The Griffith Observatory Sky Report
This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report for the week ending Wednesday, September 17, 2014. Here is what’s happening in the skies of southern California:
The planet Mercury is visible in the west, 30 minutes after sunset. Look about 5 degrees above the horizon, or half the distance spanned by the knuckles of your clenched fist held at arm’s length.
Golden planet Saturn and orange Mars appear side-by-side, low in the southwest during evening twilight. Both planets are in Libra the Scales until the 13th, when Mars, moving farther to the left of Saturn each night, slips into Scorpius the Scorpion. Mars starts the week between Saturn and the brightest star of Scorpius, Antares. Because of the nearly identical color of Mars and Antares, the name Antares is from the Greek meaning the “rival” or “match” of Mars.
The waning moon changes from gibbous to last quarter on the 15th, and then is crescent up to the new moon of September 23rd.
The early evening, now free of moonlight, is a good time to look for comet Jacques (C/2014 E2). From dark-sky sites, comet Jacques is visible through binoculars and small telescopes at about magnitude 7 as it moves southward along the Milky Way. This week, it crosses from Cygnus the Swan to Vulpecula the Fox on the 13th. A chart for finding comet Jacques is available from the Comet Chasing website.
Brilliant, cream-yellow Jupiter, in Cancer the Crab, rises in the east-northeast at 3:30 a.m., and climbs 30 degrees high in the east 30 minutes before sunrise.
The brightest planet, Venus, is more of a challenge to see, rising only 10 degrees above the eastern horizon by sunrise.
The best appearance of the International Space Station above Los Angeles this week will happen on Thursday morning, the 11th. The ISS becomes visible above the southwest horizon at 5:48 a.m., is highest, high overhead at 5:51 a.m., and sets in the northeast at 5:55 a.m. The ISS looks like a slowly moving dot that should outshine Jupiter.
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 our schedule. The next 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, October 4.
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From Griffith Observatory, I’m Anthony Cook and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.