Downtown Landmark Spotlight: Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory has been a major Los Angeles landmark since 1935. It is visited by nearly two million people each year end ranks seventh on the list of major tourist attractions of Southern California. It sits on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood where it commands a stunning view of the Los Angeles basin below. Thousands of people enjoy the view from its balconies, especially at night.

The Observatory is owned, operated, and financed by the City of Los Angeles, Department of Recreation and Parks. It was a gift to the city by Col. Griffith J. Griffith (1850 - 1919), who also donated Griffith Park and the Greek Theatre. The Observatory is a non-profit educational institution whose purpose is to provide information on astronomy and related sciences to the public. It is not a research institution, although from time to time it carries out modest research projects.

The Observatory is divided into three main areas: the Hall of Science astronomy museum, the telescopes (see below), and the planetarium theater. All are open to the public and, except planetarium shows, are free of charge. The telescopes operate only when the sky is clear. Call (323) 664-1191 for a recorded message that gives operating hours and show times.

There is no charge for admission to the Observatory or to look through the telescope.

The 12-inch Zeiss Refracting Telescope in the east dome on the roof is open for public viewing of the moon and planets, and occasionally double stars, with no admission charge. The telescope is open from 7:00 p.m. until 9:45 p.m. nightly except Monday during the winter and from dark until 9:45 p.m. seven nights a week during the summer. You can see it from a visitors' booth during the day. A CCD camera was recently purchased to allow the Observatory staff to photograph celestial objects.

The solar telescopes in the west dome are pointed to the sun on clear days when the Observatory is open. The actual telescopes are in the dome on the west end of the roof and are inaccessible to the public, but the images they form are viewed from the main floor exhibit area. The telescopes are sets of three mirrors that track the sun and send three beams of sunlight two floors down to the public exhibit area.

OBSERVATORY HOURS

Winter: September 13, 1999 - June 2000

Tuesday - Friday 2:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Saturday & Sunday 12:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Monday closed

Summer: June 21 - September 12, 1999

every day 12:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

The Observatory is closed Columbus Day, Thanksgiving Day, the evening of Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. The Observatory is open New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, President's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, and New Year's Eve. Call (323) 664-1191 for details.

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