Got to go on a tour of Lick Observatory last night and loved it. Was amazed to find that, in the age of orbiting space telescopes, a lot of important work is still being done at Lick. Their Automated Planet Finder is at somewhere around 2,000 exo-planets found and counting. At its height Lick had a community of around 100 people including astronomers, staff and families of the former. The reason that it's population is much smaller now isn't because Lick is obsolete astronomically but because most astronomers can now receive their data from Lick observations over the Internet, in the comfort of their homes.
But my love is always going to be the history. Pictured above is the 36 inch refracting telescope installed by Lick in 1888 and still working today. The guy up on the platform is about thirty or forty feet off the ground and, despite the motors that have been installed since 1888, he still made the final positioning adjustments using the adjustment wheels on the platform.
I have to admit that being in an old-school, domed observatory and watching the dome open and turn has been on my bucket list for awhile now. Mission accomplished.