The 1-meter Nickel Reflector

The dome that now houses the 1-meter was originally home to the 12-inch Clark refractor, the first telescope in use on Mount Hamilton. Observations with the the 12-inch began in 1881 began -- seven years before the official opening of the observatory -- and continued until 1979 until it was replaced with the Nickel Reflector. The picture at left below shows the dome as it appeared in 1881, during construction of the "Main Building" (now the Lick Visitor's Center); at right is the same dome as it appears today.
The telescope is named for Anna L. Nickel,a San Francisco native who donated a large portion of her estate to the Observatory. The telescope was built entirely in the Lick Observatory shops at UC Santa Cruz. Innovative design, in- house labor, and use of surplus materials accomplished the job at a tiny fraction of the cost of a comparable commercial telescope. Some of its novel features have proven so successful that they have been incorporated at the 3-meter Shane and 10-meter Keck telescopes.

The Nickel was built with the same optical characteristics as the cassegrain focus of the Shane, allowing instruments to be shared. Some new instruments, destined for the 3-meter, can be tested on the 1-meter, leaving the larger telescope free for research.

The 1-meter is well equipped with up-to-date instruments, computer controls, and a control room adjacent to the dome. It has eased demand for time on the 3-meter by taking on research programs that do not require the Shane's greater light-gathering power. The Nickel has proven particularly useful as a means for UC graduate students to obtain hands-on experience with modern equipment. Many Ph.D. theses have been based on data gathered with this highly productive telescope.