Anything L.A. Liberal Magazine
Jul 112016
 

Griffith Observatory: World-Class Science You Can Experience Free Or On A Budget

Griffith Observatory!

Beloved Los Angeles landmark, the Griffith Observatory was built on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park.

Griffith Observatory is fascinating for numerous reasons, many of which are obvious. The views from the facility are spectacular: on a clear day, you can see not only Downtown L.A. and Hollywood (yes, the sign, too!) but the Pacific Ocean. The scientific equipment is state-of-the-art and many telescopes are available for public use. The science and space-related displays and breath-taking shows are stunning.
One of the much less known facts is that since the Griffith Observatory creation in 1935 – in-keeping with the Mr. Griffith will – admission to the building, grounds and even parking has been and continues to be FREE. (With that said, some shows presented at the Observatory have low cost admission fees.)

The Samuel Oschin Planetarium

With its spectacular Zeiss star projector, digital projection system, state-of-the-art aluminum dome, comfy seats, sound system, and theatrical lighting, the 290-seat Samuel Oschin Planetarium theater is the finest planetarium in the world. Every show is presented by a live, engaging storyteller.

Centered in the Universe
Centered in the Universe asks fundamental questions about our place in the Universe. Who are we? Where did we come from? Why is the world the way it is? Stunning full-dome video transports us back in time, from the Library of Alexandria, to Galileo’s courtyard, to the world’s most powerful telescopes in a quest for answers among the stars. Travel through time and space back to the big bang and through a universe filled with galaxies to find our cosmic origins and discover our true place in the cosmos.
Show Times are listed on the Griffith Observatory Website. Closed Mondays.

Water Is Life
Water Is Life takes visitors on a journey through the solar system in search of water. On Earth, water is the key to life. If we find water on other worlds in the solar system, could we find life there, too? Blast off to Mars, crash through the ice of Jupiter’s moon Europa, and travel alongside a comet in a search for habitable worlds beyond Earth. Originally conceived and developed for Griffith Observatory’s school field trip program, Water is Life is an ideal family program that will appeal to even our youngest visitors.
Show Times are listed on the Griffith Observatory Website. Closed Monday.

Light of the Valkyries
Light of the Valkyries takes us on a voyage of Viking cosmology and explores the true nature of the aurora borealis – the northern lights. The Vikings believed the northern lights were valkyries, warrior spirits who descended from heaven to take fallen heroes from the battlefield to Valhalla, the palace of the gods. Explore the source of the northern lights (the Sun), in a cosmic light show set to one of the most iconic pieces of music of all time, Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.”
Show Times are listed on the Griffith Observatory Website. Closed Monday.

The Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon

The 190-seat Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon presentation theater offers a variety of programs. The opening public presentation – “The Once and Future Griffith Observatory” – is a 24-minute film which weaves the history, recent renovation, and future of the Observatory into a tale of observation and inspiration. The theater also hosts lectures, presentations, and demonstrations.

Seating for all events in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon is provided on a walk-in, first come, first served basis. Door generally open 10-15 minutes before a program begins. To the extent possible, shows will be presented on the posted schedule. However, it is possible that technical difficulties or required maintenance will cause the cancellation of one or more shows. Almost all programs are free.

The Once and Future Griffith Observatory (Daily)
The Once and Future Griffith Observatory provides an exciting and compelling introduction to the history and unique public offerings of the Observatory. This 24-minute film, entertainingly narrated by Leonard Nimoy, reveals how the vision of one man led to the creation of an architectural, cultural, and astronomical icon for southern California.
Show Times are listed on the Griffith Observatory Website. Closed Monday.

All Space Considered (First Friday of Every Month)
On the first Friday of each month, the Observatory presents All Space Considered, an inside look at the most talked-about subjects in astronomy, space science, and space exploration. Observatory curatorial staff and special guests bring visitors up to date on what is going on in space. The presentations are offered free to the public.
Show Times are listed on the Griffith Observatory Website. Closed Monday.

Let’s Make a Comet (June 11 – September 4)
Let’s Make a Comet is a 25-minute demonstration program that mixes common household ingredients with dry ice to make a small comet that’s just like the real thing. The program explores the nature of water in all its forms – solid, liquid, and gas – and discusses why water is so important to life on Earth. Recent images and discoveries from NASA missions reveal where we might find water – and possibly life – on other worlds in our solar system. Families with children will especially enjoy Let’s Make a Comet.
Show Times are listed on the Griffith Observatory Website. Closed Monday.

OTHER ATTRACTIONS

Free Public Telescopes
Free telescope viewing is available each evening the Observatory is open and skies are clear. Knowledgeable telescope demonstrators are available to guide visitors in observing. Please be aware that the demonstrators must cut off the line for each telescope at 9:30 p.m. or earlier to enable all viewing to be completed by 9:45 p.m. Hours for telescope operation are not the same as for the building (which closes at 10:00 p.m.).

Public Star Parties
Free public star parties are held monthly at Griffith Observatory from 2:00 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. with the assistance of volunteers from the Los Angeles Astronomical Society, the Los Angeles Sidewalk Astronomers, and The Planetary Society. They are a chance for the whole family to look at the Sun, Moon, visible planets and other objects, to try out a variety of telescopes, and to talk to knowledgeable amateur astronomers about the sky and their equipment.

The Gottlieb Transit Corridor Local Noon Talk
When the Sun reaches its highest point in the sky, directly overhead the Observatory’s meridian line, we celebrate local noon. A Museum Guide gives a 15-minute presentation explaining how we use the Sun’s light in the Gottlieb Transit Corridor to tell us what day it is and where the Sun is located in its pathway across the sky.

Tesla Coil Demonstration
Periodically each day, Observatory staff make brief presentations while operating our historic Tesla Coil in the Hall of the Eye. For more information about the Tesla Coil, got to the Tesla Coil exhibit page.
Schedule is listed on the Griffith Observatory Website. Closed Monday.

The Big Picture
Each day, Museum Guides use the largest astronomical image in the world to help explain our place in space.
Schedule is listed on the Griffith Observatory Website. Closed Monday.

Sunset Walk & Talk Events
Each month the Observatory offers a sunset hike led by a Park Ranger and a Museum Guide. The hike starts on the Observatory’s West Terrace, proceeds up the Charlie Turner trail to the Berlin Forest on the hill just north of the Observatory, and then returns to the West Terrace. The distance covered is about half a mile over the course of an hour at a very moderate pace with stops along the way to discuss the highlights and history of Griffith Park and objects visible in the evening sky.

With its free admission and low-cost event admissions Griffith Observatory is a great destination for exciting and mind-stimulating activities and experiences on a budget: bring your family or a date for an unforgettable time at the Observatory.

Griffith Observatory
2800 East Observatory Rd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Phone: 213-473-0800
Website: http://griffithobservatory.org/

P.S. If you find the Griffith Observatory fascinating – as most of us do – and would LOVE to volunteer… You’d have to become a volunteer at Los Angeles Astronomical Society, Los Angeles Sidewalk Astronomers or The Planetary Society. Some of their volunteers assist in Griffith Observatory’s operations.