George Ellery Hale

Pioneering Astrophysicist

Founder of Mount Wilson Observatory


Sunday, September 2, is the last available 100-inch Telescope Public Ticket Night for the season. Go to a concert then look at the stars through the giant telescope Hubble used! This is a makeup session for those who were cancelled due to the smoke from recent fires. Only 16 observers are allowed, but ten spots are available. Click here to go to the Public Ticket Night page. Or to purchase tickets directly click here.  Concert tickets are sold separately.

Take a Weekend Public Tour of the most productive observatory in history! Saturday and Sunday tours start at 11:30 am & 1:00 pm.

September 2, Sunday Afternoon Concert in the Dome. Come hear an amazing jazz trio perform in the historic 100-inch Telescope dome–easily the most unique and magical musical venue in Los Angeles. Scroll down for more information on the program. Or click here.


September 15, Saturday Evening Talk and Telescope Night! The Search for Life in the Universe, a lecture by Dr. Jean-Luc Margot, Professor and Chair of the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences at UCLA, followed by a rare chance to look through the famous 100-inch Telescope. For more information or to purchase tickets, please scroll down.

Mount Wilson Observatory Launches Its First Triple Match Fundraiser!

Track Our Progress!

We Are Three Quarters of the Way to the Top!

As donations come in, watch the red rise to the top of the 150-foot Solar Telescope. If you believe in our mission to educate and to preserve this world-class, historic site, please consider helping us. We receive no regular funds from government or others. All donations, big and small, are deeply appreciated and tax-deductible!  You can help us reach our goal by donating online here. It’s quick and easy. Or send a check to: Mount Wilson Institute, P.O. Box 94146, Pasadena, CA  91109. The Observatory thanks you!

Help Us Grow

Mount Wilson Institute thanks all those who have contributed over the years to help keep the  Observatory going, either through their volunteer time or their generous donations. We are putting up banners (see above) to honor a few of them, until we can build a more permanent donor recognition wall. Many others will be added.

Now to grow further, we are launching our summer Triple Match fundraiser–the first of its kind. Please help us make it a resounding success. Here are the details: A small group of longtime supporters has pledged $40,000 under the condition that Mount Wilson Institute raises $20,000 by September 16, 2018. Every dollar donated until then becomes three. This Triple Match challenge could yields $60,000 in funding–enough to start critical improvements, like public restrooms near the telescopes, for school groups, hikers, and our regular visitors. Please consider joining the list of those who have helped us by making a donation here.

For more information about the Observatory’s 5K fun run or to register, please click here.


2018 Special Events/Public Ticket Nights

We have an exciting schedule of events planned for the mountain this year! Upcoming concerts, lectures, Hale’s 150th birthday, the 5K run, and more are listed here. We will be adding more, and details for a few of the events are yet to be determined, so check back often.

Our popular Public Ticket Nights on the telescopes allow individuals to observe for a night on the big telescopes without the usual requirement of being part of a larger group. Due to demand, we have added two more 60-inch Telescope Public Ticket night on Friday, September 28 and Friday, October 12.

Sunday, September 2, is the last available 100-inch Telescope Public Ticket Night for the season. Go to a concert then look at the stars through the giant telescope Hubble used! This is a makeup session for those who were cancelled due to the smoke from recent fires. Only 16 observers are allowed, but ten spots are available.  Click here for more information on Public Ticket Nights. To purchase tickets directly click here. Concert tickets are sold separately. To view all the events in calendar form, click here:  2018 Mount Wilson Events Calendar

Saturday September 15, Mount Wilson Observatory Presents a Night of Astronomy

The Search for Life in the Universe

A lecture by Dr. Jean-Luc Margot, Professor and Chair of the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences at UCLA, followed by a rare chance to look through the famous 100-inch Telescope.


NASA’s Kepler telescope has shown us that there must be billions of habitable worlds in our Galaxy. The profusion of planets, coupled with the abundance of life’s building blocks in the Universe, suggests that life itself may be abundant. Currently, the two primary strategies to search for it are to look for biosignatures in the Solar System and to search for technosignatures emitted from sources in the Galaxy and beyond. Given our present knowledge of astrobiology, each strategy seems equally promissing. The search for technosignatures does present certain advantages (in terms of search volume, cost, and information content) in comparison to telescopic or robotic searches for biosignatures.  Since 2016, Dr. Margot’s research group has been conducting a search for technosignatures from planetary systems such as TRAPPIST-1 and Kepler-186 with the largest fully steerable telescope on Earth.  He will describe the most recent observations, plans to scale the effort, and how you can get involved in the search for life in the universe.

Between the lecture and the telescope time, we will be eating outside next to the 100-inch Telescope dome. Bring your own food, or pick up some delicious tacos, rice and beans with all the trimmings, served by Los Gringos Locos. They accept cash only.

Please note that the telescope dome is not handicap accessible and there are some stairs to climb. Also, depending on how many people attend the lecture, there may be a significant wait to look through the telescope. But it is worth it! And there will only be one more opportunity this year to observe with the telescope without attending a group session.

Tickets are only $20 and help support the Observatory. Click here to purchase.

The 100-inch Telescope                   Photo Credit: John Fisanotti

A Map to the Observatory:

September 2, Sunday Concert in the Dome

Come hear an amazing jazz trio inside the historic 100-inch Telescope dome–a truly unique music venue.


September 5th’s concert will be performed by the amazing Lounge Art Ensemble:

Bob Sheppard (saxophone),

Peter Erskine (drums),

and Darek Oles, (bass).

The Program:

Jazz, carte blanche

Performances of the same program are scheduled for 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM. There will be a reception with the artists following each performance, with light food and drinks. Admission is $50.  All proceeds go to cover the cost of the event and then to support the Mt. Wilson Institute in its mission to preserve, protect, and promote the Observatory and the science accomplished there. Please note that there are some stairs to climb and the 100-year-old facility is not handicap accessible.

To purchase tickets for the 3:00 pm performance directly, click here, for the 5:00 pm performance, here.

The 100-inch Telescope is the instrument with which astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered our place in an expanding Universe and so expanded our comprehension. This is a 20th century temple to science whose acoustics rival the great cathedrals of Europe.

In addition to the reception following each concert, concert-goers will be treated to an exhibition featuring rare scientific artifacts, drawings, and illustrations from the Observatory’s collection.

On the day of the event tickets may be purchased at the door.

Please note: There is No Handicapped Access: The 100-inch Telescope is 100 years old and is not ADA-compliant. Visiting the inside of the Dome is not recommended for those with respiratory or heart problems due to the stairs and the 5700-ft elevation.

The concerts are at Mount Wilson Observatory which is located in the San Gabriel Mountains above Pasadena. Please allow at least 45 minutes for the drive from the bottom of the Angeles Crest Highway in La Cañada. And time for the short walk 5-to-10 minute walk from the parking lot.

For questions concerning the concerts please send an email to

For the first half of the 20th Century, Mount Wilson was the most famous observatory in the world. The biggest telescopes were here, and their new designs were changing the way astronomy was done. Among the many discoveries made on the mountain, a few revolutionized our understanding of our place in the Universe. Here, for the first time, Harlow Shapley measured the size of the Milky Way Galaxy and located our position in it, far from the center. Then Edwin Hubble proved that the mysterious spiral nebulae, which astronomers had speculated about for decades, were in fact distant galaxies similar to our own. Then Hubble teamed up with Milton Humason and discovered that this immense Universe was expanding. Space itself was getting bigger. This finding, when run backwards in time, led straight to the Big Bang Theory. This is where modern cosmology began. In our long search for our origins, Mount Wilson holds a unique place in human history. Today, our original solar and nighttime telescopes, the world’s largest for two generations of astronomers, have been joined by the new CHARA array, which has the highest resolution of any optical or infrared system ever built, achieving unprecedented views of the stars.

Hubble guiding Mount Wilson's 100-inch Telescope in 1924, shortly after he proved the existence of distant galaxies. Photo: Carnegie/ Huntington Library. Photos at the top of the page: 1-Matt Adame, 2-MWO, 3-Steve Padilla. Photos below, left to right: I-MWO, 2-Dave Jurasevich, 3-MWO, 4-NGC 7331 by George Willis Ritchey.
Explore Mount Wilson in Person

Explore Mount Wilson in Person

Explore Mount Wilson On-Line

Explore Mount Wilson On-Line

Support Mount Wilson Observatory

Support Mount Wilson Observatory

  • Help keep the Observatory operations going and preserve its famous telescopes for future generations, Donate!
  • Join the people who keep the Observatory programs going, Volunteer.
  • On October 20, run the Second Annual Mount Wilson Observatory  5K, a fundraiser to add restrooms, benches, and scenic overlooks to the Observatory.

Mount Wilson Institute is very sad to lose one of our founders, C. Robert Ferguson.

In addition to being a trustee, Bob was, with Art Vaughan, one of the founders of the new entity which kept the doors of the Observatory open after the Carnegie Institution of Washington decided to close down operations in 1985 in favor of its site in Chile. We will greatly miss Bob, both for his hard work, and for his kindness and humor. Our thoughts are with his widow and family. Donations to Mount Wilson can be made in his memory here.


Stephen Hawking, in front of the 150-foot Solar Telescope on one of his visits to Mount Wilson Observatory, June 2, 1990. Photo: Mount Wilson Observatory.

Stephen Hawking (1942-2018)

A giant of human intellect, Stephen Hawking greatly advanced our understanding of the Universe, from black holes to the Big Bang. He was born January 8, 1942, on the 300th anniversary of Galileo’s death, and passed away on March 14th, the anniversary of Einstein’s birth. On his visits to Caltech in Pasadena, he made the pilgrimage up to Mount Wilson (as Einstein did) on several occasions to see the observatory where Hale, Hubble, Humason, and others laid the foundations of modern cosmology, which became his life’s work. Here is a link to Caltech’s news of his passing.

Stephen Hawking’s entry in the visitors book at Mount Wilson, June 2, 1990. He signed with his thumbprint. Photo: David Cendejas/Mount Wilson Observatory


The centennial, paper architectural model of the 100-inch Telescope is now available to download for a small donation to Mount Wilson Observatory. Click here to go to the model page.

Subscribe to Mount Wilson Observatory News for updates on 2018 concerts, lectures, public telescope nights, and other events. Click here.

Mount Wilson Observatory is very sad to announce the passing of our longtime friend and colleague, Marilyn Morgan, on May 8th. Donations to the Observatory in her memory may be made here, or mailed to: Mount Wilson Institute, P.O. Box 94146, Pasadena, CA 91109.

George Ellery Hale, 1910. Photo: Carnegie/ Huntington Library

The Observatory’s founder, George Ellery Hale, built four telescopes, each one in succession becoming the largest in the world. Here they are shown to the same scale. His first was the 40-inch refractor at Yerkes  (in Wisconsin) on the left, but then he began building the more revolutionary–and more compact–reflector telescopes, using a large mirror instead of a lens. His next two are on Mount Wilson, the 60-inch and the 100-inch. (While not quite as grand as his last, these two had the light-gathering power for astronomers to discover our place in the expanding Universe.) His fourth, the 200-inch Hale Telescope at Palomar, is represented on the right by one of Russell Porter’s famous cutaway drawings. This image has been reversed and extended on the left side for a better comparison of the relative sizes of the full domes. Hale’s telescopes were the biggest from 1897, when Yerkes opened, to 1993, when the Keck telescope in Hawaii was completed–a span of 96 years. To see these drawings enlarged, click here. Drawing credits: University of Chicago/Yerkes Observatory, Carnegie Observatories, Palomar Observatory/Caltech.

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Thursday, August 9th, 2018 at 9:28am
Thanks for making this video of my first visit to Mt. Wilson! It was certainly one of the largest telescopes I’ve ever used! @MtWilsonObs #astronomy #telescopes #observatory MtWilsonObs photo
Tuesday, July 31st, 2018 at 8:48am
Fortunate to have this view of Saturn, Mars and Nebulae from Mt. Wilson’s 100inch Telescope last night. @MtWilsonObs MtWilsonObs photo
Thursday, July 19th, 2018 at 1:33am
Come up and attend a lecture on 7/21/18 by Dr. Krupp, director of @GriffithObserv followed by viewing through either the 100-inch or 60-inch telescope. Details here: MtWilsonObs photo