Sunday, July 03, 2011

Griffith Observatory

I didn't do that much on my staycation, and that was o.k. with me.  We laid around a lot and relaxed.  Who can complain about that?

We never made it back into Dana Point.  On Tuesday we did use the movie passes I had to go see Super 8, which I loved. It was really good.

On Wednesday we went into L.A. to go to the Los Angeles Zoo.  The weather was perfect!  75 degrees with a nice breeze.  So much cooler than when we went to Magic Mountain.

I have a whole other post for that but what I really want to talk about is what we did after we left the zoo on Wednesday.

We couldn't go home right away, due to the traffic (what is it with us and getting stuck in L.A. at rush hour?) so we decided to do something we have always wanted to do, and that was visit the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.

This is a place I have only seen in movies so I was very excited about finally getting to see it in person.

It's a bit of a drive up a mountain (large hill?).  There were signs at the bottom of the mountain saying that the parking lot at the top was full but Joe doesn't listen when told he can't do something so we drove up there anyway and got a parking spot right up front when someone pulled out right as we got there.  Score!  I was very glad for this later when people were having to walk all the way down the mountain in the dark to get to their cars.  Yay Joe!

I didn't take this photo, as I'm sure you guessed, since I don't own a helicopter.   :)

The buildings and grounds themselves are quite beautiful.  I didn't take this one either.  Google provided it for me.  I did take some photos myself though, which I will show later.

First off can I just say this about the view:  WOW.  I mean really, WOW.  It is amazing.  And we couldn't have been there on a more perfect day too.  Totally clear.  You could see as far as the ocean.  Stunning, stunning views.  We must have spent over an hour just marveling at the view and taking pictures.

Here's a few I took:

This is where I get really bummed out.  About forty five minutes before sunset my camera battery died from taking all those pictures of the animals at the zoo. Then about ten minutes after that my phone died as well, leaving me completely camera-less. I almost cried.  We took my phone back to the car to try and charge it but it didn't charge in time for us to catch the sunset.  Instead we sat at a table at their outdoor cafe and enjoyed it from there. In hindsight, it was almost better that I didn't have my camera because I was forced to sit there and just watch and enjoy it instead of fiddling with my camera and trying to get a good shot.  The sunset was stunning.   I was still bummed I didn't get a picture though.

Although I didn't take this one, it looked just like this:
In fact, I could have taken this picture, had I had a camera because that comes pretty darn close to what it looked like last night.  Next time I'll just lie and say I took it.  :)


After the sun went down we wandered into the Observatory itself to check out some of the exhibits in side.  So cool!  And so educational too!  I have never been a big fan of astronomy before this. I can't even remember when I last had a class in it.  I think it could have been as long ago as Jr. High.  I don't recall taking one in High School or College.

The exhibits and displays they have inside the Observatory are so interesting and interactive that it made what might seem like a boring subject interesting and fun.

This dome held the large telescope.  At night they let you look  through it but the line was so long we didn't get a chance to go in and see.  They had a bunch of smaller telescopes out on the lawn after it got dark though and we spent a lot of time looking through those.  

Mural on the ceiling inside the observatory.  My camera died about two seconds after taking this picture. I was so bummed.

Terrible cell phone picture but it was so beautiful at night.  Almost magical.  It felt like we were in the Peter Pan ride at DLand.  So pretty!

Beautifully lit up at night.

The Periodic Table of Elements. I remember having to memorize them in 7th grade.

Displays inside

The telescopes they had set up outside were amazing. And the guides were so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their topic.  I don't know if they were paid or volunteers but they were wonderful.  One of the telescopes was aimed at Saturn and it was so cool.  
I obviously can't show you what we actually saw, but I found this image on an astronomy site and it looked almost exactly like this:

How cool is that???  Doesn't it look almost fake? I think I stood in line three or four times so I could see it again.  So cool.

We stayed there until 10:00 at night, which is when they closed.  

Another thing, I have this App on my phone called Google Sky Maps that is the coolest thing ever.  I believe it is only available for Android phones as of now.

Here is a description of it:

Search the night sky for your favorite planet, Messier object, and more. Then move the phone in the direction of the arrow to find it in the sky around you.Point your phone at the sky, and Google Sky Map will show the stars, planets, constellations, and more to help you identify the celestial objects in view. You can also browse the skies in manual mode.

Here's a screen shot:

Basically you hold you phone up to the sky and it shows you all of the planets, stars and constellations of wherever you are pointing it.  As you move it around, the stars change according to location.  So when we were looking through the telescope at Saturn, I pointed my phone in the same direction and there was Saturn, right where the telescope was pointed. It's basically like Google Maps but for the sky. It is amazing and it's a free App!.  You should get it if you have an Android phone. We actually had little kids lining up to take a turn at using my phone.  They were simply enthralled with it. It was so cute.

We had such a an awesome time visiting the Observatory.  And we spent roughly 5 hours there and we didn't spend a single dime. That rocks.

One last thing:  I know very little about Astronomy.  Like I said before, I think the last class I took on it was probably in 7th or 8th  grade.  Exploring the exhibits they had inside the Observatory was fun and educational, but to be truthful, some of it went over my head.  :)  Fortunately, Joe is very well versed in the subject of Astronomy.  And you know what?  I had no idea!  We have been together 22 years and I had no clue that he knew so much about Astronomy.  Having him there was like having my own personal guide to the  museum.  Seriously, he knew like everything!  There wasn't a question I had that he couldn't answer for me.  At one point I turned to him and said "HOW do you know all of this stuff?"  His answer?  "Did you forget I went to school for 6 years?  And the first 2 I was a biology/science major?"

Oh yeah.  Sometimes with him not working I forget that he has a Master's Degree.

My husband is one smart dude.    :)

 If you are ever in the Los Angeles area, you have to check out Griffith's Observatory.  You won't regret it.


Number 6 and no more counting! said...

I always think a "staycation" is the best vacation! Seriously!


Brenda said...

So glad you went up there. I love astronomy. Favorite constellation is Orion. I always look for it in the night sky at certain times of the year. If you look at the skyline behind the photo of Joe - that is Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles and to the west Beverly Hills. The far eastern end (left) is #1 Wilshire Blvd. The financial district is right there. All those high-rises are the financial high-rises in the area.

Anonymous said...

Sounds awesome! Sometimes a staycation can be awesome... Because I think sometimes we do not appreciate the great things that are local to us! Glad to hear you had such a great time!