With neon buzzing and headlights glaring, city dwellers ponder the heavens to enjoy the beauty of nature in the night sky. Some residents and visitors of Los Angeles seek quiet, celestial sights with the stars spread out like diamonds on black velvet. When you want to pursue the cosmos in deep space, here are a few places you may not know about to get a peek at the night sky from the ambient glow of LA.
UCLA Planetarium & Telescope Show
405 Hilgard Ave. Room 8224
Los Angeles, CA 90095
Run entirely by students and instructors of the UCLA Physics Department, this amazing little program is worthy of mention. Every Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. there’s an awesome show put on by the astronomers and astrophysicists of the university. This inventive and informative show is an in-house production and changes with the sky. The shows are free to the public, but subject to cancelation due to overcast conditions. You won’t get in if you’re late, so arrive before the show to make sure you’ll be included. You can view the amazing telescope from the roof of the mathematics and science building after the demonstration, and talk to some of the alumni astrophysicists who created this breathtaking display.
Cal State Northridge CSUN
Physics & Astronomy Dept.
Donald E Bianchi Planetarium
18111 Nordoff St.
Northridge, CA 91330
This impressive planetarium is run by Jan Dobias, PhD, whose informal outreach for astronomy enthusiasts regularly fills the 100-seat theater with a recreation of the night sky projected on a 40-foot dome. An excellent quality digital sound system makes a show to enjoy for children eight years and over. It’s best to buy tickets in advance, as the seats fill up quickly with the price at an affordable $6 per seat. Park in lot G4 only.
Griffith Park Observatory
2800 E. Observatory Road
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Built in 1935, this deco-styled landmark sits atop the slope facing Mount Hollywood. It stands as a familiar monument to the city and casts its telescope deep into space nightly for an enthusiastic crowd. If you are visiting on the weekend, it’s best to park at the bottom of the hill and take the convenient shuttle. It runs every 35 minutes to the observatory and costs only 50 cents. The road up the hill is very steep and narrow, and parking is extremely tight, if you can find it. The exhibits are awesome since the 2006 renovation, and the facilities are stellar. This world-class planetarium will provide the most exciting experience in outer space while sitting right in the heart of the city.
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Malibu Creek State Park Campgrounds
1925 Las Virgines Road
Calabasas, CA 91302
This is a great place to come and see the glory of nature in the mountains along the Malibu coast. The filming site of the famed sitcom M*A*S*H is still intact for photo opportunities at this breathtakingly beautiful state park. On two separate Saturday nights over the summer, the Campfire Program offers a show in the amphitheater called “Mysteries and Wonders of the Night Sky,” with a guided description of the visible stars by Collin O’Mara-Green. Bring the family for an overnight adventure in the campgrounds and stay for a guided sky tour from a natural history museum instructor. There are opportunities for various activities at the park during the day, including biking, hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, horseback riding and more. Take a weekend and enjoy the beauty of nature while learning about the cosmos.
Los Angeles Astronomical Society
2800 E. Observatory Road
Los Angeles, CA, 90027
Events for this society of astronomy enthusiasts use several local telescopes at Mt. Wilson, Griffith Park, Garvy Ranch and JPL, as part of the Night Sky Network sponsored by Pasadena’s renowned Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Their group, with more than 400 members, is dedicated to bringing the excitement of science and space into the classroom and outreach to the public. Check out the calendar of events. Another local society that brings the adventure of space to the streets of Los Angeles is Sidewalk Astronomers, who offer another way to see the star — right from the street.
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