Mount Wilson Observatory to get star treatment
PASADENA - In the year since the Station Fire came within a few hundred yards of the birthplace of modern astronomy, the stars seem to moving into alignment for the historic Mount Wilson Observatory.
Work on long-deferred maintenance of the century old observatory buildings will soon start - thanks to a just-announced $1.48-million National Science Foundation grant, officials said.
The 5,915-foot-high observatory overlooking Pasadena has been listed as a potential UNESCO World Heritage site of astronomy and archaeoastronomy by the International Astronomical Union and the International Council on Monuments and Sites - the only such site in the United States.
Now, Director Hal McAlister said, the timing seems right now to relaunch the nonprofit Mount Wilson Foundation’s Second Century Campaign - a $20-million effort to build a world-class visitor center and return the observatory to the tourist magnet it was 100 years ago.
“We started this whole effort three years ago, and a funny thing happened to the economy,” McAlister said. “Now we’re putting the final touches to the documents to kick it off this fall.”
Officials hope Mount Wilson will become a complete tourist destination before the 2017 centenary of the fabled 100-inch telescope, McAlister said.