When the San Fernando Solar Observatory — one of the oldest of its kind — was finally moved to Cal State Northridge in 2016, it enlivened an already charming corner of the campus. The dollhouse-like domed structure sits next to a landscaped turtle-and-duck pond and historic orange grove, with a campus lunch bistro and Bianchi Planetarium (which hosts night-sky shows every other Friday) within spitting distance. The observatory previously was used for research in support of NASA's manned space and Skylab programs, but in its current iteration generates critical information on the sun and its effects on climate, satellites and spacecraft. The young astronomers plying the telescopes and computer systems within are literally on the front lines of combating climate change, which gives it the observatory importance beyond its visual scale. To visit, use parking lot G3 off Prairie and Zelzah, but you can usually nab street parking on Nordhoff. Non-students should contact the school's department of physics and astronomy for access.

LA Weekly