Welcome to Lick Observatory

Since 1888, Lick has provided UC astronomers with access to world-leading optical-infrared observing equipment.

Lick Observatory is a multi-campus research unit owned and operated by the University of California. It is a major site in the University of California Observatories (UCO), which is headquartered at UC Santa Cruz and responsible for its operations. Lick began operations in 1888 as part of the University of California, founded by a bequest from James Lick, real-estate entrepreneur and California’s wealthiest citizen. Read more.

Our research mission continues today utilizing modern research telescopes and innovative high-tech cameras and instruments. Lick Observatory is committed to the education of the next generation of astronomers. Read more.

Education of the general public is also a key component of Lick Observatory activities. The Visitor Center exhibits highlight Lick Observatory’s science research, technology, and history.

Wildfire Relief Update

Lick Observatory narrowly escaped destruction during the August 2020 SCU Lightning Complex Fire.  While the telescopes were saved, a great deal of damage to infrastructure, staff residences, and outbuildings was dealt to the Mount Hamilton facility. Your gift to the UCO director’s opportunity fund will provide the flexible support necessary for the Director to address ongoing relief efforts. Currently, gifts of $50+ to this fund will also grant you complimentary Friends of Lick Observatory membership.

Current Conditions at Lick Observatory

The HamCam web cameras are on a fixed mount providing a view from Lick Observatory on the summit of 4200’ Mount Hamilton. HamCam1 shows San Jose, California and South San Francisco Bay, while HamCam2 shows the Observatory east of the historic Main Building. Click on either camera image to go to the HamCam web site and view current images from all our web cameras.

Current HamCam1 image
Current HamCam2 image

We are excited to host EVENTS at Lick for Summer 2021!

© 2015 Laurie Hatch. Visiting Lick has long been a favorite outing for Bay Area families, with a number of activities ensuring an informative and enjoyable evening.

We are working on providing the opportunity for Public Evening Tours and Photography Nights, these work well for smaller groups, making them much easier to safely facilitate for our staff and visitors under our current limitations due to COVID-19 safety precautions and on-going SCU Lightning Complex Fire recovery work.

We are tentatively looking at dates in August and September 2021. If you would like more details nearer the time for our proposed in-person events at Lick Observatory this summer, sign up for our Mailing List, or  send us an email us at social@ucolick.org.

UCO Latest Virtual Event

Have you ever wondered how astronomers prepare the telescope for scientific observations? Or how they collect data on interesting astronomical targets? Want to see images direct from the telescope to your computer screen?

This event answers those questions and more, presented LIVE from Lick Observatory’s Nickel Telescope by staff astronomers Elinor (Ellie) Gates, Jon Rees, and Paul Lynam.

Recorded on Saturday May 22nd 2021

You can find all the Living Room Lectures & Ask-an-Astronomer recordings on our YouTube channel – The University of California Observatories.