On weekends, as part of our public outreach–and our legacy as the premier Solar Observatory for more than half a century, Mount Wilson Observatory offers free solar viewing to the public. We will set up our portable 100mm Lunt solar telescope made by Lunt Solar Systems for you to safely observe the sun. This instrument has a internal tunable hydrogen alpha filter, which means you will be able to see our star’s surface in remarkable detail, with prominences, spots, and convection cells. With the steady, clear air above the mountain, and our history, it’s a great place to see our Sun live in action.
The solar telescope observing time will be 2PM to 4PM, on clear, sunny Saturdays and Sundays, until the end of October. You will find the telescope and our telescope operator by the Pavilion, in back of The Cosmic Cafe at Mt. Wilson Observatory.
Our founder, George Ellery Hale was particularly interested in the Sun, as it is the easiest object in which to study astrophysics – the purpose of Mount Wilson Observatory. He often joked that he was therefore a Sun worshiper. And as it is the source of energy for most of the life on our planet, the Sun is worth a little of our attention.
While the viewing through the Lunt telescope is free, if you purchase a ticket for the weekend tour, you will usually be able to go inside the 150-foot Solar telescope, which was the largest instrument for studying the Sun for 50 years.
The sunspot record, drawn every sunny day at the 150′ tower on Mount Wilson, has recently reached its centennial. Volunteer Steve Padilla, who worked here for many years as a UCLA solar astronomer, keeps this invaluable record going. To see what’s happening on the Sun today, click on the daily sunspot drawing. The spots are hand drawn in pencil, and are marked with magnetic field strength data. It is the longest continual record of sunspot activity with magnetic data ever made.