Weekly Sky Report
The Griffith Observatory Sky Report
This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report through August 14th, 2020. Here’s what’s happening in the skies of southern California.
The perennial favorite of summertime astronomical events, the Perseid meteor shower, peaks on the night of the 11th through the early morning hours of the 12th. The Perseid meteors appear to stream from the constellation Perseus the Hero. Perseus may be found very low in the northern sky at 10 p.m. but by dawn it is high in the north-northeast. The Perseid shower is fairly dependable, and it usually produces at least one or two meteors per minute when it is observed from dark sky locations, far from urban light pollution. This year the waning crescent moon will provide a small amount of interference after it rises at 12:22 a.m.
An adjustable deck chair is best for comfortable meteor viewing. Angle your back enough so that you are not looking at the ground. The meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, but including the northeast sky and the constellation Perseus in your view might result in seeing the greatest number of meteors. Be sure to have warm clothes, a sleeping bag, and blankets, just in case!
Besides Perseid meteors, an additional sprinkling of meteors from three other showers may also be noticed. These stream from Cygnus the Swan, Aquarius the Water Carrier, and Capricornus the Sea Goat. The Perseids can be observed in smaller numbers before and after the peak night, from July 17 through August 24.
The bright planets Jupiter and Saturn gleam side-by side in the southeast sky even before the night falls. The brightest member of the pair, Jupiter, leads Saturn as they arc westward through the sky. They appear at their highest in the south at about 11:30 p.m. As they continue moving westward, they become lower in the sky and are last seen at about 3:30 a.m., when they set in the west-southwest.
The brilliant orange glow of the planet Mars may catch your attention when it appears above the eastern horizon after 10:45 p.m. Mars is high above the southern horizon at dawn.
By dawn, Venus, the brightest planet, blazes in the east. It is so bright that it may continue to be seen after sunrise.
The waning moon passes close to Mars on the morning of the 9th. It is located between the bright Pleiades and Hyades star clusters, in the constellation Taurus the Bull, before dawn on the 12th, and it is positioned above Venus on the 14th. Between the 7th and the 14th, moonrise occurs about 30 minutes later than on the preceding night, and as a result, moonrise changes from 9:59 p.m. to 1:40 a.m.
The moon’s phase changes from waning gibbous to last quarter on the 11th. Afterwards, it is waning crescent through the 18th, the date of the next new moon.
Because of measures in place that are intended to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 Corona virus, Griffith Observatory remains closed until further notice. Consequently, all public telescopes are closed, and all public events have been cancelled. Please check the Griffith Observatory homepage for current information and continued updates of the situation.
From Griffith Observatory, I'm Anthony Cook, and I can be reached at Anthony.Cook@lacity.org.