Prospects looking up for Mount Wilson Observatory

by Eric on September 1, 2009

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After 2 days of fearing the worst was imminent, the situation on Mt. Wilson has brightened considerably according to MWI director Hal McAlister:

Monday, 1 Sep 09, 5:26[sic] pm PDT – The Battalion fire chief on Mount Wilson has just called both Larry and Dave to ask how to turn off the fire alarm up there! His name is Cam Todd and he’s a Cal Fire chief with crews from Calaveras County. These are the same fire crews who did such a fantastic job prepping the place over the weekend before they were withdrawn yesterday morning. Chief Todd confirmed that these are indeed backfires and he said his guys are doing a heck of a job and their efforts are going just great!

The power is out at the observatory, so he has moved his updates to the CHARA site at Georgia State University. CHARA stands for Center for High Angular Astronomy, and their telescope is among the many at the threatened by fire at summit atop Mt. Wilson.

Also, if you want to check out UCLA’s Towercam overlooking the communication array, home to many of the TV and radio antennas that serve Los Angeles, it is now available at a mirror site to ease the load on the main server.

Finally, if you wish to watch the progress of the firefighting efforts, local TV KTLA and CBS (via Wildfire Today) have live feeds.

We wish the MWO and firefighters luck in their endeavors, and sympathy to those displaced from their homes or who have lost loved ones.

Update 09.01.09 9:45 PM: At 7:21, Hal McAlister received a full briefing from LA County Deputy Fire Chief Jim Powers, and things look very good:

Chief Powers expressed his absolute confidence that they will save the Observatory. He said that while it may have appeared over the last day or so that the Observatory was being neglected, that they never lost sight of the importance of Mount Wilson’s preservation and it is now their highest priority. He flew up to the mountain yesterday, was delighted with what he found and knew they could achieve success here.

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