burning hydrogen

Photos from the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles

griffith observatory

Griffith Observatory is located on Mount Hollywood at 1,134 feet above sea level.

Another place I had never visited in Los Angeles when I lived next door in Orange County is the Griffith Observatory. Named for a guy whose mother couldn’t come up with a better name than Griffith J. Griffith. I don’t know why I missed this as a place to go because it’s such a fascinating experience. Odd as it may sound, in the middle of planning my future while in 5th grade, I had developed an intense desire to become an astronaut. Or, at least to study astronomy. My mother pooh-poohed that idea. She said it required too much science, and I would never stick with it. So, the decision was clear to me. I would become a bank robber. That was the other choice in my grade school kid’s mind. I suppose that’s not so far off today since I sell Sacramento real estate.

We also didn’t have a lot of time over our weekend in Los Angeles for extracurricular activities. Apart from our dinner reservations and tickets to see Hamilton at the Hollywood Pantages, that is. The day we grabbed an uber to Griffith Observatory was also the day the Dream Hotel let us use the hotel car to take us to the La Brea Tar Pits. That was probably to make up for causing us a 3-hour wait for our room. Little did I know the room they gave us was right over the entrance to the nightclub, so we had to change the second day, and that took another 3 hours. Insane. The staff means well at the newly opened Dream Hotel but they do not have their act together. Their hotel car is a Lincoln Continental, featuring an entire console in the back seat. One of the controls operates a built-in back massager, too.

griffith observatory

The view of Los Angeles from Griffith Observatory is extraordinary.

All of this means we didn’t make up the hillside to Griffith Observatory until late afternoon, which gave us about an hour to spend on the site. Lots of exhibits to see. There is a planetarium. I studied an exhibit about the sun. Somewhere in school many years ago, I probably learned about the sun eventually burning up and taking the earth with it. It will become a red giant. That’s because our sun burns hydrogen like no tomorrow, resulting in higher temperatures. Every billion years, the sun gains another 10% of energy. In 3 1/2 billion years, the sun will be 40% hotter.

Griffith observatory

This 12-inch Zeiss refracting telescope is one of two donated by Celestron

At that point, the sun will suck all of the water off earth. Earth will burn to a crisp. When the sun burns up all of its hydrogen, it will begin burning helium instead and eventually turn into a red giant. Even as I type this, I can see clearly what I must have thought about all of this in grade school. What I obviously thought in my little kid mind was what the hell do I care because I won’t be around. Not only that, but this is DEPRESSING NEWS and since I won’t be around to deal with it, I should just suppress it. Who wants to think about this? Really.

griffith observatory

The hillside view from Griffith Observatory includes the famous Hollywood sign.

Which is how this all sounds vaguely familiar to me right now. Yet, still uncomfortable and distressing information to ponder. I do not want to think about earth slowly heating up and our water evaporating, turning our beautiful planet into a vast wasteland. Even though it is absolutely true.

Griffith Observatory

The Astronomers Monument recognizes Galileo, Copernicus, Hipparchus, Kepler, Newton and Herschel.

Think about that the next time you ponder climate change. Even without our horrible human contributions, you can’t change the fact the sun is getting hotter, which is making the earth hotter. Which ultimately means we are all gonna die. Every single plant, animal, bird, human and pool of water on the face of the Earth will vanish.


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