2024 Summer Series Public Events have been scheduled!
Event Information

Tonight’s Host: Dr. Elinor Gates

7:30 pm Doors Open Brief Telescope Visits
8:30 pm Science Talk, Lecture Hall History Talk, Great Refractor Dome
9:30 pm Science Talk (repeated), Lecture Hall Telescope Viewings
10:30 pm History Talk (repeated), Lecture Hall Telescope Viewings
1:00 am  Doors Close

This Evening’s Lectures


Science Lecture

(presented twice)

Dr. Jonathan Fortney
Dr. Jonathan Fortney

University of California, Santa Cruz

“NASA’s Newest Space Telescope and the Exoplanet Atmospheres Revolution”

Professor Jonathan Fortney is a world leader in understanding planets both inside and outside the solar system. He was a member of NASA’s Kepler Mission science team during the heyday of that mission, which found over 4000 exoplanets.  Jonathan has participated in a number of landmark exoplanet discoveries.  He is currently a member of several teams that are seeing some of the first James Webb Space Telescope data on exoplanet atmospheres.  Jonathan has been a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, since 2008.  Each year he hosts an “Other Worlds Laboratory” summer workshop at UC Santa Cruz that brings together 50 researchers in exoplanet science to create and foster new research collaborations.

History Lecture

Bob Havner

Bob Havner is an amateur astronomer from San Jose.  Bob has been active in public and educational astronomy outreach for about 25 years. Bob taught astronomy at Toyon Elementary School through the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Project ASTRO program.  He has volunteered for the Lick Observatory Summer Programs since 2000. Bob works in the Lick Visitors Center giving tours of the 36” Lick Refractor, operates the 36” Refractor and gives history talks for the Lick Summer Visitors Program.  Bob has observed using Lick Observatory’s 36” Refractor, Crossley Reflector, and the 22” Tauchmann Reflector.

Tonight’s Telescopes & Objects

36-inch Lick Refractor. Photo (c) Laurie Hatch.

Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor saw “first light” in 1888. At the time, it was the largest refracting telescope in the world. It is an enduring memorial to James Lick’s philanthropy and his final resting place.

For nearly 300 years after Galileo first turned a telescope toward the heavens it was believed that the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter, had just four moons. In 1892, using the Lick’s 36-inch Great Refractor, Edward Barnard discovered a fifth moon, the much fainter Amalthea, the last moon of any planet to be discovered without the aid of photography, electronic detectors or space-based telescopes.

The 36-inch telescope will show you an interesting astronomical object of the telescope operator’s choosing. This may be a globular cluster of stars, a binary star, or a galaxy.

Nickel 1-m Telescope. Photo (c) Laurie Hatch.

The Nickel 40-inch Reflector, named for philanthropist Anna Nickel, was designed and built in the Lick Observatory Technical Facilities at UC Santa Cruz and completed in 1979. The 40” diameter mirror of this modern telescope makes it the third most powerful telescope on Mount Hamilton.

Tonight you will view M51, a spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici.

Telescope Operators:

36-inch Great Refractor

Kieren Emens | Andy Macica

40-inch Reflector

Rick Baldridge

40-inch Control Room

Keith Wandry

Telescopes will be available for viewing, weather conditions permitting, as soon as it is dark enough and will remain open until everyone has had an opportunity to see through both telescopes.

Share tonight’s experience on Social Media: #LickObservatory @LickObservatory

Additional Viewing Opportunities – Weather Permitting

Amateur astronomers have telescopes set up behind the main building. They will enjoy showing you other objects in the sky.

The Gift Shop is open tonight from 7:30 pm to 11:30 pm.


Snacks and beverages are available at the refreshment table in the main foyer. All proceeds help support the public programs. In the past, we have used proceeds to purchase an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), additional wooden benches in the main building, new speakers and amplifiers for the main building hallway, and partial funding of two spotting telescopes by the flag pole.

Dark Adjustment

Your experience at the telescopes will be better if your eyes have had an opportunity to adjust to the dark. For this reason, we try to keep the light levels low in both wings of the main hall.


Please refrain from use of flash photography or white light flashlights in the domes or adjoining hallway.


We strive to make your visit as complete and meaningful as possible. Please let us know if you will need special assistance (for example, if you will have difficulty climbing stairs) by emailing tickets@ucolick.org, so we can make the necessary arrangements.

Our Volunteers

All of Lick Observatory’s public programs are greatly enhanced by the valuable participation of our many dedicated volunteers.

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