Music of the Spheres draws summer visitors to Lick Observatory


The Lick 36-inch refractor telescope. Photo by Laurie Hatch.

The University of California's Lick Observatory offers its 32nd 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. Hamilton.

Music of the Spheres is a benefit summer concert series whose proceeds support the UC Observatories, a multicampus research unit headquartered at UC Santa Cruz. Each of the six Music of the Spheres evenings includes a performance by acclaimed musicians and a talk by a renowned astronomer about current research. Afterward (weather permitting), audience members can view through the historic 36-inch Lick Telescope or the Nickel 40-inch telescope. A cadre of knowledgeable 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 16 and 30, July 14 and 28, and August 11 and 25. Scheduled performances include the Singing Strings Trio, featuring soprano Mary Rawcliffe, cellist Virginia Kron, and harpist Jennifer Sayre; Strings of Fire, featuring Latin harp virtuoso Ramon Romero; Grammy-winning artists Eric Tingstad (guitar) and Nancy Rumbel (wind instruments); Scottish music by the Highland Way Duo; jazz by the Kurt Ribak Trio; and Great Guitars, featuring Daniel Roest and Alex de Grassi.

Tickets for each Music of the Spheres evening are offered at three levels: general ($40), preferred ($90), and VIP ($150). All tickets include the concert, astronomy talk, viewing session, 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 behind-the-scenes tour of the 120-inch Shane reflecting telescope and a catered buffet before the concert, as well as front-and-center seating.

Tickets are available online and from the UCSC Ticket Office or the Santa Cruz Civic Box Office. Additional ticket information and details of the 2012 Music of the Spheres concerts are available online at

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.

Additional information about visiting Lick Observatory is available on the web at or by calling Lick Observatory at (408) 274-5061, from noon to 5 p.m. daily.