Angeles, CA
Kevin Conod - Denville, NJ
Jon Conhaim - Oakland, CA
Alan Conwell - Defuniak Springs, FL
Jeremy Craig - Atlanta, GA
William & Mary Craig - Salt Lake City, UT
Donald Crumley - Collegedale, TN
Keri Dailey - Quincy, MA
Suzanne Dobson - Monrovia, CA
Pam & Wilbur Dong - South Pasadena, CA
Donald Douglass - West Chester, PA
Thomas Drouet - Whittier, CA
Irene Dubuisson - Munich, Germany
David Early - Dallas, TX
Brian East - Austin, TX
Bob & Laura Eklund - Los Angeles, CA
Kathi Ellsworth - San Dimas, CA
Pat Elvin - Elgin, IL
Oluf Engelstoft - Frederiksberg, Denmark
Jane Evans - Santa Barbara, CA
Mona Evans - Brentford, United Kingdom
Kristen Farley - Pasadena, CA
Carol & Donald Farrington - Atlanta, GA
Janel & Scott Feierabend - San Rafael, CA
Ferguson Enterprises, Inc. - Pomona, CA
Lynn Fischer - Monrovia, CA
Gerry & Sue Florez - San Gabriel, CA
Michael Flynn - Burbank, CA
Robert Foster - Chatsworth, CA
Gale Gant - Covina, CA
Doug Gies & Rebecca Bays - Atlanta, GA
Pam Gilman - Show Low, AZ
Shirley Gold - Altadena, CA
Steve Golden - North Hollywood, CA
P.J. Goldfinger - Los Angeles, CA
Pamela & Jack Goldfinger - North Hills, CA
Mary Goss - Altadena, CA
Kurt Greske - Apple Valley, CA
Michael Groetz - Beavercreek, OH
Jeff Guerber - Vienna, VA
Mary Haden - Valley, WA
Mike Halderman - Temecula, CA
Pamela Hamman - San Diego, CA
Kathryn Hardy - Lafayette, CA
Bill Hartkopf & Deborah Cline - Kensington, MD
Rosalind Helfand - Simi Valley, CA
Richard Hess - Aurora, Ontario, Canada
Cheryl Heuton - Pasadena, CA
Mike Hood - Kathleen, GA
Tomlinson Holman - Los Angeles, CA
Mike Horner - La Canada Flintridge, CA
Judith Howard - Pico Rivera, CA
Michael Hoy - Torrance, CA
Mary Hrovat - Bloomington, IN
Kate Hutton - Pasadena, CA
Gehr Industries - Commerce, CA
Heather Ingraham - Evanston, IL
John Jacobson - Riverside, CA
Kathryn Jewell - Glendale, CA
Carla Johns - Toluca Lake, CA
Robert Jones - Running Springs, CA
Dave & En Lee Jurasevich - Alhambra, CA
June Kahl - North Hills, CA
Leah Kantor - Downey, CA
Steven Kaplan - Los Angeles, CA
W.M. Keck Foundation - Los Angeles, CA
Pat Kenny (in memory of Ken Lucas) - Phoenix, AZ
Sara Kimball - Austin, TX
Beverly Kleiman - Arlington, MA
Alexandra Land - Avondale Estates, GA
Paul Lara - Whittier, CA
Pamela Lawler - La Crescenta, CA
Joanne Lazzaro - Pasadena, CA
William G. Leflang - Altadena, CA
Alan Leighton in memory of Robert B. Leighton - Bochum, Germany
David Leppik in honor of Karina Leppik & Chris Martin - Golden Valley, MN
J. Lampert Levy - Los Angeles, CA
Sean Lockwood - Irivne, CA
Mike Long - Rolling Hills Estates, CA
Lynn Longan - Canoga Park, CA
Los Angeles Valley College Astronomy Group - Valley Glen, CA
Anthony Maciejowski - Altadena, CA
Ken Manatt - Tujunga, CA
Milutin & Valerie Marich - Pasadena, CA
Kevin Marshall - Lewisburg, PA
Marlow & Herrad Marrs - Pasadena, CA
Brian & Barbara Mason - Herndon, VA
Tom Mason - Azusa, CA
Alan Marwine - Housatonic, MA
Philip Massey - Flagstaff, AZ
Whit & Susan Matteson - Snellville, GA
Alberta Mayo - Sierra Madre, CA
Merritt McAlister - Washington, DC
Susan & Hal McAlister - Atlanta, GA
Robb McCann - Newport Coast, CA
Tom & Jerri McCarthy - Sierra Madre, CA
Elizabeth McKenney - Richmond, VA
Bronwyn McClure-James - Pittsburgh, PA
Loren Metzger - Carmichael, CA
Grant Mills - Camarillo, CA
Barb Montgomery - Eagle Point, OR
Jean Mueller - Palomar Mountain, CA
Nancy Moreno - Laguna Beach, CA
Marilyn Morgan - Glendale, CA
Mount Wilson Observatory Association - Pasadena, CA
David Mozurkewich - Lanham, MD
Donn Mukensnable - Kamuela, HI
Fabien & Heather Nicaise - Azusa, CA
Don Nicholson - Los Angeles, CA
Robert Nunnally - Allen, TX
Ted Nye - Palos Verdes Estates, CA
Anthony & Linda O'Keefe - Pasadena, CA
Daniel Perry - Ontario, CA
Deepak Raghavan - Sandy Springs, GA
Sam Ragucci - Glendora, CA
Gabrielle Randolph - La Cresenta, CA
Jerome Remy - Den Haag, The Netherlands
James W. Reynolds - Norwalk, CT
Stephen Ridgway - Tucson, AZ
Julie Robin - Altadena, CA
Steven Robin - La Crescenta, CA
Corina Roberts - Simi Valley, CA
Mark Robinson - Dallas, TX
Melissa Rodriguez - Oxnard, CA
Perry Rose - Nottingham, MD
Michael Rudy - Los Angeles, CA
Stan Sander - Arcadia, CA
Caren & Eric Sawyer - South Pasadena, CA
Megan Schwamb - New Haven, CT
Andrew Schlei - Los Angeles, CA
Harry Schultz - Ridley Park, PA
Nelson Schwarz - South Pasadena, CA
Sea West Enterprises, Inc. - San Dimas, CA
Sarah Shaw - Monterey Park, CA
Dr. Gregory Smith - Pasadena, CA
Leigh Smith - Pasadena, CA
Joseph Snider - Southwest Harbor, ME
Janet Spicer - Arcata, CA
Boris Starcevic - Los Angeles, CA
Jennie Stewart - Greeneville, TN
Jason Stockmann - New Haven, CT
Peter Stockmann - Jamesville, NY
Jeff Stoner - Phoenix, AZ
Nancy Strang - Covina, CA
A.H. Studenmund - Pasadena, CA
Laszlo & Judit Sturmann - Palmdale, CA
Greg Sweet - Altadena, CA
Kenneth Swezey - New York, NY
Tim Tanner - Canton, OH
John W. Temples III - Camarillo, CA
Texas Instruments Foundation - Stuart, FL
Tim & Pam Thompson - Duarte, CA
Tom Sawyer Camps - Altadena, CA
Sandi Trundle - Apison, TN
Nils Turner - Los Angeles, CA
Paula Turner - Mount Vernon, OH
Cady Vortmann - La Jolla, CA
V-Tek Systems Corporation - Diamond Bar, CA
Diane Walker - Nomansland, Devon, United Kingdom
Dr. Gary Walker - Macon, GA
Kent Walker - Ruxton, MD
Sean Walker - Cambridge, MA
Bernie Walp - Hilo, HI
Robert Ware - Lynchburg, VA
David Warren - Los Angeles, CA
Larry & Elisa Webster - Mount Wilson, CA
Ritchey Webster - Mount Wilson, CA
Robert & Karen Wetherell - Orinda, CA
Phillip Wherry - Vienna, VA
John Whitcraft - Sierra Madre, CA
Saundra Whitehead - Torrance, CA
Gerald & Carol Wilke - Tonawanda, NY
Lisa Will - San Diego, CA
Dr. William & Sandra Williams - Boca Raton, FL
Patricia Winter - Menlo Park, CA
Jennifer Wright - Jacksonville, FL
Anita & Michael Yagjian - La Canada Flintridge, CA


Selected images taken by Dave Jurasevich, the Observatory Superintendent, are posted here along with additional photos of the back fire lighting and from a return trip to the Observatory and work on the grounds are here. Susan McAlister took a number of still photos of scenes along the Angeles Crest Highway. Youtube movie clips by Susan McAlister have been posted for an aerial fire retardant drop, a drive up the Angeles Crest Highway, a tanker trucker on the Red Box Rd spraying Phos-Check, and the felling of a 200-yr old Ponderosa pine critically damaged by the back fire.