Some of the founding staff and guests of the Observatory pose behind the Monastery. Left to Right: H. L. Miller (construction superintendent), Charles Greely Abbott (Smithsonian Institution), George Ellery Hale (first director), Leonard Ross Ingersoll (Abbot’s assistant), Ferdinand Ellerman, Walter Sydney Adams (second director) Edward E. Barnard (visiting from Yerkes to make wide-angle photographs of the Milky Way), and Charles Backus (general assistant).

Mount Wilson Astronomers & Staff

Click on an image for more information. As time permits each astronomer will have a page here, until then you will be directed to their Wikipedia page or another outside page. This is an ongoing project to remember some of the remarkable people who opened up the Universe. More to come.

1904   The Pioneers:

George Ellery Hale

George Willis Ritchey

Walter Sydney Adams

Ferdinand Ellerman

Francis Pease

1908-14  New Additions:

Charles St. John

Arthur S. King

Harold Babcock

Frederick Seares

Edward Fath

Adriaan van Maanen

Harlow Shapley

Alfred Joy

1916-20  The Second Wave:

John Anderson

Seth Nicholson

Paul Merril

Edwin Hubble

Edison Pettit

Gustaf Strömberg

In 1917, the staff of Mount Wilson’s Pasadena offices pose for a photo. Many of the women in the photo undoubtedly served as low-paid “human computers.” In this era, women, even highly-qualified individuals with college degrees, were relegated to the drudgery of making repetitive calculations or recording data extracted from glass plates taken by male astronomers. Rarely was any credit given. Nevertheless, the discoveries of such famous “human computers” as Henrietta Swan Leavitt and Annie Jump Cannon at Harvard were vital to the progress of astrophysics, and are now becoming better recognized. Huntington Library has a page that goes into more detail on the role of “human computers” at the Observatory’s offices in Pasadena.


Margaret Harwood

For a brief history of Margaret Harwood’s stay on Mount Wilson, go here.

Milton Humason

Charlotte Moore Sitterly

Theodore Dunham, Jr.

More to Come


Walter Baade

Rudolph Minkowski

Horace Babcock

Fritz Zwicky

Olin Wilson

Don Hendrix

Ira Bowen

1948-1977 The Unified Mount Wilson and Palomar Observatories,  jointly administered by the Carnegie Institution of Washington and Caltech.

Allan Sandage