Sky and Telescope - June 2018 - 38
George Ellery Hale
tational mass of galaxy clusters was far greater than expected
from their luminosity, offering an early hint of dark matter.
Walter Baade identiﬁed two types of Cepheid variables and,
with that discovery, doubled the size of the universe calculated by Hubble.
The Hooker remained the world's largest telescope until
1949, when Hale beat his own record on Mount Palomar.
A "Type A" Astronomer
Hale's industriousness affected science far beyond the construction of telescopes. While still at the University of Chicago he founded The Astrophysical Journal with James Keeler
in 1895, and he was a major driver in establishing the American Astronomical Society in 1899. In 1904 he founded the
International Union for Cooperation in Solar Research, which
later became the International Astronomical Union, and he
played a major role in transforming the Throop Polytechnic
Institute into the California Institute of Technology. In 1916,
he was instrumental in creating the National Research Council to harness scientiﬁc expertise for national needs.
q SUN SPOTTING The Snow horizontal telescope (coelostat) was a
gift to Yerkes Observatory from Helen E. Snow in memory of her father,
George W. Snow. Hale transported the instrument to California in 1904
to make solar observations. The scope had a 60-foot (18-meter) focal
length so was housed in a long building, next to which was built the 60foot solar tower.
"I've been struck by the huge number of scientists living at
the time that Hale corresponded with and knew personally.
He was the ultimate networking specialist at a time when
networking wasn't even a concept," says Koehler.
Over time, the frenetic pace took a toll. Hale had long
suffered from headaches and bouts of depression. Worsening
symptoms led to nervous breakdowns serious enough to make
him decline meetings and spend repeated periods in sanitariums. Weakened by ill health, Hale resigned as director of the
Mount Wilson Observatory in 1923. The next year, he built a
small solar laboratory in Pasadena, where he did much of his
scientiﬁc writing and planned for his next big telescope.
Hale was aware that light pollution from greater Los
Angeles was a growing problem for Mount Wilson, and in
1928 he opened a new chapter in astronomy farther south
in California with a $6 million award from the Rockefeller
Foundation. His initial ambition was to build a 300-inch
telescope on Palomar Mountain, north of San Diego. After
being convinced that it would be too difﬁcult to construct,
however, he scaled his design back to 200 inches. Regrettably,
the enterprise would stretch a decade beyond his life. Hale
died on February 21, 1938, at a sanitarium, where he had
been admitted a few months earlier after a stroke. He was 69
the new reﬂector at
in his honor at its 1948
UNIV ERSIT Y OF CHICAGO / Y ERK ES OBSERVATORY (2)
q MAN ON A MISSION
George Hale takes in the
view from Mount Wilson,
Some of the
work of 20thcentury
dome on Mount
J U N E 2 018 * SK Y & TELESCOPE