Monday, December 10, 2012

CHABOT SPACE and SCIENCE CENTER: Oakland, California

Explore the Solar System at the Chabot Space and Science Center
Have you ever wanted to try on an Apollo mission space suit, crawl through a “black hole”, or learn what it is like to be weightless in space?

You can "try on" this Apollo Space Suit
The Chabot Space and Science Center, located in the Oakland Hills above San Francisco Bay, is full of hands-on exhibits related to space and climate.  We recently spent the day there with our 6-year old granddaughter viewing and interacting with the exhibits, watching the Secrets of a Cardboard Rocket (an imaginary tour of the solar system) in the Ask Jeeves Planetarium, learning about climate in Bill Nye’s Climate Lab, and having lunch in the Skyline Bistro. 

The main lobby features large models of the planets and shortly after we arrived, one of the many helpful volunteers showed us the exact spot (or close to it) where the Mars rover had landed.  We then proceeded to Destination Universe, which introduced us to the cosmos through stunning space images of stars, galaxies, nebulae and more. By turning the wheel of a giant kaleidoscope we converted images of various nebulae into an amazing colorful video display.  We made a short video.

Make your own electricity in this exhibit
Upstairs on the second level, we learned about the Apollo space mission and saw models of the Galaxy space capsule.  On the third level, we explored Bill Nye’s Climate Lab, learning about all the different ways we can contribute to saving energy.  On the way in, we had received our "Climate Scout I.D.'s" which allowed us to "vote" or express our opinion at each display.

On clear nights you can view the stars through the telescopes
The Chabot is also home to a number of large, research-quality telescopes open to the public.  The day of our visit was overcast, so the ordinarily spectacular view of the Bay was hidden and the sun-watching scopes were not on. But inside the dome  computers displayed live satellite images of the sun’s surface, where we could see sunspots, prominences and the flares of surface explosions.  Nighttime viewing of the moon and stars is also available at scheduled times.

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