Lunar eclipse: Free talks and telescope viewing at Griffith Observatory

Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger

Skip the holiday parties Monday night and head instead to Griffith Observatory for a bash to mark the last lunar eclipse of the decade. OK, there might not be eggnog, but there will be free telescopes to peek through and lectures about the sky event, which organizers say should be remarkable -- if the weather cooperates.

The observatory will be open from 8 p.m. Monday to 1:30 a.m. Tuesday with telescopes (not the huge ones) set up for viewing, though the eclipse also will be visible with the naked eye. The "show" will start about 10:30 p.m. as the eclipse begins, and totality will start at 11:41 p.m. Observatory director E.C. Krupp plans to don a wizard costume to "welcome" the moon back to the night sky after the eclipse.

What do you need to go eclipse watching? Dress in layers that will keep you warm and dry as the temperature drops. And wear sensible shoes or hiking boots with thick socks to keep your feet warm too.

If it's cloudy and rainy, which it may be, given the storms moving through Southern California, you can come out anyway for lectures about the eclipse at 8:30, 9:30 and 10:45 p.m. Those craving a more remote location for better viewing of the sky show should head far from city lights.

A note about the observatory: Because of government spending cutbacks, the facility is normally closed Mondays and Tuesdays. However, in addition to Monday's special event, it will be open Tuesday, Dec. 28 and Jan. 4.

Contact: Griffith Observatory, (213) 473-0800. Admission to this event is free.

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