Lick Observatory at night
  • Photographers enjoying a spectecular sunset at #PhotoNight on September 30th, 2017. Photo by (c) Michael Coustier.

Photography Nights at Lick Observatory


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 2018:

  • Saturday, May 19th, 2018 (gates open at 7:30 pm) | SOLD OUT
  • Saturday, September 8th, 2018 (gates open at 6:30 pm) | SOLD OUT

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.

Schedule for September 8th, 2018:

6:30 pm Gates open for event: sunset photography, 36-inch Refractor dome open
6:30 - 8:30pm Gift Shop is open
7:33 pm Sunset
8:00 pm Gates close - all photographers must have arrived by this time
8:24 pm 12 degree Twilight
8:56 pm 18 degree Twilight
11:00 pm Main building and 36" Refractor dome closes
12:30 am Event ends (post office lobby will remain open for access to restrooms and vending machines)

The Gift Shop will be open until 9 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.


Admission fee: $ 40.00 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, and your tickets will be refunded. Please subscribe to our photography events mailing list (see below) by August 6th for the September 8th event in order to receive the pre-sale link and access code to purchase a ticket.

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.

Join the Photography Events Mailing List

If you'd like to receive information about Photography Nights at Lick Observatory, please join our Photography Events mailing list. Subscribers of this list will receive the pre-sale link and pre-sale access code to purchase a ticket about one month prior to the respective event.

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