Looking for a day trip to enjoy the outdoors, great views and some awesome science? Griffith Observatory fits the bill. Located in the hills of Hollywood high atop Griffith Park, the Observatory waits for you to discover all that’s in and out of this historic Los Angeles landmark.
To get to the Observatory you take the 5 freeway South, exit Los Feliz Blvd. and drive to Vermont Ave turn right, follow the road signs up to the Observatory. Parking is plentiful, but can get crowded during some of the monthly star parties, and like admission to the Observatory the price is right, free. Hours and days are posted online at www.griffithobs.org.
The Observatory was built in 1935 and underwent a major renovation in 2006. During renovation, the building was refurbished and a major excavation under the building, for a front lawn, made more space for exhibits and other features.
Some of these features and exhibits include a café, gift shop, and the “Gunther Depths of Space” exhibit. The Observatory’s Café is open every day and offers food of most tastes. The gift shop, aptly named “Stellar Emporium”, offers the opportunity to forever remember your visit with a gift or souvenir in combination with a bit of learning.
Some of the things you can see at the Observatory include a Tesla Coil, the Zeiss Telescope, The Hollywood Sign, and great views of the Hollywood and Downtown LA areas. I’m told that on a clear day you can see Catalina Island.
The main attraction at the Observatory is the Oschin Planetarium. This show underwent a renovation the same time as the Observatory and is a great way for kids and adults of all ages to discover the wonders of the universe and the galaxy we live in. A family of four can attend for under $20.
Each day at “local noon”, which is not always 12 O’clock, you can head down to the Gottlieb Transit Corridor at the Observatory and witness the rotation of the earth. The corridor is home to one of the Observatory’s most interesting sights, the Meridian Arc. This device is shaped like a quarter moon and each day, like a magnifying glass, a beam of light hits the arc. As the earth rotates the beam moves across the arc, and during different parts of the year the light hits the device higher and lower to tell what month and constellation the sun is in.
On March 20 at 10:32 am, the device was used to herald the coming of spring. Dr. Laura Danly the head curator of the Observatory lead a small group in a discussion about the first day of spring called the vernal equinox. To hear and see more, watch the video above.
No matter what age you are the Griffith Observatory can be a place to relax, renew and to learn. To learn more about the Observatory, and Griffith Park you can visit www.griffithobs.org or www.lacity.org and go to the Parks and Recreation page.