- Griffith Observatory
Griffith Observatory is located in
Los Angeles, California, United States.Sitting on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood in L.A.'s Griffith Park, it commands a view of the Los Angeles Basin, including downtown Los Angelesto the southeast, Hollywood to the south, and the Pacific Oceanto the southwest. The observatoryis a popular tourist attraction that features an extensive array of space- and science-related displays.
The land on which the observatory stands was donated to the City of Los Angeles by Col.
Griffith J. Griffithin 1896. In his will, Griffith donated funds to build an observatory, exhibit hall, and planetariumon the donated land. Construction began on June 20, 1933using a design developed by architect John C. Austin based on preliminary sketches by Russell W. Porter. The observatory and accompanying exhibits were opened to the public on May 14, 1935. In its first five days of operation the observatory logged more than 13,000 visitors. Dinsmore Alterwas the museum's director during its first years.
The first exhibit visitors encountered in 1935 was the
Foucault pendulum, which was designed to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth. The exhibits also included a twelve-inch (305 mm) Zeisstelescope, a solar telescope, and a thirty-eight foot relief model of the moon's north polar region.
Col. Griffith requested that the observatory include a display on evolution which was accomplished with the Cosmochron exhibit which included a narration from
CaltechProfessor Chester Stock and an accompanying slide show. The evolution exhibit existed from 1937 to the mid 1960s.
Also included in the original design was a planetarium. The first shows covered topics including the Moon, worlds of the
solar system, and eclipses.
Mad Systems, the Orange, California based audio-visual consultancy and integration company, developed all the audio-visual equipment for the over 60 exhibits as well as the telluria and the magic boxes.
During World War II the planetarium was used to train pilots in celestial navigation. The planetarium was again used for this purpose in the 1960s to train
Apollo programastronauts for the first lunar missions.
The planetarium theater was renovated in 1964 and a Mark IV
Zeissprojector was installed.
Renovation and expansion
The observatory closed in 2002 for renovation and a major expansion of exhibit space. It reopened to the public on
November 3, 2006, retaining its art decoexterior. The $93 million renovation, paid largely by a public bond issue, restored the building, as well as replaced the aging planetarium dome. The building was expanded underground, with completely new exhibits [http://www.lacity.org/rap/observatory/exhibits/bdepthsofspace.html] , a café, gift shop, and the new Leonard NimoyEvent Horizon Theater [http://www.lacity.org/rap/observatory/bnimoy.html] . The Café at the End of the Universe, an homage to Restaurant at the End of the Universe, is one of the many cafés run by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck. One wall inside the building is covered with the largest astronomically accurate image ever constructed (152 feet long by convert|20|ft|m high), called "The Big Picture", depicting the Virgo Clusterof galaxies; visitors can explore the highly detailed image from within arm's reach or through telescopes convert|60|ft|m away. [http://www.lacity.org/rap/observatory/exhibits/bdepthsofspace.html] The 1964-vintage Zeiss Mark IV star projector was replaced with a Zeiss Mark IX Universarium [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/11/us/11griffith.html?ex=1305000000&en=f6023408275065e1&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss] . The former planetarium projector is part of the underground exhibit on ways in which humanity has visualized the skies.Since the observatory opened in 1935, admission has been free, in accordance with Griffith's will. Admission to the museum continues to be free. Tickets for the show Centered in the Universein the 290-seat Samuel Oschin Planetarium Theater are purchased separately at the box office within the observatory. Tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis.
Children under 5 are free, but are admitted to only the first planetarium show of the day. Only members of the observatory's support group, Friends Of The Observatory [http://www.friendsoftheobservatory.com/popup-benefits.asp] , may reserve tickets for the planetarium show.
Centered in the Universefeatures a high-resolution immersive video projected by an innovative laser system developed by Evans and SutherlandCorporation, along with a short night sky simulation projected by the Zeiss Universarium. A team of animators worked more than two years to create the 30-minute program. Actors, holding a glowing orb, perform the presentation, under the direction of Chris Shelton.
A wildfire in the hills came dangerously close to the observatory on
May 10, 2007. [ [http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/05/09/la.fire/index.html Firefighters get L.A. blaze under control - CNN.com ] ]
May 25, 2008, the Observatory offered visitors live coverage of the Phoenix landing on Mars. [http://www.griffithobservatory.org/pcalendar.html]
The observatory was featured in a number of scenes in the
James Deanfilm " Rebel Without a Cause"; a bust of James Dean was subsequently placed at the west side of the grounds. It has appeared in several movies:
The End of Violence"
War of the Colossal Beast"
The People vs. Larry Flint"
House on Haunted Hill" (1999 remake)
*"Queen of the Damned"
The Observatory has appeared in episodes of the following TV shows:
*"Adventures of Superman" (first episode, as
Jor-El's laboratory on Superman's home planet, Krypton; some other episodes, as the Metropolis observatory.)
*"Angel" (episode "
Are You Now or Have You Ever Been"). [cite web | title =TV Locations - part 7 | publisher =Gary Wayne | url =http://www.seeing-stars.com/Locations/TVlocations7.shtml | accessdate =2007-08-04 ]
*"Beverly Hills 90210" ("Rebel with a Cause", episode 13)
Danny Phantom" (The Amity ParkObservatory modeled on The Griffith Observatory.)
MacGyver" (pilot episode)
*"" (opening pilot episode)
*"Quantum Leap" (Goodbye Norma Jean)
Rocky Jones, Space Ranger"
*"" (two-part episode "Future's End")
*"The Man From U.N.C.L.E"
*"The New Adventures of Wonder Woman" between 1977 and 1979.
The Simpsons" (duplicated as Springfield's Observatory)
The Wonder Years".
*Was a filming location for the
music videofor " Rush Rush" by Paula Abdulwhich starred Keanu Reevesand was directed by Stefan Würnitzer. This video was based on Rebel Without a Cause.
Popular culture references
James Deanmemorial at the Griffith Observatory is an important landmark for the teenage superheroes of the Marvel Comicsseries "Runaways".
In Bill Griffith's comic strip
Zippy the Pinhead, the cynical Griffy can occasionally be found in Griffith Observatory, aiming its telescope down into the valley to afford himself a view of the comings and goings in Hollywood.
;Video gamesIn the ' video game this landmark is featured and is very similar to the real life Griffith Observatory. The observatory is a playable area in the ' video game, unfortunately being ruined by a werewolf and destroyed by fire.
;MusicThe song "Observatory Crest" by
Captain Beefheartmay refer to the location of the Griffith Observatory. The song includes the lyric "...drive up / and watch the city / from Observatory Crest."
Legomodel of this building is on permanent exhibit at Legoland Californiain the Southern California section of Miniland. It has also been featured in the comic strip "Spiderman." [http://www.chron.com/apps/comics/buildcp.mpl?c=130&page=1&date=2006/11/18&cpp=8&v=3.0&quality=high] In "Macross Frontier," Episode 03, two characters hold a conversation in a future replica of the Griffith Observatory.
Don Dixon (artist)
* [http://www.griffithobs.org/ Griffith Observatory Home Page]
* [http://www.friendsoftheobservatory.com/ Friends Of The Observatory]
* [http://www.latimes.com/news/local/griffith/ collection of articles on the observatory] at the
* [http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aaIGMSBXecjg&refer=us/ Live Lecturers sent into a Black Hole] by Danny King at
* [http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-op-wertheim29apr29,0,3677082.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail/ Make Astronomers the Stars] Op/Ed by Margaret Wertheim in the
* [http://asymptotia.com/2006/10/01/acting-up-at-griffith-observatory/ Acting Up at Griffith Observatory]
* [http://asymptotia.com/2007/05/29/griffith-observatory-entertainment-education-or-both/ Griffith Observatory: Entertainment, Education or Both?]
* [http://www.venturacountystar.com/news/2007/apr/29/light-descends/ Light Pollution in L.A. Area]
* [http://www.donaldedavis.com/2006%20new/GRIFFITH.html Review of "Centered in the Universe"]
* [http://bigpicture.caltech.edu/ The Big Picture Website]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbZg_pgxTV8 LACMTA Video of the Griffith Observatory]
* [http://www.arroyomonthly.com/content.php?news_id=198 Article about "Centered in the Universe" at Arroyo Monthly]
* [http://www.losangeleshelicoptertour.net/griffith-park-observatory.htm Griffith Park Observatory photographed from a flying helicopter.]
* [http://www.laserium.com/goodbye_griffith/index.html Goodbye Griffith (Laserium leaves the Observatory)]
* [http://www.tripfilms.com/Travel_Video-v63110-Los_Angeles-Griffith_Observatory-Video.html Travel Video about Griffith Observatory]
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