Here’s a rather limited set of snapshots from tonight’s sneak preview of the newly renovated Griffith Observatory that I was lucky enough to attend. I used to visit the grounds regularly to take in the city lights and I completely forgot how fantastic the views were. It also couldn’t have been a more gorgeous night to get to see them again for the first time in nearly four years, though the fact that they removed the coin-op binocular viewers was a bit of the disappointment. Also of interest is that they intentionally moved the James deed monument so that the Hollywood sign is in the background when you take photos. That’s the kind of thing you wonder why they didn’t think of the first time around.
I never made it inside the actual observatory pre-renovation, but according to my girlfriend that transformation is unbelievable. I was impressed with what I saw. Not all of the displays were complete or operating (you can see a photo of one displaying a Windows desktop in those photos), but I think when everything’s up and running it will be a fun place to take the kids. I was especially enamored of the interactive display that let you set custom parameters for a comet impact and watch the results. But, silly as it may sound, my favorite part of the whole thing was discovering that the new Wolfgang Puck-operated snack shop is called the Cafe at the End of the Universe. Douglas Adams would be proud.
UPDATE: While there I also bumped into Zach from LAist who has a bunch more good photos, including one of a little diorama of the instruments that I missed. Damn. I love dioramas.