DonAithnen (donaithnen) wrote,

Christmas, Star Wars, Mixed Nuts, and Meteors

Saturday we went over to inkbot's place to set up the christmas tree. Avalyn and i helped get all the christmas stuff out of the garage and then Avalyn set up the tree with a little help with inkbot and i, and then inkbot and i just stood back and let Avalyn put most of the ornaments on.

Avalyn has an extensive collection of fancy Star Wars ornaments which she has been collecting for the past... two decades? Maybe a little more? In any case inkbot and i are wary of helping her put them on the tree least we screw up somehow and break one. Once all the Star Wars ornaments were up i helped Avalyn put up the remaining, more mundane ornaments. (Some stars and some icicles and some stuff like that.)

During the ornamenting of the tree inkbot put on "Mixed Nuts", one of their favorite christmas movies which i had never seen before. It was filmed in 1994 and features a very young looking Steve Martin and also what seems to be Jon Stewart's first ever feature film role, in a very bit part. It was also one of the first movies that a friend of theirs ever worked on. On the downside, it also had Adam Sandler in a not-as-bit-as-i-would-have-liked part. Also, i managed to annoy Avalyn by predicting the plot twist at the end :)

Inkbot was going to a concert that evening so Avalyn and i headed home pretty soon after the decorating was finished. We spontaneously decided to head by Del Taco on the way home.

We'd been vaguely thinking of doing something for the Geminid meteor shower, and around 7 i got around to looking some stuff up. The last time i went meteor watching it was over a decade ago when i was living in Pomona. It would take us almost an hour and a half to get to the spot i remembered there. I decided to go up on the roof of the apartment complex to see if the weather was clear enough to even merit bothering.

I went up for about 5 minutes and it looked moderately clear. There was one moderately large bank of clouds to the south and a little haze elsewhere, but mostly clear, especially straight up. Towards the end of the five minutes i even saw two meteors, even from the middle of LA.

After heading back down we discussed it for a little bit and decided we weren't quite up for a three hours round trip out to Mt Baldy. But after doing a little research into alternative locations we decided that it might be worth trying the Griffith Observatory, a 45-60 minute round trip.

So we dressed up warmly (i even brought along a coat! (though i didn't switch out of my shorts)) and headed up. When we got close the first road up the hill that Google tried to direct us down turned out to be closed. (Maybe due to problems relating to the recent rains? Don't really know.) We followed the posted directions to the other entrance and were warned by a sign a little short of the summit that the parking lot was full. We turned down the road towards the alternate parking, which was lined with cars on both sides. It wasn't clear if that _was_ the intended alternate parking, but when we spotted a recently vacated space just a hundred or so paces down the road we grabbed it.

We walked up to the observatory, which looked pretty cool and had an amazing overview of night-time LA. On the plus side it seemed like maybe the sky was _slightly_ darker up above the city. But only slightly On the down side, the outside of the observatory was lit up, and there were lights on in the parking lot, and we didn't really see any place where you could get away from the lights.

We eventually ended wandering out to the big giant plinth in the middle of the front grounds and sitting against it. We chose an angle where the plinth blocked out the lights from the observatory and were mostly able to shield our eyes from the parking lot lights. (Except for those periods when the shuttle or other vehicles would swing around the lot and point their headlights directly at us =)

We saw a number of meteors, including one very bright one that Avalyn saw all or most of but that i just caught the tail end of. Then around 9:50, about ten minutes before the observatory closed, they turned on all the lights in the front grounds that we hadn't really noticed were there =P We waited for another ten or fifteen minutes hoping that they would turn them off when they were officially closed, but no such luck. We then moved to an overlook which had no immediate lights but was still exposed to the observatory and parking lot lights. But it was off to the side so it was a little easier to block most of them out. We saw a couple more meteors that way, though nothing approaching the bright one from earlier, before deciding to head home.

If we decide to try this again in a year or two we'll probably want to scout out a better location. I found this article suggesting some places in and around LA to do stargazing. Griffith Observatory is one of the possibilities suggested, but unsurprisingly it is both the closest and least promising of the options.

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