Stargaze with the Lawrence Hall of Science

Looking down on Berkeley from LHS at dusk

Many of you are probably familiar with the Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) and its spectacular location in the Berkeley hills. During the day, the LHS provides a delightful scientific treat topped with a cherry-perfect view of the Bay Area. At night, however, that spectacular view takes on a new character: the city lights twinkle below, an earthly reflection of the domed star-sprinkled sky above. The view is, in a word, inspiring.

That view is exactly what inspired the free public stargazing nights that the LHS runs on the 1st and 3rd Saturday nights of each month, year-round. Stargazing hours are 9-11 pm from April 1 to September 14 and from 8-10 pm from September 15 to March 31. When these evenings are clear, amateur astronomers run guided night sky tours of the universe through telescopes. Star charts are also provided so that visitors can learn how to navigate the constellations on their own.

The LHS Stargazing program also maintains an educational Twitter page with new astronomy-related feed posted daily. The page currently follows 87 other science-related Twitter feeds, too, just in case you really feel like geeking out!

White dwarf stars in the Milky Way

So take the kids, take your Saturday night date, or take your friends, just don’t forget to take your coat—the evening Bay Area winds can be especially chilly up in the hills! I also suggest bringing a thermos of hot cocoa with mini marshmallows and your own binoculars, if you have them. Ask the astronomers on hand to show you a few binary star systems and you’ll realize you don’t even need a telescope to explore on your own.

P.S. Are Saturday nights too chilly for you? Then learn about the universe indoors at the LHS’s new 45-seat planetarium with audience-participation programs presented on weekends all year and on most holidays. There are also daily programs presented during the summer and selected weeks in the winter and spring. Tickets are $4 at the Front Information Desk. You can even book the planetarium for your next birthday party!

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  1. Terry

    Second last paragraph got my attention. I do exactly that with my family. We went one night to a local area we knew was free from lights of the town. When we arrived we found others there with telescopes. What amazed me was their readiness to share the experience with us. The kids looked through the scope into a whole new world. I stood back in awe as to how willing they were and friendly towards us. These enthusiasts inspired me to buy my own telescope and we now share our experience with newcomers.

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  5. Sounds like a neat little gathering. I often do some star gazing up here in the NW USA. It is amazing how many more stars can be seen once you get away for the city. For a telescope, I just use my best hunting spotting scope and can see a lot of detail on the moon; it is pretty sweet. I would however like to get a star chart though.

  6. I love viewing distant terrestrial and celestial objects through telescopes. Star gazing is nice! Space is a wonder and a mysterious place if you think about it. I have been to two planetariums and I have to say those dome-like rooms are amazing! Seems like a cool program to me.