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For the American astronomer George Ellery Hale, bigger was always better. In 1897, at the age of 29, he had become director of Chicago’s new Yerkes Observatory, whose 40-inch refracting telescope remains the largest instrument of its kind in the world. The lenses of refractors collected and
Lenses are used in refracting telescopes. Mirrors are used in reflecting telescopes. The mirrors are ground and polished so that a precise concave surface remains to be coated with a shiny, reflective finish. Mirrors concentrate light and focus all colors of the spectrum in an image. No lens can
In 1929, Corning Glass Works accepted a commission to make a 200-inch Pyrex disk for use in a reflecting telescope on Mount Palomar in California. After several trial castings of smaller disks, Corning poured a 200-inch disk in 1934. When part of the mold broke loose, the disk was ruined, but it
Hear from Scott Kardel, the public affairs coordinator for the Palomar Observatory, a world-class center for astronomical research that is owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology. There are five telescopes used at Palomar, including the 200-inch Hale Telescope (the "Big