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Day 237: The Hale Solar Laboratory

Did you know that Pasadena has its very own private observatory?

Day 237 of 365 Things To Do in Pasadena teaches us about the Hale Solar Laboratory.

It is a historic research facility and library and is significant because of its association with its original owner, George Ellery Hale.

George Hale was an internationally renown scientist. He is recognized as being the driving force behind the rise of the science of astrophysics in the U.S.

The Hale Solar laboratory served as the Mr. Hale’s workshop and office for the later years of his life. It was the site of many scientific discoveries, the most notable being Hale’s refinement of the spectrohelioscope.

A spectrohelioscpoe is a a solar telescope that allows the sun to be viewed in a selected wavelength of light.


Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Construction of the Laboratory:

Hale, not wanting to venture too far from Pasadena’s Cal Tech and enjoying the favorable weather conditions of Pasadena, commissioned the firm of Johnson Kauffman and Coate to build this amazing observatory in 1924.  The lab is a “T” shaped reinforced concrete structure with Mission and Spanish Revival designs. It has 6 bedrooms, a laboratory,  library and telescope. There is an underground wing that is home to transformers and heating & ventilating systems.

The lab is surround by Sycamore and Loquat Trees and a moat encircles the building except for a portion around the telescope tower.

It has not been altered since its original construction in 1924, it is in excellent condition and today retains much of its original equipment. The laboratory was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989.

In 1985, the property was sold and a private residence was built on the grounds. Today, the laboratory portion houses the Offices of the Mount Wilson Institute, a non-profit organization formed in 1986 to operate the Mount Wilson Observatory which was founded by Hale in 1904.

Amazing isn’t it? The things we find in Pasadena’s back yard!


Hale Solar Laboratory
Please Do Not Disturb, this is a private residence
Holladay Dr.
Pasadena, CA

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