The observatory was constructed between 1876 and 1887, from a bequest from James Lick. In 1887 Lick's body was buried under the future site of the telescope, with a brass tablet bearing the inscription, "Here lies the body of James Lick".

Lick is high located high in the foothills overlooking San Jose. The reason streetlights in San Jose are yellow is so that there is less light pollution for the telescopes to contend with.

Story by Jennifer Arterburn and Barton Bishoff.

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