Lick Observatory at night
  • Stars above Lick Observatory. Photo taken by (c) Jonathan Chang on May 19th, 2017.

Photography Night at Lick Observatory

Saturday, September 30th, 2017 at 6:00 pm

At the summit of Mt. Hamilton, above the city of San Jose, we have spectacular views of the night sky. Due to Lick Observatory's popularity with photographers, we are organizing two photography events this year.

Photography Night dates in 2017:

  • Friday, May 19th, 2017
  • Saturday, September 30th, 2017

We are sold out.

Please sign up for our photography events mailing list below to receive updates on future photography events.

We will open up the main building after normal visiting hours for photographers and their equipment. We will have the 36-inch Great Refractor telescope in a photogenic position, with the dome open, weather permitting. (Note: viewings or taking pictures through the telescope will not be offered at this event.) Photographers will also be able to set up their camera equipment in the parking lot in order to capture the exterior of the main building, the San Jose city lights, and stars in the night sky.

6:00 pm Gates open for event: sunset photography, 36-inch Refractor dome open
6:00 - 7:30 pm Gift Shop is open
6:59 pm Sunset
7:30 pm Gates close - all photographers must have arrived by this time
7:49 pm 12 degree twilight (nautical twilight)
8:19 pm 18 degree twilight (astronomical twilight)
11:00 pm Main building and 36-inch Refractor dome closes
1:00 am Photography event ends (post office lobby will remain open (restrooms, etc.)
2:51 am Moon sets (roughly First Quarter, waxing gibbous)

The Gift Shop will be open from 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm. After the main building closes at midnight, the post office lobby will remain open for access to the restrooms, water fountain, and the vending machines.

Weather and systems permitting, the Shane Telescope is scheduled to use the Laser Guide Star system after 10pm on September 30th, so you may get images of the yellow laser, propagating from the Shane Telescope dome. Note that the laser is not very bright from the vantage point of the Visitors Center, and the Moon will also be near first quarter, reducing visibility of the beam, but long enough exposures (at least a few seconds) should show the beam.

Need inspiration for what to shoot?
Check out the Lick Observatory Flickr collection and Instagram feed for ideas.

Driving to Lick Observatory
Allow a one hour drive from San Jose. Please drive carefully; the road is scenic, but winding. There are no gas or automotive services on Mount Hamilton Road, so please plan accordingly. Find more travel information here.


Admission fee: $40 per vehicle (one ticket per vehicle, 4 people maximum)

We have space for a maximum of 30 vehicles, up to four people per vehicle / ticket (buses and RVs are not permitted to the Photography Night). In the event of poor weather, registrants will be notified of event cancellation via e-mail on the day of the event, September 30th, by 3:00 p.m., and your tickets will be refunded.

Join the Photography Events Mailing List

If you'd like to receive information about this event and others at Lick Observatory, please join our Photography Events mailing list.

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