Looking West

The foothills of the Diablo range separate Mt. Hamilton from the cities of the South Bay. Downtown San Jose can be seen left of center, just above the last row of hills.San Francisco Bay is visible at the right. Across the Bay the Peninsula stretches north to San Francisco and west to the Pacific.

The square, paved area in the center foreground, is an emergency helipad. During the years of Lick's construction, it was the site of a clay deposit and kilns, used in making bricks for observatory buildings. The area is still known to mountain residents as "the Brickyard."

In the foreground at lower left, portions of Mt. Hamilton Road (California Highway 130) are visible, winding through the hills from San Jose to the summit. Built by Santa Clara County expressly for Lick Observatory, the 19-mile road was completed in 1876.

The Observatory began operation in 1888. At that time, most of what has become the megalopolis known as the Bay Area and Silicon Valley was a rural patchwork of farms, orchards, ranches, and sleepy towns; the vast sea of lights we now see from Mt. Hamilton at night was undreamed of. However, despite the lights, Lick continues at the forefront of astronomical research.

Learn more about:
Santa Clara Valley lighting and Lick Observatory
Lick Observatory history