The Geology of Bear Territory
tour map
Last Stop:
McCone Hall
Next Stop:
Davis Hall
line of stones
Related Links:
blue dot Astronomy at UC - Berkeley
blue dot Stations of the Berkeley Digital Seismic Network
line of stones
© 2000,
The Regents of the University of California

Observatory Hill

abandoned building on Observatory Hill

Observatory Hill, just west of McCone Hall, was once the site of buildings that formed the Students' Observatory. Built in 1885, the Observatory housed a variety of astronomical instrumentation, including the Twenty Inch telescope. Two years later, in 1887, it also became home to the first seismographic equipment deployed by the University of California, which was considered the very best available at the time. The instruments were initially installed to help the astronomers readjust their instruments in the event of an earthquake, but soon became tools for research in their own right.

Only the foliage-covered skeletons of a few crumbling buildings remain there today; the observatory's on-campus location was abandoned in 1965 upon receiving a grant from the National Science Foundation for an upgrade of facilities and equipment. The better-outfitted Leuschner Observatory was established in a new location, this time on the Russell Reservation near Lafayette, where it remains the site of cutting-edge space science research to this day.

The seismometers from the observatory were first relocated to the University Library, and later, down the hill to station BRK in a vault connected to the sub-basement of Haviland Hall. In another example of the interplay between seismology and astronomy, the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory has also installed seismic sensors on the Russell Reservation, at the station BRIB.