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Super moon: Good places to go and watch the show in the sky

May 04, 2012|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger

The biggest full moon of the year Saturday (tonight) will bring the highest and lowest of tides too. And, according to NASA Science News, dogs may howl and the bright glare of moonbeams may keep you up that night. (If you don't believe me, watch the video above that explains it.)

In fact, the "perigree moon," as it's known, occurs at 8:40 p.m. Pacific time when the moon in its orbit comes closest to Earth -- and only super-keen observers will be able to distinguish it from a regular full moon. No matter, it's a good excuse to go into the dark (provided it's not cloudy) for a little lunar gazing.

The deal: The best place to view anything happening in the heavens is a dark place away from city lights -- and these free hikes fit the bill. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy leads two "supermoon" hikes Saturday in the local mountains.

--Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve in the San Fernando Valley: Meet 7 p.m. at the Victory Boulevard Trailhead (exit Valley Circle Drive off the 101 Freeway, turn left on Victory Boulevard and drive to the end) for a half-mile stroll to a viewing platform. Dark skies at this park, the old Ahmanson Ranch site, should provide good views during this two-hour outing.  

--Franklin Canyon Park in Beverly Hills: Take advantage of the big moonlight on this moderately strenuous hike in the hills that are a rustic oasis from city. Meet 7 p.m. at the Sooky Goldman Nature Center [(310) 858-7272, Ext. 131] (exit Coldwater Canyon Boulevard and travel south to Mulholland Drive and make a sharp right onto Franklin Canyon Drive) and expect to be out for two hours.

--Griffith Observatory: Though city lights abound, the observatory is a good place to watch the moon and learn a thing or two about the solar system. There's no special mega-moon event planned, but you can take a gander in one of the public telescopes on display until 9:45 p.m. It's at 2800 E. Observatory Road in Los Angeles; (213) 473-0800.

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