In 1883, residents in the East Bay got an opportunity, for the first time, to view the sky in a whole different way. That's when the Oakland Hills Observatory opened its doors, inviting everyone to peer through a telescope pointed at the planets, stars, and distant galaxies. In later years the name of the observatory was changed to honour its founder and became known as the Chabot Space & Science Center
Today, the Chabot Space & Science Center is the biggest public telescope facility in the US, with a digital planetarium, three powerful telescopes, and a huge screen theater. It's not just about peering through the sky — there's also a hands-on center that shows you cutting-edge discoveries such as the solar-powered automobile and how it feels to be on a mission to the distant galaxies. Touch a real space suit, see the night sky using a giant telescope, and watch the stars unfold right in front of your eyes at the planetarium!
A tour of the museum will show you how the stars came to be and makes it possible for you to examine the sun's surface before grabbing a seat at the IMAX for a space show. Many of the wonders of the Chabot happen after dark, in the night. The center is open late every Friday and Saturday nights for special telescope viewings.
Chabot Space Center prides itself in its amazing equipment, including its three telescopes on the observatory deck. Nellie, the institution's youngest and most powerful equipment, is housed in the rolling roof observatory, providing access to 180 degrees of sky. Nellie, a modern telescope offers breathtaking sceneries of the cosmos.
Rachel, a powerful 20-inch telescope, is the biggest refractor in the western US, regularly accessible to the public. Another device, the eight-inch Alvan Clark Refractor called Leah, is the 1883 original instrument donated by founder, Anthony Chabot.
You can experience a near-real-time interactive full-color extreme UV animation of the stunning and dynamic star, Sol. The sun does not get any more incredible or personal than this! These great aspects are what make the Chabot Space & Science Center so special.
Zoom in on the active spots, graceful and vast prominences, and perhaps even catch a coronal mass ejection or a solar flare in action. Sculpt your own sunspots by use of powerful magnets and even send a digitized postcard of your drawing of the features explored on the atmosphere and sun's surface.
When at Chabot, you'll not tour the darkness all alone. Stella, an interstellar robot will accompany you, showing you the amazing features in the treasure trove of the Universe as you explore the stars of different colors and sizes.
You're going to be dazzled by the great nebulas, the neon signs lighting up the galaxy. Dare to venture into the black hole; peer as far back in time and catch a glimpse of the very earliest moments when the Universe came into existence.
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The number-one question asked by kids when they're visiting the Chabot Space & Science Center is, how do astronauts go to the bathroom in space? The answer is at the center's newest exhibit, Beyond Blastoff: Surviving In Space, and shows a real toilet from the Mir Space Station.
There're also tons of cool NASA memorabilia, including an actual moon rock from Apollo 15, a Mercury Mission suit, and the Lunar Lander Simulator. Other highlights are Einstein's personal telescope and a plasma globe.
The center is located within Redwood Regional Park in Oakland, California. It's a beautiful setting with the scent of pine filling the air. It's about a thirty-minute drive from downtown San Francisco. Free parking is provided. There's also public transportation from San Francisco.
General admission includes access to Chabot's interactive exhibitions, the historic Observatory, and the full-dome digital Planetarium. Expect to spend at least three hours at the Center. We recommend setting aside at least five to six hours if you want to take in all that the center has to offer. On weekends, holiday, and special occasions, it's advisable to purchase your tickets in advance.
The center is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The Observatory is open on Friday and Saturday evenings to allow visitors to view the sky through a telescope. It's open on Christmas Eve, New Year's Day, President's Day, and Memorial Day. However, the center is closed on December 25, July 4, Labor Day and Thanksgiving.
There are drinks and snacks served at the Bean Sprouts Cafe. Check the opening times before you visit, the cafe is open Wednesday to Sunday. The Starry Nights Gift Shop sells fun and educational gifts, books, telescopes, posters, games and souvenirs.
DRIVING FROM SAN FRANCISCO
Take the I-80 East to I-580 East towards CA-24/Hayward/Stockton
Then proceed on highway 24 East in the direction of Walnut Creek
Take the exit onto highway 13 South in the direction of Hayward
Take the Joaquin Miller Rd/Lincoln Avenue Exit
Take a slight left at Monterey Boulevard
Take the first left onto Lincoln Ave and continue onto Joaquin Miller Road
Turn left at Skyline Boulevard. Turn right at the Chabot sign
• The Beat Museum…
• Contemporary Jewish Museum…
• California Historical Society…
• San Francisco Maritime Museum…
• Museum Of Craft & Design…
• Cable Car Museum…
• Chabot Space & Science Center…
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