• Ashinsa de Silva Wijeyeratne

The Universe within your grasp at Griffith Observatory

Updated: Mar 26, 2018

If you’ve ever wished to escape for a few moments from this planet, Southern California’s ‘gateway to the cosmos’ is the place for you!

The entrance to Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory is quite a popular popular attraction for those wishing to explore the greater universe while in busy Los Angeles. Situated in the Hollywood Hills within Griffith Park, it offers a panoramic view of downtown LA and the Hollywood sign on a clear day too.

Griffith Observatory with the LA skyline

Named after its benefactor, Griffith J. Griffith, the observatory boasts an array of exhibits and events. The observatory regularly hosts ‘Star parties and special programs coinciding with major celestial events, which are often open to the public. Some exhibits within the galleries are permanent, while others vary, with private collections being displayed at times.Entry to the observatory is free of charge, making it even more desirable for those with a keen and curious mind.

As I entered through the main doors of the Observatory, I was met with the sight of a giant pendulum rotating within a well-like structure. Known as a Foucault Pendulum, it indicates the rotation of the Earth by knocking down pegs as the day progresses. It is one of the largest of its kind in the world.

The Foucault Pendulum

The Samuel Oschin Planetarium at the observatory hosts multiple shows on a number of interesting topics relating to the cosmos, available throughout the day at various times. Visitors need tickets for these shows, which can be purchased at the counter near the entrance of the observatory.

The two domes at either end of the building house high power telescopes, which anyone can use.The Zeiss telescopes in the East are mainly intended for night time viewing, while the Coelostat and Solar telescopes in the West are used to view sunspots and solar flares during the day.

The Zeiss Telescope

The observatory also has a Tesla coil. Named after its inventor Nikola Tesla, it was the first device to transmit electricity without wires. The coil whirrs and hums as it shoots purple sparks around its confined alcove. It is turned on several times a day, so if you want to see it in action it is best to check the schedule and plan your visit. The Tesla coil is quite a sight! Watching it in action made me feel as though I was waiting for Frankenstein's monster to pop around the corner!

The Tesla coil in action!

Griffith Observatory is open from Tues-Fri (12 noon- 10 pm) and Sat-Sun ( 10 am - 10 pm). Need more information? Check out the Griffith Observatory website.

Have you visited Griffith Observatory? Share your favourite memory from your visit below!

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