A Photo Tour of the Palomar Observatory (Gallery)

Interesting shapes

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The telescope as seen from the mezzanine level, where the horseshoe-shaped guider is more obvious.

Bienniel cleaning

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An enormous vacuum chamber sits on the main floor to clean the 200-inch (5.08 meters) mirror every two years.

Alignment ensured

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The steel Hartmann screen helped ensure that the final version of the mirror was perfectly aligned.

How it works

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A scale model of the mirror: The triangular gaps allowed airflow, while the round holes hosted actuators to move the mirror.

A peak into history

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A movable model of the telescope sits in front of the visitors gallery.


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The control panel for the historic Hale telescope.

More controls

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The control panel for the Hale telescope from another angle.


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The concrete disk that helped engineers prepare the telescope for the arrival of the glass mirror sits outside near the parking lot.


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This way to the visitors gallery!

Welcome to eh observatory

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The visitors center allows a peek inside the observatory, also sharing videos of the mirror cleaning and the original 18-inch (46 centimeters) telescope that was hosted at Palomar.

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Nola Taylor Tillman
Contributing Writer

Nola Taylor Tillman is a contributing writer for Space.com. She loves all things space and astronomy-related, and enjoys the opportunity to learn more. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English and Astrophysics from Agnes Scott college and served as an intern at Sky & Telescope magazine. In her free time, she homeschools her four children. Follow her on Twitter at @NolaTRedd