Tuesday, April 05, 2005

TheGoodReverend's Tour of Stanford

Every college in America has a few secret spots, the kind of magical places that you find out about if you're there long enough. And when you do, look out! In the spirit of my other tours, I'll periodically report on these locales around my college, Stanford.

Our first stop is the Stanford Student Teaching Observatory. This place isn't really so big a secret--it's on the official maps, it's in the Stanford Magazine, and some undergrads and grads have classes there (hence the name). But the majority of Stanford students will never have reason to venture into its part of campus until one day when they hear whispers of its existence or stumble upon it.

One warm, clear night, head out to the intersection of Junipero Serra and Campus Drive West. From there, walk South across Serra from Campus Drive and climb the dark road that leads to the golf course clubhouse. When you come to a T, turn left and continue up the hill. You'll have to go around a closed gate, most likely, but it's no big obstacle. After a few more steps, you'll see a brown, wooden building with a dome on the top of the hill. That's the observatory.

Walk up to the building. There are stairs leading up the outside of it to a viewing platform. From the platform, you have a perfect view of Stanford, the Bay, and the metropolitan lights.

Now, it's night, and no one should be there. If there are astronomers, run. You never know what kind of experiments they are up to, or whether you will be their next subject--anal probes, alien autopsies, the like.

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