Mount Hamilton, California

Lick Observatory

January 15, 2006

The Lick Observatory sits atop Mt. Hamilton in the Diablo Range east of San Jose. The elevation is 4200' above sea level.

Mount Hamilton Road (Highway 130) was built by Santa Clara County in 1876 in order to provide access to the observatory.

In accordance with his dying wishes, the body of James Lick was brought to the observatory upon its completion, ten years after his death. His body lies entombed beneath the floor of the telescope. He never lived to see the telescope, which was to be part self-monument, part gift to scientific progress.

Looking east toward the Diablo Mountain Range. Note the recent snowfall in the foreground.

The facility was constructed in 1888 by eccentric millionaire James Lick, who made his fortune buying land in San Francisco around the time of the California Gold Rush.

The Great Lick Refractor, with a 36-inch diameter, was the largest and most powerful of its kind. It is still used on occasion today, mainly by amateur astronomers.

Sunset over the Santa Cruz mountains in the west.

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