Griffith Observatory – Astronomy and Science Education

by David Lemberg on December 7, 2009

in Astronomy, Science Education, Space Exploration

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Dr. Edwin C. Krupp is an astronomer and Director of Griffith Observatory, a position he has held since his appointment in 1974. He first joined the Griffith Observatory in 1970, working as a part-time Planetarium Lecturer, and upon completion of his graduate degree, was appointed Curator in 1972. He is now recognized internationally as an expert on ancient, prehistoric, and traditional astronomy, and has visited nearly 1800 ancient and prehistoric sites throughout the world, regularly leading field study tours to exotic locations that have astronomical and archaeological interest.

Dr. Krupp is the author and editor of several books on the celestial component of human belief systems, including In Search of Ancient Astronomies, Archaeoastronomy and the Roots of Science, and Echoes of the Ancient Skies. His fourth book for adults, Beyond the Blue Horizon – Myths and Legends of the Sun, Moon, Stars, and Planets, is a worldwide comparative study of celestial mythology. His most recent book for adults, Skywatchers, Shamans, & Kings: Astronomy and the Archaeology of Power, was published in 1997. He also writes astronomy books for children illustrated by Robin Rector Krupp, including The Comet and You, The Big Dipper and You, The Moon and You, and The Rainbow and You. Dr. Krupp has received four national prizes for his writing. He is a contributing editor for Sky & Telescope and writes a monthly column that emphasizes the cultural component of astronomy for this nationally distributed magazine.

Opened in 1935, Griffith Observatory is one of the best-known and most visited public observatories in the world. Operated by the City of Los Angeles’s Department of Recreation and Parks, the Observatory welcomed nearly 70 million visitors into the building prior to closing for renovation in January 2002. Construction on the renovation and expansion project began in October 2002. Griffith Observatory officially reopened to the public Friday, November 3, 2006, after finishing a $93-million facelift to renovate and expand the historic landmark.

Griffith Observatory’s unique architecture and setting, compelling programmatic offerings, and cinematic exposure have made it one of the most famous and visited landmarks in southern California. Tens of millions have come to walk the inside of the building, view the live planetarium shows, or simply gaze out toward the coast and the heavens. This cultural and scientific icon owes its existence to the dream of one man, Griffith Jenkins Griffith, and to the dedicated scientists and public servants who worked to fulfill his vision of making astronomy and observation accessible to all.

In our 3-1-07 interview, Dr. Krupp discusses enhancements to the Observatory attained by the $93 million and 4 1/2 year renovation and expansion project (completed in November 2007). Dr. Krupp also discusses the role of Griffith Observatory in enhancing science education.

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