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Digital Exhibits: Observing Porter

Observing Porter

Photo ID RWP2.3-16

One of many lively pencil sketches Russell W. Porter created during design and construction of the 200-inch Palomar telescope. In this scene, the changing of observers in the prime-focus capsule is recorded, with the man exiting the capsule looking somewhat the worse for wear after some long, cold hours watching - actually photographing - the night sky. The prime focus sits at the top of the telescope, which points through a slit in the dome to the sky. In this drawing the great arching ribs of the slit are shown dramatically foreshortened. The sketch is signed RWP and is undated but was created almost certainly in the mid-1930s, before the telescope had been built.

Porter was recruited in 1928 by George Ellery Hale to work as a designer on the 200-inch telescope. An accomplished artist and draftsman as well as a trained architect, Porter did many renderings of the structure and mechanisms of the telescope. He also designed the optical shop on the Caltech campus where the 200-inch mirror was ground and polished before its transport to Palomar Mountain.

Russel Porter drawing at his desk

Russell W. Porter at his drawing board, 1938.

Photo ID 10.12-40