|Stargazing? You might spot a few at the latest celebrity dining hotspot or you could gaze at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but the best place to go in Los Angeles for some serious star sightings is the world-renowned Griffith Observatory. Considered the crown jewel of Griffith Park, this iconic landmark perched in the verdant hills near the famous Hollywood sign lords over the city with its telescopic view of the Basin, Downtown, Hollywood and the Pacific Ocean. |
It’s three-domed structure can be spotted from almost anywhere in these areas, but the Griffith Observatory sees far more than what’s below, it holds a steady gaze deep into the darkest reaches of outer space and turns the universe into a star-studded gala worthy of a red carpet.
Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a regular supporter, there’s always something to see in and outside the Observatory grounds. On a clear day, (check for smog conditions), the entire city unfolds below in spectacular clarity. At night, the City of Angels becomes a dazzling CITY OF LIGHTS, twinkling and glowing like its own little galaxy all the way to the downtown horizon.
But the city lights do not detract from the far-flung celestial objects and lunar phases high in the sky. Amateur astronomers often bring their personal telescopes out on the expansive lawn for an up close and personal view of the moving bodies above. There are several telescopes provided by the Observatory for public viewing of special cosmic events along the sidewalks and terraces.
The lush green grounds are well kept and manicured, making it a perfect place just to hangout on a warm day with a picnic while enjoying the panoramic scenery around. Rebel fans will want to stop by the grinning bust of James Dean, memorializing the late actor in his famous knife scene at the Observatory in Rebel Without A Cause.
Reopened in 2006 after an extensive renovation that took almost five years, the Observatory is bigger, better and badder than ever. Along with the new but slightly uninspired Café at the End of the Universe across from the Stellar Emporium Gift Shop, there is also the immense 200-seat LEONARD NIMOY EVENT HORIZON that offers more educational opportunities, guest lectures and serves as a compliment to the stalwart Samuel Oschin Planetarium.
The Observatory offers free parking, (but it is limited so be prepared to park alongside the hill and hike up the path), free access to the grounds and over 60 indoor cosmic related displays. It’s easy to spend a couple of hours perusing the expanded exhibits. Upon entering, visitors marvel at the domed murals of Atlas and other mythic figures and the hypnotic Foucault Pendulum gently swinging in the center of the foyer.
To the left of the main entrance is Wilder Hall of the Eye featuring some hands-on educational videos, infrared displays and an electrifying Tesla Coil live demonstration! To the right is the Ahmanson Hall of the Sky that reveals the photographic beauty and awesome power of the sun.
Downstairs is the long and bejeweled Cosmic Connection hallway that utilizes pieces of celestial jewelry in its recreated 150-ft timeline of the universe from conception to present. From here, visitors can view the awesome immensity of the solar system in the Edge of Space Mezzanine overlooking the new Gunther Depths of Space exhibit. The Mezzanine offers several fun and interactive informational guides. Adults and kids alike will have fun destroying our planet with a Build-Your-Own Meteorite video. Downstairs, the Depths of Space features information on each planet, scales to show the difference of weight and gravity among beautiful planetary displays while a bronze statue of Einstein points skyward. It is truly worth a go-see when visiting HERE.
SAMUEL OSCHIN PLANETARIUM SHOWS
For those who want the full experience, we suggest seeing any one of their ongoing planetarium shows, particularly the popular “Centered in the Universe.” This show features a wonderful live presentation as well as a spellbinding journey through the cosmos in the galaxy we call home, The Milky Way. Exploring the misconceptions of space through Ptolemy to the current theories based on our travels and exploration with the Hubble Telescope.
The two additional Planetarium shows are “Water Is Life” that is a hit with younger viewers and “Light of the Valkyries” set to Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ as visitors watch the most intriguing light display on earth—the aurora borealis.
Admission is $7 for adults. Tickets purchased onsite are first come first served. See schedule HERE for more details.
Since the reopening of the Griffith Park Observatory, locals and tourists alike have plenty to feast their eyes on, whether it’s down below in our sprawling city or high above in the radiant starlight. For those who love to stargaze at the real stars that make our city sparkle, there’s no better place to get away from it all and observe the universal magic at the Griffith Observatory.
2800 E. Observatory Rd.
Inside Griffith Park
Los Feliz, CA 90027
Due to city budget restrictions, the Observatory is closed on Mon & Tues. See holiday exceptions below:
Holiday schedule includes Tuesdays open on these dates only: 12/21, 12/28 & 01/04
There are always special events and free lectures so check the website link above for what's going on there now.
Photos by Andrea Kirk
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