On a clear starry night, the wonders of our universe are countless and awe-inspiring. This pathfinder is for those who wish to take the first steps toward a lifetime of cosmic exploration and enjoyment. Whether you start with binoculars, a small telescope, or just the naked eye, the following resources will help get you started by providing the basic knowledge you need to build a strong foundation. Happy sky watching!

Anza Nite event Kuhn star event Sally Ride OCA event
Photos by Ty Husak (l) and Matthew Ota (r). Center photo courtesy of Orange County Astronomers.

Getting acquainted

Astronomy Clubs

One of the best ways to learn about backyard astromony is to connect with people who share the same interests. Joining an amateur astronomy club is a good option. The Orange County Astronomers Club is a non-profit organization whose main purpose is to spread knowledge and appreciation of the science of astronomy. The club has been doing this for more than 40 years and has grown to over 800 members. Just a beginner? No problem! You will find that many members joined the club when they were just beginners, too! OCA even have a free beginners class in astronomy. The club has an extensive variety of resources and activities to meet the wide needs of this wonderful hobby.

Griffith Observatory

Visiting a major observatory is another recommendation for any budding astronomy enthusiast. Southern California has several observatories, including the renowned Griffith Observatory in L.A. Admissions to the Observatory building and grounds is FREE!

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A Los Angeles Institution

Griffith Observatory is an icon of Los Angeles, a national leader in public astronomy, a beloved civic gathering place, and one of southern California's most popular attractions. The Observatory is located on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, just above the Los Feliz neighborhood. It is 1,134 feet above sea level and is visible from many parts of the Los Angeles basin.

Samuel Oschin Planetarium

With its spectacular Zeiss star projector, laser digital projection system, state-of-the-art aluminum dome, comfy seats, sound system, and theatrical lighting, the 285-seat Samuel Oschin Planetarium Theater is the finest planetarium in the world.


Griffith Observatory is one of the premier public observatories in the world. One of the principal reasons is the presence and regular availability of high-quality public telescopes. Griffith J. Griffith wanted the public to have the opportunity to look through a telescope, which he felt might broaden human perspective. Mounted in the copper-clad domes on either end of the building, the Zeiss and solar telescopes are free to the public every day and night the sky is clear.

Site created March 2011 for CIM 243, Irvine Valley College,
and is not affiliated with OC Public Libraries.