Griffith Observatory: One of LA’s most distinguished buildings – Inside and out.

Recently my good friend John Evarts and I visited the Griffith Park Observatory atop the Hollywood Hills. 

If you’ve never been here, this place is an absolute must for any LA tourist or resident

The views from the observatory are abosultely fabulous and you can see clear across the LA basin from downtown to Catalina Island.   (I took this picture from the back of the observatory)

Los Angeles Skyline

Realizing what a gem this facility is for the city of L.A,  John and I decided to co-author a blog featuring the Observatory as one of LA’s most distinguished buildings.  You can read John’s Blog about the exterior of this building and the 5 year re-modeling project here

In this blog, I will give you the .05 cent tour of the inside of the facility, but do yourself a favor and check out this place next time your in LA.

The Obervatory has 2 floors full of exhibits and astronomical objects that are arranged into several theme featured halls.  One of my favorites was the Gunther Depths of Space this hall focuses on the night sky, our solar system, the milky way and galaxies beyond.   I could spend all day in this one part of the museum reading about all of the exhibits and the constellations that we see in the night sky.  Did you know that Polaris, aka the North Star appears stationary in the night sky?  All the other stars appear to rotate around Polaris?  Why is this? And how can you easily spot Polaris — contrary to popular belief its not the brightest star in the sky, in fact its relatively faint.  You’ll find the answer to these questions in this hall.

There are many other halls downstairs that feature specific astronomical topics, its too much for me to write about here, but you will find “the hall of the eye”, “the hall of the sky”, “the cosmic connection” and many others.

Downstairs you will also find asteroids and meteorites that have penetrated our atmosphere and have been collected over the years.  Some of these shooting stars have some pretty fascinating stories behind them, like the one that struck a lady in Alabama and nearly killed her.  The meteor grazed her leg and burned a streak into her leg.  Thank your lucky stars!!!

Griffith Observatory

Ok lets get into the really cool stuff, located on the upper level.  The main floor has 3 distingushing domes, the center of which is the planetarium which is the focal point of the entire museum. 

Inside this dome you can sit back in recliner seats and stare up into the center dome, and watch a presenation called “Centered in the Universe.” The star projector in the center of the room will project the night sky on the dome and for the next 30 minutes, you will get the best tour of the night sky you’ve ever seen.  It’s abosultely awesome.  You’ll think you’re outdoors looking at the real sky.   You’ll learn about the early days of astronomy, the constellations, and about key discoveries that have enabled us to better understanding the depths of space.  If you think that Planet Earth is amazing, this show will give you a whole new appreciation for how small we really are and how enormous our solar sytem and galaxy are.  Its more than you can wrap your brain around..

The center dome is flanked on either side by two other domes that each have specialized high power telescopes that are available to the public for free viewing of the sky.  The west dome has a solar telescope that allows you to see solar activitiy such as solar flares and sun spots on the Sun.  The east dome is used primarly at night and is capable of focusing on any celestial event that is visible from the LA area.   This telescope is open until 10pm and you can see the moon, the stars, nebula’s, galaxies and more.  You’ll have to check with the observatory to find out what this telescope is focused on, for any given night.

If you have young kids that are curious about the night sky, bring them here.  While, most of the displays are geared to teach children of all ages, younger kids might find it boring, because there is a lot of reading to do at each exhibit.  Keep in mind, this isn’t a Disneyland exhibit.  Its a real working musuem, so expect to take your time learning and thinking.

Again if you’ve never been here, please check it out next time you visit LA.  7 Milliion guests have visited the observatory since its opening in 1935 so there really is something here for everyone.

If you’ve already been here, let me know what your favorite part of the musuem is?  I’d love to hear your comments on this Shining Star located in the Hollywood Hills.


1 Response to “Griffith Observatory: One of LA’s most distinguished buildings – Inside and out.”

  1. 1 VOTO April 15, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Griffith is, indeed, wonderful. I worked on the exhibits as the science writer and, along with a dedicated crew of designers, we labored quite mightily to make those exhibits approachable and understandable. Even though I don’t live in LA or work at GO, I do support its mission and its outreach 110 percent of the way. You guys should be proud to have such a wonderful place to visit.

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