Archival Resources

Any enterprise as long and distinguished as Palomar Observatory leaves a rich historical record. Archival researchers may find both Caltech and other archival resources summarized and linked here and organized by type: scientific data/metadata, publications, and historical collections.


  1. Scientific data and metadata
    1. Telescope logbooks
    2. Digitized Sky Survey
    3. Carnegie Observatories Plate Archive
  2. Publications
  3. Observatory history resources
    1. Caltech Archives
    2. Huntington Library
    3. Rockefeller Foundation
    4. Hagley Museum and Library
    5. USC Libraries
    6. Online Archive of California
    7. Internet Archive
    8. Corning Museum of Glass
    9. Life Magazine Images
    10. Getty Images

Scientific Data and Metadata

Palomar Telescope Logbooks

In an ongoing effort led by Jean Mueller, the Caltech Library, and funded by the Riesenfeld family, a collection of telescope logbooks (spanning the years 1936 – 2012) have been scanned and made available online. The Caltech Archives' logbook database contains metadata and more information on this invaluable resource.

Digitized Sky Survey

The Palomar Sky Surveys (POSS I and II) and Quick-V were digitized between 1983 and 2006 as part of the STScI Digitized Sky Survey project—a set of all-sky photographic surveys conducted with the Palomar and UK Schmidt telescopes. The 6.5° × 6.5° plates were scanned to a pixel scale of about 1.7 arcsec/px for the POSS I and Quick-V, and to about 1.0 arcsec/px for POSS II. Images of any part of the sky may be extracted from the DSS, in either FITS or GIF format. More information under their FAQ.

Carnegie Observatories Plate Archive

The Carnegie Observatories Plate Vault is home to the second largest collection of astronomical glass plates in the US. The plates (spanning the years 1892 – 1994) were created using telescopes at the Kenwood, Mt. Wilson, Palomar, and Las Campanas Observatories. Use their Plate Archives Search Tool (PAST) to search based on celestial coordinates or by keywords in the various database fields, and filter by relevant Palomar telescope. There are nearly 8000 Palomar plates at the Carnegie Observatories.


CaltechAUTHORS, a Caltech Library repository of over 100,000 research papers authored by Caltech researchers, maintains a list of Palomar-related publications (1937 – ). Use the advanced search tool to fine-tune your search.

Observatory History Resources

Caltech Library and Archives

The Caltech Archives, a department of Caltech Library, contains the largest collection of administrative papers, audiovisuals, and photographs documenting Palomar's early years, many of these available online from their website. The Caltech Archives is also the home of the famous R. W. Porter drawings and sketches of the observatory. Selected links:

Huntington Library

The Huntington Library is one of the best collections of centuries-old rare books in the US. It is the repository of the George E. Hale papers, and contains a large number of photographs pertaining to the 60-inch telescope construction and dedication. Selected links:

Rockefeller Archive Center

The Rockefeller Archive Center contains correspondence, memos and other administrative records related to the financing of Palomar Observatory, including the Max Mason papers. Selected links:

Hagley Museum and Library

The Hagley Museum and Library documents business and technology in the US. Hagley is home to the Westinghouse collection of drawings and photographs related to the construction of the Hale Telescope mount. Browse their digital files on the Hale Telescope.

USC Libraries

University of Southern California Libraries collection of Palomar photographs.

Online Archive of California

The Online Archive of California provides detailed descriptions of primary resource collections maintained by more than 300 contributing institutions throughout California. OAC list of Palomar-related collections.

Internet Archive

The Internet Archive is a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. The internet archive contains a short list of Palomar audiovisuals, including old stock footage. Each item may contain specific copyright information.

Corning Museum of Glass

The Rakow Research Library at the Corning Museum of Glass contains images and papers related to the casting of the Palomar mirrors (mostly the 200-inch) by Corning Glass Works. Browse their collection of Palomar-related items (some have been digitized).

Life Magazine Images

Google Arts and Culture has made available a small collection of outstanding Palomar-related photographs taken for Life Magazine. Photographers include Margaret Bourke-White, J. R. Eyerman, and Peter Stackpole.

Getty Images

Getty-managed images of the observatory, from mid-century and later.

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Archival Resources / v 1.0.1
Last updated: 28 April 2024 ACM