Used as MacGyver’s home in the original pilot episode and then seen again in the reboot series, no locations tour would be complete without visiting this iconic LA landmark. Perched atop the Santa Monica ranges looking out over north Los Angeles the observatory is an impressive sight to behold both from afar and up close.
The observatory is surrounded by the Griffith Natural Park which covers over 4,210 acres of wilderness segmented with a number of roads and hiking trails which we choose to use to get a full appreciation for the area. The park is also home to the Merry-go-round seen in ‘Every Time She Smiles’ and the LA Zoo is seen in season two’s ‘For Love Or Money’ episode – both are located quite a long way from the observatory though at the other end of the park.
Upon arriving at the observatory we’re greeted with the Astronomers Monument and sundial. The monument has sculptures of the 6 great astronomers, Hipparchus, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton, and John Herschel. On top of the monument is an Armillary sphere which prior to the invention of the telescope, was the main instrument used by astronomers to determine celestial position. In front of the monument is an equatorial sundial which is accurately mounted in a north-south direction and pointed to the north pole of the sky. The monument and sundial were the only things left intact during the excavation to create the new underground expansion in 2002.
The 12-inch Zeiss refracting telescope we see MacGyver using at the start of the episode is located in the left doom (looking from the front) and is actually 2 telescopes. A 9½-inch was piggybacked to the 12-inch in 1955 for better observation use. The other dome houses the Coelostat and solar telescopes for viewing sun activity on clear days.
The living area we see at the end of the episode doesn’t exist inside the observatory, that was a sound stage at Paramount studios. All available areas inside the observatory are used for presentations and information about all things Astronomical, including an underground level which was added in 2002 to house the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater along with an extensive exhibit hall which includes meteorite displays – where you can actually touch the meteorites, a scaled model of our solar system with the planets all in relative dimensions to the circular Leonard Nimoy Theater which substitutes the sun in the model. The back wall of the entire hall is covered in a 152 foot long, 20 feet tall high quality image of the Virgo Supercluster of galaxies.
View the gallery below as a virtual tour around both outside and inside MacGyver’s first and most famous home.
Photos by: KiwiTek & DashboardOnFire