Griffith Jenkins Griffith earned his fortune mining silver in Mexico and selling real estate in southern California, but his passion for establishing Los Angeles as a great world city inspired him to donate more than 3,000 acres for use as a public park. He developed yet another plan for this land after the Southern California Academy of Sciences presented him with a chance encounter to gaze through the lens of a 60-inch telescope, which reportedly led him to remark, "if all mankind could look through that telescope, it would change the world!" Griffith Observatory embraces its founder's passion for astronomy as well as civic responsibility, presenting the public with the opportunity to observe and better comprehend the cosmos.
The iconic Observatory's exhibits help explain the immeasurable vastness of space by examining the tools and methods that humans historically used to track the stars. It even allows visitors to interact with some of these tools. A 9,000-pound, 12-inch Zeiss refractor telescope juts forth into the nighttime sky and gives patrons a new perspective on common celestial sights, such as the Moon and the trail of bread crumbs that rockets leave on their way to the Moon. The Observatory's three solar telescopes accomplish a similar feat by providing real-time images of the Sun, complete with visible sunspots and solar flares.
In the 300-seat Samuel Oschin Planetarium, audiences gaze at a seamless display of star fields while a presenter shares invaluable astronomical knowledge. The 200-seat Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon multimedia theater hosts a variety of lectures and educational films.