Monday, February 14, 2011

Frontiers in Space: Mount Wilson and Palomar Observatories

I recently won an eBay auction for a vintage publication of the Mount Wilson and Palomar Observatories, Frontiers in Space. This black-and-white 48-page volume was one that I had not come across in previous auctions, and I have not found any information about it online. There is no date or copyright notice in the book, just a statement that “Additional copies of this book can be ordered from the Bookstore, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, 65 cents postpaid.” Since it seems to be an unusual book, I have scanned the book to PDF and made it available here, for educational and research purposes.

Frontiers in Space (38 MB PDF)

The book covers the general operating principles of a research telescope of the first half of the 20th century, including mount design and the movement of the telescopes; the use of photography for imaging and spectroscopy; and the various focal configurations (prime focus, Cassegrain, Coudé, Schmidt cameras). The histories of George Ellery Hale, Mount Wilson, and Palomar are presented, including the discovery of the expanding universe (with Edwin Hubble's name nowhere to be seen). A “night's work” for an observer is described, and the book concludes with an overview of the hot research topics of the day.

The book likely dates from soon after the completion of the Hale Telescope in 1948. There are numerous historical details up to that time, but little mention of events that followed.

The PDF was made searchable using the excellent WatchOCR software, which I described in detail yesterday. Final bleg: Can anyone point me to some free software that will let me adjust the logical page numbers in the PDF so that they match the page numbers in the original?

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