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Griffith Observatory (Pam Collins)

eReviewed by: Pam Collins, GeoScience teacher, John Burroughs High School, Burbank CA.

Griffith Observatory is located at:
                    2800 East Observatory Road
                    Los Angeles, CA 90027
                    (213) 473-0800

Description:  In 1896 Griffith J. Griffith donated 3,015 acres of land to Los Angeles with plans of a creating a public observatory, and later offered funds for the development of the observatory.  Griffith Observatory was dedicated in 1935, with a school field trip program opening soon thereafter.  Over the years the observatory has hosted millions of visitors, been featured in films and on Rose Bowl floats.  The physical plant received a $93 million make over in 2006, and continues to serve the public as an educational center and a cultural and historical monument.

  • School children of all ages will benefit from visiting the observatory whether they are on a structured field trip, or just casual visitors.  Numerous formal programs exist for structured educational activities, as well as attention grabbing, interactive displays for the child attending with her family.
  • Teachers of astronomy and earth science can delve into topics ranging from the formation of our universe to earthquake activity.  Depending on the time spent at each section of the observatory, topics can be studied in depth, or just quickly skimmed. 
  • Astronomy buffs will enjoy the telescope viewing and special programs offered.

Science Concepts Addressed

California Geological Science Standards:

1b: Students know the evidence from Earth and moon rocks indicates that the solar system was formed from a nebular cloud of dust and gas approximately 4.6 billion years ago.
1f: Students know the evidence for dramatic effects that asteroid impacts have had in shaping the surface of planets and
their moons and in mass extinctions of life on Earth.
1g: Students know the evidence for the existence of planets orbiting other stars.
2a: Students know the solar system is located on an outer edge of the disc-shaped Milky Way galaxy, which spans 100,000 light years.
2c: Students know the evidence indicating that all elements with an atomic number greater than that of lithium have been formed by nuclear fusion in the stars.

  • Floor Plan-

  • Gravity on Different Planets - Lower Level - Gunther Depths of Space - Scales to weigh yourself on in front of models of each planet.  Each scale is calibrated to show your weight as if you were standing on that planet.

  • Planets Orbiting Other Stars - Lower Level - Gunther Depths of Space -  Interactive display showing 7 stars and their planets.  Giant screen shows a star map and basic information about planets.

  • Formation of Elements - Upper Level -Ahmanson Hall of the Sky - has an interactive video display explaning how elements with an atomic number greater than 3 were formed by fusion in the stars.  A display with physical examples of all elements is present.

  • Galaxies are Made of Billions of Stars - Lower Level - Gunther Depths of Space - Visual display of galaxy shapes and sizes.

  • Effects of Meteor Impacts - Lower Level- Edge of Space - Visitors can use an interactive display to select variables to create a virtual meteor impact.  Several physical specimens of meteorites are on display as well as customized information about California meteors.


Pam Collins,
Nov 27, 2011, 10:58 AM