The Largest Public Telescope in the World - Atlas Obscura


The Largest Public Telescope in the World

Gaze beyond our galactic borders with a groundbreaking telescope used by astronomy legends like Edwin Hubble.

See the world in an entirely new way, through the lens of an instrument once used by many of the world's greatest astronomers to build the foundation for everything we know today about our vast solar system (and beyond). 

Join Atlas Obscura for an exclusive evening of observation and expert star-gazing at Mount Wilson Observatory with the help of one very historic telescope. The observatory's 100-inch Hooker Telescope was considered the world's largest telescope from 1917 to 1949, used by many of the most remarkable astronomers of the 20th century, including Edwin Hubble, Fritz Zwicky, and Walter Baade. In 2015, after 98 years of scientific service, the telescope was retired and is now open to the public for nighttime viewing.

Assisted by a telescope operator and a session director from Mount Wilson Observatory, you will investigate planets, globular clusters, planetary nebulae, and colorful double stars through the 100-inch telescope. Within the nearly 100-year-old interior dome, you'll get an introduction to the checkered history of the building of this groundbreaking invention of the early 20th century and breathtaking views of worlds beyond our own.  


  • The exact start time of this event has yet to be determined, but will be around 5 p.m. 
  • Due to limited parking, carpooling is mandatory. We will meet up in La Cañada Flintridge to carpool up the mountain. There are no refunds for people who miss the carpool and we are not able to wait for those who arrive late. Plan your route ahead of time to assure punctual arrival.
  • This event is weather-dependent. Attendees will be provided with a phone number to call the day of the event to confirm the status. It is your responsibility to confirm status.
  • Should a viewing session be cut short by weather after it has begun, payment will be refunded on a pro-rata basis. 
  • We cannot accommodate children under age 12. All ticketed minors must be accompanied by a ticketed adult.
  • You are encouraged to bring snacks—just remember to bring enough to share!
  • It could be cold! Warm coats, sweaters, and hats are suggested. The dome is NOT heated.
  • There may be mosquitoes! Feel free to bring bug spray.
  • The 100-year-old dome is not ADA compliant, and the telescope is inaccessible to those who cannot climb the 30 steps to the observing deck. The Observatory is at 5,700-feet elevation, so anyone with breathing or heart problems should not attempt the trip.
  • Photography is encouraged! Only rule is that the flash must be disabled when the dome lights are off for viewing.
  • Bring a regular flashlight to use when leaving the dome to go to your car. The grounds are unlit and are very uneven and hilly.
  • Alcohol is prohibited and no smoking or flames are allowed inside the dome at any time.
  • A liability waiver is required for this event.


Email Erin Johnson at

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Advance tickets only. All sales final. No refunds or exchanges.