Lick Observatory sits atop the 4,209 foot summit of Mount Hamilton and is an active observatory serving the University of California astronomy departments. The historical observatory began operations in 1888 with a large donation from James Lick, real-estate entrepreneur and California's wealthiest citizen. Lick Observatory also serves as the University system's main testing ground for developing cutting edge instruments and technologies for optical astronomy. Visitors can view exhibits in the main Observatory building, enjoy a free short informal talk about Lick history while taking a look at the Great Lick Refractor in the 36-inch telescope dome (check website for times), take a short walk to the Shane Dome to view the 120-inch Reflector from the Visitors’ Gallery (open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), have a picnic at the summit of the mountain, or simply enjoy the view of the Santa Clara Valley.
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