Chabot Observatory was originally located in downtown Oakland in 1883 and it was named after Anthony Chabot, the man who donated it to the city of Oakland. In 1915 the observatory was moved to a different location on Mountain Boulevard because of urban congestion and an increasing amount of light pollution for the telescope. During the 1960’s, the Chabot Observatory was renamed the Chabot Science Center and the facilities were expanded to include science laboratories, classrooms and a 90-seat planetarium. In 2000 the facility was renamed again as the Chabot Space & Science Center and a new 86,000 sq. ft. complex was constructed on 13 acres of land in Redwood Regional Park.
Now located at 10000 Skyline Boulevard in Oakland, the Chabot Space & Science Center is an 86,000 sq. ft, state-of-the-art science and technology education facility including three observatory telescopes, a large screen theater, a digital planetarium and interactive exhibits. The oldest of the three telescopes is named Leah and it’s an 8” refractor telescope that was built by Alvan Clark in 1883. With its 20” diameter, the largest telescope is named Rachel and it’s the largest refractor telescope in the western region of the United States that is open to the public regularly. Housed underneath a rolling roof, Nellie is a 36” reflector telescope that was opened to the public in 2003.
The Chabot Space & Science Center also contains the Tien MegaDome Theater, the Ask Jeeves Planetarium and The Challenger Learning Center. With its 70 ft. diameter giant screen, the Ask Jeeves Planetarium features a full-dome digital projection system with modern digital sound. Next to the Planetarium, the Tien MegaDome Theater has a 60 ft. diameter screen that can be rented for business presentations and lectures. Dedicated to the memory of the tragic Space Shuttle Challenger mission in 1986, the Challenger Learning Center uses the theme of space exploration to educate students with challenging interactive exhibits and it encourages them to pursue their interests in science, technology, mathematics and engineering.
As a member of the Smithsonian Affiliations program, the Chabot Space & Science Center offers structured field trips, special exhibits for young children, workshops and activity classes, special events and outreach programs, and the Space & Science Camp. At 1,500 feet above San Francisco Bay, the observatory deck offers panoramic views of San Francisco, Oakland, the South Bay and the North Bay Area. The observatory is open late on Friday and Saturday evenings and nighttime telescope viewing is free.
The Chabot Space & Science Center is about 20 miles from San Francisco but it takes about an hour to drive there by crossing the Bay Bridge to I-580 East and exiting at Fruitvale Avenue, which merges into Harold Street. Turn left at Champion Street, continue onto Lincoln Avenue, then continue on Joaquin Miller Road and turn left at Skyline Boulevard. Finally, turn right onto the driveway at the Chabot sign. Public transportation is available daily via AC Transit Line 339 from the Fruitvale BART station.
Peter Cross is an accomplished article writer and creative writer who has produced hundreds of articles for many different clients since 2006 when he retired from his consulting business.