Looking Up by Bob Eklund

Voyager 2 Completes 12,000 Days of Continuous Operations;
New “Cosmic Café” Opens on Mt. Wilson

On June 28, 2010, Voyager 2 completed 12,000 days of continuous operations since its launch on August 20, 1977. For nearly 33 years, the venerable spacecraft has been returning unprecedented data about the giant outer planets, the properties of the solar wind between and beyond the planets and the interaction of the solar wind with interstellar winds. Having traveled more than 13 billion miles on its winding path through the planets toward interstellar space, the spacecraft is now nearly 9 billion miles from the sun. Traveling at the speed of light, a signal from the ground takes about 12.8 hours to reach the spacecraft.

Voyager 1 will reach this milestone on July 13 after having traveled more than 13 billion miles. Voyager 1 is currently more than 10 billion miles from the Sun.

For more information and images: http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/

MEANWHILE, MUCH CLOSER TO HOME… How about a summer family outing to the new “Cosmic Café” at Mt. Wilson? Visitors to the world-famous Mount Wilson Observatory can once again enjoy a memorable lunch among the telescope domes and Ponderosa pines up in the clear air overlooking the Los Angeles Basin. The Mount Wilson Institute last week announced the opening of the Cosmic Café, where they can purchase fresh-made sandwiches, hot dogs, soft drinks, snacks and souvenirs. Not since 1992 has food been available for purchase at the Observatory to enhance the visitor experience or to refresh hikers as they reach the mountain’s summit.

The Cosmic Café is located in the open-air pavilion overlooking the large parking lot just inside the gate to what has been known as Skyline Park since the 1970s. The pavilion serves as the entry point to the Observatory grounds.

“We’re delighted to reopen this food venue to the public after all these years,” said Dr. Hal McAlister, the Observatory director. “The income from the Cosmic Café will support our ‘Second Century Campaign’ in which we hope to build a wonderful new visitor center that will entice Southern Californians to rediscover this world-class science heritage site in their back yards.”

The Angeles Crest Highway remains closed due to washouts following the Station Fire, but the Observatory is still readily accessible via L.A. County roads from Sunland. “The drive to Mt. Wilson is a bit longer than we are all used to,” said McAlister, “but the roads are in great shape, and you can witness the recovery progress of the forest following the massive destruction of the Station Fire.”

While the Observatory is open daily to public visitation from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during April through November, the Cosmic Café will be open initially only on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The Café will also be open on Monday, July 5, for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend.

To reach Mt. Wilson, take Oro Vista Ave. in Sunland to the Lower Big Tujunga Canyon Road, and proceed 11.9 miles to the well-marked intersection with Angeles Forest Highway. Turn left on Angeles Forest Highway and proceed 4.6 miles to another well-marked intersection with Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road. Turn right on Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road and drive 9 miles to Angeles Crest Highway. Turn right and proceed 4.2 miles west to Red Box junction. Turn left at Red Box and take the 4.5-mile road up to Mount Wilson.

A map showing this route is available at: www.mtwilson.edu/vis.php.

You can contact Bob Eklund at [email protected], or visit his website at www.bobeklund.com.

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