This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report for the week ending Wednesday, August 27, 2014. Here is what’s happening in the skies of southern California:
Orange planet Mars and golden planet Saturn are visible after sunset in Libra the Scales, low in the southwest. Saturn and Mars appear similar in brightness to each other and are between the bright orange star Antares of Scorpius the Scorpion to the pair’s left and the blue star Spica of Virgo the Maiden to its right. Notice that the planets twinkle less than stars. A small telescope will reveal the magnificent rings of Saturn, but Mars is now too far away for even large telescopes to make out much detail. Both planets set by about 11:00 p.m.
The moon is visible in waning crescent phase before sunrise until Saturday the 23rd. On that morning, look just above the eastern horizon starting at 5:30 a.m. to see the moon to the right of brilliant planet Jupiter and the even-brighter planet Venus. The moon is new on the morning of the 25th and will return to the evening sky on the 27th.
The International Space Station will make two bright evening passes over Los Angeles this week. On Thursday the 21st, the ISS should arc up from the northwest horizon starting at 9:17 p.m. Three minutes later it will reach its highest point, 57 degrees above the northern horizon, where it will fade into earth’s shadow. On Sunday the 24th, the ISS will again appear in the northwest, but at 8:28 p.m. It will glide up to 70 degrees above the southwest horizon at 8:31 p.m. Two minutes later the ISS will fade into earth’s shadow while 21 degrees high in the southeast.
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, August 30.
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From Griffith Observatory, I’m Anthony Cook and I can be reached at email@example.com.