Lick Observatory

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7281 Mount Hamilton Road, San Jose, CA, USA - (408) 274-5061
Lick Observatory - Looking up at the 36 inch telescope inside the observatory dome.
Lick Observatory - A crescent moon can be seen (barely) in the sky about the center of the photo over the dome.
Lick Observatory - During the tour inside the observatory dome, the platform can be seen in the foreground
Lick Observatory - Looking east, no luck on seeing Yosemite on this day, but still a great view.
Lick Observatory - A view of the dome and entrance, looking south.

Lick Observatory San Jose Reviews

portia portia
216 reviews
Mar 25, 2007
I took an out-of-town friend up to the Lick Observatory on Mt Hamilton east of San Jose. I have never been there since moving to northern California. It is an astronomical observatory run by the University of California. Established in 1888, located east of San Jose on Mt Hamilton of the Diablo mountain range. It's only about 20 miles from San Jose, however, since it is on 4200 feet mountain top, the road going up there is VERY narrow and winding with many hairpin turns, so it will take about 1 hour to drive.

The road seems to be a popular route for bicyclists, and we would pass them on the way up. As we go higher and higher, we felt like we were really far from the city, the view changed to pasture, cows, and old California Oak trees dot the mountainside.

Once we got to the top, we could visit the Observatory where the 36 inch refracting telescope is located. A tour is offered every half hour. That telescope was built in 1888 and sits on a platform which can be lowered and raised, and the design was such that the telescope can easily be adjusted in every direction by a single person.

In the observatory there were photos of the history of the place as well as astronomical photos taken there. A nice gift shop where you can buy some souvenirs. In addition to the tour, the best part is the 360 degree view from the mountain top. Photos there show on a clear day, you can see over 150 miles to the Half Dome of Yosemite! Truly impressive. We weren't lucky enough for that view, with low clouds to the east in the California Central valley, and some haze to the west over San Jose.

We talked to a bicyclist who said he biked up the mountain almost every weekend! It took 2-3 hours to ride up, and probably another hour to go down.

On some summer nights, public programs at the observatory allows public to view through the telescope at the night skies.
During the tour inside the observa…
Looking up at the 36 inch telescop…
Looking east, no luck on seeing Yo…
A crescent moon can be seen (barel…
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photo by: Deannimal