Sunset over Lick Observatory with open domes. Photo by Laurie Hatch

Update July 2021:  Public Evening Tours are set to resume in August 2021.  Due to popular demand and fast sell out of the first series of events, a second series of Public Evening Tours have been added.  Second series tickets will go on sale at ucsctickets.com at noon on July 30th.  Friends of Lick Observatory members will have access to ticket pre-sales starting July 23rd.

Public Evening Tours at Lick Observatory

Our “behind the scenes” style 4 – 6 hour walking tour of Lick Observatory will start at the main building’s Visitor Center. Participants can learn about the unique history of the world’s first permanently occupied mountaintop observatory, the eccentric California pioneer James Lick, technology used for observing on different telescopes along the tour route, and current science being conducted at Lick Observatory.

A highlight of the tour will be visiting the dome of the 3-meter Shane Telescope to see the mountain’s largest telescope up close. After the walking tour, there will be an opportunity to enjoy the sunset, and the Gift Shop will be open. During twilight, a history lecture about James Lick and the construction of the observatory will be presented. Once the sky is dark (and weather permitting), viewing celestial objects through the historic 36-inch Great Refractor Telescope will commence. Insights will be provided throughout the evening on how we find planets beyond our solar system, how exploding stars teach us about the evolution of the universe, how we discern the nature of galaxies and black holes, how new technologies are used to undo the blurring effects of Earth’s atmosphere, and about Lick Observatory’s rich astronomical history and bright scientific future.

Complimentary coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are included with the tour. The event will last approximately 4 to 6 hours. Visitors should be prepared to walk about one mile during the evening, including taking stairs. Events are held rain or shine.

Please note: Weather may restrict telescope viewings, but other activities will still take place. Due to safety regulations and the nature of the event, children must be at least 12 years of age for admission and accompanied by an adult. Due to historic construction of telescope domes and safety concerns, the telescopes are not wheelchair accessible at this time. Those having difficulty navigating stairs may also find the telescopes inaccessible.

Public Evening Tours in 2021

Series 2 SOLD OUT

Friday

August 13th

6:30pm

Thursday

August 19th

6:00pm

Tuesday

September 14th

5:30pm

Thursday

September 16th

5:30pm

Friday

September 17th

5:30pm

Saturday

September 25th

5:30pm

Series 1 SOLD OUT

Sunday

August 1st

6:30pm

Thursday

August 5th

6:30pm

Sunday

August 8th

6:30pm

Sunday

August 15th

6:00pm

Sunday

August 29th

6:00pm

Thursday

September 9th

6:00pm

Sunday

September 12th

5:30pm

Thursday

September 23rd

5:30pm

Sunday

September 26th

5:30pm

 

Ticket Information

The Public Evening Tour is typically offered Sunday and Thursday evenings throughout the summer months to accommodate a variety of people’s schedules. Late arrivals for ticket holders can be accommodated until sunset, when the gate closes.

Tickets are priced at $75 per person (capacity of max. 30 people on each tour).

Tickets always sell out fast!

Tickets will be available to the general public starting at noon on July 30th, 2021 at ucsctickets.com. There is a limit of 8 tickets per customer. Friends of Lick Observatory will have access to tickets early via a pre-sale starting at noon on July 23rd, 2021 at ucsctickets.com.
Our upcoming Public Evening Tours will have the following COVID-19 requirements:

  • Starting August 3rd, all visitors to Lick Observatory must wear a face mask while indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
  • All guests must fill out our UC Santa Cruz COVID Daily Symptom Check either online before arrival at the observatory or via a paper form upon arrival and before the start of the event. You will receive more information regarding this COVID-19 requirement in a separate communication prior to the event.
  • By purchasing a ticket, you agree to abide by these policies.

Assistance

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), so we can make the necessary arrangements. Please note: Due to historic construction of the telescope domes, the 36-inch Refractor and the 3-m Shane telescopes are not wheelchair accessible at this time.

Driving to Lick Observatory

Please allow a one-hour drive from San Jose. The road is good, but windy. The event typically lasts between 4 and 6 hours; prepare to drive home late in the evening. There are no automative services or gas stations for 20 miles, so please plan ahead. See more information on driving directions and parking here.

Join the Mailing List

Join the Summer Series mailing list to get updates on when events are scheduled, when tickets will go on sale,  and announcements of new programs.