Best time to visit California

Lick Observatory

Visit the first permanent mountain top observatory in the world

Lick Observatory in California 2019 - Best Time
Photo by

Simon Davison

Lick Observatory is located atop California’s Mount Hamilton, about a one hour drive from San Jose. It's one of the few institutions that never stops observations, due to the team of live-in scientists. Lick Observatory was founded by astronomer James Lick and built from 1876-1887. Unfortunately, Lick didn't get to see the completion of his idea. He was buried under the site of the first telescope. The largest telescope in the world was installed at the site in 1888. Today about dozen scientists continue to live permanently at Lick Observatory.

Lick Observatory in California - Best Season 2019

Lick Observatory is closed to visitors Monday to Wednesday. Night visits are permitted during the Summer Series from June through September.

Mt Hamilton and Lick Observatory as seen from Santa Teresa Park with a long lens 2019
Mt Hamilton and Lick Observatory as seen from Santa Teresa Park with a long lens

Visitors can see exhibits in the main building, constructed in 1888, with original oak and marble interior. They can then take a look at the Great Lick Refractor in the 36-inch telescope dome, walk to the Shane Dome to view the 120-inch Reflector from the Visitors’ Gallery, one of the major telescopes used to discover extrasolar planets.

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