2024 Summer Series Public Events have been scheduled! Tickets go on sale on Wednesday April 17th at Noon!
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Sunset over Lick Observatory with open domes. Photo by Laurie Hatch

Information for Observers

Lick Observatory currently has four facility research telescopes available for use by astronomers from the University of California, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

UC astronomers are also eligible to apply for time on Super-LOTIS, a robotic telescope at Steward Obervatory on Kitt Peak.  The telescope is a Boller and Chivens 0.6-m reflector originally installed on Mount Hamilton.

Applying for Telescope Time

Telescopes are scheduled on a semester basis, February through July and August through January.   Refer to the Call for Proposals for information on when proposals are due (typically mid-October and mid-April).

More information about proposal guidelines, links to telescope time application on-line forms, and various observing policies are available at http://mthamilton.ucolick.org/techdocs/telescopes/time_apps as well on the major telescope pages hosted at UC Observatories, Lick Observatory’s parent organization:

Telescope Schedules

Shane, APF, and Nickel telescope schedule

Lick Refractor, CAT, Crossley, and KAIT telescope schedule


Lick Observatory has many weather instruments on Mount Hamilton to monitor conditions for safety of operating the telescopes and instruments.   A full listing of the weather resources is available at http://mthamilton.ucolick.org/techdocs/MH_weather/

Technical Documentation

User manuals for the telescopes and instruments, as well as a great deal of other technical information for Lick Observatory astronomers and staff are available on the Mt. Hamilton web pages.

Remote Observing

The Shane 3-m and Nickel 1-m telescopes may be remotely operated from designated remote operations rooms at most UC campuses or via home observing software. More detailed information about the remote observing policies, procedures, home observing software, etc. is available at the Remote Observing web pages. Other telescopes require the astronomer to be present on Mount Hamilton or are automated (e.g. KAIT and APF).

Lodging at Lick Observatory

Astronomers observing in person at Lick Observatory will need to book lodging in the dormitory by emailing reservations@ucolick.org at least one week in advance.  Additional information about rooms, meals, mountain map, etc. are available on the Mt. Hamilton Practical Information web pages.


Premium Room (Full Night Lodging) UC Affiliated – $93.00/night

Premium Room (Full Night Lodging) Non-UC Affiliated – $150.50/night

Hostel Room (Full Night Lodging) UC Affiliated – $37.00/night

Hostel Room (Full Night Lodging) Non-UC Affiliated – $54.00/night

Travel to Lick Observatory

New observers may need directions to Lick Observatory, as well as Travel Policy and Travel Reimbursement information. Please note that while taxis, Uber, and Lyft will usually deliver passengers to Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton, they will usually not provide transportation from Mount Hamilton.  Private car services, e.g. ExecuCar  and similar companies, or look up Airport Transfers on booking.com or similar sites, will provide transportation to and from Lick Observatory from San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland International Airports (though the rates are often more expensive than renting a vehicle).

Also, Zipcar has sometimes proven problematic, with Zipcar users getting to the observatory, but once the car  is turned off being unable unlock or start the car again due to poor cell service at the observatory.  Zipcar claims to have an app to allow you to lock, unlock, start, and end trip from the iPhone or Android app.  Zipcar users are encouraged to download and test the app before using a Zipcar to travel to Lick Observatory.

Facility Access

Observers, researchers, or technicians who are coming up for the day and need access to the telescope domes and technical facilities on Mt. Hamilton, but are not booking a dorm room should email mh-facilities@ucolick.org, with a request for a key including the date(s) and times(s) needed, name, affiliation, contact information, and explanation of the purpose of the visit.  Approved requests for keys will get further instructions on how to pick up and sign out/in the keys.

New Observers

All observers using an instrument or telescope new to them must be checked out on its operation by a resident support astronomer, typically on the first afternoon and evening of their observing run.  Support requests should be made when applying for telescope time.  If an astronomer is added to the team or an experienced observer would like a refresher course that wasn’t requested on the telescope time application, please contact the support astronomers to schedule assistance.

Need Assistance while Observing?

While you are observing, the best way to get assistance is to refer to the Support Astronomer On-Call Calendar, which lists useful phone numbers and email contacts for the on-duty telescope operators and support astronomers.  Other staff schedules and contacts are available at Mountain Directories & Schedules.

Data Archives

Data from Lick Observatory facility instruments from late 2006 to the present are available from the Lick Observatory on-line data archive. Data is proprietary to the PI of the observing program for at least one year before becoming publicly accessible. Contact a support astronomer if you need assistance retrieving data from the archive. Data from before 2007 may or may not be archived or suitably preserved or available.  Data going back to 1882 are on media ranging from photographic plates to exabyte tapes, please contact a support astronomer if you are looking for older data.

Astronomical Calendars

Sunset, Twilight, Moon Phase calendars for Mount Hamilton

Bright and Dark Run calendars

Changing, Swapping or Cancelling Observing Nights

On occasion schedules change or there are emergencies that affect an observer’s ability to use their scheduled observing time. Please refer to the Time Change Policy for how to change, swap, or give back telescope time. Likewise, refer to the last minute cancellation of telescope time policy due to emergency or weather.