Space Case: Introducing The Alliance Of Historical Observatories

in Culture

Before the dawning of the space age, observatories across the US worked diligently to gather all the information required to make space exploration possible in the first place. As technology advanced, a number of these valuable observatories fell behind in funding, and as a result, some of the country’s most important scientific institutions have been all but forgotten. In an effort to remedy that, a new organization called the Alliance of Historical Observatories is working to preserve and promote the importance of early observatories, with hopes that these valuable institutions will be able to sustain the recognition they so richly deserve.

In June, Mount Wilson Observatory in Los Angeles hosted the fledgling group’s inaugural meeting inside the dome of Mount Wilson’s historic 100-inch telescope, a scientific marvel built between 1913-1916 that was the world’s largest telescope at the time. On hand at the first meeting of the Alliance of Historical Observatories were representatives from half a dozen observatories across the country, including the Yerkes Observatory, Lowell Observatory, Lick Observatory, Griffith Observatory, Palomar Observatory, and the Vatican Observatory in Arizona.

“The idea is to form a loose alliance that will explore ways in which we can support each other through shared promotion, lobbying, and other means to ensure that the remarkable legacy of these observatories is preserved for future generations, to inspire and educate the next generation of scientists,” wrote Sam Hale, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Mount Wilson Institute, in a letter published in the Mount Wilson’s quarterly newsletter, Reflections.

Sam Hale is the grandson of Mount Wilson’s founder, George Ellery Hale, who established Mount Wilson in 1904. In many ways, Mount Wilson was the perfect venue to host the premier meeting of the Alliance of Historical Observatories. Not only does it contain …

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Author: Tanja M. Laden / High Times

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