Make sure to put Oakland’s Chabot Space & Science Center on your radar, as they host free telescope viewings every single weekend! Visitors may explore the stars through Chabot’s historic telescopes, free of charge. Weather permitting, the viewings happen from 7:30-10:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Stargazers will also want to save the date for Nocturnal: Illumination on March 11, which is the observatory’s first-ever adults-only experience with art installations, music, drinks, and telescope viewings. Admission is $20 and the event goes from 6-10pm.
You can join Chabot astronomers on the Observatory Deck, which sits 1,500 feet above the Bay with spectacular views of land, sea, and sky. It holds three different observatory domes with three different telescopes.
The first telescope is Leah, an 8-inch Alvan Clark refractor from 1883, which was the first instrument donated by observatory founder Anthony Chabot. There’s also Rachel, a 20-inch refractor telescope from 1916, which is the largest of its kind regularly available to the public in the western US. The most powerful telescope, Nellie, has 180-degree access to the sky. Viewings are available weather permitting, and you can stay up-to-date with the conservatory’s own weather station.
The space center has implemented some new exhibitions and improvements since the pandemic. They include the hands-on NASA Experience, which takes you through real stories of discovery; renovations to the museum, courtyard, and signage; new activities and demonstrations by Teen Galaxy Explorers; and new murals in the Spees Building.
Be sure to take a look at First Fridays, which brings different themed experience to the observatory every month. The next one is on March 3 about The Science of Color.
Chabot is home to a full dome planetarium, a museum with interactive exhibits, space artifacts, a Challenger learning center, and much more. General admission costs $24 for adults and $19 for youth, students, and seniors. Visitors over 12 must present proof of vaccination, and visitors over 18 must also present a valid photo ID.
Find Chabot Space & Science Center at 10000 Skyline Blvd in Oakland.