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Lick Observatory

Main building and South Dome, Lick Observatory

The Lick Observatory is an astronomical observatory, of the University of California, which is situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, near San Jose, California.

Table of contents
1 Early History
2 Significant discoveries
3 Equipment
4 See also:
5 External link

Early History

Lick Observatory was the world's first mountain-top observatory.

The observatory was constructed between 1876 and 1887, from a bequest from James Lick. In 1887 Lick's body was buried under the future site of the telescope, with a brass tablet bearing the inscription, "Here lies the body of James Lick."

Before construction could begin, a road to the site had to be built. All of the construction materials had to be brought to the site by horse and mule-drawn wagons, which could not negotiate a steep grade. In order not to exceed a grade of 6.5%, the road had to take a very winding and sinuous path, which the modern-day road still follows. Tradition maintains that this road has exactly 360 turns. (This is approximately correct, although uncertainty as to what should count as a turn makes precise verification impossible). Even those who do not normally suffer from motion-sickness find the road challenging.

The 91 cm refracting telescope here was Earth's largest refracting telescope when it saw first light, January 3, 1888, until the 1897 construction of Yerkes. In April, 1888, the observatory was turned over to the University of California Regents, and became the first permanantly occupied mountain top observatory in the world. The location provided superior viewing performance due to lack of ambient light and pollution; additionally, the night air at the top of Mt. Hamilton is extremely calm, and the peak is normally above the level of fog often seen in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Significant discoveries

The following astronomical objects were discovered at Lick Observatory:


Current equipment and locations:

See also:

External link