Last week, myself and a two classmates made the trip into Los Angeles to visit the world famous Griffith Observatory. We went into the trip with almost no expectations about what the observatory would entail, but left wowed by the scope of the project. Griffith is situated in the middle of a park of the same name and features some of the most impressive vistas in the entire city. The exterior of the observatory/museum is impressive to say the least, featuring a vast garden that glowed despite the late hour of our trip. An art deco exterior gives Griffith an old-time-y Los Angeles feel that belies the nature of the technology and innovation housed inside of its walls. Three massive domes stand out in the light polluted Los Angeles sky and dominated nearly every point of view. Similarly, a massive obelisk-type structure adorned the front line and offered every visitor a direct line-of-view to the entrance to the observatory.
The inside of Griffith Observatory features an impressive array of life in the universe exhibits and interactive displays, ranging from an ancient (1935) Foucault pendulum meant to display the rotation of the Earth and several newer telescopes that are available for public use. Exhibits house a number of scientific achievements, past and present, and were swamped with people even at the late hour that we attended. The basement of the museum offered some relief from the crowds as well as a scale model of our very own solar system and an informative section on asteroid/comet impacts on Earth. The majority of the exhibits housed in Griffith were rather rudimentary in their exhibition of the science involved, but certainly offered an accessible take on some incredible difficult, dense topics. The one part of the museum that seemed lacking to me was the lack of attention for new/developing research. There was a bulletin board in the basement outlining some recent research, but it was completely unattended and seemed to be pushed to the side in preference of more gift shop/display space.
Nonetheless, it was an impressive sight to witness so many people interested in invested in the study of life in the universe. Everyone asks the big questions, but it warmed my heart to see so many citizens taking the next step in the journey towards scientific enlightenment.