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Mount Hamilton, California

By the end of World War II, after more than fifty years of operation, Lick Observatory still relied primarily on two 19th-century telescopes, the Great 36-inch Refractor and the 36-inch Crossely Reflector. These instruments had once been considered giants, but fifty years had seen them slip from dominance as the world's largest, to a modest position among the larger telescopes at other observatories that had sprung up in the first half of the 20th-century. Mount Wilson, 300 miles to the south, had become the major force in astrophysics with its 60- and 100-inch reflectors. The 200-inch reflector at Mount Palomar was nearing completion. Lick astronomers were finding it increasingly difficult to compete at the scientific forefront. It was clear that a large reflecting telescope was needed on Mount Hamilton to reinvigorate observational astronomy at the University of California. The answer lay in the 3-meter (120-inch) Shane Reflector. Nearly fifteen years of planning, design, construction, and testing would be needed before the telescope went into operation in 1959, but on completion it was second in size only to Mount Palomar. The 3-meter Reflector catapulted Lick back onto the scientific frontline, where it remains today. Though now again surpassed in size by a number of others, the 3-meter remains an important telescope, due to its state-of-the-art instruments and the productivity of its user community.

Aperture: 3 meters   Latitude: 37 21 N
First light: 1959 Longitude: 121 38 W
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Elevation: 1300 meters