Photo by Scott Kardel © Caltech/Palomar Observatory

The highways of Southern California’s Palomar Mountain lead to one of the world’s most powerful telescopes … and to other delights.


Facts about the Palomar Observatory

 •   Four main instruments make up the Observatory 
       – The 200-inch Hale Telescope
       – The 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope
       – The 18-inch Schmidt telescope
        – A 60-inch reflecting telescope
 •   The Hale Telescope is named for its creator – George E. Hale
 •   The Hale was the world’s largest reflecting telescope until 1976
 •   Observatory elevation – 5,618 feet
 •   Observatory land – 160 acres

Find out more about the Palomar Observatory and its work at

Oceanside, California, lies between San Diego and Los Angeles, and traveling east from there on California Highway 76 takes you to Cleveland National Forest. A number of pleasant surprises await travelers to this part of the country.


The first surprise is how quickly you leave highly populated areas behind. Driving the route on a weekday late last July, I was struck by the lack of heavy traffic only a few miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. Then, as the miles passed, the carved and chiseled hills gave way to a number of mountains, including Palomar Mountain.


Another surprise was the Palomar Observatory near the top of Palomar Mountain. It was impressive for its history and its physical size, as well as for its significance to astronomy. The Observatory’s unassuming grounds belie its stature in the scientific community.


Delightful, too, were the food discoveries along the way – surprising due to their origins (relying on area produce), preparations and tastes.




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