Griffith Observatory Sky Report through August 23, 2017

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This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report through August 23, 2017. Here’s what’s happening in the skies of southern California.

The long awaited Great American Eclipse of 2017 will take place on Monday, August 21. At Los Angeles, the eclipse is partial and will last from 9:05 a.m. until 11:44 a.m., PDT. At its maximum point, at 10:21 a.m., the moon will cover 70 percent of the diameter of the sun and 62 percent of the area of its disk. The eclipse will be total along a 70 mile-wide path that starts in the Pacific Ocean before making landfall in Oregon and touches at least 13 other states before reaching the Atlantic Ocean from the coast of South Carolina. Eye protection is absolutely required during all partial phases of the eclipse. The American Astronomical Society has information about safely viewing solar eclipses that includes links to even more information about how select filters and how to verify their safety.

Griffith Observatory will offer public viewing from its grounds between 9:00 a.m. and Noon. We expect that very large crowds will attend. Those attending should expect traffic congestion and long walks from parking. Wear comfortable shoes, a hat, and sunscreen. Bring water. Our eclipse event web page also includes links to other public eclipse observing opportunities in the Los Angeles area.

The brilliant planet Jupiter, in the constellation Virgo the Maiden, is low in the west-southwest after sunset. Jupiter sets in the west at about 10:15 p.m.

The planet Saturn gleams bright and golden in the southern sky as darkness falls, and it is in the constellation Ophiuchus the Snake Bearer. Saturn sets in the west-southwest at about 1:10 a.m. This is an excellent time of the year to see Saturn’s beautiful rings through a telescope, and the planet is currently featured through the public telescopes at Griffith Observatory.

The moon is visible in the morning sky as a waning crescent though the 20th. On the 18th and 19th, it passes the brightest planet, Venus. The moon is new on the 21st, and across all of the United States it will be visible in silhouette across the face of the sun–the solar eclipse! The waxing crescent moon will become visible after sunset on the 23st.

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, August 26th.

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