Griffith Observatory Sky Report through October 14, 2015

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This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report through October 14, 2015. Here’s what’s happening in the skies of southern California.

Look for the gold–hued planet Saturn low in the southwest as the sky grows dark. A telescope is needed to see Saturn’s rings. The planet sets in the west-southwest at 8:30 p.m.

Before new moon on the 12th, the waning crescent moon is highest at dawn and is close to the bright star Regulus of the constellation Leo the Lion and the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter. Each morning, the best time to view the changing lineup of objects is 6:15 a.m. On Thursday the 8th, the moon is part of a small triangle along with brilliant Venus and the glittering star Regulus. Jupiter, the second brightest planet, then is about 10 degrees to the lower left of Venus. At the same time, distinctly orange Mars can be found between Venus and Jupiter, and closer to Jupiter than Venus. Mercury appears brighter than Mars, and is 5 degrees above the eastern horizon. On the 9th, the moon, Jupiter, and Mars form a triangle. On the 10th, the moon is between Jupiter and Mercury, and on the 11th the moon is between Mercury and the horizon. The moon returns to the evening sky on the 14th.

An Atlas 5 rocket is scheduled to launch a classified government payload into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California on Thursday, October 8, at about 5:49 a.m., PDT. The rocket should be visible from most of southern California as it ascends to space. From Los Angeles, the rocket will arc up and to the left from the western horizon. Use binoculars or a telescope to watch the early phases of the rocket’s flight. Information about live launch coverage can be found on the United Launch Alliance website. The webcast starts at 5:29 a.m., PDT.

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 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 17.

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From Griffith Observatory, I’m Anthony Cook and I can be reached at