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A boys studies a space exhibit at Griffith Observatory.
Visitors to the Griffith Observatory look at a display explaining light in the universe.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Thinking about the galaxy? These L.A. space places will spark even more wonder

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If the latest eye-popping views from NASA’s Webb Telescope have you thinking about space, here’s good news. The Los Angeles area is home to several spots devoted to seeing the stars and better understanding them.

Here’s a list to get you started — including a bonus location (with vintage Apollo hardware) from San Diego.

If you’d rather be alone with the firmament — just you, the stars and your naked eye — seek out a relatively dark stargazing spot like one of these. And if you prefer your stars more down to earth, well, there’s always the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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Griffith Observatory is lit up at night, with the Los Angeles skyline behind it.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Griffith Observatory

Los Angeles County Experience
Griffith Observatory, the slope-clinging architectural star of Griffith Park, is open Thursdays through Sundays with a variety of exhibits and programs, some free, some not. (To enter, visitors age 12 and over must show proof of COVID vaccination, and masks are required inside.)

Free public telescopes are available on the roof and lawn, usually beginning about 7 p.m., on nights when the observatory is open and skies are clear.

The facility’s 290-seat Samuel Oschin Planetarium Theater offers shows ($10 per adult) every 60 to 90 minutes. The most frequently presented show is “Signs of Life,” which examines prospects of life elsewhere.
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LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CA - JANUARY 09: Models stand in position on the catwalk at Mount Wilson Observatory.
(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

Mt. Wilson Observatory

Mt. Wilson Observatory, open daily, looks down upon Pasadena (and up at the universe) from 5,715 feet above sea level in the San Gabriel Mountains. It features a free traveling exhibit from NASA — exploring the accomplishments of the Hubble Space Telescope — through Sept. 4, open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily in the observatory museum.

Visitors can see the observatory’s Hooker 100-inch telescope from the Visitors’ Gallery inside the dome. If you buy tickets for a weekend guided tour (11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; $15 per adult), you will be admitted to the telescope floor beneath the 100-inch telescope. In most cases, you will be able to see the facility’s 60-inch telescope dome and 150-foot Solar Tower Telescope. There’s also a Cosmic Cafe (mostly sandwiches), open Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. through September.
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Space Shuttle Endeavour, California Science Center.
(Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)

Space Shuttle Endeavour, California Science Center

Exposition Park Experience
The Space Shuttle Endeavour, a star attraction at the California Science Center in Exposition Park, is viewable daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. It’s free to see, as are displays in the science center’s other permanent galleries.

But Endeavour will be moving eventually — not into space, but into a new permanent display area, the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, an expansion project for which the center is making plans and raising money.

You will need to pay to see presentations in the center’s IMAX theater (such as “Asteroid Hunters 3D” at $9.79 per adult) or the center’s current special exhibition, Angkor: The Lost Empire of Cambodia.
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Heather Llanes and Ariana Llanes, 10, browse the San Diego Air & Space Museum.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

San Diego Air & Space Museum

The San Diego Air & Space Museum, in Balboa Park, might be a bit of a drive for you — it’s 120 miles south of L.A. City Hall. But it’s still about 238,800 miles closer than the moon, and it has a lot.

The collection includes the original Apollo 9 command module (launched in 1969); a spacesuit from Apollo 8 astronaut William A. Anders (launched in 1968) and a Boeing GPS satellite. The museum ($13 per adult) is open daily 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
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