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The 60-inch Telescope

Mount Wilson's 60-inch Telescope.

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.

Today, the telescope is devoted to programs of public viewing, the largest telescope in the world devoted exclusively to that role. For more information about this special program, click here.