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Hat Creek Radio Observatory

I bet you didn’t even know that there was a Hat Creek Radio Observatory because Hat Creek is just about the tiniest place in the world, outside of Redding along highway 89. Out in Shasta County, that little almost-town has a radio observatory right in the middle of an itty-bitty valley, just outside of the Lassen Forest.

Just my luck, I came through on the day when they were debugging the satellites, so they were all down, being tested one by one. The boys and I got there right before they closed visiting hours, and it was really funny to show up with two men, one who was convinced that the statistics we have about other habitable planets and the size of the universe proved there were aliens out there, and another who thought the search for aliens was totally predicated on nothing but lies. Those two, and then little old me, who writes science-fiction and thinks it’s neat that the SETI project exists and people are Searching for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.

The guys who were working right then were pretty cool, and it was neat to talk to them about what else they were doing (because sitting there waiting for alien communications doesn’t fill up the whole day, I guess.) They’re trying to track meteors and analyze the ionization of their tails…things like that. On the staff-only door that lead into the radio control room with the millions of colored wires, they had a sign on the door to the radio equipment room to encourage practical debugging and logical mindsets, but I thought it was a neat statement about life, too:

Make No Assumptions When You Walk Through This Door.

Image

Satellite Selfie!

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