Griffith in Review
Griffith Observatory is a facility in Los Angeles, California sitting on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park. It commands a view of the Los Angeles Basin, including Downtown Los Angeles to the southeast, Hollywood to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. The observatory is a popular tourist attraction with an excellent view of the Hollywood sign, and an extensive array of space and science-related displays. The Griffth is Southern California’s gateway to the cosmos! Visitors can look through telescopes, explore exhibits, see live shows in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, and enjoy spectacular views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Sign.
Griffith Observatory’s unique architecture and setting, compelling programmatic offerings, and cinematic exposure have made it one of the most famous and visited landmarks in southern California. Tens of millions have come to walk the inside of the building, view the live planetarium shows, or simply gaze out towards the coast and the heavens. This cultural and scientific icon owes its existence to the dream of one man, Griffith Jenkins Griffith, and to the dedicated scientists and public servants who worked to fulfill his vision of making astronomy and observation accessible to all.
Super Blood Moon, 27 Sep 2015
Yesterday’s Super Blood Moon, captured over Los Angeles from Runyon Canyon.
A full moon, harvest moon, super moon, and total eclipse of the moon— this one had it all. (Including clouds… ah, nature.)
As with all lunar eclipses, the region of visibility for Sunday’s blood-moon lunar eclipse encompassed more than half of our planet. Nearly 1 billion people in the Western Hemisphere, nearly 1.5 billion throughout much of Europe and Africa and perhaps another 500 million in western Asia were, weather permitting, able to watch as the Harvest Full Moon became a shadow of its former self and morphed into a glowing coppery ball. The Sept. 27 event was therefore being called a “supermoon eclipse,” with the hashtag #SuperBloodMoon trending strongly on social media. The last such eclipse happened in 1982, and the next won’t occur until 2033.
Lunar eclipses actually begin when the moon enters the faint outer portion, or penumbra, of the Earth’s shadow. The penumbra, however, is all but invisible to the eye until the moon becomes deeply immersed in it. Sharp-eyed viewers may get their first glimpse of the penumbra as a delicate shading on the left part of the moon’s disk about 15 minutes before the start of the partial eclipse (when the round edge of the central shadow, or umbra, first touches the moon’s left edge). During the partial eclipse, the penumbra should be readily visible as a dusky border to the dark umbral shadow. The reason the moon can be seen at all when totally eclipsed is that sunlight is scattered and refracted around the edge of the Earth by the planet’s atmosphere. To an astronaut standing on the moon during totality, the sun would be hidden behind a dark Earth outlined by a brilliant red ring of all of the world’s sunrises and sunsets.
The Transit of Venus 2012
On the 5th of June, 2012, the planet Venus transitted between the Sun and Earth for the last time in our lifetimes, (well, presumably- the next one is scheduled for Dec 10th, 2117…) We were able to observe the transit at the Griffith Observatory in the hills above Los Angeles- and this image was captured through one of the telescopes there.
(FYI, if you’re wondering why the Transit was a big deal, I’ve done a little copy and paste from the Wiki for you…)
A transit of Venus across the Sun takes place when the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth, becoming visible against the solar disk. During a transit, Venus can be seen from Earth as a small black disk moving across the face of the Sun. The duration of such transits is usually measured in hours, (the transit of 2012 lasted 6 hours and 40 minutes). A transit is similar to a solar eclipse by the Moon. While the diameter of Venus is more than 3 times that of the Moon, Venus appears smaller, and travels more slowly across the face of the Sun, as it is much farther away from Earth.
Transits of Venus are among the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena. They occur in a pattern that generally repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years.
Venus transits are historically of great scientific importance- they were used to gain the first realistic estimates of the size of the Solar System. Observations of the 1639 transit, combined with the principle of parallax, provided an estimate of the distance between the Sun and the Earth that was more accurate than any other up to that time. The 2012 transit provided scientists with a number of other research opportunities, particularly in the refinement of techniques to be used in the search for exoplanets.
Luna with Jupiter Ascendant
A few weeks ago, in December and January, Jupiter was very visible in the night sky (at least in the northern hemisphere; not sure about south of the Equator). A few nights, it was even in close proximity to the Moon… This photograph was taken during that near conjunction, with a 300mm lens- but no telescope or the like.
The Wings of Goodbye
As we close out 2012 – aside from chuckling at “Mayan” Prophecy believers – time to review the ups and downs of this year. One of the standout moments was the Los Angeles flyover of the Space Shuttle Endeavour; the personal experience of seeing it first hand while in the crowd at the Griffith Observatory was amazing, while the national experience of ending the Shuttle Program was bittersweet… Here’s to looking onwards and upwards in the year to come!
I did borrow the title from the Macross Frontier ~ The Wings of Goodbye (Sayonara no Tsubasa (サヨナラノツバサ)) movie, (which, while I do prefer the series ending proper, was a solid “in-universe” presentation, (ala DYRL)
Space Shuttle Endeavour’s Flyby of Griffith Observatory
The Space Shuttle Endeavour flies past the Griffith Observatory in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles on its final flight, 21 Sep 12.