Music and stargazing draw summer visitors to Lick Observatory

Tickets on sale in April for the observatory's popular summer evening programs


Stargazers gather at Lick Observatory for Music of the Spheres concerts and other summer programs. (Photo by Michael Bolte)

For over 30 years, the summer programs at UC's Lick Observatory have drawn music lovers and astronomy buffs to the top of Mt. Hamilton for concerts, lectures, and opportunities to view the night sky through the observatory's history-making telescopes. This summer will be the 34th season of these popular evening programs.

Music of the Spheres is a benefit summer concert series whose proceeds support Lick Observatory. Each of the four Music of the Spheres evenings combines a performance by world-acclaimed musicians and a lecture by a renowned astronomy researcher. Afterward, audience members take turns at the historic telescopes, the 36-inch Great Lick Refractor and the 40-inch Nickel Reflector. 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 21 (Dave Rocha Trio; speaker Sandra Faber), July 19 (Ancient Future; speaker Geoff Marcy), August 2 (Golden Bough; speaker Alex Filippenko), and August 16 (Great Guitars! Stevie Coyle & Daniel Roest; speaker Chris Fassnacht). For additional details and ticket information, visit

Another popular program offered by Lick Observatory is the Summer Visitors Program, which gives the public access to both the 36-inch Great Lick Refractor and the 40-inch Nickel Reflector. As with the Music of the Spheres events, each program features a talk by a noted astronomer. Amateur astronomer volunteers provide additional outside viewing and informal talks. Dates for the Summer Visitors Program are June 6, 7, and 20; July 5 and 18; and August 1, 15, 29, and 30. Tickets are $12 and are available from

For both Music of the Spheres and the Summer Visitors Program, tickets will go on sale to the general public at noon on Tuesday, April 15. For members of the Friends of Lick Observatory, tickets will go on sale at noon on Tuesday, April 1.

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. It is operated by the UC Observatories (UCO), a multicampus research unit headquartered at UC Santa Cruz that serves over 100 UC astronomers.

Additional information about visiting Lick Observatory is available on the observatory's web site or by calling the Lick Observatory Gift Shop at (408) 274-5061 during business hours.