#715:  Site of First Amateur Astronomical Observatory of Record in California

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Main and Consolation Sts, Volcano

Plaque: 38.442798,-120.631366
Site: ~38.465852,-120.640374


State Plaque


The location in the book is listed as Shake Ridge Road, 1 mi. W of Ram's Horn Grade, Volcano. The former plaque base was still there when I visited. Considering the text of the original plaque, this is probably the location of the observatory. There is nothing remaining at that site.

From the Guidebook:

On the knoll behind this marker George Madeira built the first amateur astronomical observatory of record in California. It was there that he discovered the Great Comet of 1861 with a three-inch refractor telescope.

From the Guidebook:

Here in Volcano in 1860, miner and amateur astronomer George Madeira built California's first astronomical observatory of record and operated it for two years. Using a three inch refractory telescope he studied sun and moon, stars and planets, and other glories of the heavens, including the great comet of 1861.

Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the Astronomical Societies of Stockton and Sacramento. Plaque first placed in 1968, revised and relocated in 2004.

©2009 David Schmitt