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A Visit to Chabot Observatory
A Visit to Chabot Observatory

I have always looked towards the nighttime sky with a sense of awe, so it was natural when astronomy became a huge interest for me when I was young. That interest hasn't wavered to this day. My most memorable astronomy experience was when I took an evening astronomy class at a local college almost thirty years ago. I must have looked like a nerd because I was constantly raising my hand to answer all the questions the instructor asked the class. My instructor obviously realized how passionate I was about the subject, and approached me after class one evening. We walked out to the parking lot under the star-studded sky where I told him about my huge interest in stellar evolution and that I was taking the class not because of a requirement, but for the fun of it. It was then, that he told me he was teaching the class as a summer job, and that his regular teaching job was at San Francisco State's astronomy department. He said he had a student there that was working on his thesis for his doctorate by utilizing the telescope at the Chabot Observatory in Hayward. Imagine my surprise when my instructor invited me to join them at the observatory! Later that week, I met them at Chabot at around midnight and we went inside. It was eerily silent and with only us three being there, it felt like we were on a covert mission. One of them turned on the lights and the awesome site of the telescope was in view. The mechanical sound of the dome opening brought me to the realization that this was really happening! While they were setting up the telescope, I watched the student attached a box to it. He explained to me that he was going to take spectrographs of Castor and Pollux, the twin stars in Gemini, to ultimately get their chemical compositions. I was so excited to be able to see first hand how spectroscopy was done. Before I knew it, it was 2am. I had to leave early because I had to be at work by 6am that morning. I thanked my instructor for inviting me and I looked back at the massive telescope for the last time. I never forgot that amazing experience, and vowed that one day I would get a telescope of my very own. To this day, I haven't given up that dream!

Details
Date Taken: 06/14/2011
Author: Devlin R
Category: Orion's Astronomy Essay Contest (2009)

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