Annabel is fascinated by the solar system and loves learning about stars and planets. I thought it would be fun to take her to the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, as it has a bunch of space and science displays, plus a planetarium. I hadn’t been to the Observatory since a field trip in the third grade, but I remembered thinking it was awesome.

I did a bunch of research and figured out the best day and time to go, but Annabel got a stomach bug the night before the planned outing. We pushed the trip back to one of the few last empty days of summer we had left, this past Monday. The Observatory sits at the top of Mount Hollywood, and it has an amazing view of Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, and, on a clear day, the Pacific Ocean. The kids were blown away.

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

The coin-operated telescope was a hit with Annabel, even though she was mostly aiming it at the sky.

Griffith Observatory
“I think I saw a bird!”

As we walked up to the building, I noticed that it wasn’t really crowded. I figured that was because a lot of schools were back in session.

Griffith Observatory

And then, when we reached the doors of the Observatory, we saw the sign that said, “Closed on Mondays,” and I felt like the biggest idiot ever. After all the research I’d done (not to mention the many round-ups I’ve done for my job), I’d completely forgotten that the Observatory wasn’t open on Mondays. The kids were…not pleased.

um why isn't the door opening

I promised them we’d come back ASAP. I rescheduled some things and we went back yesterday. On the drive up the mountain to the Observatory, Annabel said, “Mom, you’re sure it’s open today?” I’m never going to live it down. It didn’t help that we arrived at the Observatory before it opened. The doors were closed and Annabel was like, “MOM YOU SAID IT WAS OPEN!”

waiting for the observatory to open

Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long, and Annabel was blown away by the cool stuff inside the Observatory. The main rotunda has amazing artwork painted on the walls and ceiling:

Griffith Observatory

One of the few things I specifically remembered from my third grade field trip was the giant Foucault Pendulum, a 240-pound ball that’s suspended from the ceiling. The ball swings in a constant direction while the Earth moves, and the whole thing demonstrates the Earth’s rotation.

Griffith Observatory

Both kids were really into the displays on the sun. James also liked anything with buttons he could touch.

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

The highlight of the trip was the planetarium. It’s for kids ages 5 and up, but younger kids are allowed into the first show of the day. Both kids were totally into it – James said, “Whoooooa,” three different times during the show. Annabel said, “It was so, so, soooooo unbelievable and I want to watch it again and again!” So I’d say she liked it.

I’m excited that this trip seemed to strengthen Annabel’s love for astronomy, so I’m going to try to find some ways to encourage that (if anyone has suggestions, I would love them!). On our way home, Annabel declared that she wanted a telescope, and that she wanted to go back to the Observatory again next week. “But Mom, we have to make sure it’s open before we go again.” Never gonna live it down.