One of my very favorite places to go as a teenager and young adult was the Griffith Park Observatory. It is located high atop the Hollywood Hills in an historic part of Los Angeles proper. I loved the planetarium shows; you leaned your head way back on the head rest so you looked directly up at the domed ceiling. Then, the show would begin – the last one I saw was a medley of Genesis songs set to projected images of astronomical sites and other graphics. For some reason the song “The Carpet Crawlers” is the one from the show that I remember best. Anyway, these shows were magical to me, it was like being outside and watching the sky unreel these unusual and exotic images; huge, completely encompassing images set to music.
Have you ever seen the movie “The Rocketeer”? Part of it was filmed at the Observatory. The movie prominently features the structure, the front lawns and some of the sculptures.
In 2001 the Observatory was closed for renovations. It recently reopened to fanfare and there are new displays and apparati to marvel over. One of my faves to see was Foucault’s pendulum, which happily is still there.
I am also nostalgic of the area because a little way downhill from the Observatory is the Greek Theatre where I saw Peter Gabriel in concert for the first time. That was a treat presented to me by a friend for my birthday. It’s an outdoor venue, so we got to watch the stars (without a telescope).
Also, the view from the Observatory’s back patio is breathtaking. Guides tell you what sites you’re seeing – one of the things you can see from there is Scientology Headquarters, where your guide will inevitably make some kind of remark about Tom Cruise waving to you.
I can’t wait to go again, it’s been too long.
Is astronomy an interest of yours? There’s an astronomy writing contest currently going on sponsored by the Observatory. Check it out, win some dough.
This is Dr. E.C. Krupp, current Director of the Griffith Park Observatory. Gee, what gave it away? Obviously NOT dressed by Carson Kressly or any of the boys. I’ll bet he has a wonderful sense of humor, though.