During one of Pasadena’s Astronomy Weeks, some 250 visitors had a chance to explore Mount Wilson at night, including a look through the historic 60-inch Telescope. The Observatory has scheduled a busy year of similar events, creating the need for lots of help from volunteers!


Mount Wilson Observatory relies on a dedicated array of volunteers to support this historic facility’s vital mission. Many important positions require no special skills or education — just a love of history, astronomy, nature, or the arts. If you would like to get involved, let us let us know how you would like to contribute.

All active volunteers will receive either a Mount Wilson Observatory embroidered Polo shirt or hat. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old.

Please consider helping out in any of the following key volunteer roles:

Special Event Assistants: Mount Wilson hosts a series of concerts in the 100-inch telescope dome, science lectures in the Museum auditorium followed by telescope viewing sessions, our annual 5K Run, and other special events. Act as event host and guide. Saturdays, Sundays, and occasional weekdays, April through November. Located at the Observatory.

Member Relations and Office Assistants: Help process questions and requests, package and ship materials, update membership lists, and perform other needed tasks. Year-round opportunities located in Pasadena on occasional weekdays, times to be arranged.

Gift Shop Attendants. Meet & greet hikers, bikers and tourists from around the world. Sell Mount Wilson souvenirs and public tour tickets. Saturdays and Sundays, April 1 through November 30. Located at the Observatory.

Docent training for the year starts March 23! Other volunteer positions need to be filled, and are equally important. (Docent training usually occurs in the Spring, so check back next year.)

The Mount Wilson Institute (MWI) operates Mount Wilson Observatory pursuant to agreements with the Carnegie Institution of Washington and the United States Forest Service. MWI is a non-profit 501©(3) tax-exempt corporation.

To apply for a volunteer position or for more information, please fill out the form below and click on “submit.”


Volunteer Application
Other can include anyone with skills necessary for promoting and maintaining a 100-year -old facility, from social media skills, design, publishing, to brush clearance to plumbing, woodworking, and painting. A variety of projects!

The Observatory needs more dedicated, friendly volunteers to help out with events such as this 2017 Star Party.

Help our friendly Cosmic Cafe staff run the souvenirs and tour ticket sales. When things get busy, some volunteer help greeting visitors and selling some of the non-food cafe items outside wound be greatly appreciated by the Observatory!

Our second annual 5K run is coming Saturday, September 16. We will need lots of volunteers to help out with this popular fundraiser.

At a training session, volunteer docent/Caltech professor Barry Megdal and  volunteer docent/CSUN solar astronomer Angie Cookson demonstrate how to set up our Lunt Solar Telescope for weekend visitors.

After years of tracking the Sun’s behavior with the 150-foot Solar Telescope, UCLA solar astronomer Steve Padilla now volunteers. He keeps the 100-year-old record of sunspots going. On the weekends, weather permitting, he will have the telescope open for the public tours and explain how it helped reveal the Sun’s secrets. It was the biggest of its kind for 50 years.

In 2015, Google Earth captured our volunteers (the small circle of people at the center) observing the set up of our Lunt Solar Telescope for weekend viewing.

A number of our volunteers have engineering skills which have been invaluable in maintaining and updating the big telescopes and keeping other historic equipment functioning, like the original power plant that provided the DC current for the telescopes. The Los Angeles Times recently ran a story their work:  http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-observatory-20170212-story.html

Engineer Bill LeFlang working on the new servo control systems, which he designed and installed.
Engineer Gale Gant working on the 100-inch, upgrading the mechanical and electrical control systems.
Electronic engineer Ken Evans is working on the 100-inch telescope, a beautifully elegant declination drive component that doesn't want to behave as designed generations ago. His is fixing a brake mechanism that is slipping when it shouldn't.
Electrical engineer John Harrigan works on upgrading the old DC power systems. His new designs reflect a desire to keep the equipment as original as possible.
With Gale Gant and Ken Evans looking on, our executive director, Tom Meneghini (a volunteer) makes adjustments to the position of the 60-inch telescope tertiary mirror. Sometimes you have to get close to the problem to deal with it. Note the raised petals of the cover that normally protect the 60-inch primary mirror.

Brothers Ken and Larry Evans refurbished the 1911 50-horsepower, 2-cylinder vertical Fairbanks-Morse Type “RE” engine, which supplied the D.C. power to run the observatory in the early days. Photo: Lauren Manwaring.