Mount Wilson Tonight

They thought they were out of the woods on the Bobcat fire after a flare-up that got within 500 yards of Mt. Wilson Observatory a couple nights ago.

Not so.

The Bobcat fire started just before noon on Sunday, the 13th. Four days later, it’s only 9% contained and it’s now threatening thousands of homes in both the San Gabriel Valley on the Los Angeles side of the mountains as well as communities on the northern, Antelope Valley side of the mountains.

And now it’s dangerously close to the Mount Wilson Observatory again.

These might be backfires, set deliberately by the firefighters under controlled conditions to increase the amount of defensible space around the facility. It’s hard for fire to burn through an area that’s already burned – no fuel.

But from the webcams on the observatory domes, it looks very close and very dangerous. (Photos below from the UC San Diego HPWREN network.)

The only good news is that it seems that it was worse a couple hours ago in terms of flames leaping fifty feet into the air. These photos were taken at 23:00, 23:16, and 23:25 respectively.

The lights of Los Angeles are beautiful – they also seriously limit the ability of this world-class astronomical observatory to do world-class observations.

You can also see, through the clouds, in the upper right of the left-hand frame, Jupiter and Saturn drifting through the smoke.

Let’s hope that Mount Wilson is still there in the morning. And next week. And onward.

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Filed under Los Angeles, Photography, Space

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