The Hat Creek Radio Observatory has been examining space from the clear skies of eastern Shasta County since 1959. The forty-two dishes of the Allen Telescope Array that dot the landscape have been in place since 2007.
The Allen Telescope Array is a joint effort by the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI) and the Radio Observatory Laboratory of University California, Berkeley. The mission of the SETI Institute is to explore, understand, and explain the origin, nature, and prevalence of life in the universe.
The array is a large number of small dishes that together produce data and observations about deep space. This approach of many small dishes is more adaptable, more economically efficient, and more easily upgraded than one single large dish for gathering data. At full build-out, the Allen Telescope Array is envisioned to have 350 individual dishes. Today only 42 exist.
The Observatory is currently closed for tours, but visitors can still walk in during the summertime between 9am and 3pm, Monday through Friday. Large groups (10 or more) are encouraged to call ahead to arrange a tour.
The high-tech scenery of the advanced satellite dishes makes a striking contrast to the largely rural and forested areas all around the Observatory. The Allen Telescope Array will be the first radio telescope solely dedicated to SETI research, focused on the skies and observing radio waves from deep space.
From Highway 89 at Old Station, turn right on Doty Rd (watch for "University of California Radio Observatory" sign on right), right on Bidwell Rd -- if you get back to Rte 89 you've gone too far! There is now a sign at this intersection that reads "Hat Creek Observatory 1.8 miles.