Near Pasadena in Los Angeles County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Harvard’s Mount Wilson Station
Erected 1910 by Edward C. Pickering, Harvard College Observatory.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Science & Medicine. A significant historical year for this entry is 1890.
Location. 34° 13.447′ N, 118° 3.781′ W. Marker is near Pasadena, California, in Los Angeles County. Marker is on Mt. Wilson Road, on the right when traveling south. Marker is just inside the fenced-off complex of television and radio antennas, just before you get to the main parking lot on Mount Wilson. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Pasadena CA 91107, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Benjamin Davis Wilson (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Michelson Pier on Mount Wilson (approx. 0.3 miles away); The 100-Inch Hooker Telescope (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Mount Wilson 100 Inch Telescope (approx. 0.4 miles away); Adams Pack Station (approx. 3 miles away); Mount Lowe Railway World’s Largest Blossoming Plant (approx. 3.7 miles away); Mount Wilson Trail (approx. 3.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pasadena.
Regarding Harvard’s Mount Wilson Station. During the late 19th century, barely a trail existed up Wilson’s Peak, the 5,700-foot mountain overlooking Pasadena and Los Angeles, California. Getting up or down was a five-hour trek for hikers and mules. Nevertheless, Edward Pickering, director of Harvard College Observatory, decided to see if the mountain would make a good site for an astronomical observatory. He sent his brother William (who was also an astronomer) and Alvan G. Clark, of the noted telescope-making firm Alvan Clark & Sons, to spend the night of January 23, 1889, at the summit. Following their favorable report, in May 1889 Harvard set up a 13-inch photographic telescope there, and during the next year and a half this instrument provided fine photographs of Moon, planets, Orion Nebula, and star clusters on just about every clear night.
Although Pickering failed in his efforts to secure permanent title to the land for Harvard, the short-lived station proved that Wilson’s Peak had the frequent clear skies and air
Much of the above information is adapted from the histories of Harvard Observatory by S. I. Bailey (1931) and by B. Z. Jones and L. G. Boyd (1971).
Credits. This page was last revised on July 5, 2018. It was originally submitted on July 8, 2012, by Roger W. Sinnott of Chelmsford, Massachusetts. This page has been viewed 764 times since then and 65 times this year. Last updated on July 4, 2018, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on July 8, 2012, by Roger W. Sinnott of Chelmsford, Massachusetts. 4, 5, 6. submitted on July 4, 2018, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.