~ FEATURED SPEAKER ~ John Mulchaey, Director of The Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science. Since its founding in 1904, Carnegie Observatories has been a leader in research on the evolution of the universe, and is a prime reason why Southern California is the “world capital” of astronomy today. He discussed Southern California’s Leadership in Astronomy. Since the beginning of the 20th century, Southern California — and especially, Pasadena — has been the world’s leading center of astronomy research and discovery. This is in great part due to Carnegie Observatories, founded in 1904 by the solar astronomer George Ellery Hale (who also founded Mt. Wilson Observatory and Caltech, and who built the three largest telescopes in the early and mid-20th century). Carnegie Observatories is “where the universe was discovered”: where astronomer Edwin Hubble and his Carnegie colleagues found that our Milky Way isn’t the entire universe but one of billions of galaxies, and that the universe is continually expanding.
Today, Carnegie Observatories is uniquely dedicated to deep research on the evolution of the cosmos, and the training of new generations of astronomers. For the past 40 years most of this research has taken place at the Observatories’ large-telescope facilities in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, and has yielded astonishing discoveries about galaxy and star formation, dark matter, black holes, and much more. Dr. Mulchaey’s talk provided new insight into today's “golden age” of astronomy and the promises it holds for understanding our Universe.