On a recent, beautiful, sunny, California day my husband and I snaked our way 5,710 feet up the steep and winding roads to Mt. Wilson Observatory. We took the 2 hour walking tour. The site was amazing and full of scientific wonders. And naturally, it contained more than a few things that weighed more than me. For the purposes of this blog post, we’ll talk about the 100-inch telescope called the Hooker telescope. This bad boy was the largest telescope in the world from ts completion in 1917 until the 200-inch Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory was built in 1948.
Before Hale even finished work on the 60-inch Hale Telescope at Wilson Observatory, and before he even knew for sure that the technique pioneered on the 60-inch telescope would work, Hale began on the 100-inch Hooker telescope. The lens was formed based on a blank containing over two tons of fused glass which was melted in a furnace into one piece. Once melted, the lens took over 1 year to cool without cracking. In fact from pour to final polish, the lens took over 5 years to complete.
The telescope is floated on mercury to make it easier for the over 30 attached motors to move it into place. In the photo above, you can see me looking through the newly installed eyepiece which allows overnight guests to get together in viewing parties and observe the universe (which weighs even MORE than me).
Here’s the stats:
Mirror diameter: 100 inches
Mirror weight: 9,000 lbs.
Turning telescope (which floats on mercury) 87 tons
Rotating Dome (placed over the telescope) Diameter: 100 ft. Weight: 500 tons
Clock Mechanism: Falling weight–2 tons, bronze parts–1,000 lbs. Iron parts–3,000 lbs.
Total Telescope Weight: over 650 tons
Conclusion the 100-inch Hooker Telescope at Wilson Observatory weighs more than me.
Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)
The 60-inch Hale telescope and the 100-inch Hooker telescope seen from the air.
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