Weekly Sky Report
The Griffith Observatory Sky Report
This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report through April 26th, 2017. Here’s what’s happening in the skies of southern California.
The brilliant planet Jupiter, in the constellation Virgo the Maiden, is visible nearly all night long. It travels from just above the east-southeast horizon during evening twilight to its highest point, due south, when it crosses the meridian shortly after midnight. It continues its westward journey and reaches the western horizon during the dawn. Jupiter is a fascinating telescopic object with intricate cloud details that change from night to night, and four brilliant moons that can even be glimpsed through binoculars. The giant planet is currently featured through the public telescopes at Griffith Observatory.
The brightest planet, Venus, blazes above the horizon, slightly north of due east, during the dawn. It appears crescent through a telescope.
The moon is waning crescent until the 26th, when it becomes new. Its rising time changes from 1:55 a.m. on the 19th to 5:53 a.m. on the 25th, the latter date being the last morning on which it appears before sunrise prior the new moon. The moon appears to the lower right of Venus during the dawn on Sunday the 23rd.
The lack of bright moonlight is good news for the Lyrid meteor shower, which should reach its modest peak on Saturday morning, the 22nd. Lyrids can be observed between 10:00 p.m. and the start of dawn, at 3:54 a.m. The Lyrid meteor radiant, near the brilliant star Vega, moves from the northwest horizon to directly overhead during the night. Typically, about 12 Lyrids per hour may be seen from under dark skies in the hour before dawn. The presence of the crescent moon after 3:57 a.m. will offer no interference to observers.
Two comets are currently bright enough to see through binoculars from dark sky locations. Comets PanSTARRS (2015 ER61), and Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak (41P) can be found with the charts and information provided online by Sky and Telescope Magazine.
Free views of the Sun during the day and of the moon, planets, and other celestial objects at night are available to the public in clear weather through Griffith Observatory’s telescopes from Tuesday through Sunday, before 9:30 p.m. Check our website for the schedule. The next free public star party on the grounds of Griffith Observatory, hosted by the Los Angeles Astronomical Society, the Sidewalk Astronomers, and the Planetary Society, will take place on Saturday, May 6th.
Follow the Sky Report on Twitter for updates of astronomy and space-related events.
From Griffith Observatory, I’m Anthony Cook, and I can be reached at email@example.com.