Science. It’s not the first subject that comes to mind when making Friday night plans. But if you live in Los Angeles, it should be, at least on the first Friday of each month, when Griffith Observatory hosts All Space Considered, a surprisingly entertaining science event that even the most right-brained among us can enjoy.
The presentation takes place in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon theater, located in the observatory's basement, where a large crowd fills the space to capacity every month. A panel of scientists walks the audience through a PowerPoint presentation that covers everything from space shuttle and satellite news to climate change. It’s basically a round-up of all the space-related news of the previous month, as well as an overview of what’ll be going on in the skies during the month ahead.
All Space Considered is definitely an event created by nerds, for nerds (expect to hear your fair share of planetary puns from the audience and presenters). But while this type of event has the potential to be really dull, All Space Considered is anything but. A fantastic host and enthusiastic crowd make the evening feel more like science-themed theater than a classroom lecture.
The next All Space Considered takes place this Friday, March 4, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Here are five things to know before you head up the hill.
The Geek Squad
The absolute best part of All Space Considered is the panel of pocket-protected Ph.D.s who lead the presentation. Griffith Observatory curator Dr. Laura Danly serves as the moderator, and her endearing, dry wit carries the show. She knows how to explain complex concepts in an accessible way and exactly when to give the audience a mental break with an unexpected kitten meme or movie clip. Danly’s co-hosts chime in when their area of specialty is highlighted, and each contributes his own unique brand of quirky space enthusiasm. The rapport among the four regular presenters is, well, adorable. You’ll find yourself wishing you worked in their office just so you could be on their email chains.
You live in it, so you should probably check in on it now and again. If you’re like me, you rarely give astronomical news or the cosmos at large more than a moment’s thought. Just one hour at All Space Considered will help you feel caught up on what’s out there, or at least reminded that while you sit in traffic, big things are happening in galaxies far, far away. If you’ve had a bad week at work, spending 10 minutes learning about the surface of Mars is a great way to take your mind off your earthly woes. Halfway through each presentation, Dr. Danly inserts a segment called “Pretty Pictures.” It’s exactly what it sounds like — a series of stunning images you likely wouldn’t encounter on your own. The pictures are lovely. And there’s something special about the feeling of a packed room pausing for a moment to ponder the aesthetic beauty of the cosmos.
All Space Considered is completely free. No tickets required.
We’ve all been to the Griffith Park Observatory during the day, but when is the last time you checked it out at night? Walking around the Observatory’s grounds before and after the event is almost as fun as the presentation itself. The twinkling lights of Hollywood are breathtaking, and there are telescopes set up if you want a closer view of the moon, planets and stars. Plus, after the lecture, you'll notice more in that big night sky than you did before.
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1. Come early. Like, really early. Parking is a bitch and the All Space Considered crowd is a dedicated one. They’ll start lining up outside the theater nearly an hour before the event begins. If you don’t come at least a half-hour early, you likely won’t get a seat. There’s an overflow room with a live feed, but it’s not nearly as fun as being in the theater.
2. Leave early. Had your fill of science after an hour? Got a hot date in Los Feliz at 9 p.m.? Every All Space Considered has an intermission halfway through the event, so you can cut out early without any trouble, even if you are sitting in the middle of the packed theater.
3. Every month there is music playing as guests file into the theater. Make note of what songs you hear. Dr. Danly and company scatter references to those same songs throughout the lecture. If you are the first to identify the song that goes with what they’re discussing, you win a prize. The prizes are just museum-shop fare, but then again, who doesn’t want to take home a free glow-in-the-dark planet poster?
This month’s All Space Considered will cover topics like astronaut Scott Kelly’s return to Earth and the March sky report. For more information, click here.