Man About Town: Our view of the cosmos from an L.A. hilltop

Griffith Observatory

The Observatory makes you feel connected, or very small. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

For the planetarium's flagship show, "Centered in the Universe," Hazen walks out carrying a simple glowing orb.


"We don't have all the answers," Hazen says, before the ceiling bursts with light and she launches into the best layman's history of the cosmos you've ever heard.

"We filled the sky with stories," she says of early attempts to explain the heavens.

"The stars do not dwell alone," she says in introducing the mysteries of the planets.

From a deft, poetic script, she takes the stuffiness out of old standards such as Ptolemy, Copernicus and Galileo. She explains how Edwin Hubble, at his nearby Mt. Wilson lookout, turned his telescope into a camera and revealed millions more stars than ever.

Somehow, it is all of a piece, these heavenly notions — the myths of ancient man, the sonnets of Shakespeare, even the Christmas songs playing in the little guy's head.

"We are stardust," the wonderful Hazen says in summation.

See, told you.

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