Phew! After several days of nail biting, the Mount Wilson Observatory has been declared saved.
The fires in California have caused a lot of damage. In its path is/was the Mount Wilson Observatory and the 22 radio, television, and cell phone towers. Even the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) was threatened, although the fires did not get that close. Smoke was a bigger problem there and resulted in the JPL being left empty except for absolute essential mission staff. It is awesome that the fire fighters took such good care of the observatory and had made it a high priority. Not just were very very expensive equipment at risk, but also communication towers and scientific studies. We here in WNC witnessed the mess a down tower can cause. It was either during the Blizzard of ’93 or during Hurricane Opal that a huge tower went down. The support cables cleared several acres of trees when they snapped and whipped around. It took a long time to repair. Even longer for one of the local public radio stations to get back on the air with their original coverage. It was several years before they had a permanent solution to their tower problems.
I followed the news about the observatory via the Planetary Society’s bloggers.
(in chronological order)
The Station Fire is near JPL and even closer to Mt. Wilson
Station Fire update: Mount Wilson Observatory still there, but still under threat
Station fire update: Mount Wilson safe, ready for “another hundred years” of science
You can also find news articles at Google News.