SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA offers many great opportunities to introduce astronomy to elementary-school-age children. "Seeing the sky through a telescope on a clear night leaves a lasting impression on children," says DrC. Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory. The Hall of Science at Griffith Observatory contains hands-on exhibits on astronomy and physical science, and on the roof of the building the large observatory telescope is open for viewing the sky on clear evenings (except Monday) from sunset to 9:45 p.m. At the Planetarium Theater at Griffith Observatory, with its 75-foot domed ceiling that re-creates the heavens, children under 5 are admitted only to the special 1:30 p.m. show on Saturday and Sunday of "Vacation to the Planets," which is specifically geared to their age level and attention span. Older children may enjoy "The Voyager's Grand Tour," a look at some of the amazing Voyager shots of Neptune and its moons. And "The Christmas Star," beginning on Dec. 12, returns the sky to the way it was about 2,000 years ago.
The public is also invited to look through the 14-inch Celestron telescope at the Gordon D. Crowell Astrophysical Observatory at Rio Hondo College in Whittier. The observatory opens on clear Fridays about an hour after sunset. A staff member will explain the changing seasonal sky.
Elementary school children enjoy the science films at the Reuben H. Fleet Space Theater and Science Center in Balboa Park, San Diego. The dramatic Omnimax films are projected right onto the 76-foot dome screen of the theater.
Griffith Observatory is at 2800 E. Observatory Road in Griffith Park; telephone (213) 664-1191 for recorded information or (213) 663-8171 for the Sky Report on viewing conditions. Gordon D. Crowell Astrophysical Observatory at Rio Hondo College is located at 3600 Workman Mill Road, Whittier; telephone (213) 692-0921. Reuben H. Fleet Space Theater and Science Center is in Balboa Park, San Diego; telephone (619) 238-1168 .