Lick Observatory

Lick Observatory

Infobox Observatory
name = Lick Observatory


caption = The main observatory building and the North (small) Dome, home of the Nickel Reflector
organization = University of California|code=662
location = San Jose, California, USA
coords = coord|37|20|35|N|121|38|14|W|
altitude = 1,283 m (4,209 ft)
weather = 300 clear nights/year
established =
closed =
website= [http://mthamilton.ucolick.org/ mthamilton.ucolick.org]
telescope1_name = C. Donald Shane telescope
telescope1_type = 3 m reflector
telescope2_name = James Lick telescope
telescope2_type = 91 cm refractor
telescope3_name = Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope
telescope3_type = 76 cm reflector
telescope4_name = Anna L. Nickel telescope
telescope4_type = 1 m reflector
telescope5_name = Crossley telescope
telescope5_type = 90 cm reflector
telescope6_name = Carnegie telescope
telescope6_type = 50.8 cm twin refractor
The Lick Observatory is an astronomical observatory, owned and operated by the University of California. It is situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, in the Diablo Range just east of San Jose, California, USA. The observatory is managed from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where its scientific staff moved in the mid-1960s.

Early history

Lick Observatory was the world's first permanently occupied mountain-top observatory [ [http://mthamilton.ucolick.org/public/history/bldg_the_obs.html The Building of Lick Observatory] ] .

The observatory was constructed between 1876 and 1887, from a bequest from James Lick. In 1887 Lick's body was buried under the future site of the telescope, with a brass tablet bearing the inscription, "Here lies the body of James Lick."

Before construction could begin, a road to the site had to be built. All of the construction materials had to be brought to the site by horse and mule-drawn wagons, which could not negotiate a steep grade. To keep the grade below 6.5%, the road had to take a very winding and sinuous path, which the modern-day road (SR 130) still follows. Tradition maintains that this road has exactly 365 turns. (This is approximately correct, although uncertainty as to what should count as a turn makes precise verification impossible). Even those who do not normally suffer from motion-sickness find the road challenging. The road is closed when there is snow at Lick Observatory.

The 36 inch (91.44-cm) refracting telescope on Mt. Hamilton was Earth's largest refracting telescope during the period from when it saw first light on January 3, 1888, until the construction of Yerkes in 1897. In April, 1888, the observatory was turned over to the Regents of the University of California, and it became the first permanently occupied mountain-top observatory in the world. Edward Singleton Holden was the first director. The location provided excellent viewing performance due to lack of ambient light and pollution; additionally, the night air at the top of Mt. Hamilton is extremely calm, and the mountain peak is normally above the level of the low cloud cover that is often seen in the San Jose area. When low cloud cover is present below the peak, light pollution is cut to almost nothing.

Current state

With the growth of San Jose, and the rest of Silicon Valley, light pollution became a problem for the observatory. In the 1970s, a site in the Santa Lucia Mountains at Junípero Serra Peak, southeast of Monterey, was evaluated for possible relocation of many of the telescopes. However, funding for the move was not available, and in 1980 San Jose began a program to reduce the effects of lighting, most notably replacing all streetlamps with low pressure sodium lamps. The result is that the Mount Hamilton site remains a viable location for a major working observatory. Asteroid 6216 San Jose was named in honor of the city's efforts to reduce light pollution by the International Astronomical Union. [http://www.ucsc.edu/oncampus/currents/97-98/05-25/asteroid.htm UCSC, Lick Observatory designate asteroid for the city of San Jose] ]

In 2006, there are 23 families in residence, plus typically between two to ten visiting astronomers from the University of California campuses, who stay in dormitories while working at the Observatory. The little town of Mount Hamilton atop the mountain has its own police and a post office, and until recently a one-room schoolhouse.

In 2008, there are 38 people residing on the mountain, the chef and commons dinner were decommissioned earlier in the year.

ignificant discoveries

The following astronomical objects were discovered at Lick Observatory:
*Several moons of Jupiter
**Amalthea
**Ananke
**Elara
**Himalia
**Lysithea
**Sinope (disputed)
*Several extrasolar planets
**Quintuple planet system
***55 Cancri
**Triple planet system
***Upsilon Andromedae (with Whipple Observatory)
**Double planet systems
***HD38529 (with Keck Observatory)
***HD12661 (with Keck)
***GJ876 (with Keck)
***47 Ursae Majoris
*Near-Earth asteroid (29075) 1950 DA

Equipment

Current equipment and locations:
*C. Donald Shane telescope 3 m (120-inch) reflector (Shane Dome, Tycho Brahe Peak)
*the Great Lick 0.9 m (36-inch) refractor (South Dome, Main Building, Observatory Peak)
*the Carnegie 0.5 m (20-inch) twin refractor (Double Astrograph Dome, Tycho Brahe Peak)
*the Anna L. Nickel 1 m (40-inch) reflector (North (small) Dome, Main Building)
*the Crossley 0.9 m (36-inch) reflector (Crossley Dome, Ptolemy Peak)
*the 0.6 m (24-inch) Coude auxiliary telescope (just South of Shane Dome, Tycho Brahe Peak)
*the Tauchmann 0.5 m (22-inch) reflector (Tauchmann Dome atop the water tank, Huyghens Peak)
*CCD Comet Camera 135 mm Nikon camera lens ("The Outhouse" Southwest of the Shane Dome, Tycho Brahe Peak)
*the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope (KAIT) 76 cm reflector (24-inch Dome, Kepler Peak)
*the Automated Planet Finder (100-inch) reflector (First light was originally scheduled for 2006, but delays in the construction of the dome have pushed this back to late 2008 at the earliest.)

ee also

*List of largest optical refracting telescopes

Footnotes

References

* Vasilevskis, S. and Osterbrock, D. E. (1989) "Charles Donald Shane" "Biographical Memoirs, Volume 58" pp. 489-512, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, ISBN 0-309-03938-X

External links

* [http://mthamilton.ucolick.org/ Lick Observatory]
* [http://mthamilton.ucolick.org/apfcam/ Automated Planet Finder construction webcam]
* [http://mthamilton.ucolick.org/hamcam/ Lick Observatory webcam "hamcam"]
* [http://cleardarksky.com/c/MtHamCAkey.html?1 Mount Hamilton Clear Sky Clock] Forecasts of observing conditions covering Lick Observatory.


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