Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles
Located on the south edge of Griffith Park in Los Angeles, between Universal City and Glendale, the iconic Griffith Observatory rests at the bottom of Mount Hollywood under the renowned Hollywood sign. The observatory has a long history starting with a vision of Griffith J. Griffith in 1919 to its first reality in 1935. The observatory has welcomed over 75 million visitors in its time and is sure to see millions more cross its threshold. The observatory is owned by the City of Los Angeles and the public building is open to visitors free of charge. Photo: trekandphoto/Fotolia
There are a number of fabulous exhibits at the Griffith Observatory. Each is designed for the visitors to be an observer, a student of what is going on around us in space and time. There are twelve exhibits on the first floor and seven exhibits on the lower floor for a total of nineteen exhibits.
The Main Level of the Observatory is "all things space". From fine art to delicate instruments to large scale models, this level will amaze everyone who enters.
Samuel Oschin Planetarium
Located in the Griffith Observatory, the cutting-edge, 290-seat planetarium has three unique shows each day: Each show is presented by a live narrator.
. Centered in the Universe - a panoramic view of the origins of earth.
. Water Is Life - travel the solar system in search of water, the elixir of life.
. Light of the Valkyries - a spectacular view of the Northern Lights.
There is a fee to see each show; $7/adults, $5/seniors and students with ID and $3/children between 5 & 12 (younger children are free during the first show only). There are no refunds. Tickets can only be purchased in person at the Observatory on the day of the showing. There are multiple showings a day.
Wilder Hall of the Eye Exhibits
This exhibit presents the history of man observing the sky, planets, stars, sun and moon. There are six stations within the Eye Exhibits:
. Observing in California: a look at California's role in observing the sky.
. Beyond the Visible: Close up views of the Milky Way.
. Tesla Coil: A look at historic equipment that was a step toward wireless electricity
. Extending the Eye: A view of optical instruments through history.
. Using the Sky: See how our ancestors watched the sky
. Camera Obscura: A 360 degree look at the LA area.
Photo: Eric Hood/Fotolia
There are two Zeiss telescopes at the observatory. Used for nighttime viewing, the 12-inch and 9 1/2- inch refracting telescopes are typically set to view the moon, planets and bright stars. These telescopes are set up for public use and have also been used in research. They are situated in the East roof-top dome.
There are three solar telescopes set up in the rotunda of the Hall of the Sky. These telescopes are used to view the sun. Set up in conjunction with a tracking device called a coelostat, which has three mirrors. This device, along with the telescopes and another set of mirrors, bring the sun to earth allowing visitors to see sun flares and sun spots. Various filters are in place to make the sunlight viewable by the human eye without damaging their vision. This solar telescope system is available for viewing the sun on clear days.
Other freestanding telescopes may be set up at the Observatory based on the need to allow more people the chance for viewing. Coin operated telescopes are also available on the grounds.
Roof and Terraces
Visit the rooftop spectacular views of the Los Angeles bowl as it provides the perfect vantage point. Allowing 360 degree views one can take in Los Angeles for miles around. The roof is open to the public when the building is open; typically closing at 10:00 p.m.
The South Gallery is home to a stunning A. B. Heinsbergen mural of the sun. Also on exhibit are several images of solar proportion.
W.M. Keck Foundation Central Rotunda
The W.M. Keck Foundation Central Rotunda is breathtaking. The high domed ceiling, featuring a mural by Hugo Ballin, is painted with mythological and scientific figures in the heavens. It is a magnificent piece of art. Honoring the founder of the Observatory is the Griffith J. Griffith Exhibit featuring the signed declaration of his donation of land to the city of Los Angeles. Also featured in the rotunda are some iconic images from space. Finally, the literal focal point of the rotunda is the Foucault Pendulum. The pendulum traces the revolutions of the earth.
Solar System Lawn Model
Facing the north doors is a brass etching of the solar system. This model is to scale.
»Astronomers Monument and Sundial
Also on the lawn is an extreme monument featuring six historic astronomers. There is also a sundial which is perfectly calibrated with the earth's axis.
Gottlieb Transit Corridor
This 150-feet long working astronomical instrument is also a beautiful piece of art. The instrument is used to track the movement of the sun, moon and stars. It demonstrates the earth's role in keeping time and calendar.
Ahmanson Hall of the Sky
The exhibits in the Hall of the Sky demonstrate how the sun and moon control the foundations of the earth: day & night; moon phases, sun & stars paths; seasons; tides; and eclipses. Featured in this hall are live images of the sun and two instruments that visitors can use to view the sun: spectrohelioscope (view the sun through a helium filter) and spectroscope (divides the sunlight into its parts).
Now that we have covered the comprehensive main floor there is still more to see and experience on the lower level.
The Cosmic Connection is a ramped walkway with a timeline extending from the time of the origin of the earth to present time.
Edge of Space
This portion of the Observatory has demonstrations of cosmic rays, the moon, and various state-of-the-art space exploration equipment and instruments. Also on display is moon rock and meteors. There are several telescopes for public use.
Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater
This theater seats 190 people and is used for educational programs as well as daily showings of various programs and live demonstrations.
Gunther Depths of Space
This exhibit explores our solar system, the sun, moon, stars and planets. It takes a look at deep space and other worlds.
Photo: senai aksoy/Fotolia
»Plan Your Visit
There is a pleasant cafe on the lower level that will give you a chance to take a break and get some nourishment. The cafe serves light meals such as soups, salads, sandwiches along with a variety of prepackaged items for those on the go. Daily specials are also served. The menu also has a choice of vegan options as well.
Stellar Emporium Gift Shop
Need a gift or special souvenir? This gift shop is the place. Featuring space themed gifts and souvenirs along with a variety of books and Griffith Observatory branded items you can find that something special to commemorate your trip to the Observatory.
If you have an interest in space or astronomy, the Griffith Observatory is the place to visit. Home of some of the most sophisticated instruments, telescopes, and technology of all time, the Observatory can help you understand the universe around you. Maybe you are a nature buff. The Griffith Observatory is set on the grounds of the famous Griffith Park that offers a wide variety of activities as diverse as horseback riding, camping, tennis, golf, hiking, and much more.
There is so much to see and do at the Griffith Observatory and surrounding Griffith Park, come early and stay for the whole day. Watch the sun rise and set and view the stars from one of the greatest viewing platforms on earth - Griffith Observatory.
From Hwy. 101 take North Western Avenue to Los Feliz Boulevard. Enter the park via the Fern Dell Drive entrance or the North Vermont entrance. From I-5 take Exit 140 or 141 and get on Los Feliz Boulevard and follow it to one of the entrances to the park. If you have GPS in your vehicle, input this address: 2800 East Observatory Road; Los Angeles, CA 90027, and follow the directions. The website has a map as well.
The Observatory is very popular on weekends and many holidays; high traffic will be experienced. While parking is free it is very limited. You may have to hike a bit to get to the Observatory.
Back to: Best Things to Do in Los Angeles
Contact: 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027, Phone: 213-473-0800
Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles
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