Best Place to See the Future 

Chabot Space and Science Center

We've seen the future and, gosh, it's full of stars. For a glimpse of where Earthlings might travel next, every Friday and Saturday evening the Chabot Space and Science Center in the Oakland Hills lets visitors peek through its telescopes -- for free. The telescopes are available from nightfall until 11:00 p.m. as long as the weather's good, and observatory staff are always on hand to answer questions. Chabot is one of the nation's only observatories that makes its lenses available to the public rather than restricting their use to scientific research. Choose between Rachel (the 20-inch refractor telescope) and Leah (the observatory's original eight-inch refractor lens). In the near future, Chabot expects to add both a new 36-inch reflecting telescope as well as a solar telescope to the collection, but in the meantime, you can enjoy the company of astronomy enthusiasts who bring their own telescopes from home -- many of them hand-fabricated at Chabot's Telescope Makers' Workshop, which runs every Friday from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. Check out the center's Web site ( for information on the workshop as well as a calendar of upcoming heavenly events.

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