The 200-inch telescope is named after astronomer and telescope builder George Ellery Hale. It was built by Caltech with a $6 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, using a Pyrex blank manufactured by Corning Glass Works under the direction of George McCauley. Dr. J.A. Anderson was the initial project manager, assigned in the early 1930s. The telescope (the largest in the world at that time) saw first light January 26, 1949 targeting NGC 2261. The American astronomer Edwin Powell Hubble was the first astronomer to use the telescope.The 200-inch telescope was the largest telescope in the world from 1949 until 1975, when the Russian BTA-6 telescope saw first light. Astronomers using the Hale Telescope have discovered distant objects called quasars (a subset of what was to become known as Active Galactic Nuclei) at cosmological distances. They have studied the chemistry of stellar populations, leading to an understanding of the stellar nucleosynthesis as to origin of elements in the universe in their observed abundances, and have discovered thousands of asteroids. A one-tenth-scale engineering model of the telescope at Corning Community College in Corning, New York, home of the Corning Glass Works (now Corning Incorporated), was used to discover at least one minor planet, 34419 Corning.
And while it's been relegated to a lower class among telescopes of the world because of advances in technology and sky glow from the growing population in the surrounding area, it was a very big deal when it was built. The road leading up to the observatory was built specifically so the mirror could be driven up the hillside.
We used to go up to the top of Palomar Mountain a lot when we were teenagers. It was something to do, a good place to hang out and make out with a boyfriend, and it had a killer view. When skies were clear, the view was commanding. It was also possible to get above cloud cover, where it looked as if one could just take a stroll across the landscape of puffy white clouds.
We first stopped off at a favorite fruit stand in Fallbrook to pick up some delicious California-grown avocados...the best avocados available in our not-so-humble opinions. We stop here every year.