The Hale Telescope has been used to discover hundreds of asteroids, and its tenth-scale engineering model was used to discover at least one minor planet, (34419) Corning . This scale model resides in Corning, New York, home of the Corning Glass Works (now Corning Incorporated).
Ronald Florence wrote a history of the instrument's construction, The Perfect Machine, ISBN 0-06-018205-9. Richard Preston wrote a critically acclaimed nonfiction novel about the Hale telescope and the astronomers who use it, called First Light.
J.B. Whiteoak, an Australian radio astronomer, used the same instrument to extend this survey further south to about -45 degrees declination, using the same field centers as the corresponding northern declination zones. Unlike the POSS, the Whiteoak extension consisted only of red-sensitive (Kodak 103a-E) photographic plates.
Until the completion of the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS), POSS was the most extensive wide-field sky survey ever. When completed, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey will surpass the POSS in depth, although the POSS covers almost 2.5 times as much area on the sky. POSS also exists in digitized form (i.e., the photographic plates were scanned), both in photographic form as the Digitized Sky Survey (DSS) and in catalog form as the Minnesota Automated Plate Scanner (MAPS) Catalog.
This program makes use of the Palomar Quasar Equatorial Survey Team (QUEST) Variability survey that began in the autumn of 2001 to map a band of sky around the equator. This search switched to a new camera installed on the Samuel Oschin Schmidt telescope at Palomar in summer of 2003 and the results are used by several projects, including the Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking project. Another program that uses the QUEST results discovered 90377 Sedna on 14 November 2003, and around 40 Kuiper belt objects. Other programs that share the camera are Shri Kulkarni's search for gamma-ray bursts (this takes advantage of the automated telescope's ability to react as soon as a burst is seen and take a series of snapshots of the fading burst), Richard Ellis' search for supernovae to test whether the universe's expansion is accelerating or not, and S. George Djorgovski's quasar search.
The camera itself is a mosaic of 112 Charge-coupled devices (CCDs) covering the whole (4 degree by 4 degree) field of view of the Schmidt telescope, the largest CCD mosaic used in an astronomical camera when built.
The Palomar Observatory is an active research facility. However, parts of it are open to the public during the day. Visitors can take self-guided tours of 200-inch (5.08 m) telescope daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is a visitor's center and a gift shop on the grounds.
The observatory is located off State Route 76 in northern San Diego County, California, is two hours' drive from downtown San Diego, and three hours' drive from central Los Angeles (UCLA, LAX airport ).
Although the surrounding area is mostly undeveloped, there is a big hotel and casino approximately 15 miles (24 km) from the observatory.
The band Wellwater Conspiracy's 1997 debut album, Declaration of Conformity, contains a track entitled "Palomar Observatory." It is the last track on the album and completely instrumental. It is likely the track title was chosen by singer/drummer Matt Cameron, who grew up in San Diego near the observatory. Also, Canadian band The Rheostatics 11th track from their effort Whale Music is entitled Palomar. The song depicts a man named Palomar on the top of a mount, cleaning his lenses with saline waters. Palomar assembles his kaleidoscope in his lonely observatory. The song is an extremely visual characterization of a man on a mountain and his relationship with his best friend, a dog.
Italo Calvino's 1983 novel Mr. Palomar, which features a man reflecting on how he observes the world, is named after the observatory. Palomar is mentioned in the first episode of season 2 of the X-Files: Little Green Man. Mulder intimates that an elf (i.e. alien) crawled through the window of Hale's billiard room and told him to build the observatory.