Lick Observatory: aerial view from the east. Lick Observatory Records, Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz
Lick Observatory, located on Mount Hamilton in Santa Clara County, California, was completed in 1888 and remains an active research facility to this day. It is home to the Great Refractor, the largest refracting telescope in the world at the time of its completion in 1888. Known as the first residential mountaintop observatory, it continues to host students and astronomers from eight UC astronomy campuses and two national laboratories, as well as visitors from all over the world. Lick Observatory is part of the University of California Observatories system, administratively based at the UC Santa Cruz campus.
Special Collections hosts the Lick Observatory Records, as well as the papers of several astronomers associated with the Observatory. These collections form the Archives of Lick Observatory, which includes records from about 1870 to the mid-twentieth century describing the founding construction and operation of the observatory and documenting all aspects of the early astronomical ambitions and achievements of its founders. View the finding aids for the following series of the Lick Observatory Records:
The Archives' extensive collection of historical photographs includes portraits of astronomers, telescope and lens makers and other prominent scientists, scenes of life at the observatory on Mount Hamilton, instruments, and documentation of expeditions. See many of these photographs in the Lick Observatory Records Digital Archive.
Image: 36-inch refractor, the "Great Lick Refractor", undated. Lick Observatory Records. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Our collections include the papers of many Lick astronomers as part of the Archives of Lick Observatory, including:
Also available in our holdings are the papers of Elizabeth Ballard Campbell (wife of Lick Observatory director William Wallace Campbell) and family, which include Mrs. Campbell's diary entries of many of the Lick expeditions to study solar eclipses around the world. Photographs are also included of the expeditions to India (1898), Spain (1905), Flint Island (1908), Russia (1914), Washington (1918), and Australia (1922).
Image (top): Ensenada Eclipse Expedition, September 1923: observers at eclipse camp, led by W. H. Wright. Seated, left to right: Ambrose Swasey, Mrs. Elizabeth Campbell, W.W. Campbell, Mrs. Edna Leib Wright, W.H. Wright, Joseph H. Moore. Standing: Joseph Pearce, Hamilton Jeffers, Z.A. Merfield, Robert Trumpler, Grace Leib (later Grace Hubble), Willem Luyten, William F. Meyer, Allen H. Babcock, E. Percival Lewis. Lick Observatory Records. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Image (bottom): Page from Elizabeth Ballard Campbell's photograph scrapbook of Russian eclipse expedition, circa 1914. Elizabeth Ballard Campbell family papers. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Several publications made by and about Lick Observatory are cataloged separately in our holdings in Special Collections, and are available to request through Cruzcat. Here is a selection of notable materials:
For more information on the history of Lick Observatory, consult the Lick History series of the Lick Observatory Records collection.
Special Collections holdings on the history of astronomy, including many pre-1850 editions, originated from the collection of the Lick Observatory Library on Mount Hamilton. Its Horoscope of Hanns Hannibal Hütter von Hütterhofen written by Johannes Kepler in the late 1500s is one unique example.
Other selections include:
To view a selected list of published materials from the Lick Observatory Library now available in UCSC Special Collections, click this link.
Image: Lick Observatory, Main Building: interior view of the south end of the library. Lick Observatory Records, Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.