Aiming for the stars
The Palomar Observatory is located in between
The 200’ lenses were produced in
The servos moving the telescope can deal with 150 tons, and it was the first that used pressurized oil to reduce friction. They use the telescope every night if the weather allows (on average 200 nights a year), and to protect it from heat deformation, the interior is always kept at the night time outside temperature (that meant 0C on our visit). There is a dedicated science project for every day, assigned months ahead. If you have bad weather, you have to ask for reschedule.
Besides the Hale telescope, there are other smaller ones nearby. These are all automated, robots are moving the lenses towards the target areas. The new 24” telescope is constantly keeping an eye on Titan’s weather. The 48” Schmidt wide-field telescope is the "rapid reaction force", that is able to focus on any point of interest within 2 min of localization by a satellite. The 20” searches for exoplanets by observing star eclipses, the 60” reflecting has mapped the entire northern hemisphere, and just about to do it again, and there is a fast moving one, that scans the sky three times a night looking for anything new.
Looking to the future, they are testing a new telescope system based in interferometry, and the plans are ready for a 30 m wide telescope, TMT, that would redefine space observation.
The Hale telescope is open for the public, even though it takes three hours to get up to the hills from Los Angeles, it worths the visit.