29 March 2008
Inside Lick Observatory's Great Refractor Dome
Nestled atop Mt. Hamilton just east of San Jose, Lick Observatory, which has nothing to do with tongues, is home to several telescopes, including this gigantic refractor.
This is one of the neatest interiors I've seen in a while. Visited last Decemeber, but hadn't been there since I was a kid, and it's still neat! There's a very windy road leading up to it, and I have childhood memories of trying to spot the wrecked cars that had driven off to their doom whenever we drove up.
This photo is of the first telescope built on the site, which was constructed between 1876 and 1887. The body of James Lick lays entombed beneath. Beat that for ambiance!! The entire floor that you see raises and lowers so that the eyepiece of the telescope can be at eye level for the astronomers. You can see the counterweights along the walls. The telescope itself is balanced so that a single person can just grab hold of it and drag it around to point it at the right place.
All in all, a neat place to visit.
See an alternate projection of this image here.
See this image on flickr.