- May 26 & 27 - All libraries CLOSED for Memorial Day
On a clear day in San Jose you can’t see forever, since Santa Clara Valley is surrounded by mountains on three sides. However, if you look towards the mountains on the east side of the valley you just might be able to see at least two of the white domes of Lick Observatory.
Did you know that Lick Observatory is one of the world’s premier observatories? The observatory, located atop Mount Hamilton, is run by the University of California at Santa Cruz and time on its various telescopes is so desirable that scientists must make appointments months in advance.
But even though scientists have to plan their visits far in advance you can visit any day of the week except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Most of the time you only get to visit the original building, including the original dome and telescope designed by James Lick, the gift shop, and the Shane telescope, but in the summer the Observatory offers the Summer Visitors Program on six Friday nights, with a lecture followed by a telescope viewing, and a series of Music of the Spheres concerts, which are also followed by a telescope viewing. You can even get a view of the valley from Lick Observatory with their Hamcams 1 and 2 and views of the sky from their Skycam.
The history of how James Lick came to build the observatory, and what it took to haul all the materials used to build it to the top of Mount Hamilton makes for interesting reading. You can learn all about it in the California Room at King Library
If you want to know more about astronomy try one of our many good books on the subject.