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You may not have realized it, but sitting on one of the highest points in the San Gabriel Mountains, hanging at 5,700 feet above Los Angeles, is perhaps one of the most important places in the world for scientific discoveries: the Mount Wilson Observatory .
The 114-year-old site is covered with equipment that has not only helped humanity discover the universe and consolidate Southern California as a center of astronomy, but still connects normal people with wonders beyond our own world.
Worryingly, the Bobcat Fire is charging for it. As of Tuesday, only 500 feet.
#BobcatFire is within 500 feet of the mountain. Wilson Observatory and crews ready to accept fire. Strategic firing is taking place in the south, where air operations are strengthening station lines. Crews are conducting a local fire that crossed Hwy 2 near Buckhorn. pic.twitter.com/33rI3dNet2
– Angeles_NF (@Angeles_NF) September 15, 2020
Firefighters are conducting an aggressive defense, but there is a possibility that a century ago may catch fire.
The thought that suffocates the heart. Not only because of its historical importance, but because it is absolutely magical to be able to stand on Earth, look into a 100-inch telescope and see full-color planets throughout our solar system, as well as galaxies far beyond.
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The same environment that made Mt. Wilson, an ideal place for wildfires – isolated, high on a mountain in a dry climate – has also made it one of the best places in the United States to watch the stars.
George Ellery Hale, one of the pioneers of astrophysics and the founder of CalTech, realized this so much when he worked on the construction of the observatory in the early 1900s.
Thanks to their innovative 60-inch and 100-inch telescopes, scientists have been able to study the stars in detail.
In 1918, Harlow Chapley realized that our solar system was not really in the center of the Milky Way, but on the outer edge.
And Edwin Hubble – yes that Hubble – used a 100-inch telescope to make even more discoveries.
“Effective [Edwin] Hubble discovered the universe in the 1920s on the mountain. Wilson, “said John Mulhay, director of the Carnegie Observatory in Pasadena, which owns the observatory.
Scientists have long believed that the Milky Way is almost everything that was in the universe.
Then, in the early 1920s, Hubble concentrated Mt. Wilson’s telescope about what was believed to be a gas or substance floating in the Milky Way. Through a series of complex calculations, he found that it was not dust, but his entire galaxy, including the Andromeda Galaxy.
He continued to discover other galaxies during the 1920s, eventually making another great discovery in 1929: that the universe was expanding. A key component of the Big Bang theory.
“It’s really the foundation of modern astronomy. And that’s why I’m really saying that Mount Wilson laid the groundwork for how we understand the universe today,” Mulhay said.
“The reason astronomy is in Pasadena is Mount Wilson,” he said.
As the aircraft grew, so did light pollution, which made Mt. Wilson is less than ideal for space observation. By the 1940s, other observatories began to appear around the world in more isolated locations. Until the 80’s it was almost never used.
Now scientists are going to Hawaii and Chile, high above the dry desert to gather information about our universe much more clearly.
However, even if it does not have the same scientific significance that once existed as a historical monument and as a place where the public can go to look through a rubber telescope and feel more connected to the universe, it is priceless.
Not only does this take us beyond our own island small worlds, but the process also exposes people to science.
An opportunity is especially important in today’s world.