When George Ellery Hale built the 60-inch telescope in 1908 it was the largest telescope in the world. The 60-inch is a multi-purpose instrument capable of providing different optical configurations for a variety of uses. The glass disk for its mirror, cast in 1894 by the Saint-Gobain glassworks in France, was given to Hale by his father while Hale was director of Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin. Not until he came to Mt. Wilson under the auspices of the Carnegie Institution of Washington could Hale obtain the funds to complete the telescope.
The 60-inch telescope is one of the most productive telescopes in the history of astronomy, having been used largely for pioneering studies of the spectral classification of stars that are the basis of much of modern-day astronomy. It was also used to continue the HK Project begun at the 100-inch telescope. One of the first adaptive optics systems designed for astronomical studies -- Atmospheric Compensation Experiment (ACE)-- was developed and used on the 60-inch telescope from 1992 to 1995.
The 60-inch telescope is not currently being used for scientific research. Public viewing through the 60-inch telescope is available to individualsand groups. Fee and scheduling information is available here.To read the information packet you will need the freeAcrobat Reader.
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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.