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What is Friends Of The Observatory (FOTO)?

Friends Of The Observatory (FOTO) is Griffith Observatory’s member-based support organization. Founded in 1978 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, FOTO’s members, employees, volunteers and Board of Directors works to ensure that Griffith Observatory has the resources to Inspire the Future, One Imagination at a Time.

Friends Of The Observatory are people just like you, we value the Observatory for its importance to education, science and public astronomy.
As a support group, FOTO offers numerous benefits to our members. Please take a moment to review those benefits and see which level of membership is best for you and your family.

What is the relationship between FOTO, the City of Los Angeles and Griffith Observatory?

Griffith Observatory is owned and operated by the City of Los Angeles. The City provides public funds for staff, facilities and on-going operating expenses of the Observatory. The City of Los Angeles has been tirelessly supportive of Friends Of The Observatory’s efforts on behalf of Griffith Observatory.


Join FOTO (or renew) today!
Astronomy, one of nine exquisite Hugo Ballin murals on the ceiling of the entrance to Griffith Observatory. It took many months for conservators to painstakingly restore these murals to their original beauty.
What does FOTO do?


  • helps support the special programming and activities that Griffith Observatory produces annually for the millions of children, youth and families who visit each year, including the full-dome planetarium shows in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium theater, demonstrations in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon theater; teacher development programs and more;
  • is a strong voice in the community encouraging on-going support of Griffith Observatory at local, state and national levels;
  • funds the acclaimed free School Field Trip Program that annually brings more than 30,000 5th graders to Griffith Observatory for an in-depth, personal and educationally exciting visit;
  • provides free transportation for thousands of underserved students to Griffith Observatory via buses funded through our Bus Scholarship Program;
  • connects youngsters with the Cosmic Conjunction of the arts and astronomy by inviting them to attend free special programming that explores the relationship between astronomy and the arts;
  • finds and develops innovative programs for members highlighting astronomy in all its implications. Our member activities include bringing world famous speakers to our Cosmic Musings Lecture Series, satellite feeds from eclipses, our annual Cosmic Conjunction festival celebrating the connection between the arts and astronomy, trips to telescopes and astronomically interesting locations throughout the West, voyages to eclipses throughout the world, private tours and after-hours time on the telescopes, and more.
Over seven million people have looked through the Observatory's telescope...more than through any other telescope on Earth!
Inspiring imaginations for over 70 Years...

For more than 75 years, Griffith Observatory has brought the pure joy of discovery down to earth through its educational programs, exhibits, shows and special events.

And you are invited to participate by joining Friends Of The Observatory! FOTO is committed to helping Griffith Observatory remain a vital community centerpiece of learning, exploration and inspiration and to continue to bring astronomy to life for millions of visitors. This is more than talk. It is action.

Planning for the future...

Friends Of The Observatory is very proud of our role in helping to lead the planning and development for the renovation and expansion of Griffith Observatory. FOTO headed up the ambitious

effort to raise the necessary funds, helping to secure $93 million in foundation, corporate, individual, State, City and Federal commitments.

As part of the planning and development for the expanded and renovated Observatory, the questions we strove to answer always had our visitor in mind. Each exhibit’s design, placement, language used to describe it, etc was carefully considered. Only the most valuable, astronomically correct and interesting options were included t

o help make our visitors into observers.

...while enhancing the present.

Why is FOTO so important?


Because we cannot imagine Los Angeles without Griffith Observatory! Griffith Observatory is one of the few m useums that is free of charge for entry to the parking, grounds or building. Anyone may come and enjoy Griffith Observatory. Friends Of The Observatory works hard to help ensure that Griffith Observatory remains a vital community centerpiece of learning, exploration and inspiration. The importance of Griffith Observatory’s mission of providing informal science education is reinforced by a recent report published by the National Research Council, funded by the National Science Foundation, which states “Learning is broader than schooling and informal science environments play a crucial role. These experiences can kick-start and sustain long-term interests that involve sophisticated learning.”
And that is what FOTO and Griffith Observatory are doing every day Inspiring the Future, One Imagination at a Time.


How can your support make a difference?

Your membership, donation or time as a volunteer are critically important in helping FOTO and Griffith Observatory keep bringing astronomy to life for millions of visitors every year.
FOTO needs the participation of people with vision, who care about Griffith Observatory and want to see it thrive. FOTO members make a direct and immediate impact on one of the most significant landmarks and valuable public resources Los Angeles has to offer – Griffith Observatory.
Your support, whether at the Planet level or as a sponsor such as the Samuel Oschin Family Foundation (who generously supported the new and awesome Samuel Oschin Planetarium theater), is truly critical. By making sure that the Observatory is able to continue to offer extraordinary programs, web information, outreach opportunities, teacher training, and more, YOU are making sure that the pure joy of discovery is brought to an appreciative audience.
What YOU can do to help

A favorite of everyone visiting the Observatory, the Tesla Coil was installed in the Hall of Science in 1940, and is now located in the east wing.

Become a Friend by joining FOTO today.


Your support helps ensure that Griffith Observatory will continue to educate, inspire, and bring the wonders of astronomy to generations of sky watchers to come.


And in appreciation ....

As a member of FOTO, you will enjoy benefits and privileges reserved only for Friends including exclusive member events, special programs, discounts at the Stellar Emporium bookstore and the Café at the End of the Universe, travel invitations and more. And, of course, your contribution is also tax deductible to the full amount allowed by law.


These benefits are our way of saying Thank You for caring about Griffith Observatory!

Events and Registration

At this moment there are no scheduled FOTO Events or Programs.


Please check back soon or click here to receive more information about our programs via email.

Your Contributions at Work
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FOTO Newsletter and Blog
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Visiting Griffith Observatory
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Looking up! Astronomy at Home
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