Lick Observatory

04.03.2016 10:40Lick Observatory

I just finished an interview for NHK (Japan’s public broadcast station) about Heber Curtis and his discovery of a polar jet in M87 using the Crossley Telescope at Lick Observatory. At the time he suspected that many of the nebulae he was describing in detail were actually very distant and not part of our own Milky Way galaxy. He debated this with Harlow Shapley in 1920 in “The Great Debate” after which the prominent astronomers of the day agreed with Curtis that these were island universes.

02.17.2009 11:44General, Lick Observatory

It has been snowing for days here on Mt. Hamilton. Today, the ice, snow, and wind was too much for one of the black locust trees around my house and it fell. Unfortunately, my car was in the way.
Tree fell on my car.
I don’t think much damage was done to my car (probably some dents and scratches), but I won’t know until I can get help removing the tree. Since the snow probably won’t get plowed on Mt. Hamilton Rd. until this afternoon, I’m pretty much stuck at home (unless I ski to work…). Luckily, I don’t have to be anywhere today (I hope I’ll be able to get out tomorrow!).

03.30.2008 23:18Lick Observatory, Photography, Wild Flowers

Spring has sprung again and wildflowers are starting to show up in all their splendor. This has motivated me to not only go out looking for new flowers in the area, but also to organize the photos I have. Thus, I’m updating my web guide to Mt. Hamilton Widlflowers. I’ve learned a lot over the past couple of years and found many more flowers as well as getting more photos.

02.22.2008 20:01Lick Observatory

The Tour of California bike race added Mount Hamilton to its tour route this year, thus Wednesday work pretty much stopped at Lick Observatory so we could all watch the top bicyclists in the world ride through the Observatory.

I wanted to get some photos of the tour as they pass through the Observatory and chose a spot where I could get a telescope dome in the background. The the fog and dreary weather, there were few options, so I used the APF telescope dome for the background.

The first riders to make it up the steep climb to the top of Mount Hamilton are in the
photo and video (taken by my colleague Kostas with my little pocket camera while I took still photos) below. It was amazing to see how the climb up the mountain had broken up the peloton into a few groups.

Tour Of California Race

Video Tour Of California Race
(click image to get the video – I suspect there is some slicker way of doing this in a blog, but I haven’t taken the time to figure it out).

03.09.2007 17:32Lick Observatory, Wild Flowers

Well, last weekend the snow was mostly gone and wildflowers were starting to pop up, with bird’s beak being the first to show with its small purple flowers. Monday I saw a few oak violets, Tuesday miner’s lettuce was starting to come up. Thursday showed the first popcorn flower showing their little white flowers.
It looks like it will be a good year for yarrow because I see many plants sprouting, but we are long way from seeing any flowers. I’m sure I’ll see a lot more as spring continues on the trail from my house to my office.

04.19.2006 11:35Lick Observatory, Wildlife

Today the weather is sunny and warmer and the birds are flocking to my feeders. In addition to the
regular birds, I had a pair of Black-headed Grosbeaks finally arrive. As well as the return of the
European Goldfinch. No signs of Pine Siskins today, but I’m sure they will return soon.

Birds today:
Black-headed Grosbeaks
European Goldfinch
Lesser Goldfinchs
House Finchs
Acorn Woodpeckers
Mourning Doves
Band-tailed Pigeon
Scrub Jays
California Towhee
Dark-eyed Junco
Golden-crowned Sparrow

Few days ago I had a Spotted Towhee, that I forgot to note before now.

04.14.2006 13:36Lick Observatory, Wildlife

I’ve been busy (I’ve been promoted to Acting Director of Operations at Lick Observatory since my
colleague Rem Stone retired), so haven’t been putting any bird updates on-line. However, I haven’t
been seeing anything out of the ordinary either in the past few months.

The last sighting of the European Goldfinch was on February 12th, along with the pine siskins.

Today though, the weather warmed up and temporarily cleared and I had a single pine siskin at
my thistle feeder (along with 3 lesser goldfinches). Keith and Lotus reported the first male
black-headed grosbeak at their feeder a few days ago, though I haven’t seen any at my house yet.

02.07.2006 10:03Lick Observatory, Wildlife

Been a while since I’ve put in a bird report for Mt. Hamilton, but I’ve been really busy and spent some time out of town. Luckily, this week the weather has been nice and I’ve been able to spend some time bird watching again.

Mostly, I’ve been seeing the regular visitors to my feeder and yard over
the past week. Daily I’ve been seeing:

4-6 Western Bluebirds
1-3 Steller’s Jays
3-6 Scrub Jays
2 White-breasted Nuthatches
4-8 House Finches
2-5 Lesser Goldfinches
1-3 Band-tailed Pigeon
2-3 Oak Titmice
6-30 Dark-eyed Juncos
0-4 Golden-crowned Sparrows
1-4 Acorn Woodpeckers
1 Pine Siskin (until today, when a second one appeared)
1 Downy Woodpecker (seen a few days ago – they are not regular visitors
to Rattlesnake Ridge, though seen more often elsewhere on Mt. Ham.)

Now I also have an unexpected visitor to my feeder yesterday and the day before: a European Goldfinch. This pretty little bird was first seen on Mt. Hamilton last spring and was last seen during early summer. It is most likely
the same bird that probably escaped from somewhere down in San Jose. I’m impressed that he has survived so long. I’m going to keep an eye out for him because I think it likely he will be a reasonably frequent visitor to my feeder for the time being.

01.06.2006 9:56Lick Observatory, Wildlife

This morning I once again spent a few minutes looking out my window at the bird feeders. I was shocked
to see a pine siskin – I thought they were all elsewhere for the winter. I guess the warm clear weather is
bring out the birds because I also saw the chestnut-backed chickadee using my birdbath.

This morning’s tally:

1 Pine Siskin
1 Chestnut-backed Chickadee
8 Dark-eyed Junco
1 Lesser Goldfinch
4 House Finch
1 Acorn Woodpecker
6 Scrub Jay
3 Steller’s Jay
3 Golden-crowned Sparrow
2 Oak Titmouse
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 Anna’s Hummingbird
1 Mourning Dove
1 Band-tailed Pigeon

01.05.2006 11:41Lick Observatory, Wildlife

One of the disappointments of the Christmas Bird Count this year was not getting a chestnut backed chickadee. Luckily, today I saw another one in my yard (along with 1 steller’s jay, 1 oak titmouse, 3 dark-eyed juncos, and a mourning dove – not may birds, but then again I only looked for a minute while I watched the chickadee until it flew away a minute later). I’m going to fill the feeders and see if the chickadee returns (or whatever else I might see in the next half hour or so).

After a half hour of watching I managed a total tally of birds of:

1 Chestnut-backed Chickadee
2 Acorn Woodpeckers
2 Ravens
3 Scrub Jays
1 Steller’s Jay
3 Oak Titmice
2 White-breasted Nuthatches
8 Dark-eyed Juncos
3 Lesser Goldfinches
1 Mourning Dove
1 Golden-crowned Sparrow
3 House Finches

Next Page »