Observing the Observatory
Rising Above a Mountaintop Dome

2845 Looking down on the dome of the 100-inch telescope. CLUI photoLAST SUMMER THE CLUI took its aerial photography platform to new heights at the Mount Wilson Observatory, the historic astronomical center atop the San Gabriel Mountains, more than a mile above Los Angeles. CLUI members deployed a helium balloon-mounted camera to take aerial photos of the domed enclosure of the 100-inch telescope, once the largest telescope in the world.

The project was part of an event called Knowledges at Mount Wilson Observatory, a program of creative events and performances that took place on the grounds of the observatory over two days in June, 2012, mostly at night. The remarkable event transformed the hallowed grounds of the observatory into a technologically enchanted forest of colors, lights, sounds, and other surprises.

The image taken by the CLUI was intended to offer a new perspective of the observatory’s telescope–seen from above–as it is usually depicted as seen from below, and is, of course, used for looking up. The image was framed and presented to the observatory director, and was hung in the visitor observation room that overlooks the 100-inch telescope.

2846 The CLUI weather balloon is visible in the sky, in this image taken from the 150-foot Solar Tower Towercam. Mt. Wilson photo