This Saturday, July 21, come to an astronomy lecture and a rare chance look through the giant 100-inch Telescope for only $20! Scroll down for more info. Click here for tickets.

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

George Ellery Hale

1868  —  150th  —  2018


A big thanks to all who came to the Observatory  to help us celebrate the sesquicentennial of  George Ellery Hale, the pioneering astrophysicist and founder of Mount Wilson Observatory who set astronomy on a revolutionary new path. We will keep the celebration of this remarkable man going throughout the year.

Mount Wilson Observatory Launches Its First Triple Match Fundraiser!

Track Our Progress!

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.

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. Only two tickets remain for the last 100-inch night on Saturday, October 6. Click here for more information on Public Ticket Nights. To view the events in calendar form, click here:  2018 Mount Wilson Events Calendar

Saturday July 21, Mount Wilson Observatory Presents a Night of Astronomy

Stars on the Ceiling

A lecture by Ed Krupp, Director of Griffith Observatory


Come hear a fascinating talk on the many architectural representations of the sky, from ancient Egyptian tombs to New York’s Grand Central Terminal, followed by a look through the famous 100-inch Telescope.

When the principles of ancient cosmology are mimicked in architecture, ceilings usually operate as stand-ins for the sky and display stars, constellations and other celestial objects overhead. From the burial chambers in Egyptian pyramids and tombs to the main con- course of New York’s Grand Central Terminal, architects and designers have turned ceilings into the sky and miniaturized the universe on earth. This tour through the history, content, character, meaning, and purpose of cosmic ceilings around the world also spotlights the three celestial ceiling murals at Griffith Observatory.

Dr. Krupp’s talk will be followed by a rare chance to observe with the historic 100-inch Telescope, which astronomers Edwin Hubble and Milton Humason used to discover our expanding Universe beyond the Milky Way Galaxy.

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.

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

August 5, Sunday Concert in in the Dome

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


August 5th’s concert will be performed by the amazing Lyris Quartet:

Alyssa Park and Shalini Vijayan (violins),

Luke Maurer (viola),

and Timothy Loo, (cello).

The Program:

Josef Haydn:             Op 76, No 2
Eric Tanguy:             Violin and Cello Duo

David Hertzberg:     Meditation Boréale

Ben Johnson:            Amazing Grace

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. For more information go to this page.  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.

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 September 16, run the Second Annual September 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, 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
Friday, June 29th, 2018 at 2:16pm
Come celebrate with us this weekend! Open house and multiple events going on, visit our website for full details. #astronomy MtWilsonObs photo