Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Iconic Griffith Observatory Photo Tour

Earlier this week, several of your faithful bloggers attended a small meeting at perhaps our new favorite venue: the Griffith Observatory perched atop the hills overlooking Los Angeles.

Griffith Observatory takes its name from its founder, the wealthy 19th century mining expert Griffith J. Griffith (I'm not sure if it's named after his first or last name!). Despite generously donating the observatory and surrounding land to the City of Los Angeles in the early 1900's, Griffith was far from a perfect man.

In fact, he shot his own wife in the face during a drunken argument, permanently disfiguring her. After a surprisingly brief prison sentence of only two years, Griffith sought a new course for his life. During his search, he looked through a telescope at the Mount Wilson Observatory and was quoted as saying:

"Man's sense of values ought to be revised. If all mankind could look through that telescope, it would change the world!"

After this experience, Griffith set out to make an observatory widely available for public use and donated the land and money necessary to the city of Los Angeles. The observatory was finally built in 1935, 26 years after Griffith's death.

Today, the Griffith Observatory's exhibits, planetarium shows, and telescopes serve over a million visitors annually, and it houses the most widely (directly) used telescope in the world. Here's a few snapshots we took during our visit this weekend.

A view of the observatory shortly after sunrise.
Image Credit: Brian Jacobsmeyer

Saturn and Jupiter sit inside an exhibit at the observatory.
Image Credit: Brian Jacobsmeyer
A view of the Hollywood sign from the Observatory grounds.
Image Credit: Brian Jacobsmeyer
The slightly smoggy LA skyline view from the observatory.
Image Credit: Brian Jacobsmeyer
Another shot of the observatory on a different morning
Image Credit: Brian Jacobsmeyer
I tried my best James Dean impression near his statue. This part of the observatory served as the setting for a famous scene in "Rebel Without a Cause," starring James Dean.
Image Credit: James Roche
A view of the surrounding Hollywood hills.
Image Credit: Brian Jacobsmeyer
One of the Coelostat Telescopes used for solar observing.
Image Credit: Brian Jacobsmeyer
Another view of the Coelostat telescope.
Image Credit: Brian Jacobsmeyer
One of the mirrors (and a camera) used for the telescope. Three different telescope track the sun, and a set of mirrors focus the light from these three sources. The public can see the images in an exhibit housed in the rotunda under the Coelostat.
Image Credit: Brian Jacobsmeyer
The dome housing the observatory's planetarium (I believe).
Image Credit: Brian Jacobsmeyer
The Zeiss telescope that the public can directly look through every night of the week except Mondays.
Image Credit: Brian Jacobsmeyer
Astronomers use sidereal time (seen in the middle), to keep track of their observations. A sidereal day lasts about 4 minutes less than 24 hours to account for the actual amount of time it takes for the Earth to complete one rotation.
Image Credit: Brian Jacobsmeyer
Another view of the Zeiss telescope.
Image Credit: Brian Jacobsmeyer
Some of the inner workings for the Zeiss telescope.
Image Credit: Brian Jacobsmeyer
We found this picture inside the room housing the Zeiss telescope. I think that may be one of the smaller telescopes housed at the observatory.
Image Credit: Brian Jacobsmeyer
The eyepiece and dials for the Zeiss telescope. No other telescope has had as many users as this one.
Image Credit: Brian Jacobsmeyer
A view of the observatory's grounds.
Image Credit: Brian Jacobsmeyer
Another day, another smoggy skyline.
Image Credit: Brian Jacobsmeyer

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