Diary of my trip to Mt Wilson Observatory, May 25th, 2007
5/2/2007 I sometimes do easy hikes with
an avid group of hikers in San Diego. The group has been in
existence for perhaps 15 years and was invited by member Dave
Jurasevich, the recently appointed current director of Mt. Wilson
Observatory, to tour the Mt. Wilson observatory. My hiking friend
John Strauch knew I was into astronomy and got me invited. My first
trip to Mt. Wilson was on May 2nd during the day. I rode
up with one of the hikers, Terry Flood, who is a totally mad
driver. He cruised between 80 - 90 mph most of the way to the
site. I nearly got sick on the last 20 mile curvy stretch up the
mountain. Our group of 8 spent about 5 hours on a Dave Jurasevich
personally conducted tour of the 60, 100, 150 solar tower, and
the original living quarters of original director George Hale.
Below is a picture of the 60 and the 100. Dave Jurasevich enjoyed
being with his old hiking buddies so much I guess, that he invited
each person plus one guest up on May 25th for an evening
of viewing on the 60.
5/25/2007 I left at 2:30 p.m. for
my Mt Wilson 60 observing trip to Pasadena. I drove first to Bob Nanzs house
near Lawrence Welk Ranch. He took over the driving, using his van. We
encountered some bad traffic on highway 15 but eventually made it to the
mountain top at 7:20 p.m. with 10 minutes to spare. Bob Jurasevich met us at
the locked gate and escorted the large group, perhaps 30 people, into the
facility. He took us down to the old motor engine generator building first,
where 4 volunteers had restored and were running the old DC engine generator
tonight. The generator originally was used to charge the batteries used at
night to operate the telescope motors and other controls. We then went to the
60 telescope and watched them open the dome and point the scope to Saturn.
Dave the provided us with a nice croissant sandwich, salad, fruit, and
refreshments at the scope. Saturn was awesome, showing 4 moons really clear and
large. The Saturn color and details were the best I have ever seen through any
scope. The viewing was very good this night, my personal rating being an 8/10.
Apparently this particular part of the mountain has the best seeing in the LA
area. Bummer I actually left my camera at home. The focal length of this rock
solid scope is 24,000mm. They used either a 50mm or 100mm 4 eye piece giving
480 or 240 magnification. The next object was the moon, also the sharpest,
clearest, and steadiest seeing I have ever had of the moon. Several people had
cameras and tried some afocal shots which turned out good once they got the
right focus and exposure settings. Dave took part of the group over to have a
look at the 100 scope. Bob & I stayed. Next the operator used the setting
circles to position the huge scope to the Cats Eye Nebula NGC 6543. The blue
purple green color and detail on nebula was awesome like as I have never seen in
using any other scope. This view was in spite of a very bright moon shining.
The next object was the Ring Nebula M57. Again the best view of it ever for
me. The color for me was a bluish green. The central star I could just barely
make out by using averted vision. The group was now down to perhaps 12 people.
Next we looked at a beautiful double star Epsilon Dracaenas which had phenomenal
contrasting colors. Next was Epsilon Lyrae, the "Double Double. The split was
easy to see, but not as impressive as the other objects viewed. Jupiter was now
up high enough to view. Again it was another best view for me. The red spot I
have never seen clearer than I did tonight. The photographers spent lots of
time on this one. To get to the 50mm eye piece I actually had to put one foot
and ½ of my weight on the telescope. Its impossible to make this scope vibrate
as I tried and couldnt do.
We left for home about 2:45 a.m. and I arrived home about 5:00
a.m. I want to thank Bob Nanz for driving and Dave Jurasevich for this
wonderful opportunity to see the sky in a very special way. Thank you all for
reading my article.