Unlike optical telescopes, radio telescopes can detect “invisible” light, or naturally occurring radio emissions from stars, planets and other bodies outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. The Hat Creek Radio Observatory is ideally located in a remote valley surrounded by mountain peaks that block “noise” from television, cell phones and radios here on earth. Founded in the 1950s, it was originally operated by the Astronomy Department at the University of California, Berkeley but today is operated as a joint partnership between SRI International (formerly the Stanford Research Institute), an independent nonprofit research institute and The SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence), whose mission is “to explore, understand, and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe, and to apply the knowledge gained to inspire and guide present and future generations.”
The observatory is particularly known for the Allen Telescope Array (ATA), a radio telescope array with 42 dish antennas designed and owned by the SETI.The 42-dish array that can operate as one large unit or 42 separate dishes able to take “snapshots” of large swaths of the sky. Not only is it useful in the search for extraterrestrials, it also detects space weather, polar weather and solar weather that can damage satellites in space or power grids on earth. The observatory is currently open for self-guided tours. Guided group tours can be arranged by calling the observatory in advance.
Where: Off of Hwy 89 near Burney. Five miles east of Burney at the intersection of Hwys 299 and 89, turn south on Hwy 89. After almost 10 miles turn left onto Doty Rd. and again on Bidwell Rd. (google map)
More Info: 530-335-2364 | SRI.com