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Party With the Stars

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Remember that episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 when Dylan and Brenda went to the Planetarium? Or...wait, was that Dylan and Kelly? Does it matter? No. What matters is that staring up at a skyful of stars is a darn fine way to spend a romantic night with someone special.

Of course, the trouble is, LA's famous Griffith Observatory, perched atop Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, has been closed to the public for a massive renovation since January of 2002, and isn't scheduled to reopen until May 2006. This leaves us without one sure-fire stop on the must-see while in LA tour, and without a sure-fire spot for making out in the vicinity of a large, high-powered telescope. The fine folks at the Griffith Observatory know that residents of this city can't stand to be without access to one of the few ways you can actually see sky over smog. Their solution is their self-proclaimed "Observatory in exile," the Observatory Satellite (pun possibly intented, considering astronmers' proclivity for wacky humor), which is open in the northeast corner of the park, while the 1935 building gets some much-needed attention.

This temporary site might be missing the lure of the Foucault pendulum and the ever-popular Tesla coil, but it does boast a Mars rock, an improvised planetarium, and, according to their website, "a giant six-foot 3D moon globe complete with craters and seas." We'll forgive them the use of "giant" to describe something just about the average height of a man, but we will take them up on their offer to party with the stars. Or, rather, to attend a Star Party. Star Parties are one Saturday per month, and "They are a chance for the whole family to look at the sun, moon, Jupiter, and other objects, to try out a variety of telescopes, and to talk to knowledgeable amateur astronomers about the sky and their equipment." And who doesn't love to talk about their equipment?

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The next Star Party? Why, this Saturday, of course! Just in time to sneak in a snuggle under the sky.

Griffith Observatory Satellite, 4800 Western Heritage Way, in Griffith Park. (323) 664-1181