Summer 2015 UPDATE
The Celebration of a Lifetime
WHEN GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY OPENED TO THE PUBLIC 80 YEARS AGO, there was no space shuttle. We hadn’t sent rovers to Mars. In fact, even sending a craft into space or stepping foot on the Moon were still dreams. Fast forward to August 2012. A thrilled and excited crowd gathered at Griffith Observatory to watch a live feed from NASA JPL and exploded into wild cheers as the rover Curiosity made a picture-perfect landing on the Red Planet. Then in September, thousands of spectators looked skyward as Space Shuttle Endeavour flew over the Observatory on its final journey atop a specially-outfitted 747.
It is phenomenal how far we have come in such a short time, and how much Griffith Observatory has seen and shared with the public over the years. For all our scientific and technological advancements, though, one thing has never changed: the importance and wonder of human imagination. It drives us to explore, to learn. And Griffith Observatory has helped us to experience the heavens in increasingly new and marvelous ways, and to engage in the pure joy of letting our own imaginations soar and participating in the observation of the universe.So it was, then, that on May 11, 2015, friends and guests gathered in the venerable Observatory to reflect on the past, celebrate the present, and get a glimpse of the endless possibilities ahead. The Celebration of a Lifetime: An 80th Anniversary Conversation about Astronomy, Space, and Human Imagination was a magnificent evening, and one of great importance for both Griffith Observatory and Friends Of The Observatory.
The evening began in the W.M. Keck Foundation Central Rotunda, the historic part of the Observatory. After enjoying an elegant reception sponsored by Gelson’s, visiting with old friends and meeting new ones, guests adjourned to the highlight of the event: a spirited, intelligent, and sometimes humorous conversation with three distinguished stellar giants in the fields of astronomy and space exploration.
Moderated by Griffith Observatory Curator Dr. Laura Danly, the discussion featured star panelists Dr. E.C. Krupp, Director, Griffith Observatory; Dr. Charles Elachi, Director, Jet Propulsion Laboratory; and Dr. John M. Grunsfeld, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, NASA. They led us on a fascinating journey across time – 80 exciting years of Griffith Observatory, astronomy, and space exploration. To our delight, our esteemed guests then shared their personal perspectives on the endless possibilities in the years ahead. Where were we then, where are we now, and where are we going… the observations, anecdotes, and projections fascinated and captivated the audience. We invite you to share in this warm and engaging experience by enjoying a two-part video of the conversation at http://livestream.com/GriffithObservatoryTV/80thAnniversary. As Griffith Observatory Deputy Director Mark Pine so accurately observes, the program truly illustrates how important Griffith Observatory is as a world leader in bringing astronomy to the public.
The wonderful evening concluded with champagne and anniversary cupcakes in the Gunther Depths of Space.
The Celebration of a Lifetime – how illuminating to look back at the past 80 years; and how exciting to look forward to the next 80! From all of your friends at FOTO, we congratulate Griffith Observatory on this special anniversary. Thank you for your contributions to public astronomy, and we look forward to seeing your glorious dome up on the hill long into the future as you chronicle and share with all of us what is yet to come.
Thanks to the sponsors of this spectacular evening: Gelson’s; United; Sobul, Primes & Schenkel; Macy’s; and Southern California Edison
Executive Director's Report
by Camille Lombardo, FOTO Executive Director
LEONARD NIMOY... a true friend, and a true Friend Of The Observatory
Council Member Tom Labonge's Big Bang
Honoring a Los Angeles Legacy of Astronomical Proportion
On October 27, 2014, more than 400 distinguished guests gathered to celebrate COUNCILMEMBER TOM LABONGE and his many years of advocacy for Griffith Observatory. It was truly a “Big Bang” success, and Friends Of The Observatory would like to express our heartfelt thanks to Tom for his support through the years and to everyone who joined us on this very special occasion.
Griffith Observatory Director Dr. E.C. Krupp welcomed Tom LaBonge, stellar guest of honor at the Big Bang event, and presented him with a beautiful collage of Observatory photos as his wife - Brigid, son - Charles, and daughter - Mary-Cate LaBonge share in the celebratory moment.
Congressman Adam Schiff presented Councilmember LaBonge with a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol building. Mindi Abair, prominent jazz musician and great fan of Griffith Observatory, was spectacular, drawing guests to the presentation as she played her saxophone while walking among the guests.
The Los Angeles Police Emerald Society & Pipes and Drums Band played in greeting as guests arrived. Lynette Romero, KTLA 5 Morning News anchor and reporter, and actor Neal McDonough were the engaging co-hosts for this spectacular evening.
Thank You Joy Picus
Builder of the Future, Knower of All People, Defender of the Hill, and Champion of the Stars
That’s how the Friends Of The Observatory Board of Directors described one of our very favorite friends JOY PICUS as they saluted Joy for her service as Board President during the September 2002 Board meeting.
In paying tribute to Joy at her party, Griffith Observatory Deputy Director Mark Pine summed it up beautifully: “The reason why it worked for her being a great politician is because she is a great person, a great supporter, and a great friend.”
“Joy was, and still is, an incredible ambassador for FOTO,” says FOTO Executive Director Camille Lombardo. “Working so closely with her for so many years, I was constantly amazed at what she was able to accomplish in furtherance of Griffith Observatory and FOTO. We will miss her as a Board member, and thank her for her many years of support and dedication to our organization and our beloved Observatory.”
A Glimpse from the Dome
by Mark Pine, Deputy Director, Griffith Observatory
Though we love to have you visit Griffith Observatory in person, we’re very pleased to offer a variety of ways to connect with us online. We’ve been working on expanding our virtual presence to make it easier to get exhibit information, watch a live astronomical event, enjoy a recorded lecture, or keep up with the Observatory on social media. A number of those improvements have been made possible with FOTO support, and we are grateful for the opportunity to reach out to people with the wonders of the cosmos. Below is a glimpse of some of these initiatives.
Check Out Our Enhanced Website
The most exciting change is the addition of all our exhibit content! With a few easy clicks, you can relive your exhibit visit and get additional information about the concepts and images. Plus, there’s a great new map that will help you find out where each exhibit is located. Whether you’re planning a visit or would like to spend some more time on things that especially intrigued you when you came to see us, it’s all right there for you. We’ve also made the entire website easier to navigate and more user-friendly, so you can enjoy your time with us online as much as you do in person. GriffithObservatory.org
In just the last six months, we’ve offered 12 high-quality live broadcasts! These have included the total lunar eclipse in April 2015, a series of programs celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope, and two recent presentations regarding the exciting developments at Pluto. Once the events are over, the broadcasts are archived so they can be watched after the fact as well. Our live astronomical event broadcasts are often picked up by NASA TV and major media outlets, meaning that our content is shared with millions of people around the world. Curator Dr. Laura Danly and her team have made us world leaders! Livestream.com/GriffithObservatoryTV
Whether you’re looking for an intriguing segment from our popular All Space Considered program or a special lecture you weren’t able to attend, our YouTube page is the place for you! You-ll also find a link from our website. YouTube.com/user/GriffithObservatory
Stay Connected When You Visit With FREE Public WiFi We’re pleased to announce that free WiFi is now available in the public and reserved parking lots, on the east side of the lawn, on the West Terrace, and on Sunset Terrace (outside the café).
We are grateful to Friends Of The Observatory for their support and help in enabling us to continue to grow our relationship with the public.
Top 25 US Landmarks – #11, Griffith Observatory
by 2015 Trip Advisor's Traveler’s Choice
Griffith Observatory Architecture Spotlighted in Fabulous New Book
We are pleased to announce that a stunning new book, Griffith Observatory: A Celebration of its Architectural Splendor by Arnold Schwartzman, is now available for sale in the Stellar Emporium at Griffith Observatory. It can also be purchased conveniently from its online store; you’ll find the link on Griffith Observatory’s website home page.
The 144-page book is filled with spectacular images of the interior and exterior of the Observatory building. If you love Griffith Observatory and are awestruck by its architectural beauty, this book is a must-have for your personal library!
FOTO Staff Welcomes Bonnie Winings
Please join us in warmly welcoming FOTO’S NEW DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT AND COMMUNICATIONS, BONNIE WININGS. Bonnie might be new to the FOTO staff, but she is certainly not new to the FOTO family! Our long-time friend has made the transition from Board member to staff member, and we couldn’t be more delighted to have her join the team.
I’ve been a space and astronomy enthusiast since looking through a telescope when I was 10 at a summer camp deep in the Michigan woods. My new role with FOTO is the perfect blend of passion, interests, and opportunity for me; but I can’t say my career path brought me here in a straight line!