1. Travel

Griffith Observatory in Los Feliz, Los Angeles

Sky-Gazing at LA's Griffith Observatory

By

Griffith Park Observatory in Los Feliz LA
Photo: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

In a Nutshell

The Griffith Observatory is one of LA's star attractions (pun intended). It has drawn young and old--sweethearts, families and visitors--intrigued by the planets, constellations and our galaxy.

According to the LA Times, more people viewed Comet Hale-Bopp and Halley's Comet through Griffith Observatory's telescopes than anywhere else on earth. It has apparently become the global leader in public astronomy.

History of the Griffith Observatory

First dedicated on May 14, 1935, the Griffith Observatory was named after Griffith J. Griffith, who took for his inspiration Mt. Wilson Observatory's research instruments. His dream (and ultimate reality): to build a substantial public observatory in Griffith Park.

Observatory Renovation

In January, 2002, two dramatic ceremonies marked the temporary closure of the observatory; one a 28-year-old Laserium light show. Until November, 2006, it remained closed, pending a $93 million renovation.

Led by architects Stephen Johnson of Pfeiffer Partners and Brenda Levin, the renovation saw many new and exciting features added. The Samuel Oschin Planetarium was re-invented. Seating 300, it now features state-of-the-art tech in an immersive environment designed to fabricate a real-looking night sky that is both jaw-dropping and inspiring.

What could be more sciencey-cool than a 200-seat multimedia theater named after Leonard Nimoy? Not much. The 2,700 foot Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon is geared towards educational activities like live transmissions of space events, as well as lectures, demonstrations, films and museum talks. Thrillingly, Nimoy himself narrated the 18-minute inaugural film program in the theater: The Once and Future Griffith Observatory.

The Zeiss Telecope

Whether you're a science geek or a camera nerd, the name 'Zeiss' surely rings a bell. It connotes superior lenses. In this case, a 12-inch Zeiss refracting telescope. It was first ordered from the Carl Zeiss Company in Germany in 1931. The observatory paid $14,900 for it.

The Zeiss telescope is clearly a spectacular lure for visitors, as it has caught the gaze of over 7 million people (who have looked into it since the observatory's opening in 1935). The Griffith Observatory boasts that 'more people have looked through it than any other telescope in the world.' On a clear night, the telescope is open from the observatory roof.

Star Parties

This headline is an attention-getter in celebrity-studded LA, but it's of course not what you think. It's better. Each month, the observatory holds a free monthly 'public star party' in conjunction with the Los Angeles Astronomical Society and the Los Angeles Sidewalk Astronomers.

The family-friendly events take place from 2 to 9:45 p.m. and ensure that everyone—young and old—gets the chance to take a look at the sun, moon, planets, and other celestial objects using a variety of telescopes.

Films Featuring the Griffith Observatory

  • Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
  • GoldenEye
  • House on Haunted Hill
  • Jurassic Park
  • Rebel Without a Cause
  • The Terminator
  • Transformers

Griffith Observatory
2800 East Observatory Rd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
213-473-0800

Open: Wed.-Fri, 12-10 p.m.; Sat.-Sun, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; closed Mon. and Tue.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.