Historic planet-spotting Lick Observatory survives brush with California wildfire

The principle constructing of the Lick Observatory with the 36-inch Nice Refractor dome open.

UC Regents/Lick Observatory (Jonathan Chang)

The scenario was trying fairly grim for the world’s oldest everlasting mountain-top observatory Wednesday night time. The large SCU Lightning Complex fires burning east of San Jose blazed a harmful path to the highest of Mount Hamilton, residence of the University of California’s Lick Observatory since 1888.

Webcam photos confirmed the enduring domes of the observatory, which home the Automated Planet Finder, the historic Nice Lick Refractor and a handful of different telescopes, backlit by encroaching flames in a single day. 

With evacuation orders in place and far of the observatory workers already working elsewhere because of the COVID-19, the hearth posed extra of a risk to the enduring landmark than human life because it entered the property Wednesday. Firefighters from round California setup a command submit on the facility and by Thursday morning, webcams on the property confirmed all domes and different constructions appeared to have escaped the flames. 


The Automated Planet Finder sits unscathed on the Lick Observatory atop Mt. Hamiltion after a wildfire moved throughout the property.

UC Regents/Lick Observatory

An incident update released by CalFire Thursday morning reported that no constructions had but been broken or destroyed, however that the hearth grew to greater than 137,000 acres in a single day and is just 5 % contained. 

California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared an emergency and requested for help from throughout the nation as dozens of fires burn within the state. 

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Eric Mack