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Facts To Know About The Lick Observatory Of University Of California

The Lick Observatory is an astronomical observatory, owned and operated by the University of California. It is situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, in the Diablo Range just east of San Jose, California, USA. It is a major site in the University of California Observatories (UCO), which is responsible for its operations.
Lick began operations in 1888 as part of the University of California. It was founded by a bequest from James Lick, real-estate entrepreneur and California's wealthiest citizen. Lick Observatory is the world's first permanently occupied mountain-top observatory. The observatory, in a Classical Revival style structure, was constructed between 1876 and 1887.
The Famous 36 inch Great Lick Refractor telescope was Earth's largest refracting telescope. 36 inch refers to diameter of of the two refracting lenses on the skyward end of the telescope. Located in the large dome of the main observatory building, the Great Lick refractor is 57 feet long, 4 feet in diameter, & weighs over 25,000 lbs.
Lick Observatory serves astronomers from all eight UC astronomy campuses and two national laboratories. Lick also serves as UC's chief testbed for developing new instruments and new technologies for optical astronomy. Lick also has a mandate to communicate the knowledge and thrill of astronomy to students and to the public at large.
Lick Observatory on a foggy night.
The location of Lick Observatory provided excellent viewing performance because of lack of ambient light and pollution; additionally, the night air at the top of Mt. Hamilton is extremely calm, and the mountain peak is normally above the level of the low cloud cover that is often seen in the San Jose area. 
As the result of improvements in the speed and efficiency of spectrographs and photoelectric spectrum scanners on the 305-cm reflector, Lick was the first observatory to compete with the Palomar Observatory’s 5 meter Hale Telescope in the field of extra-galactic astronomy.
Free talks are given inside the dome of the 36-inch Great Refractor, Thes lectures are given at every 1 hour time interval from 12.30 pm to 4.30 pm.
The gift shop and Visitor Center are open year-round. Admission is free. It is closed on Monday to Wednesday and open on Thursday to Sunday during 12 pm to 5 pm. It takes one hour drive from San Joes to reach Lick Observatory. There are no automative services or gas stations for 20 miles.