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Urban Safari: L.A. Visit – Griffith Observatory

Knowing  that we were in L.A., a few readers suggested we check out the Griffith Observatory. Of course, Kristin had already scheduled us for a visit as Saturday was the date for this month’s star party.

The public star parties are held monthly with the assistance of the Los Angeles Astronomical Society and the Los Angeles Sidewalk Astronomers. These parties are a great opportunity for those interested to  look at the sun, moon, visible planets, and other celestial objects. It is also a perfect chance to try out a  variety of telescopes, and to talk to knowledgeable amateur astronomers about their gear.

The Observatory is located on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, just above the Los Feliz neighborhood. It is 1,134 feet above sea level and is visible from many parts of the Los Angeles basin. We were told that on a clear day, the view is just stunning. It was a bit hazy on the day of our visit, but was still quite spectacular. The Hollywood sign was clearly visible out in the distance.

Mounted in the copper-clad domes on either end of the building, the Zeiss and solar telescopes are free to the public every day and night the sky is clear. Located at the building’s east end, the Zeiss telescope is intended mainly for night time viewing by the public, commonly targeting the Moon, planets, and other galactic objects.

Inside was even more astronomical goodness. We were able to wander through the Solar System, get a close-up look at galaxies, and even stroll along and follow the expansion of the Universe from the moment of the Big Bang to today. Our favorite was a globe (filled with different liquids) which may be rotated to simulate the storms seen on the surface of Jupiter.

We had a great time and will definitely go back the next time we are back in L.A. If you are interested in astronomy, a stop at the Griffith Observatory should definitely be on your short list. Free public telescopes are available each evening the Observatory is open and skies are clear. Visitors may drive directly to Griffith Observatory and park in its parking lot or on the adjacent roads. As expected with most Kristin-recommendeddestinations, there is no admission charge to enter the Observatory building and no reservation is required to visit.

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