Palomar Observatory

From 1936 to Now


Palomar Observatory in Southern California, operated by Caltech, has been at the forefront of astronomical research since 1936, nearly 90 years! Its 200-inch Hale Telescope is considered one of the most consequential scientific instruments of the last century. This world famous observatory still operates every clear night and is an iconic facility for scientific advancement, instrument development, and student training.

Steven Flanders, the Outreach Coordinator for the Palomar Observatory, presents the amazing story of the men and women of Palomar. The insights they developed over many decades, along with the work of other researchers in the global community, produced a series of discoveries and engineering innovations that changed our view of the cosmos. Various facilities, past and present used for this work at the observatory, are also described.

In the late 1950s, as Steven was becoming interested in astronomy, Palomar Observatory was a place of great scientific importance. Following a 30-year career in corporate IT management, he joined the observatory’s docent program. After several years, he was offered the position of Outreach Coordinator. A Caltech employee since 2013, Steven’s job involves overseeing the work of 32 volunteer docents. These docents conduct tours of the Hale Telescope, host star parties, and participate in a variety of special observatory events.


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