The Griffith Observatory is one of the most recognizable landmarks along the Los Angeles skyline. In fact, the Observatory is so recognizable that the locals are equally excited to see the Observatory as they are to see the Hollywood Sign!* Many individuals are delighted to discover that the Hollywood Sign can be pretty clearly identified from the Griffith Observatory. They are further delighted to discover that if you stand in the right spot you can spin around really fast so that you can see the Hollywood Sign at one moment, then the Griffith Observatory in the next moment, followed by the Hollywood Sign, and so on, until you engulfed in extreme tourist bliss. (And slight nausea, but tourist attractions can sometimes have that effect on people).
The Observatory has a long history in Los Angeles, harkening back to simpler times in America’s past. We are reminded of the old days when individuals didn’t have fight over parking spots, when they enjoyed a sense of pride in America’s leadership in space travel, and when they went to bed at night knowing that Pluto was still a planet. Things have sure changed.
One of the first exhibits that individuals encountered (way back in the 1930’s) was a Foucault pendulum. The Foucault pendulum (created by Mr. Foucault) traverses along a different plane throughout the day as the earth rotates (click here for an quick example and click here to learn some science, and to learn the correct way to pronounce Foucault). The major attraction within the Observatory walls is the planetarium, but patient individuals may also wait in line to peer through the Zeiss telescope. Recent additions to the Observatory include the Leonard Nemoy Event Horizon Theatre, and the cafe “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” (referencing the Douglas Adams novel by the same name). The Observatory contains both a James Dean and Albert Einstein memorial. You can also pay your respects to Nikola Tesla by visiting the Tesla coil. (Tesla was a pretty cool guy, as evidenced in this picture of him and Mark Twain).
Parking can be difficult during the weekend, so expect to park along the street and walk a modest distance to the observatory. Make sure you bring a flashlight if you have to walk back after dark. The observatory hosts monthly Public Star Parties, in case you are into that kind of thing.
* This claim is pure speculation and has not been empirically verified.