2024 Summer Series Public Events have been scheduled! Tickets go on sale on Wednesday April 17th at Noon!
Event Information

Tonight’s Host: Dr. Jon Rees

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. Raja GuhaThakurta
Dr. Raja GuhaThakurta

UC Santa Cruz

“A Journey Through the Universe of Galaxies, Black Holes, Gravitational Waves, and Schrödinger’s Cats”

Dr. Raja GuhaThakurta  is a Distinguished Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of California Santa Cruz. He studies the formation and evolution of galaxies large and small, with a focus on the assembly of their dark matter, dynamics of their resolved stellar population, merger history, chemical enrichment, and star formation history. He makes extensive use of the James Webb Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope, and Keck telescopes in his research. At the present time, he has over 800 publications (scientific journal articles, conference papers/abstracts, astronomical bulletins, etc). He is the founder and faculty director of the successful Science Internship Program (SIP), in which high school students are mentored by UCSC researchers and work on cutting-edge STEAM research projects. He also founded two other educational initiatives: (1) StS (Shadow the Scientists), which allows students and educators to eavesdrop via Zoom on scientists while they conduct research, and (2) PyaR (Python and Research), an online computer programming tutorial set in the context of astronomy research. These programs are under the CrEST (Creating Equity in STEAM) umbrella that he started at UCSC. GuhaThakurta has been appointed a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China from 2022–2025, American Astronomical Society Fellow in 2021, Outstanding Faculty in UCSC’s Physical and Biological Sciences Division in 2020–2021, Raymond and Beverly Sackler Distinguished Lecturer at Tel-Aviv University in 2018, and visiting faculty at Google in 2015. He was awarded the National Research Council of Canada’s Herzberg Memorial Prize and Fellowship in 2001, and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in 1997. He received his Ph.D. in Astrophysical Sciences from Princeton University in 1989 and his B.Sc. in Physics from St. Xavier’s College in Kolkata, India in 1983.

History Lecture

(1st presentation)

Ron Bricmont
Ron Bricmont

Ron Bricmont has been an observatory guide since 1991 and a coordinator of the Observatory’s volunteer program since its inception in 1997. He is a member of the staff of the Lick Observatory Historical Collections Project. Ron’s life-long interest in Lick Observatory and its history began with his first visit to the observatory as a six-year-old in 1945.

History Lecture

(2nd presentation)

Karen Hokanson
Karen Hokanson

Karen Hokanson has been a Lick Observatory volunteer since 1995. Raised in the Mt. Hamilton foothills, she grew up on the Balcom family apricot ranch, was a member of Hilltop 4-H, and graduated from James Lick High School (‘75). She is a retired Elementary School Librarian and is known for being a rockhound.

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 M57, the Ring Nebula, a planetary nebula in the constellation Lyra.

Telescope Operators:

36-inch Great Refractor

Tanja Bode | Rick Baldridge

40-inch Reflector

Murali Balasubramaniam

40-inch Control Room

Allan Meyer

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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