Gazing at the Stars

For most homeschoolers, learning never stops and it certainly isn’t contained in the home. Our family is no different, a great deal of learning is accomplished “in the field”. This past Saturday, our family invited another to join us on our adventure to the Griffith Observatory to take in the sights and wonders of God’s creation.

The Planets AlignFor those who have never been, Griffith is a wondrous place filled with something to learn at every stop. Should you ever hit the west coast, you might want to make a point of stopping in.

On Griffith’s first floor, you are free to examine the history of science’s exploration of space, take a look at the sun through a special red lens, learn more about stars, and discover which elements compose the celestial bodies.

While you’re there, you might wish to purchase a ticket to the planetarium. (We keep saying we’ll do this, but it never seems to work out. Unfortunately, little kids are discouraged from the later shows and we hardly ever seem to arrive before noon. One day, though!)

On the basement level, you can catch a glimpse of life on each planet! With stations for each, not only can you watch special films to help you learn more, but you can weigh yourself as well. Griffith went the extra mile with scale recreations of each planet, helping give visitors a visual guide to how they compare. Exploring Planets

In the center of the basement level is a “drum”, which represents the sun. Inside the drum, is the Leonard Nimoy Theatre which currently houses a film on the expansion of the Observatory. Our visit would not be complete without a quick viewing of this informative movie.

On Griffith’s top-level is the best view in town, a first class look at the moon. With two high-powered telescopes in operation, looking up at the night sky has never been so beautiful.

Our family chose this past weekend in particular as a wrap up to a unit study on the solar system. We especially chose Saturday because it coincided with a star party Griffith was hosting.

We weren’t sure what to expect, but we weren’t disappointed. Volunteers from all over So Cal showed, with telescopes of various magnitudes. We were able to not only see the sun (during the day, obviously) through an eclipse lens, but also through a red lens. In the evening, we spotted Saturn and Venus with four of its moons.

Planetarium MachineThere was a small possibility we might spot a comet flying over that night, but unfortunately it was too overcast, due to a late-night cloud bank, and the cold weather had us leaving before its arrival.

The afternoon and evening were very fun. The observatory is always a good time, but having some friends along and being able to test several telescopes were the cherries on top!

Perhaps we’ll revisit Griffith sometime over the summer and show up extra early. Then, not only will we get to see the planetarium, but we might be able to hike some of the nature trails as well!Milky Way

Is there an observatory in your town? Which exhibit do you like best?

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