Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chabot Space and Science Center

Saturday was Smithsonian Museum Day where hundreds of museums around the country gave FREE admission to their galleries. We decided to go to the Chabot Space and Science Center that is in Oakland since it was right up the street from the temple and it generally costs $15 a person. We definitely arrived there at the right time because we had no wait, but then a line appeared for the rest of the time we were there.

The museum has various exhibits, several shows (planetarium and special)and telescope viewing on weekend evenings. We decided to see the special lecture with a space historian who worked on the "From the Earth to the Moon" HBO series. He showed us the in depth aspects of the craters and valleys on the moon's surface using the Google Earth feature. I had thought that the differences in the color of the moon's surface was due to differences in elevation- such that the dark spots were the valleys and the lighter parts the mountains. It is somewhat related in that that the rock is actually colored differently (not just the shadows)- the rock composition is varies- one is lighter and the other is darker. We also learned about LCROSS- the satellite mission that will try to determine if water is present on the moon. The first part of the satellite will crash into the moon and then the particles will be analyzed by the following satellite. If you have a 12 inch or longer telescope, you can probably see the impact at 4:30 am on October 9th.

We enjoyed the exhibits- here we are seeing how astronauts get a work out- that little suit is really heavy (although William thought it was so easy that he finished before I was able to snap a photo).

We also learned that astronauts sometimes wear diapers- yes, diapers- since they have to be in those big, bulky suits which are difficult to remove. They even have the NASA logo on them. They had a demonstration showing this special powder that is in the diaper that can hold up to 1,000 times more liquid and it turns into this gel substance. If you add salt later, it turns back into the liquid. So amazing- William wonders why they haven't made these mainstream. They might have, but we just don't know it since we don't have children.

This is one of the pods that are launched up to the international space station. 3 people fit inside of this for 2 days to get to the station. That gives me even more admiration.

They have three different observatories. Here are two of them that house their lens telescopes

One of the lens telescopes look like this

The other observatory has a different design that is so ingenious- the roof completely slides to the side.

The telescope inside this building uses a mirror.

We had a good time and learned things we had not known before, but we were glad that it was free. We weren't sure that it would have been worth a $30 price tag for the two of us.

1 comment:

The Richardsons said...

If you ever get your hands on some of those NASA diapers, grab a couple for my kids! They haven't gone mainstream yet and boy do I wish they'd hurry up!