The History of the James Lick Observatory with Dr. Paul Lynam

The History of the James Lick Observatory with Dr. Paul Lynam

Campbell Museums Presents:

The History of the James Lick Observatory

with Dr. Paul Lynam

Monday, August 9, 2021


$10/ General Zoom link

Free for Museum Members


Join the Campbell Museums on August 9 as we welcome Dr. Paul Lynam from the Lick Observatory Historical Collections, as he presents the History of the James Lick Observatory.

James Lick (August 25, 1796 – October 1, 1876) was the wealthiest man in California at the time of his death.  Lick bequeathed the majority of his fortune to the establishment of a mountaintop observatory. In 1888, Lick Observatory was completed and given to the University of California as the Lick Astronomical Department. The Observatory was the first permanently staffed mountain top observatory in the world and housed the largest refracting telescope in the world at that time.


Today, the Lick Observatory is an active astronomical research observatory. Over the last two centuries, a wealth of material about the development of astronomy since the observatory's founding was gathered on Mount Hamilton.  Many of the items are important artifacts pertaining to the observatory's scientific life and they remain on the mountain. In 2008, the James Lick Observatory Historical Collections Project started to preserve the artifacts and make them accessible to the public for research.  For more information on the Historical Collections Project, please visit


About Dr. Paul Lynam


    Paul Lynam is an astronomer at Lick Observatory, a multi-campus

    research unit of the University of California, providing state-of-the-art

    research facilities. Opened in 1888 as part of the legacy of James Lick,

    the world's first high altitude astronomical observatory overlooks San

    Francisco Bay from the (4200 ft / 1280 m) summit of Mount Hamilton, East

    of San Jose.


    An amateur astronomer since childhood, Paul has traveled worldwide to work with forefront observatories. Educated in the UK, he investigated  the effect of meteoroids on space platforms, advising operators (e.g. NASA) to modify on-orbit operations of the Space Shuttle and Hubble

 Space Telescope (HST). Paul received a Ph.D. in 2000 for his research involving Brightest Cluster Galaxies and 'cosmic flows'.

Subsequently, he worked at the Max-Planck Institute (Germany), further exploring the large-scale structure of the Universe. Later, Paul relocated to Chile, supporting operations of the world's most advanced ground-based observatory, the Very Large Telescope (VLT).


  In 2011, Paul Lynam joined Lick Observatory. A regular contributor to teaching and public outreach activities, Paul Lynam is a Member of the Institute of Physics (IoP) and a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS).



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    The  Campbell Museums' mission is to interpret and preserve the history of the Campbell area from its early beginnings to today and to relate that history within the context of the Santa Clara Valley region.

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