Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What Else Can We Do On Sunday?

A trip to the Griffith Observatory.

The last time I saw Griffith Observatory was in 1978.  When I moved back to Los Angeles in 2002, I went back here but they closed it for renovations and expansions.  It re-opened two years ago.

It's hard to believe that the original building was hydraulically lifted so they could dig underground to create additional exhibit space and a theatre.  

The original building was built in 1937.  The original design was a fanciful Spanish colonial inspired structure with tile roofing.  Then the 1933 earthquake happened and all the plans were quickly revised.  And wisely too!  It now has a copper roof and the streamlined Art Deco style that was cutting edge at the time.  In addition, they added thick concrete walls (1 foot thick in some places) with labyrinthine rebar for earthquake-proofing.  The result being, this is now the safest place to be in the event of an earthquake.  Never mind that it is on the edge of a hollowed-out hill.

The plaza is a nice place to unwind and watch the sunset.  The place is open till 10pm in case you want to take a peek at the night sky through the telescope.

This is Griffith J. Griffith. The man who donated Griffith Park to Los Angeles and created the Griffith Observatory. He loved astronomy and he said that if every person could see through the lens of the telescope, it would change the world. So let's take a peek, shall we?

The building doesn't look as big and imposing once you get closer and see people standing at the balcony.  Below is the dome that contains the telescope.  It rotates and the center panel opens to reveal the telescope.

Here is a closer look at the dome with the telescope:

The first exhibit inside the building is Foucault's Pendulum which was used to prove that the earth rotated on an axis.  They have very knowledgeable (and cute!) docents who will gladly explain this to you.

This is the ceiling where the ball for the pendulum hangs from.  All the murals are original to the building:

One of the new additions to the Observatory is the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theatre.  I guess he really took his job at Star Trek very seriously.  He also stars in a 20 minute informational film about the Observatory that is shown on this theatre every hour on the hour.  Talk about shameless self promotion (hehehe).

Below is part of the new exhibition space.  Here y ou can learn about the planets (you can even find out how much you weigh on each of the planets!)

This is a plastic model of Saturn.  They even have a plastic model of Pluto, even though it was recently demoted:

This is milky way, the galaxy we live in.  It looks like fish excretion during spawning.  Oh, who am I kidding - it looka like semen!

On the meteorite exhibit, you can plot the destruction of the earth.  You can pick a size of the meteor, plug in weight and velocity and a target on earth and watch what happens.  In this case, I maxed out all the values and coordinates which resulted in the total destruction of the earth.  Oooops!

This is the Observatory getting creative by using cosmic related costume jewelry to illustrate a timeline:

This was the projector used in the planetarium which was retired in 2002 after the renovations.

Tucked away in a corner is a time capsule created in 1976 marked "A Sampling of Los Angeles Lifestyle 1976 for the citizens of 2076).  Guess I won't find out what's in it.  It probably has an 8-track cassette and nik-nik shirts in it.  Or even Jimmy Hoffa!

What can I say about this one (insert Uranus joke here):

The art deco grille work on the entryway taken from the inside:

The Ar Deco influence is evident throughout the structure and details:

What's at the end of the Universe?  I guess it's a Cafe.  And it ain't Starbucks, it's Wolfgang Puck.
You can dine-in or...

.....dine outdoors.  Note the L.A. smog in the distance.

What fashionable Euros are wearing these days.  Man-pri and gladiator sandals.

And of course, a monument to James Dean who starred in the movie that prominently displayed the Griffith Observatory - Rebel Without A Cause.

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