The Threat to Mt. Wilson

By Julianne Dalcanton | September 18, 2009 12:18 am

Some of you may have followed the threat to the historic Mt. Wilson observatory from the fires in Los Angeles earlier this month. Below is a fantastic time lapse video shot from one of the facilities on the mountain. You can see how close the fire came (though thankfully, the firefighters did a superb job in protecting observatory with targeted back burns to create firebreaks around the site).

As this video shows, astronomical observatories are frequently at risk from wildfires, since both tend to occupy dry remote mountaintops. Indeed, close to seven years ago, one of Australia’s major observatories on Mt. Stromlo was nearly obliterated by the fires that raced through the area:

Thankfully, Mt. Wilson survived this round.

PS. You can find a bit more about some of the ground breaking work that was done at Mt. Wilson along with some terrific old Life magazine photos here.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space, Technology

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