Friday, March 2, 2012

Griffith Observatory

We made our way down to Southern California last weekend and while there we stopped to check out the Griffith Observatory. None of us had ever been there so it was a fun new experience for all. Look at our lovely family picture taken just outside the observatory entrance and you can see the HOLLYWOOD sign in the background. It was not a clear day, but you can still make it out. We hiked up to that sign a couple of summers ago and the kids had a great time remembering, "Hey! We've been there!"

Grandma Karen and Grandpa Doug came along with us and  treated us to the movie in the planetarium. It was so cool to recline back and watch a movie on the ceiling. Some of us felt a little motion sickness as the images of the solar system "crossed the sky" on the screen. It was so neat to learn all about the stars, constellations, and galaxies that exist out in space.

Inside the observatory are many cool interactive displays. Jackson was entranced with the heat sensing camera. He couldn't figure out why he had such a red face! The Tesla demonstration was wild. Check out those bolts of electricity!

We got to see the old telescope in the tower: "Located in the roof-top dome on the building's east end, the Zeiss telescope is intended mainly for nighttime viewing by the general public, commonly targeting the Moon, planets, and brightest showpiece objects of our galaxy. A popular public destination when special celestial events occur, more people viewed Halley's Comet and comets Hale-Bopp and Hyakutake through the Observatory's Zeiss telescope than any other telescope on the planet."

There was one super cool exhibit located inside called the "Hall of the Eye". "The most significant change is the addition of a new exhibit station located in the Hall of the Eye exhibit hall below the telescope dome. The station provides live video and audio feeds from the telescope and allows visitors unable to climb the stairs into the telescope dome to have an observing experience." The kids were amazed that we could see what was happening outside. And it wasn't streaming through a camera. They could see cars moving and people walking outside - all reflected from this exterior telescope.

We were not aware that this observatory was a great destination for hikers. There are several trails up to and around the observatory. The parking lot was entirely filled and cars lined the hill with trail runners and families out for a day hike. Whenever we revisit this location we will be sure to pack our hiking shoes.

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