Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hot Enough 2

McDonald Observatory in Texas on April 17. The big dome is the 9.2 meter Hobby-Eberly telescope. Suffering from its own drought, Texas is experiencing scattered wildfires from East to West. The Rockhouse fire covers 202,000 acres. Eighteen separate fires together cover about 1 million acres. At this writing, McDonald Observatory seems to have escaped danger.

Observatories tend to be built on isolated mountaintops, which can be prime locations for fires. In August 2009 an arson fire came within 500 meters of California's famous Mount Wilson Observatory. The Station Fire did consume two firefighters and about 160,000 acres. In May 2007, Griffith Park Above the Fire, another California fire came very close to Los Angeles' Griffith Observatory. In January 2003 a brushfire devastated Australia's Mount Stromlo observatory, wiping out 6 of the telescopes. Mount Stromlo is still rebuilding.

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