Hale Establishes Mount Wilson Observatory (Great Events from History II: Science and Technology Series)
Article abstract: Hale built several telescopes that served as tools for observation, and developed new techniques for building more powerful telescopes.
Summary of Event
In the late nineteenth century, observational astronomy had not advanced far beyond Galileo’s first telescope in either power or design. The majority of the powerful telescopes were still small, refracting designs. These telescopes were very similar to those used by ship captains; they contained a fixed eyepiece lens and an adjustable lens that could be positioned to focus the light of an image onto the eyepiece. Larger, more powerful reflecting telescopes were being designed and built; these telescopes used a concave mirror to collect light from an object and focused it onto a series of lenses or an adjustable eyepiece. The telescopes of this period were still individual instruments, which were primarily powerful eyes without an ability to analyze the visual information they received. Other instruments of physics and chemistry had not yet been coupled with these telescopes to exploit their more powerful view of the universe.
George Ellery Hale, after graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, moved to Chicago. At MIT, Hale had access to the 38-centimeter refracting scope at Harvard and the experience of its astronomers. In Chicago, Hale became involved in the building of a 102-centimeter reflecting telescope. The...
(The entire section is 2001 words.)
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