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Famous Telescopes and Observatories in the World II
Posted In: Space and Astrology  9/18/11
By: Yona Williams

Telescopes don’t always have to stand on the ground, as seen with the infamous Hubble Space Telescope that orbits space. Offering glimpses of planets and taking pictures for mission, this telescope still enjoys a successful run. In this article, you will also learn about Birr Castle in Ireland and the Mount Wilson Observatory in California.

Birr Castle – Ireland

The large Birr Castle in Ireland is home to a reflecting telescope that was built in 1845. Located in County Offaly, the castle once belonged to the Earl of Rosse. The mirror of the telescope measures 72 inches and was used to discover the spiral form of galaxies. Until the opening of Mount Wilson in California, the telescope was considered the largest of its kind in the world.

The construction of the telescope was finished in 1845 and was used for several decades. The last observations were made at the start of the 20th century. The telescope was dismantled in 1914, but was restored during the 1990s. The public can now view the telescope.

While you can visit the grounds and gardens of the castle today, the residential areas are off limits. It is here that you will encounter Ireland's Historic Science Centre – a museum that celebrates the historic scientists of the country, as well as their contributions to astronomy and botany.

Hubble Space Telescope

Launched in 1990, the infamous Hubble Space Telescope orbits 366 miles above the Earth's atmosphere. It has the ability to take photographs of distant objects with 10 times more the detail than telescopes positioned on the ground. Measuring about 8 feet, the space telescope was carried into orbit by a Space Shuttle. Over its lifetime, there have been five missions that have ended with repairing, upgrading or replacing systems on the telescope.  It is still in operation to this day.

Mount Wilson Observatory – California

Installed in 1917, the Mount Wilson Observatory in California is located on a mountain peak in the San Gabriel Mountains near Pasadena in Los Angeles County. It sits more than 5,500 feet in the air and was the brainchild of George Ellery Hale, who built the telescope at Yerkes Observatory. The observatory is home to two important telescopes in history. The first is the 60-inch Hale telescope that was built in 1908. The second is the 100-inch Hooker telescope that was once the largest telescope in the world – a title that it held from 1917 to 1948 until the Hale Telescope was built.

The inversion layer that traps smog over Los Angeles influenced the air concentration of Mount Wilson – creating a steadier flow of air. The ideal conditions were a blessing for astronomers, especially for those interested in studying interferometry. As greater Los Angeles grew, so did the light pollution, which limited the ability of the observatory to allow deep space astronomy to take place. Nonetheless, the observatory is still productive. Research conducted still takes advantage of many new and old instruments.


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