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Road Trip March 2009

Lick Observatory, California

C. Donald Shane Telescope

This site is part of our visit to Lick Observatory.
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C. Donald Shane Telescope (left) and Lick Observatory in a picture borrowed from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab.

Lick Observatory was constructed between 1876 and 1887 and became the world's first permanently occupied mountain-top observatory. It is named after James Lick, carpenter, piano builder, hobby astronomer and - at the time of his death - the wealthiest man in California.

Lick didn't live to see the completion of what was then the world's largest telescope. He died in 1876 in San Francisco. In 1887, a year before the observatory was finished, his body was moved to its final resting place, under the future home of the telescope that now bears his name.

We are not going to bore you with the entire history of the place, but if you are interested in details, you can check it out at Wikipedia.
James Lick's tomb below the observatory
Today, there are a number of telescopes on top of Mount Hamilton.

In the left picture you can see Judy with the C. Donald Shane Telescope and to the right is Volker with the Crossley Telescope (front) and the Great Lick Refractor.

C. Donald Shane Telescope

C. Donald Shane Telescope and Automated Planet Finder in a picture borrowed from Wikipedia.

The two telescopes built in the 1800s, Lick and Crossley, were giants at the time, but by today's standards, they are somewhat antiquated. In 1959, a state of the art 120 inch reflector was added to the telescopes at the observatory. The C. Donald Shane Telescope (top and right) is the 38 largest reflecting telescope in the world and the second largest in California. Wikipedia has a lot more about this telescope.

In 2008, the latest addition to the observatory, the Automated Planet Finder (below) was completed. It supports the observatory's current main task, the search for extrasolar planets.

Nature plus cutting edge technology: The Automated Planet Finder behind oak trees. Inside the C. Donald Shane dome:
California's second biggest telescope.

There was a lot to see at the Shane dome, but there also was a lot more and it was getting late. So we moved on to the main building - and the main attraction: the Great Lick Refractor.

This is one of America's oldest telescopes. When it was finished in 1887, it also was the world's largest one. A number of great astronomic discoveries, including a Jupiter moon, 25 comets and two asteroids have been made here.

And it still works as well as it did 120 years ago!

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Or click the right turn signal to move on to the main building and the Great Lick Refractor.

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