Blast-off to Chabot Space & Science Center

Original director of the center, Charles Burckhalter, in 1915

In 1883, a public telescope was erected in Oakland as part of an observatory open to the curious public. Today this same telescope still stands, but ten years ago it was relocated to the Oakland Hills where the Chabot Space and Science Center was built.

Chabot has dedicated itself to serving the scientific and educational needs of the local community for over a century. The hands-on science museum boasts over 160,000 visitors and an operating budget of over $9 million annually. The center’s dedicated and creative staff, as well as the enthusiasm of our local science-hungry public, make Chabot a success in its mission to inform children about space and science.

While many of Chabot’s daily visitors are families or geeky graduate students like myself, almost a third of all visitors are K-12 students from local schools. Chabot is a field trip well worth the cost: there are special classes designed for school groups and scout troops, plus space and dinosaur movies galore, astronaut simulations, and the Bill Nye Climate Lab, opening in November–kids won’t be bored! (And neither will parents and teachers!)

The on-site experience at Chabot is top-notch, but Chabot goes one step further in ensuring that space and science education are accessible for all children. That’s why Chabot also boasts unique programs like Chabot To Go, which brings Chabot to you instead! Or you can incorporate Ask A Scientist into your science lessons, giving your students a chance to get real responses from real scientists to their totally weird and cool science questions. Then again, maybe your child just has an itch to learn how to make telescope lenses (and what kid doesn’t?); here’s a Friday evening activity you’ll both love!

Fun for kids and grownups alike at the Destination Universe exhibit

It’s not all about the kids, though. Chabot also offers resources for educators and individuals who would like to learn more about science through volunteering. There are multi-day workshops on science, as well as monthly networking meetings for teachers to share activity ideas with each other. Volunteers are accepted at all levels of science backgrounds (teens and adults).

Still want more? Check out After Dark for a variety of fun night-time activities with Chabot! Coming up: Full Moon Hike on Saturday, October 22, and the 10000 Halloween Party on Friday, October 29. Got a hot date? For $25 each you can do something crazy and head to Chabot for a catered dinner, a cosmic film, an astronomer-led telescope viewing, and all the hands-on exhibits you could want!

General admission prices include two movie shows. Check out all of Chabot’s coming events at their online calendar here.

Leave a Reply


  1. We’re glad you had such a great experience at Chabot! Thanks for the kind comments and information.

    Historical note: when Chabot started out in 1883 in downtown Oakland (Lafayette Park), it started with the 8-inch telescope, and on relocation in 1915 to Mountain Blvd., the 20-inch telescope was added to the collection.

  2. Liz Boatman

    Hi Ben,

    Thanks for the clarification! I’ll see that we get it incorporated. Nice piece, yourself!