Friday, June 08, 2012
Pine Bluff Observatory
Sure, the big scope at the UW-Madison Astronomy Department's Pine Bluff Observatory is just measured in inches (36) when the really big guns these days are measured in meters. Pine Bluff was built on a hilltop 15 miles west of Madison in 1958 to replace Washburn Observatory, which was surrounded by light pollution and housed a 15.6-inch 19th century refractor. These days the UW shares time on big telescopes far away, including the 11-meter South African Large Telescope (SALT). Pine Bluff is just used for teaching and some research now, and is on the verge of obsolescence, but it's fun to take a look at if you happen to be out driving around the hills near Cross Plains.