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'Stargazing' by David Abbou
Completed in 1935, Griffith Observatory is one of Los Angeles' most famous buildings.
DAVID ABBOU/FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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IF THE COLD, dark days of winter have got you in the mood for the sunny, warm weather of Southern California, you have more reasons than the weather to visit. You will be happy to know that stars, both the Hollywood and astronomical types, await you there. Once you are finished with the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the real gateway to the stars, known as the Griffith Observatory, beckons.
Located on Mount Hollywood and overlooking Los Angeles, Griffith Observatory has been in operation since 1935 and deserves attention from anyone visiting California. While it is situated at over 1,100 feet above sea level, it is conveniently located to the Los Angeles area and attracts over a million visitors each year as one of Southern California's top attractions.
I had the privilege of visiting Griffith Observatory last summer, and it was truly a spectacle to experience. The incredible exhibits and telescopes on the inside along with the stunning views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Hills from the outside make this one of the most dramatic places I have ever seen. When approaching the observatory, you will be greeted by the impressive Astronomers Monument, a large concrete sculpture depicting six of the greatest astronomers. Adjacent to the Astronomers Monument is a sundial that demonstrates how we used to tell time.
On the day I traveled to the observatory, hundreds of other visitors of all ages and nationalities were there as well. Since it was daytime, the solar telescope was in use and projected an image of the sun for all to see. Just a few of the other daytime attractions included a planetarium, theater, solar system model, a glass-walled passageway to demonstrate celestial motions and numerous other astronomical exhibits certain to capture anyone's imagination. By night, the observatory's 12- and 9-inch telescopes are used for public viewing. According to the Griffith Observatory's website, over 7 million people have peered through the 12-inch telescope, a testament to the interest generated by the observatory.
Several movies have featured the Griffith Observatory, the most famous of which is 1955's "Rebel Without a Cause" starring James Dean. Other well-known films such as "The Terminator" and "Transformers" have also featured the venerable observatory.