Let's See The Stars 8/13/2008  


What are we up to in retirement?

The Griffith Park 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 Angeles to the southeast, Hollywood to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. The observatory is a popular tourist attraction that features an extensive array of space- and science-related displays.

Observatory
The observatory overlooks Los Angeles and offers an amazing view of the city.

Did You Know? - The land on which the observatory stands was donated to the City of Los Angeles by Col. Griffith J. Griffith in 1896. In his will, Griffith donated funds to build an observatory, exhibit hall, and planetarium on the donated land. Construction began on June 20, 1933 using 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 Alter was the museum's director during its first years.

 

Our Visit

Griffith Observatory August 2008
It was a great august afternoon as we arrived one minute after noon.

Griffith Observatory August 2008
The world famous Hollywood sign was just a mile away!  One can see the many radio antennas on the hill behind.

Did You Know? - The sign originally read "HOLLYWOODLAND", and its purpose was to advertise a new housing development in the hills above the Hollywood district of Los Angeles. H.J. Whitley had already used a sign to advertise his development Whitley Heights, which was located between Highland Avenue and Vine Avenue. He suggested to his friend Harry Chandler, the owner of the Los Angeles Times, that the land syndicate in which he was involved make a similar sign to advertise their land. Real estate developers Woodruff and Shoults called their development "Hollywoodland" and advertised it as a "superb environment without excessive cost on the Hollywood side of the hills." (A movie named Hollywoodland was made in 2006.)

They contracted the Crescent Sign Company to erect thirteen letters on the hillside, each facing south. The sign company owner, Thomas Fisk Goff (1890–1984) designed the sign. Each letter of the sign was 30 ft (9 m) wide and 50 ft (15 m) high, and was studded with some 4000 light bulbs. The sign was officially dedicated on July 13, 1923. It was not intended to be permanent. Some sources[who?] say its expected life was to be about a year and a half, but after the rise of the American cinema in Los Angeles it became an internationally recognized symbol, and was left there.

It became so associated with Hollywood that in September 1932, actress Peg Entwistle committed suicide by jumping to her death from the letter "H", as she saw the sign as a symbol of the industry that had rejected her.

 

Let The Science Proceed

Griffith Observatory August 2008
Sue looks at the Sun through a solar telescope. We can see the absorption lines in the image which tells
us of the composition of the surface materials on the Sun.

The Sun Griffith Observatory August 2008
The planetarium is a wonderful opportunity to see the stars from any angel and at any time. Combined with the laser devices, it is quite an amazing experience!

Did You Know? - A planetarium is a theatre built primarily for presenting educational and entertaining shows about astronomy and the night sky, or for training in celestial navigation. A dominant feature of most planetariums is the large dome-shaped projection screen onto which scenes of stars, planets and other celestial objects can be made to appear and move realistically to simulate the complex 'motions of the heavens'. The celestial scenes can be created using a wide variety of technologies, for example precision-engineered 'star balls' that combine optical and electro-mechanical technology, slide projector, video and full dome projector systems, and lasers. Whatever technologies are used, the objective is normally to link them together to provide an accurate relative motion of the sky. Typical systems can be set to display the sky at any point in time, past or present, and often to show the night sky as it would appear from any point of latitude on Earth.

After The Show We Went Outside

Griffith Observatory August 2008
The firebreaks offer a lot of room for hiking from the street level to the Observatory.

Griffith Observatory August 2008

I Remember Seeing The Movies Containing The Observatory

Scary movies
The movie was from 1935 but they played them in our theaters still
into the 1950's... Corny but fun to watch!

Gene Autry plays a singing cowboy named Gene Autry, who runs Radio Ranch, a dude ranch from which he makes a daily live radio broadcast at 2pm. This is a "modern" cowboy story, with planes and such. Gene has two kid sidekicks, Frankie Darro and Betsy King Ross, who lead a club, the "Junior Thunder Riders," in which the kids play at being armored knights of an unknown civilization, the mysterious Thunder Riders who make a sound like thunder when they ride. The kids, dressing up in capes and water-bucket helmets, play at riding "to the rescue!" (to quote their motto).

A chance to be real heroes occurs when Betsy, Frankie and Gene are kidnapped by the real Thunder Riders, from the super-scientific underground empire of Murania, complete with towering skyscrapers, robots, ray-guns, elevators tubes that extend miles from the surface, and an icy, evil blonde Queen Tika. On the surface, a group of crooks under Prof Beetson plan to invade Murania and seize its radium wealth, while in Murania, a group of revolutionaries plot to overthrow Queen Tika.

The inhabitants of Murania are the lost tribe of Mu and went below the surface in the Ice Age, 100,000 years ago and now live in a fantastically advanced city 20 or 25,000 feet underground and cannot now breathe the air at ground level so must wear masks. Gene Autry however has no trouble breathing their air. The Thunder Guard (Riders) emerge into the surface world from a cave where a huge rock door opens upwards, remindful of Ali Baba. Both Muranians and Prof Beetson's team want to get rid of Autry so he loses his radio contract and Radio Ranch becomes vacant.

Amazing Displays

Griffith Observatory August 2008
The timeline of our universe was made even more amazing by the 2,200 pieces of jewelry.

Did You Know? - The Cosmic Connection, the corridor linking the historic building above with the new Gunther Depths of Space below, provides the transition from ground-based and more familiar astronomy to a new realm of cosmic perspective. The main element in this passageway is a 150-foot timeline of the universe whimsically composed of celestial-themed jewelry in the glass case that lines the corridor. At the top end of the corridor, near the Guide Station, visitors pass the Big Bang. At the bottom end, near the Edge of Space mezzanine, all of human history occupies a fraction of an inch. In between, large images illustrate key moments in the evolution of the universe and our cultural connection to the cosmos.

Griffith Observatory August 2008
2,200 difference broaches and other jewelry are on display, each having to do with astronomy!

Griffith Observatory August 2008

Gunther Depths Of Space

Did You Know? - The large new Richard and Lois Gunther Depths of Space exhibit gallery is activated by the recent transformation of cosmic perspective that began when people first ventured into space. No longer is observation and understanding of the sky bonded to the ground and framed by the horizon. The Gunther Depths of Space is filled with exhibits that are as monumental and unique as the ideas they illustrate.

Griffith Observatory August 2008
This room is underground and in fact under the front lawn of the Observatory!

Griffith Observatory August 2008
All the planets were to scale, quite fascinating to see!

Griffith Observatory August 2008
A real Moon rock on loan from NASA.  It is amazing to think that the USA went 250,000 miles out into
space and returned this rock (and 850 additional pounds of samples)

Griffith Observatory August 2008
The wall contains a pictures of a VERY SMALL cross section of the universe and shows 1,000,000+ stars and galaxies! Pictures are from the Palomar Observatory.

Griffith Observatory August 2008

Griffith Observatory August 2008
She got hooked on finding out about planets in other solar systems.

Zeiss Planetarium Projector circa 1964

Griffith Observatory August 2008
An amazing device used for years at the Observatory.

Did You Know? - A planetarium projector is a device used to project images of celestial objects onto the dome in a planetarium.

The first modern planetarium projectors were designed and built by Carl Zeiss in 1924 Germany, and have grown more complex. Smaller projectors include a set of fixed stars, Sun, Moon, and planets, and various nebulae. Larger machines also include comets and a far greater selection of stars.

Additional projectors can be added to show twilight around the outside of the screen (complete with city or country scenes) as well as the Milky Way. Still others add coordinate lines and constellations, photographic slides, laser displays, and other images. The OmniMax movie system (now known as IMAX Dome) was originally designed to operate on planetarium screens.

 

Griffith Observatory August 2008
OMG,I be fat.... On Jupiter!

We Enjoyed The Exhibits

Griffith Observatory August 2008
I got a load of comments about the shirt... From High Seas Trading Company and the OC Fair

Griffith Observatory August 2008
Sue was amazed at Jupiter and the clouds that cover the planet.

Griffith Observatory August 2008

Griffith Observatory August 2008

Griffith Observatory August 2008
Sue was learning how to tell a normal rock from a meteorite.

Did You Know? - A meteorite is a natural object originating in outer space that survives an impact with the Earth's surface. While in space it is called a meteoroid. When it enters the atmosphere, impact pressure causes the body to heat up and emit light, thus forming a fireball, also known as a meteor or shooting star. The term bolide refers to either an extraterrestrial body that collides with the Earth, or to an exceptionally bright, fireball-like meteor regardless of whether it ultimately impacts the surface. More generally, a meteorite on the surface of any celestial body is a natural object that has come from elsewhere in space. 

The Inside Is Indeed Art Deco Circa 1935

Did You Know? - Art Deco was a popular international design movement from 1925 until 1939, affecting the decorative arts such as architecture, interior design, and industrial design, as well as the visual arts such as fashion, painting, the graphic arts and film.

This movement was, in a sense, an amalgam of many different styles and movements of the early 20th century, including Neoclassical, Constructivism, Cubism, Modernism, Bauhaus, Art Nouveau, and Futurism.

Its popularity peaked in Europe during the Roaring Twenties and continued strongly in the United States through the 1930s. Although many design movements have political or philosophical roots or intentions, Art Deco was purely decorative. At the time, this style was seen as elegant, functional, and modern.

Griffith Observatory August 2008
Everything was returned to it's 1930's condition.

Outside For A Walk Around The Building

Griffith Observatory August 2008
Downtown LA form the Observatory.

Griffith Observatory August 2008

Back To The Amazing Displays

Griffith Observatory August 2008

Griffith Observatory August 2008
This spark chamber was truly amazing. It showed how many particles go through us just standing right there. Zap, flash, zing, zip!

Griffith Observatory August 2008

The Wall (Big Picture) Is Amazing!

Griffith Observatory August 2008
The Big Picture depicts roughly what Einstein's finger held up to the night sky would cover.

Did You Know? - The "Big Picture" is a single continuous digital sky image, a cut through the core of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies, derived from the Palomar-Quest digital sky survey. It is reproduced on porcelain tiles as a 152 ft long by 20 ft high back wall of the new exhibit hall (Gunther Depths of Space) at the Griffith Observatory. This website is its home in cyberspace. The image is a window into the distant universe, and it conveys a remarkable richness of the sky, as seen through a modern telescope.

Explore the big picture!

This image contains nearly a million faint galaxies, about half a million stars in our own Galaxy (the Milky Way), about a thousand distant quasars, about a thousand asteroids in our own Solar System, and at least one comet.

The image covers a swath of the sky which is 2 degrees wide, and 15.2 degrees long (i.e., about 4 times as wide as the disk of the full Moon, and about 30 times as long), which is less than a thousandth of the entire celestial sphere. It is about an area covered by your extended index finger, held about a foot away from your eyes.

A key idea behind this exhibit is to use a real scientific data set, rather than an artist's impression, to illustrate the range of scales and the richness of phenomena observed in the Universe. The data used to create the image were obtained at the Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory, in the course of 20 nights in 2004 and 2005, as a part of the Palomar-Quest (PQ) digital sky survey, a collaborative project between Yale University and Caltech. In this survey, large areas of the sky are scanned repeatedly, and the data are combined later. The survey covers a total area about 300 times larger than what is shown in the "Big Picture", and the data are still being analyzed by the Yale and Caltech scientists.

All About Meteors

Griffith Observatory August 2008

Griffith Observatory August 2008

The Restoration

Did You Know? - The restoration costs $93,00,000 which is 1,000 times what the facility originally cost!  The looks of the observatory ha not changed since the 1940;s but underneath is a whole new world!

Griffith Observatory August 2008

Griffith Observatory August 2008

After Our Afternoon We Went To Farmer's Market For Dinner

Did You Know? - Some swear that this charming French restaurant was lifted and moved, lock stock and barrel, from Paris. The quiches are perfection, the coq au vin is heaven, the steaks (with a choice of three dressings) are tres magnifique. A full and carefully chosen wine list is always available. Locals tend to favor a stool at the bar for wine and cheese. Monsieur Marcel Pain Vin, et Fromage is a new way to enjoy life.

Take your time indulging in informal gourmet treats for lunch or a light snack, or stay for happy hour and dinner. This is the perfect place to unwind, to people-watch and to simply enjoy yourself. Say hello to your friendly Monsieur Marcel wine experts today.

Griffith Observatory August 2008

Griffith Observatory August 2008

Griffith Observatory August 2008

Did You Know? - Griffith J. Griffith was introduced to astronomy through the Astronomical Section of the Southern California Academy of Sciences. He was also impressed by his visits to the new research observatory established at Mount Wilson in 1904. He believed that an individual gained an enlightened perspective when looking at the skies. His reaction after looking through the 60-inch telescope at Mount Wilson -- then the largest in the world -- was described by John Anson Ford: "The experience moved him profoundly - a distant, heavenly body suddenly being brought so close and made so real!" Ford quotes Griffith as saying "Man's sense of values ought to be revised. If all mankind could look through that telescope, it would change the world!"

Griffith's experience on Mount Wilson focused his desire to make science more accessible to the public. On December 12, 1912, he offered the City of Los Angeles $100,000 for an observatory to be built on the top of Mount Hollywood to be fully owned and operated by the City of Los Angeles. Griffith's plan for the observatory would include an astronomical telescope open to free viewing, a Hall of Science designed to bring the public into contact with exhibits about the physical sciences, and a motion picture theater which would show educational films about science and other subjects. This last aspect of the plan would eventually evolve into the planetarium, a technology not invented until the 1920s.

The City Council accepted Griffith's gift and appointed him head of a three-person Trust committee to supervise the construction of the observatory and a Greek theatre performing arts facility, which Griffith promised to the city the following year. Bogged down by further political debate, the project continued to be delayed. In 1916, with his health failing, Griffith realized that his vision of a public observatory would not be realized in his lifetime. He drafted a will containing bequests for the observatory and Greek theatre, along with detailed specifications regarding the nature of the observatory, its location, and programmatic offerings. Griffith died on July 6, 1919.

Groundbreaking for Griffith Observatory occurred on June 20, 1933, with the William Simpson Construction Company as the builder. While the building quickly took shape, Edward Kurth was tragically killed in a car accident in February 1934. The Griffith Trust brought in physicist Rudolph Langer to oversee the completion of the building, and Philip Fox, Director of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, whose advice had been sought in the earliest phases of planning, was now increasingly involved with designing exhibits for the Hall of Science.