Free: Griffith Observatory Star Party | NBC Southern California

Free: Griffith Observatory Star Party

Eclipses are dominating the cosmic news, but there are other wonders overhead.

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Eclipses are dominating the cosmic news, but there are other wonders overhead. Find one or two or many via an outside telescope at this monthly gathering. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

    The moon will never reach down and tap us on the shoulder, and the sun isn't going to send an alert to our phone (though, of course, the sun has different ways of grabbing our attention, from illuminating our world to the occasional sunburn).

    Wish as we will, we humans are not receiving urgent reminders from beyond-our-world phenomena, the sort of memos and mail we receive from the must-dos in our daily lives.

    But every so often something like a couple of eclipses in the space of a fortnight, and even a nifty double eclipse, is akin to the most eye-catching of phone alerts. We're prodded to look up at what's happening in the universe.

    You can browse the "what's new" alerts from the universe at Griffith Observatory's Free Public Star Party, a monthly meet-up which finds a caboodle of powerful telescopes lining the landmark's vast lawn and grounds.

    Will the Saturday, Sept. 10 gathering catch an eclipse? It's actually smack dab between September's two sky shows (the Sept. 1 solar eclipse and the Sept. 16 lunar event), but you can chat up astronomers about those events and find out just what is going down with moon shadows, earth shadows, and the sun's mega-super-epic role in both. 

    Perhaps, though, you'll be able to see Mars or Saturn through some incredible lenses, or admire the star Spica and the constellation of Virgo.

    We terrestrials might benefit from phone alerts from the cosmos, but they'd be alerting us every day to the marvels over our heads (and, more accurately, all around us), and not just when an eclipse comes back around.

    A chance to delve into that, for free, next to one of the solar system's superstar observatories, is a chance to plug into what goes down nightly above us.

    Oh, and it's the 50th anniversary of "Star Trek," and there are few better ways to celebrate than making a date with deep space.

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