May 16, 2005
Music and stargazing entice summer visitors
to Mt. Hamilton's Lick Observatory
By Françoise Chanut
UC's Lick Observatory offers its 25th season of evening programs
for music lovers and astronomy buffs this summer, featuring
concerts, lectures, and opportunities to view the night sky
through the observatory's history-making telescopes atop Mt.
Audience members will take turns at the historic Lick Telescope,
Photo: Laurie Hatch
Tickets go on sale this week for two series of public events:
the Music of the Spheres concert series and the Summer Visitors
Music of the Spheres is a benefit summer concert series whose
proceeds support the UC Observatories/Lick Observatory (UCO/Lick),
a multicampus research unit headquartered at UCSC that serves
over 100 UC astronomers.
Each of the six Music of the Spheres evenings combines a performance
by world-acclaimed musicians and a lecture by a renowned astronomy
Afterward, audience members take turns at the historic Lick
Telescope, a 36-inch refractor that has been in operation since
1888 and remains the second largest refracting telescope ever
A cadre of well-trained volunteers assist in these events by
sharing their own telescopes and expertise with interested members
of the audience.
Music of the Spheres concerts will take place on June 24 and
25, July 29 and 30, and August 26 and 27. For details on each
concert, visit the Lick
Observatory web site.
Tickets for each Music of the Spheres evening are offered at
three levels: standard ($40), preferred ($100), and VIP ($150).
All tickets include the concert, astronomy talk, viewing session
through the 36-inch telescope, and a commemorative wineglass
or coffee cup. Preferred ticket holders have the additional
benefits of reserved seating and a 20 percent discount at the
gift shop. A VIP ticket further entitles visitors to a private
tour of the 120-inch Shane reflecting telescope and a light
Tickets for Music of the Spheres can be purchased from the
UCSC Ticket Office at (831) 459-2159. Preferred and VIP tickets
will be available starting May 17 and standard tickets starting
May 20. For additional information, visit the Ticket
Office web site.
The Summer Visitors Program gives the public access to both
the 36-inch Lick Telescope and the 40-inch Anna Nickel Reflector,
a telescope scientists currently use to spot planets outside
the solar system. As with the Music of the Spheres events, amateur
astronomer volunteers provide additional outside viewing and
informal talks. Each program also features two speakers to ensure
an interesting evening even if bad weather prevents stargazing.
The lectures include a history of Lick Observatory and multimedia
presentations by Lick astronomers.
Dates for the Summer Visitors Program are July 15 and 16 at
8:30 p.m., August 12 and 13 at 8 p.m., and September 9 and 10
at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 and will be made available through
a lottery system, with a limit of four tickets per request.
Ticket requests can be made from May 16 through May 29 using
an online form (which will be available for those two weeks
or by mail (SVP, PO Box 85, Mount Hamilton, CA 95140). Additional
information about the program, as well as directions and maps,
An added attraction this year is an exhibit of paintings by
acclaimed artist Chesley Bonestell. The Bonestell exhibit, held
in Lick Observatory's Main Building, commemorates the hundredth
anniversary of the event that spurred Bonestell's interest in
space art. Bonestell attended the Summer Visitors Program in
1905 and was most impressed with a view of Saturn through the
Clark 12-inch refractor, which occupied the dome that now houses
the Nickel 40-inch reflector. He painted a picture of Saturn
as soon as he got home, and went on to produce a wide variety
of astronomical paintings that have in turn inspired many astronomers'
careers. Bonestell's works will remain on display at Lick Observatory
through spring 2006.
Lick Observatory is located on the summit of Mt. Hamilton in
the Diablo Range east of San Jose. Driving time from San Jose
is about one hour via Mt. Hamilton Road (Route 130). Founded
in 1888, Lick Observatory remains among the most productive
research observatories in the world.
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