For the past two years, intrepid astronomer Arthur Vaughn has been trying to save the Mount Wilson Observatory and its 100-inch Hooker telescope (The Scientist, June 27, 1988, page 5). The Carnegie Institute had planned to close the historic facility in 1985, when its interest shifted to a new observatory in Las Campanas, Chile. And federal money to keep the observatory open wasn't available in a time of declining budgets for astronomy. So Vaughn, who believes that the 85-year-old facility still can make important contributions to science, hatched an innovative scheme to keep the telescopes alive with private funding. In 1986, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory astronomer founded the Mount Wilson Institute and set off in search of benefactors.

Now, Vaughn's efforts have apparently paid off. The Mount Wilson Institute's accomplishments--which include assembling a prestigious board of astronomers and businessmen, and a list of such interested contributors as Xerox--have convinced the...

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