Volunteer

Mount Wilson Institute, which keeps the Observatory open for the public, is largely run by dedicated volunteers. We currently have enough docents to meet demand, but there are other jobs that need to be done. If you would like to get involved, let us let us know on the contact page what skills you can contribute.

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

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.

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.

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.