Palomar Observatory — Owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology, a privately endowed educational and research institution located in Pasadena, California, and is used to support the scientific research programs of Caltech’s faculty and students.
The principal instruments at Palomar are the 200-inch Hale Telescope, the 48-inch Oschin Telescope, the 18-inch Schmidt telescope, and the 60-inch reflecting telescope (operated jointly by Caltech and the Carnegie Institute of Washington). By agreement, Caltech shares use of the Hale Telescope with astronomers from Cornell University and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
In 1928 the International Education Board (one of the Rockefeller Foundations) awarded a grant to Caltech for the construction of a 200-inch telescope. Numerous locations were tested for the atmospheric conditions needed for optimum astronomical observing, and in 1934 Palomar Mountain was selected as the site for the new instrument.
Scientific research at Palomar Observatory since 1948 has been remarkably productive. The Hale Telescope has been used on virtually every clear night to provide astronomers with the information they need to pursue their investigations.
The scope of this work ranges from studies of asteroids and comets within the solar system, to the stars that comprise our Milky Way Galaxy, out to the uncounted galaxies beyond our own, and finally to the quasars — beacons in the universe so distant that the light collected from them with the Palomar telescopes has been billions of years in transit to the Earth.