Monday, April 30, 2012

New tech to help study geographical problems

From the Times of India: New tech to help study geographical problems
AJMER: The remote sensing and geo-informatics department of Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati University will analyze and study the data for Rajasthan received from Risat ( radar imaging satellite) which is put in orbit a day before. The department has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with space center of ISRO, Ahmedabad.

The statistics will be helpful in getting information about the ground resources of the state as well as weather of the region. The new technology will provide clear picture of crops and ground realities of geographical problems.

The department will also study the information received from the satellite and the report will be submitted to ISRO again. "With this new technology we will be able to get better information on earth resources," said S Palaria, the department head.

Palaria said, "Till now clear satellite pictures of the ground could not be captured due to weather conditions and clouds, but now even with bad weather we can get high resolution pictures. This will matter a lot because we can then study the realities of flood and drought in the state to make our policies."

The department will also go through resources underneath the earth's crust in the state. "We get the geo images of big regions and better resolution" said a professor of the department.

The department will get the data of Risat through ISRO and the department with geo-informatics technique will decode the information and make a report based on it. "It is great work for the department which will also give report of change in weather and land face," added Palaria.

The department is working on advancement and dissemination of remote sensing technology and education. They used conventional methods in the fields, planning and management of natural resources and environment by organizing seminars.

"We also organize models, exhibitions and talks on geo-informatics science to encourage students to study this latest science," said a member of remote sensing chapter of Ajmer.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

AAG Offers Grants to Improve Careers in Geography Training

From Directions Magazine: AAG Offers Grants to Improve Careers in Geography Training
The AAG, through the Enhancing Departments and Graduate Education (EDGE) project funded by NSF, announces a grant program to support outreach, professional training, and related activities aimed at improving awareness of and preparation for business, government, and nonprofit careers in geography.

Twenty-four awards of $500 are available and will be granted on a competitive basis to support activities that address one or more of the following priority areas of the AAG’s EDGE project:

1. Broaden the participation of underrepresented students in undergraduate and graduate geography programs in the United States for careers and professional development;
2. Improve the preparation of students to work in international contexts and/or on issues that cross national boundaries or are global in scope;
3. Promote awareness of relationships between learning outcomes in geography programs and the needs of business, government, and nonprofit employers;
4. Enhance career development resources that prepare students for and connect them to business, government, and nonprofit employers.

To assist these efforts, the AAG will also provide awardees with an EDGE Career Development Kit that includes resources produced by EDGE and related AAG programs for careers and professional development. The Career Development Kit will include:

* A copy of the new AAG book, Practicing Geography: Careers for Enhancing Society and the Environment;
* 20 copies of the AAG Careers in Geography brochure;
* 20 copies of the second edition of Why Geography Is Important, a brochure developed in partnership with Texas State University’s Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education illustrating how geographers are contributing to the study of important social and environmental issues;
* 20 copies of tip sheets on various professional development topics including working internationally, internships, career planning, and networking;
* Offprints of research manuscripts stemming from the EDGE project;
* A CD-ROM containing Powerpoint slides with information about professional geographers and geography careers
* Various other careers-related giveaways, project brochures, flyers, and posters.

The AAG will consider a wide range of proposals that make use of the $500 grant, the EDGE Career Development Kit, and other available resources to support the priority areas outlined above. Potential activities eligible for support may include but are not limited to:

* Organizing a professional development workshop at an AAG regional or annual meeting;
* Planning an outreach event in collaboration with a careers center on a school or university campus with significant numbers of underrepresented students;
* Preparing a proposal for an undergraduate or graduate course, seminar, instructional module or webinar on professional development in geography;
* Sponsoring a visit by a professional geographer to a local high school or community college;
* Implementing EDGE materials into an existing professional development course, workshop, or program for geography students;
* Raising awareness among employers of how geographers are contributing to businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations;
* Developing outreach and educational materials for local implementation which could also be shared more broadly through the AAG's Jobs and Careers website ( or other distribution channels (e.g., videos, webinars, slideshows, posters, or brochures).

Per NSF regulations, awards may be used to pay for “direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with meetings, conferences, symposia or training projects.” Awards may also defray the costs of producing training and outreach materials such as those described above. To be eligible, awardees must be affiliated with a geography program in the United States and agree to complete a short evaluation report at the conclusion of their activities for NSF reporting purposes. Activities funded by the EDGE grant program should occur between September 1, 2012 and July 31, 2013. Awards will be granted on the basis of the alignment of proposed activities with the EDGE priority areas and their potential for reaching diverse audiences and institutions.

To apply, please send a professional résumé or c.v. and a 250-500 word proposal describing the activities to be supported by the $500 grant to Dr. Michael Solem ( Applications are due by July 1, 2012 at the latest.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


From Montery County Herald: GEOGRAPHY QUIZ
Questions are from the National Geography Bee, a program of the National Geographic Society.

1.A state known for its Cajun culture includes the towns of Lake Charles and Lafayette. Name this state.

2.Which state does not produce iron ore — Michigan, New Hampshire, or Minnesota?

3. Buzzards Bay and Nantucket Sound border what state?

4.James Bay, which borders Ontario and Quebec, is a southern extension of what inland body of water?

5.Although Amsterdam is the constitutional capital of the Netherlands, the country's seat of government is in what city on the North Sea?

6.Europe's aerospace industry is primarily based in Toulouse, a city north of the Pyrenees Mountains in what country?

7. The Dulce River feeds into Lake Mar Chiquita northeast of the city of C rdoba in which South America country?

8.A capital city in Central America is part of a broader metropolitan area reaching to the towns of Alajuela and Cartago. These cities are in what country?

9.Which lake is closer to the Equator — Lake Victoria or Lake Baikal?

10.Which Pacific island country is an archipelago that was formerly known as the New Hebrides?

Answers below

2.New Hampshire


4.Hudson Bay

5.The Hague



8.Costa Rica

9.Lake Victoria


Monday, April 23, 2012

More than maps

From the Towerlight: More than maps
Geography Society discusses special, cultural distribution

Geography is defined as the science of the land and the phenomena of the Earth. But to the Geography Society, it means much more.

The 12-member group is developing and looking for improvement as one of Towson’s Social Academic Special Interest Clubs, according to its president, sophomore geography major David Marin. About two years ago, the Geography Department called for a special interest meeting regarding the soon-to-be Geography Society, and Marin said he couldn’t resist the opportunity.

Marin said that the Geography Society is stereotyped as a bunch of nerds who like geography. In reality, it is just the opposite. The club discusses special and cultural distribution around the globe. Marin said the most important project they are working on now is similar to Google Street View, but for Towson University’s campus. The club is compiling pictures, along with their GPS location coordinates, to display on Towson’s website. This is an excellent way for both current and prospective students to see Towson really up close and personal, according to Marin. And the completion of the construction sites will be available for anyone to see.

“We will have a finished product by the end of the semester,” Marin said. “We are always a big help to the department and are willing to volunteer as much as we can. If we get the opportunity to collaborate with other departments or other universities, we’ll definitely take it.”

The society also collaborated with a geographic information sciences conference held on campus. This was where members were able to talk about how far GIS has come within the last 25 years.

“This was a great networking experience and a way for us to share more ideas to everyone,” Marin said. “We are really getting our roots reset. Overall, I am really proud about how far we’ve come in three semesters.”

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Geography Educators Visit DC Today to Support TGIF

From Directions Magazine: Geography Educators Visit DC Today to Support TGIF

Apparently, a group of educators is visiting Washington DC today to encourage passage of the Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act (TGIF) to fund geographic education. How do I know?

Today, I will join educators from around the country in Washington, D.C., with one mission: urging Congress to pass the Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act to ensure that America's children are equipped to work and live in an increasingly globalized world.

That's from a Letter to the Editor from a member of the Florida Geographic Alliance in a paper in Lakeland, FL. Earlier this week there was an opinion piece by the head of the Mississippi Geography Alliance. No, no geography organization let me know. I see nothing about this effort on the national Alliance website, NCGE, AAG or anywhere... Did you?

I did find several "we don't know geography" articles this week:

Survey of 50 students reveals geographical skills can't make the grade - The Breeze (JMU)

Geographical gaffes are inevitable in a fast-changing world - India Times

And, of course, lots of Geography Bee articles...

From Breeze.JMU: Survey of 50 students reveals geographical skills can’t make the grade

How many Canadian provinces can you name?

“What the hell is a Canadian province?”

This was asked by nearly half of the 50 students randomly given a 10 question geography quiz. They were asked to identify places on a world map with national boundaries but no names.

About 74 percent of the students couldn’t list three Canadian provinces and 24 percent thought Montreal, a city, was a province. Canada is divided into 10 provinces — Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan — just like the United States is divided into 50 states.

Only 38 percent of students got a 50 percent or higher on the quiz. Three managed to get all the questions wrong, and only one student had a perfect score.

“Is it bad if I don’t know any of these?” said a sophomore engineering major.

Not only did he proceed to get all 10 questions incorrect, but when asked to list five South American countries, he included Nigeria and Uganda, both of which are in Africa.

Almost half of the students improperly placed the Arctic, which should be in the north, in the Antarctic — the south. One student thought the Arctic was in Australia.

Almost every student surveyed would mutter, “This is embarrassing” or “I should know this.”

Can you find Somalia?

“I worked with Somalian refugees over spring break, but they didn’t teach me where they were from,” said a junior communication studies major. “They were really dark, so maybe Africa?” Correct.

Though many of the students have interacted with people from other countries, they couldn’t find those countries on the map.

“My best friend is from Vietnam and I don’t know this,” a sophomore biology major said when asked to identify it.

A few were eager to take the quiz and hear the results. One student finished in a little less than a minute, missing only one question.

“I love geography quizzes,” said the sophomore engineering major. “I haven’t taken one in about 12 years.”

One student felt a little embarrassed after handing in her survey.

“They’re going to kick me out of JMU after they grade this,” said the junior religion major.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hirono Named Geography Legislator of the Year

From Maui Now: Hirono Named Geography Legislator of the Year
The National Geographic Society Education Foundation named Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono of Hawai’i as a Geography Legislator of the Year for her steadfast support for improving K-12 geography education.

“Geography is more than where countries are located on the map; we are formed by the lands we inhabit,” said US Rep. Hirono. “As an island people, we have a unique perspective and a close relationship with our ‘aina. We are also a multicultural people, with close familial ties to many of the nations of Asia and the Pacific,” she said.

Congresswoman Hirono, who is a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee said we need to make sure that young people are prepared to succeed on the world stage. “Geography education is central to working with people from other states and other countries. It also helps us better understand our own special corner of the world. That’s why I support strengthening geography education and why I am so humbled to receive this award.”

“At a time when studies show that students in the United States are falling further behind their counterparts around the world in this core academic subject, geography educators are looking to Congress to champion their cause,” said Gilbert Grosvenor, National Geographic Society chairman emeritus.

“Congresswoman Hirono has ably stepped up to the challenge and for all her efforts, the National Geographic Education Foundation thanks her,” he said.

To strengthen geography education through teacher training and curriculum development, Congresswoman Hirono has co-sponsored the Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act, H.R. 885. She is also credited with championing quality early childhood education to help make sure our keiki start school ready to learn.

The Geography Legislator of the Year Award was presented at the National Geographic Society’s headquarters in Washington, DC.

Hawaii Senior Senator Daniel K. Inouye, University of Hawaii professor Dr. Jeffrey Moniz, who serves as the Coordinator of the Hawaii Geography Alliance, and Isla Young, Program Director at Maui Economic Development Board, also attended the award ceremony.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Our Geography (and Foreign Policy) Challenged President

From Caffeinated Thoughts: Our Geography (and Foreign Policy) Challenged President
I think perhaps he spent some time at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s very own beer summit in Colombia before making his latest gaffe. But we shouldn’t be surprised that President Obama confused the Malvinas with the Maldives which are some 8000 miles apart since this isn’t his first geography related gaffe.

First he ran an exhaustive campaign having visited our 57 states. He invents the Austrian language. He condemned the storming of the English embassy in Iran. Then he said he was born in Asia which will spark more fuel for the fire of birthers, but unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective) he was referring to Hawaii.

So perhaps the gaffe at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia doesn’t seem as bad unless you consider the foreign policy implications behind the error… or more to the point what he meant to say. In his address he said that he wanted to stay neutral between Argentina and the UK in their dispute over the Falkland Islands. So why did he use the Argentinian name? Everyone else calls the islands the Falklands. The United Kingdom has controlled these Islands, of whom the population is 90% British, since 1830. The UK fought to liberate the Islands after Argentina invaded in 1982.

The U.S. declared support for Britain in their war with Argentina so it is telling that the supposedly “neutral” President Obama would call the Islands by the Argentine name after Argentina has been ramping up talk of invading the Falklands again on the 30th anniversary of that war.

Another geography gaffe on top of another foreign policy gaffe, just another day in the Obama administration.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Swiss woman taken by gunmen in Mali's Timbuktu

Timbuktu, formerly also spelled Timbuctoo and Timbuktoo, is a town in the West African nation of Mali situated 15 km (9.3 mi) north of the River Niger on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. The town is the capital of the Timbuktu Region, one of the eight administrative regions of Mali. It had a population of 54,453 in the 2009 census.

Starting out as a seasonal settlement, Timbuktu became a permanent settlement early in the 12th century. After a shift in trading routes, Timbuktu flourished from the trade in salt, gold, ivory and slaves, and it became part of the Mali Empire early in the 13th century. In the first half of the 15th century the Tuareg tribes took control of the city for a short period until the expanding Songhay Empire absorbed the city in 1468. A Moroccan army defeated the Songhay in 1591, and made Timbuktu, rather than Gao, their stronghold. The invaders established a new ruling class, the arma, who after 1612 became independent of Morocco. However, the golden age of the city was over and it entered a long period of decline. Different tribes governed until the French took over in 1893, a situation that lasted until it became part of the current Republic of Mali in 1960. Presently Timbuktu is impoverished and suffers from desertification. Several initiatives are being undertaken to revive the historic manuscripts still kept in the city. Meanwhile, tourism forms an important source of income.

In its Golden Age, the town's numerous Islamic scholars and extensive trading network made possible an important book trade: together with the campuses of the Sankore madrassah, an Islamic university, this established Timbuktu as a scholarly centre in Africa. Several notable historic writers, such as Shabeni and Leo Africanus, have described Timbuktu. These stories fuelled speculation in Europe, where the city's reputation shifted from being extremely rich to being mysterious. This reputation overshadows the town itself in modern times, to the point where it is best known in Western culture as an expression for a distant or outlandish place.

On 1 April 2012, one day after the capture of Gao, Timbuktu was captured from the Malian military by the Tuareg rebels of the MNLA and Ansar Dine. Five days later, the MNLA declared the region independent of Mali as the nation of Azawad.

Note that in Islamic countries, to convert from Islam, or to try to convert people from Islam, is punishable by death. So this woman is probably dead.

From Yahoo News: Swiss woman taken by gunmen in Mali's Timbuktu
BAMAKO (Reuters) - A Swiss woman who had stayed in the northern Malian town of Timbuktu after it was captured by Tuareg and Islamist rebels was taken from her house by unidentified gunmen on Sunday, a witness and several sources in the town said.

Yehia Tandina, one of the town's residents, said the woman, whom she identified only as Beatrice, was seized by armed men in turbans on Sunday afternoon. A neighbor of the Swiss woman who asked not to be named confirmed the incident.

A spokesman for the Swiss foreign ministry in the Swiss capital Berne said the ministry was looking into the report.

A mix of Tuareg separatist and Islamist rebels captured Timbuktu on April 1 in the final leg of their lightning advance southwards through Mali's desert north as government forces retreated in the chaotic aftermath of a coup in the capital.

The woman taken was described by several sources as a missionary who had lived in the town for a number of years and spoke several local languages.

"She is very well known in the town. She would walk around the town trying to convert people (to Christianity)," a resident of the town told Reuters, asking not to be named.

The sources said she was seized in the Abaradjou neighborhood.

A question e-mailed to the Swiss Foreign Ministry about the reported incident was not immediately answered.

Timbuktu, known for centuries as a key trading town in the Sahara and a seat of Islamic learning, had become a top tourist destination in Mali. But insecurity in recent years - including the abduction of several foreigners there by al Qaeda last year - had reduced visitors to a trickle. In the days leading to the capture, most resident Westerners had left the town due to fears of being kidnapped and passed on to al Qaeda cells. Tuareg MNLA rebels smuggled two British citizens and a Frenchman out of the town following the rebel assault. AQIM, al Qaeda's North African wing, which operates in the zone and has links to the Islamist rebels, is already holding 13 Westerners and has earned millions of dollars from ransom payments from previous kidnappings in recent years. The declaration of a Tuareg rebel homeland in northern Mali has raised fears among Western security experts that the remote, inhospitable zone could become a secure haven for al Qaeda and a "rogue state" in West Africa.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday it was essential to prevent a "terrorist or Islamic state" emerging in northern Mali.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Capital Cities of the World: Mexico CIty part 2

From Wikipedia: Growth of the colonial city
The city grew as the population did, coming up against the lake's waters. The 16th century saw a proliferation of churches, many of which can still be seen today in the historic center. Economically, Mexico City prospered as a result of trade. Unlike Brazil or Peru, Mexico had easy contact with both the Atlantic and Pacific worlds. Although the Spanish crown tried to completely regulate all commerce in the city, it had only partial success.

The concept of nobility flourished in New Spain in a way not seen in other parts of the Americas. Spaniards encountered a society in which the concept of nobility mirrored that of their own. Spaniards respected the indigenous order of nobility and added to it. In the ensuing centuries, a noble title in Mexico did not mean one exercised great political power as one's power was limited even if the accumulation of wealth was not. The concept of nobility in Mexico was not political but rather a very conservative Spanish social one, based on proving the worthiness of the family.

Most of these families proved their worth by making fortunes in New Spain outside of the city itself, then spending the revenues in the capital, building churches, supporting charities and building extravagant palatial homes. The craze to build the most opulent home possible reached its height in the last half of the 18th century. Many of these homes can still be seen today, leading to Mexico City's nickname of "The city of palaces" given by Alexander Von Humboldt.

The Grito de Dolores ("Cry of Dolores") also known as El Grito de la Independencia ("Cry of Independence"), uttered from the small town of Dolores near Guanajuato on September 16, 1810, is the event that marks the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence and is the most important national holiday observed in Mexico. The "Grito" was the battle cry of the Mexican War of Independence by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Roman Catholic priest. Hidalgo and several criollos were involved in a planned revolt against the Spanish colonial government, and the plotters were betrayed. Fearing his arrest, Hidalgo commanded his brother Mauricio as well as Ignacio Allende and Mariano Abasolo to go with a number of other armed men to make the sheriff release the pro-independence inmates there on the night of September 15. They managed to set eighty free.

Around 6:00 am September 16, 1810, Hidalgo ordered the church bells to be rung and gathered his congregation. Flanked by Allende and Juan Aldama, he addressed the people in front of his church, encouraging them to revolt. The Battle of Guanajuato, the first major engagement of the insurgency, occurred four days later. Mexico's independence from Spain was effectively declared in the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire on September 27, 1821, after a decade of war. Unrest followed for the next several decades, as different factions fought for control of Mexico.

The Mexican Federal District was established by the new government and by the signing of their new constitution, where the concept of a federal district was adapted from The U.S. constitution. Before this designation, Mexico City had served as the seat of government for both the State of Mexico and the nation as a whole. Texcoco and then Toluca became the capital of the state of Mexico.

The Battle of Mexico City
The Mexican–American War came to a close after the United States deployed combat units deep into Mexico resulting in the capture of Mexico City and Veracruz by the U.S. Army's 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Divisions. The invasion culminated with the storming of Chapultepec Castle in the city itself. The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in what is now the far north of the city.

Events such as the Reform War left the city relatively untouched and it continued to grow, especially during the rule of President Porfirio Díaz. During this time, the city developed a modern infrastructure, such as roads, schools, transportation, and communication systems. However, the regime concentrated resources and wealth into the city while the rest languished in poverty.

Fast modern development eventually led to the Mexican Revolution. The most significant episode of this period for the city was the La decena trágica ("The Ten Tragic Days"), a coup against President Francisco I. Madero and his vice president, José María Pino Suárez. Victoriano Huerta, chief general of the Federal Army saw a chance to take power, forcing Madero and Pino Suarez to sign resignations. The two were murdered later while on their way to prison.

20th century to present
The history of the rest of the 20th century to the present focuses on the phenomenal growth of the city and its environmental and political consequences. In 1900, the population of Mexico City was about 500,000. The city began to grow rapidly westward in the early part of the 20th century and then began to grow upwards in the 1950s, with the Torre Latinoamericana becoming the city's first skyscraper. The 1968 Olympic Games brought about the construction of large sporting facilities.

In 1969, the Metro system was inaugurated. Explosive growth in the population of the city started from the 1960s, with the population overflowing the boundaries of the Federal District into the neighboring state of Mexico, especially to the north, northwest and northeast. Between 1960 and 1980 the city's population more than doubled to 8,831,079.

In 1980, half of all the industrial jobs in Mexico were located in Mexico City. Under relentless growth, the Mexico City government could barely keep up with services. Villagers from the countryside who continued to pour into the city to escape poverty only compounded the city's problems. With no housing available, they took over lands surrounding the city, creating huge shantytowns that extended for many miles. This caused serious air pollution in Mexico City and water pollution problems, as well as a sinking city due to over-extraction of groundwater, groundwater-related subsidence. Air and water pollution has been contained and improved in several areas due to government programs, the renovation of vehicles and the modernization of public transportation.

The autocratic government that ruled Mexico City since the Revolution was tolerated, mostly because of the continued economic expansion since World War II. This was the case even though this government could not handle the population and pollution problems adequately. Nevertheless, discontent and protests began in the 1960s leading to the massacre of an unknown number of protesting students in Tlatelolco.

Three years later, a demonstration in the Maestros avenue, organized by former members of the 1968 student movement, was violently repressed by a paramilitary group called "Los Halcones", composed of gang members and teenagers from many sports clubs who received training in the U.S.

On Thursday, September 19, 1985, at 7:19 am local time, Mexico City was struck by an earthquake of magnitude 8.1 on the Richter scale. Although this earthquake was not as deadly or destructive as many similar events in Asia and other parts of Latin America, it proved to be a disaster politically for the one-party government. The government was paralyzed by its own bureaucracy and corruption, forcing ordinary citizens to create and direct their own rescue efforts and to reconstruct much of the housing that was lost as well.

However, the last straw may have been the controverted elections of 1988. That year, the presidency was set between the P.R.I.'s candidate, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, and a coalition of left-wing parties led by Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, son of the former president Lázaro Cárdenas. The counting system "fell" because coincidentally the light went out and suddenly, when it returned, the winning candidate was Salinas, even though Cárdenas had the upper hand. As a result of the fraudulent election, Cárdenas became a member of the Party of the Democratic Revolution. Discontent over the election eventually led Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas to become the first elected mayor of Mexico City in 1997. Cárdenas promised a more democratic government, and his party claimed some victories against crime, pollution, and other major problems. He resigned in 1999 to run for the presidency.

Record Number of Teens Nat’l Geographic Bee Finalists

From IndiaWest: Record Number of Teens Nat’l Geographic Bee Finalists
A record number of Indian American tweens and teens will compete in the 2012 National Geographic Bee May 22-24 in Washington, D.C.

Fifty-four state geography bees were held throughout the U.S. Mar. 30, determining the contestants who will face off at the national championships next month. Seventeen Indian Americans will represent their states in the tough, nail-biting, annual competition, which is aimed at incentivizing teachers and schools to include more geography lessons in their curriculum. Students in 4th to 8th grade are eligible to compete.

Indian Americans have always featured prominently in the National Geographic Bee finals, hosted in the nation’s capitol by “Jeopardy’s” Alex Trebek. Last year, Nilai Sarda of Atlanta, Georgia took second place in the 2011 Bee. Karthik Karnik, of Norfolk, Mass., took 5th place. Karnik is competing again in this year’s competition.

In 2010, 13-year-old Aadith Moorthy of Palm Harbor, Fla., adeptly won the National Geographic Bee, taking home a $25,000 scholarship and a trip to the Galapagos Islands.

The 2012 National Geographic Bee Indian American state winners are:

• Raghav Ranga, 8th grade, St. Gregory College Preparatory School, Tucson, Ariz.
• Varun Mahadevan, 7th grade, Prince of Peace Lutheran School, Fremont, Calif.
• Pranit Nanda, 6th grade, Aurora Quest K-8 School, Aurora, Colo.
• Maya Patel, 8th grade, Liberty Middle School, Tampa, Fla.
• Sahr Singh, 7th grade, Dodgen Middle School, Marietta, Georgia
• Ganesh Aruna, 8th grade, Overland Trail Middle School, Overland Park, Kansas
• Nikhil Krishna, 6th grade, Corbin Intermediate School, Corbin, Kentucky
• Karthik Karnik, 8th grade, King Philip Regional Middle School, Norfolk, Mass.
• Gopi Ramanathan, 8th grade, Sartell Middle School, Sartell, Minn.
• Neelam Sandhu, 7th grade, Ross A. Lurgio Middle School, Bedford, New Hampshire
• Siddharth Kurella, 8th grade, Crossroads North Middle School, Monmouth Junction, New Jersey
• Aparna Nair-Kanneganti, 8th grade, Henry H. Wells Middle School, Brewster, New York
• Pragyna Naik, 6th grade, Franklin K-8 School of Choice, Corvallis, Ore.
• Arnav Jagasia, 8th grade, Radnor Middle School, Wayne, Penn.
• Krish Patel, 6th grade, Pinewood Preparatory School, Summerville, South Carolina
• Rahul Nagveker, 8th grade, Quail Valley Middle School, Missouri City, Texas
• Vansh Jain, 8th grade, MHLT Elementary School, Minocqua, Wisc.

The first National Geography Bee was held in 1989. Each year, thousands of students compete from November to January at the school level, then move on to state championships in March. The National Geographic Web site features a new geography quiz each day, plus a study guide and apps to help students prepare for the Bee and to encourage a general interest in the subject.

Friday, April 13, 2012

New Geographic Institute facilities unveiled

From Angola Press: New Geographic Institute facilities unveiled
Huambo - The Geographical and Cadastral Institute of Angola (IGCA) in central Huambo province counts from Friday on its own facilities, inaugurated by the vice-president, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos.

The infrastructure, located nearby the administration of the city of Huambo, was built in eight months and cost USD 470,000.

The building, with several offices, will give greater comfort to the 23 employees of the provincial offices of the IGCA and better labour conditions for them.

The vice president walked through the infrastructure and was briefed on the working conditions that exist there.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Malawi president purges Mutharika allies

Malawi, officially the Republic of Malawi, is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. The country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi. Malawi is over 118,000 km2 (45,560 sq mi) with an estimated population of more than 13,900,000. Its capital is Lilongwe, which is also Malawi's largest city; the second largest is Blantyre and the third is Mzuzu. The name Malawi comes from the Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people that inhabit the area. The country is also nicknamed, "The Warm Heart of Africa".

The area of Africa now known as Malawi was colonized by migrating tribes of Bantu around the 10th century. In 1891 the area was colonized again, this time by the British. In 1953 Malawi, then known as Nyasaland, became part of the semi-independent Central African Federation (CAF). The Federation was dissolved in 1963 and in 1964, Nyasaland gained full independence and was renamed Malawi.

Upon gaining independence it became a single-party state under the presidency of Hastings Banda, who remained president until 1994, when he was ousted from power. Joyce Banda (no relation) is the current president, raised to that position after president Bingu Mutharika died in 2012. Malawi has a democratic, multi-party government. Malawi has a small military force that includes an army, a navy and an air wing. Malawi's foreign policy is pro-Western and includes positive diplomatic relations with most countries and participation in several international organizations.

From Capital FM: New Malawi president purges Mutharika allies
LILONGWE, Apr 10 – Malawi’s new President Joyce Banda on Tuesday unveiled a shake-up of top officials charged with government finances and media, purging loyalists of the late leader Bingu wa Mutharika.

“Although we are in mourning, certain decisions cannot wait,” Banda told a news conference in the capital Lilongwe, three days after taking office.

She also announced an investigation into the mysterious murder of student activist Robert Chasowa. Mutharika’s critics have accused police of staging a hit against Chasowa, implicating former police chief Peter Mukhito, who was sacked on Monday.

“As a mother, I feel for my fellow mother who doesn’t know what killed her son. I understand how painful it is, and I will make sure we find out who killed our son Chasowa,” Banda said.

“We don’t want people to go about murdering people fearlessly.” Top among Banda’s new appointments was Mary Nkosi as Reserve Bank governor, making her the first woman to hold the job.

A long-time deputy governor, she replaces Perks Ligoya, a close ally of Mutharika who pursued a rigid exchange rate policy that the International Monetary Fund has blamed for much of Malawi’s economic woes.

She named a new secretary to the Treasury, appointing career bureaucrat Radson Mwadiwa, who also becomes chairman of the state-owned Malawi Savings Bank.

Banda sacked Patricia Kaliati, the information minister who publicly insisted that Mutharika was alive more than one day after his death on Thursday.

The new minister is Moses Kunkuyu, a parliamentarian who broke away from Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party to press for reforms.

She also sacked the head of the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, Bright Malopa, another Mutharika ally who used state media to campaign against Banda after her expulsion from the DPP.

The new director general is Benson Tembo, a veteran broadcaster and former diplomat whose last posting was as ambassador to Zimbabwe.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Pause

So sorry to have missed so many days of posting - unexpected family matters cropped up.

And now it's Easter, so more family matters.

Will get back on track Monday.

Thanks for your patience.

Monday, April 2, 2012

San Diego, CA: Mount Palomar Observatory

Palomar Observatory is a privately owned astronomical observatory located in San Diego County, California (USA), 145 kilometers (90 mi) southeast of Los Angeles, California, in the Palomar Mountain Range. It is owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) located in Pasadena, California. Research time is granted to Caltech and its research partners, which includes the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Cornell University.

The observatory operates several telescopes, including the famous 200-inch Hale Telescope (5.1 m) and the 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope (1.2 m). In addition, other instruments and projects have been hosted at the observatory, such as the Palomar Testbed Interferometer and the historic 18-inch Schmidt telescope (0.46 m), Palomar Observatory's first telescope, dating from 1936.

stronomer George Ellery Hale, whose vision created the Palomar Observatory, built the world's largest telescope four times. He published an article in the April 1928 issue of Harper's Magazine called "The Possibilities of Large Telescopes". This article contained Hale's vision for building what was to become the 200-inch Palomar reflector; it was an invitation to the American public to learn about how large telescopes could help answer questions relating to the fundamental nature of the universe. Hale hoped that the American people would understand and support his project. In fact the 200-inch telescope was the most important telescope in the world from 1949 until 1992 when the Keck I telescope (at approximately 10 metres (390 in)) on Mauna Kea in Hawaii became the world's largest.

Hale followed this article with a letter to the International Education Board (later absorbed into the General Education Board) of the Rockefeller Foundation dated April 28, 1928, in which he requested funding for this project. In his letter, Hale stated:

"No method of advancing science is so productive as the development of new and more powerful instruments and methods of research. A larger telescope would not only furnish the necessary gain in light space-penetration and photographic resolving power, but permit the application of ideas and devices derived chiefly from the recent fundamental advances in physics and chemistry."

The word palomar is a Spanish term dating from the time of Spanish California that means pigeon house (in the same sense as henhouse). The name may be in reference to the large shoals of pigeons that can be seen during the spring and autumn months atop Palomar Mountain, or reminiscent of an old pigeon-raising facility built there by the Spaniards.

The Hale Telescope
The 200-inch telescope is named after astronomer George Hale. It was built by Caltech with a $6 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, using a Pyrex blank manufactured by Corning Glass Works. The telescope (the largest in the world at that time) saw first light January 26, 1949 targeting NGC 2261. The American astronomer Edwin Powell Hubble, perhaps the most important observer of the 20th century, was given the honor of being the first astronomer to use the telescope.

Astronomers using the Hale Telescope have discovered distant objects at the edges of the known universe called quasars and have given us the first direct evidence of stars in distant galaxies. They have studied the structure and chemistry of intergalactic clouds leading to an understanding of the synthesis of elements in the universe and have discovered thousands of asteroids. A one-tenth-scale engineering model of the telescope at Corning Community College in Corning, New York, home of the Corning Glass Works (now Corning Incorporated) was used to discover at least one minor planet, (34419) Corning †.

Architecture and design
According to the Observatory's Public Affairs Office, Russell W. Porter was primarily responsible for the striking Art Deco architecture of the Observatory's buildings, most notably the dome of the 200–inch Hale Telescope. Porter was also responsible for much of the technical design of the Hale Telescope and Schmidt Cameras, producing a series of remarkable cross-section engineering drawings that are considered among the finest examples of such work. Porter worked on the designs in collaboration with many engineers and Caltech committee members. The iconic, gleaming white building on Palomar Mountain that houses the 200–inch Hale Telescope is considered by many to be "The Cathedral of Astronomy".

* Ira Sprague Bowen, 1948–1964
* Horace Welcome Babcock, 1964–1978
* Maarten Schmidt, 1978–1980
* Gerry Neugebauer, 1980–1994
* James Westphal, 1994–1997
* Wallace Leslie William Sargent, 1997–2000
* Richard Ellis, 2000–2006
* Shrinivas Kulkarni, 2006–

Palomar Observatory and light pollution
Much of the surrounding region of Southern California has adopted shielded lighting to reduce the light pollution that would potentially affect the observatory.

Telescopes and instruments
* The 200-inch Hale Telescope was first proposed in 1928 and has been operational since 1948. It was the largest telescope in the world for 45 years. * A 60-inch reflecting telescope is located in the Oscar Mayer Building. It was dedicated in 1970 to take some of the load off of the Hale Telescope. This telescope was used to discovered the first brown dwarf star. * The 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope (Schmidt Camera) was started in 1938 and installed in 1948. It was initially called the 48–inch Schmidt, and was dedicated to Samuel Oschin in 1986. The dwarf planet Eris was discovered using this instrument. The existence of Eris triggered the discussions in the international astronomy community that led to Pluto being re-classified as a dwarf planet. * A 24-inch robotic telescope completed in January 2006 is used to monitor the weather on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. It is also used for follow-up observations of solar system discovered with the Oschin telescope.

Former instruments
* An 18-inch Schmidt camera became became the first operational telescope at the Palomar in 1936. In the 1930s a Caltech astronomer named Fritz Zwicky discovered over 100 supernovae (exploding stars) in other galaxies with this telescope and gathered the first evidence for dark matter. Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 was discovered with this instrument in 1993. It has since been retired.

* The Palomar Testbed Interferometer was a multi-telescope instrument that permitted astronomers to make very high resolution measurements of the sizes and positions of objects in space. The shapes of some bright stars have been measured with the PTI. It operated from 1995 to 2008.

* The Palomar Planet Search Telescope (PPST), aka Sleuth, was a 0.1 m (3.9 in) robotic telescope that operated from 2003 until 2008. It was dedicated to the search for planets around other stars using the transit method. It operated in conjunction with telescopes at Lowell Observatory and in the Canary Islands as part of the Trans-atlantic Exoplanet Survey (TrES). Research
The observatory has completed several astronomical surveys: the first in the 1950s, the second in the 1980s and 1990s, and a third in 2003. POSS-I
The initial Palomar Observatory Sky Survey (POSS or POSS-I), sponsored by the National Geographic institute, was completed in 1958. The first plates were shot in November 1948 and the last in April 1958. This survey was performed using 14 inch2 or (6 degree2) blue-sensitive (Kodak 103a-O) and red-sensitive (Kodak 103a-E) photographic plates on the 48-inch Samuel Oschin Schmidt reflecting telescope. The survey covered the sky from a declination of +90 degrees (celestial north pole) to -27 degrees and all right ascensions and had a sensitivity to +22 magnitudes (about 1 million times fainter than the limit of human vision). A southern extension extending the sky coverage of the POSS to -33 degrees declination was shot in 1957 - 1958. The final POSS I consisted of 937 plate pairs. Fritz Zwicky was the first astronomer to observe on Mt. Palomar and was the father of the Sky Survey Technique. Digitized Sky Survey (DSS) produced images which were based on the photographic data developed in the course of POSS-I. J.B. Whiteoak, an Australian radio astronomer, used the same instrument to broaden this POSS-I data further. Whiteoaks observations extended south to about -45 degrees declination, using the same field centers as the corresponding northern declination zones. Unlike POSS-I, the Whiteoak extension consisted only of red-sensitive (Kodak 103a-E) photographic plates. POSS-II The Second Palomar Observatory Sky Survey (POSS-II) was performed in the 1980s and 1990s that made use of better, faster films and an upgraded telescope. The Oschin Schmidt was given an achromatic corrector and provisions for autoguiding. Images were recorded in three wavelengths: blue (IIIaJ), red (IIIaF) and near infrared (IVN) plates, respectively. Observers on POSS II included C. Brewer, D. Griffiths, W. McKinley, D. Mendenhall, K. Rykoski, J. Phinney and Jean Mueller (who discovered over 100 supernovae by comparing the POSS I and POSS II plates). Ms Mueller also discovered several comets during the course of POSS II and the bright Comet Wilson 1986 was discovered by then graduate student C. Wilson early in the survey. Until the completion of the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS), POSS-II was the most extensive wide-field sky survey ever. When completed, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey will surpass POSS-I and POSS-II in depth, although the POSS covers almost 2.5 times more area on the sky. POSS-II also exists in digitized form (i.e., the photographic plates were scanned), both in photographic form as the Digitized Sky Survey (DSS). QUEST
The multi-year POSS projects were followed by the Palomar Quasar Equatorial Survey Team (QUEST) Variability survey. This survey yielded results that were used by several projects, including the Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking project. Another program that used the QUEST results discovered 90377 Sedna on 14 November 2003, and around 40 Kuiper belt objects. Other programs that share the camera are Shri Kulkarni's search for gamma-ray bursts (this takes advantage of the automated telescope's ability to react as soon as a burst is seen and take a series of snapshots of the fading burst), Richard Ellis' search for supernovae to test whether the universe's expansion is accelerating or not, and S. George Djorgovski's quasar search.

The camera for the Palomar QUEST Survey was a mosaic of 112 Charge-coupled devices (CCDs) covering the whole (4 degree by 4 degree) field of view of the Schmidt telescope, the largest CCD mosaic used in an astronomical camera when built. This instrument was used to produce The Big Picture, the largest astronomical photograph ever produced.

The Big Picture is on display at Griffith Observatory.

Current research
Current research programs on the 200-inch Hale Telescope cover the range of the observable universe including studies on near-Earth asteroids, outer solar system planets, Kuiper Belt Objects, star formation, exoplanets, gamma-ray bursts, black holes, quasars and much more.

The 48-inch Samuel Oschin Schmidt Telescope is actively working on a new sky survey, the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF). The 60-inch telescope is used for a variety of projects including follow-up observations for the Palomar Transient Factory and is a rapid response telescope for gamma-ray bursts.

Clearest images
In September 2007, a team of astronomers from the United States and Britain released some of the clearest pictures ever taken of outer space. The pictures were obtained through the use of a new hybrid "Lucky imaging" and "adaptive optics" system that sharpens pictures taken from the Palomar Observatory. The resolution attained exceeds that of the Hubble Space Telescope by a factor of two.

The Palomar Observatory is an active research facility. However, parts of it are open to the public during the day. Visitors can take self-guided tours of the 200-inch telescope daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Guided tours of the 200-inch Hale Telescope dome and observing area are available Saturdays and Sundays from April through October. Details are available at the Observatory's web site. There is a visitor's center and a gift shop on the grounds. Behind-the-scenes tours for the public are offered through the community support group, Friends of Palomar support group. Periodic tours are also organized by the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego. The observatory is located off State Route 76 in northern San Diego County, California, is two hours' drive from downtown San Diego, and three hours' drive from central Los Angeles ( UCLA, LAX airport ).

In pop culture
The band Wellwater Conspiracy's 1997 debut album, Declaration of Conformity, contains a track entitled "Palomar Observatory." It is the last track on the album and completely instrumental. It is likely the track title was chosen by singer/drummer Matt Cameron, who grew up in San Diego near the observatory. Also, Canadian band The Rheostatics 11th track from their effort Whale Music is entitled Palomar. The song depicts a man named Palomar on the top of a mount, cleaning his lenses with saline waters. Palomar assembles his kaleidoscope in his lonely observatory. The song presents a visual characterization of a man on a mountain and his relationship with his best friend, a dog.

Palomar is mentioned in the first episode of season 2 of The X-Files, "Little Green Men". Fox Mulder refers to Hale's suggestion that an elf crawled through his window and told him to build the observatory.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Los Angeles, California: Mount Wilson Observatory (Observatories around the World)

The Mount Wilson Observatory (MWO) is an astronomical observatory in Los Angeles County, California, United States. The MWO is located on Mount Wilson, a 5,715 foot (1,742 m) peak in the San Gabriel Mountains near Pasadena, northeast of Los Angeles. The observatory contains two historically important telescopes: the 60 inch (1.5 m) Hale telescope built in 1908, and the 100 inch (2.5 m) Hooker telescope, which was the largest telescope in the world from its completion in 1917 until 1948.

Thanks to the inversion layer that traps smog over Los Angeles, Mount Wilson has naturally steadier air than any other location in North America, making it ideal for astronomy and in particular for interferometry. The increasing light pollution due to the growth of greater Los Angeles has limited the ability of the observatory to engage in deep space astronomy, but it remains a productive center, with many new and old instruments in use for astronomical research.

The observatory was conceived and founded by George Ellery Hale, who had built the 40 inch (1 m) telescope at the Yerkes Observatory. The Mount Wilson Solar Observatory was first funded by the Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1904, leasing the land from the owners of the Mount Wilson Hotel in 1904. Among the conditions of the lease was that it allow public access.

George Ellery Hale received the 60 inch (1.5 m) mirror blank, cast by Saint-Gobain in France, in 1896 as a gift from his father, William Hale. It was a glass disk 7½ inches (191 mm) thick and weighing 1900 pounds (860 kg). However it was not until 1904 that Hale received funding from the Carnegie Institution to build an observatory. Grinding began in 1905 and took two years. The mounting and structure for the telescope was built in San Francisco and barely survived the 1906 earthquake. Transporting the pieces to the top of Mount Wilson was an enormous task. "First light" was December 8, 1908. It was at the time the largest operational telescope in the world.

The 60 inch reflector became one of the most productive and successful telescopes in astronomical history. Its design and light-gathering power allowed the pioneering of spectroscopic analysis, parallax measurements, nebula photography, and photometric photography. Though surpassed in size by the Hooker telescope nine years later, the Hale telescope remained one of the largest in use for decades.

In 1992, the 60 inch telescope was fitted with an early adaptive optics system, the Atmospheric Compensation Experiment (ACE). The 69-channel system improved the potential resolving power of the telescope from 0.5-1.0 arc sec to 0.07 arc sec. ACE was developed by DARPA for the Strategic Defense Initiative system, and the National Science Foundation funded the civilian conversion.

Today, the 60 inch telescope is used for public outreach. Eyepieces are fitted to its focus instead of instruments. It is the largest telescope in the world devoted to the general public. As of June 2009, the cost for a half-night of observation is $900, $1700 for a full night.

100 inch (2.5 m) Hooker Telescope
Hale immediately set about creating a larger telescope. John D. Hooker provided crucial funding for it, along with Carnegie.[3] The Saint-Gobain factory was again chosen to cast a blank in 1906, which it completed in 1908, After considerable trouble over the blank (and potential replacements), the 100 inch (2.5 m) telescope was completed and saw "first light" on November 2, 1917. The blank started with over two tons of fused glass which was melted in a furnace into one piece. The blank once melted into one piece took over a year to cool without cracking.

Just like the 60" telescope, the mechanism incorporates a mercury float to provide smooth operation. The Hooker telescope was equipped in 1919 with a special attachment, an optical astronomical interferometer developed by Albert Michelson, much larger than the one he had used to measure Jupiter's satellites. Michelson was able to use the equipment to determine the precise diameter of stars, such as Betelgeuse, the first time the size of a star had ever been measured. Henry Norris Russell developed his star classification system based on observations using the Hooker.

In 1935 the silver coating used since 1917 on the Hooker 100 inch mirror was replaced with a more modern and longer lasting aluminum metallic coating that reflected 50% more light than the older silver method of coating. The newer method of coating for the telescope mirrors was first tested on the older 60 inch mirror telescope.

Edwin Hubble performed his critical calculations from work on the 100 inch (2.5 m) telescope. He determined that some nebulae were actually galaxies outside our own Milky Way. Hubble, assisted by Milton L. Humason, discovered the presence of the redshift that indicated the universe is expanding.

The Hooker's reign of three decades as the largest telescope came to an end when the Caltech-Carnegie consortium completed its 200-inch (5.1 m) telescope in 1948 at Palomar Observatory, 90 miles (150 km) south, in San Diego County, California.

By the 1980s, the focus of astronomy research had turned to deep space observation, which required darker skies than what could be found in the Los Angeles area, due to ever-increasing problem of light pollution. In 1986, the Carnegie Institution, which ran the observatory, handed it over to the non-profit Mount Wilson Institute. At that time, the 100 inch (2.5 m) telescope was deactivated, but it was restarted in 1992 and outfitted with adaptive optics. The Hooker telescope remains one of the pre-eminent scientific instruments of the 20th century.

The telescope has a resolving power of 0.05 arcsecond.

Solar telescopes There are three solar telescopes, two of which are now used for astronomical research, also known as solar towers due to their construction. The 60 foot (18 m) tower telescope was completed in 1908, and the 150 foot (46 m) tower telescope was completed in 1912. The Snow solar telescope, built in 1904 is used for educational demonstrations. The telescopes are used to study helioseismology and other changes in the sun's nature.

The extremely steady air over Mount Wilson is well suited to interferometry, the use of multiple viewing points to increase resolution enough to allow for the direct measurement of the size of details such as star diameters. Michelson performed the first measurements of other stars in the history of astronomical interferometry on the Hooker telescope in 1919.

The Infrared Spatial Interferometer (ISI) is an array of three 65 inch (1.65 m) telescopes operating in the mid-infrared. The telescopes are fully mobile and their current site on Mount Wilson allows for placements as far as 70 m apart, giving the resolution of a telescope of that diameter. The signals are converted to radio frequencies through heterodyne circuits and then combined electronically using techniques copied from radio astronomy. ISI is run by an arm of the University of California, Berkeley. The longest (70m) baseline provides a resolution of 0.003 arcsec at 11 micrometers. On July 9, 2003, ISI recorded the first closure phase aperture synthesis measurements in the mid infrared.

The Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA) array is an interferometer formed from six 1 m (40-inch) telescopes arranged along three axes with a maximum separation length of 330 m. The light beams travel through vacuum tubes and are combined optically, requiring a building 100 meters long with movable mirrors to keep the light in phase as the earth rotates. CHARA is operated by the Georgia State University and began scientific use in 2002 and began "routine operations" in early 2004. In infrared the integrated image can resolve down to 0.0005 arcseconds. As of 2005, four of the six telescopes have been commissioned for interferometric observations.

These and other astronomical interferometers are included in the List of astronomical interferometers at visible and infrared wavelengths. The history of the development of these instruments is given in History of astronomical interferometry.

Other telescopes
A 24-inch (610 mm) telescope fitted with an infrared detector purchased from a military contractor was used by Eric Becklin in 1966 to determine the center of the Milky Way for the first time. In 1968, the first large-area near-IR (2.2 µm) survey of the sky was conducted by Gerry Neugebauer and Robert B. Leighton using a 62-inch (1.6 m) reflecting dish they had built.[7] The instrument is now in the Smithsonian.

* Letters to the Mount Wilson Observatory are the subject of a permanent exhibition at the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles, California. A small room is dedicated to a collection of unusual letters and theories received by the observatory circa 1915–1935. These letters were also collected in the book No One May Ever Have the Same Knowledge Again: Letters to Mt. Wilson Observatory 1915–1935 (ISBN 0-9647215-0-3).

* The historic monument came under threat during the August 2009 California wildfires.

* The poet Alfred Noyes was present for the "first light" of the Hooker telescope on November 2, 1917. Noyes used this night as the setting in the opening of Watchers of the Sky, the first volume in his trilogy The Torchbearers, an epic poem about the history of science. According to his account of the night, the first object viewed in the telescope was Jupiter and Noyes himself was the first to see one of the planet's moons through the telescope.