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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Southern California Vol. 7 - The Griffith Observatory

Last week, I told you about the curse of Griffith Park and if you haven't read that post, you should.  It's a pretty fascinating story and much of it is documented fact.  However, I want to get away from the sordid and eerie side of Griffith Park in this post and talk about something that I consider one of L.A.'s absolute wonders: The Griffith Observatory.

I've been to it countless times but my favorite was in the fall about eight years ago.  We just happened to be there on a perfectly clear night and all around the grounds of the observatory there were people who had set up their own telescopes.  As we were walking up to the doors of the observatory, one man pulled us aside and asked us if we wanted to see Saturn.  

Hell yes, we wanted to see Saturn!

As I looked into the eye piece, he began telling us about what prompted Griffith J. Griffith to fund the construction of a public observatory and it turns out that we were looking right at it.

Griffith had visited the Mt. Wilson Observatory and was given a chance to look through the telescope at Saturn.  For the first time in his life, he could see its rings himself, just as I was doing.  It blew his freaking mind!  He's quoted as saying, "If all mankind could look through that telescope it would revolutionize the world!"

In particular, he was speaking about the vastness of space and the fact that we are just one small speck in the midst of all of it.  I can tell you from personal experience, looking through a powerful telescope and seeing those distant stars and planets definitely does something to ground a person. Suddenly all that political in-fighting doesn't seem too important, you know?

So Griffith established a trust fund in order to build an observatory on his land in what is now Griffith Park.  He said that it should house both solar and lunar telescopes, a scientific theater and a "Hall of Science" or museum.  More importantly, he mandated that it should be 100% free and open to the public.

To this day, that still amazes me and when you take a trip to visit Griffith Observatory it will amaze you also.  The building is absolutely gorgeous from the murals on the ceiling to the architecture itself it's a wonder. It also houses some pretty great exhibits including:

A Foucault's Pendulum 

A Tesla Coil (which is bitchin' to watch in action)

And my favorite area the hall of the planets.  In the picture above you'll see there are nine stations where people are standing.  Each one represents a different planet and when you walk up to it, the screen in front of you tells you what you would weigh if you were standing on the planet's surface.  You can make believe you don't weigh as much as you actually do.

The observatory also sits right next to the Hollywood sign so if you're looking to get a good photo of it, you can do so easily.  If you're in the L.A. area and have never visited, you really should.

That's it for this week.  Nothing weird about this one.  I just love the place and want to share it.

If you're still looking for something weird though, head over to Amazon and pick up one of my short stories or my book The Wash.  They should satisfy your craving.

See you next time!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Imagine looking through a telescope 500 years ago and seeing Saturn! A few years ago I got to see several of the original Galileo telescopes in an Italian Museum. Fairly crude faceted tubes made out of wood. Unfortunately they did not let you peek through any of them. It was hard to reconcile in my mind the technology that existed that long ago. Exactly what do you tell someone in 1610? Hey check out this planet!