Good Seeing

I just finished reading The Perfect Machine about the construction of the Hale Telescope at Mount Palomar (here is a pretty good picture). Fascinating story with regard to both the people involved and the engineering. It took 21 years from getting the funds to when the first images were captured. Lots of interesting pieces; the struggle to cast a 200″ diameter mirror, understanding that good enough sometimes isn’t good enough (and yet, that at some point you’ve gone as far as you can), the whole structure weighs about 500 tons, and how much thought and effort went into making it easy to use compared to previous large telescopes. I can’t tell you that reading it will give you a lot of lessons you can somehow apply at work, but I think you’ll find it time well spent.

“Good seeing” is one of a lot of phrases in the book that I didn’t know (knowing nothing about astronomy or astrophysics). It sounds like something you would do with a good telescope, but it turns out to mean something a little different, referring to the absence of thermal turbulence. First light was another interesting phrase.

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