This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report for the week ending Wednesday, November 7, 2012. Here is what’s happening in the skies of Southern California:
Standard time starts on Sunday, November 4. At 2:00 a.m. Daylight time, clocks are set back one hour to 1:00 a.m. Daylight Saving time will return on March 10, 2013.
Be on the lookout this week for unusually bright meteors known as fireballs. If fireballs do appear, they are likely part of the Taurid meteor stream that seems to come from the direction of the Pleiades star cluster in Taurus the Bull. These could appear nearly any time through nighttime hours through at least November 11. Fireballs are bright enough to see in spite of light pollution and moonlight. Taurid meteors are thought to be fragments shed from the nucleus of the periodic comet Enke. While irregular in the kind of show they produce, some meteor experts think that 2012 will prove to be a good one for spotting Taurid fireballs.
The period of dark night sky between the end of twilight and moonrise increases successively each night. The time of moonrise advances from 7:20 p.m., P.D.T. to 11:36 p.m., P.S.T. between October 31 and November 6. The phase of the moon wanes from gibbous to last quarter during the same period.
Jupiter is brilliant and eye catching in the east-northeast after it rises shortly after nightfall. Located in Taurus the Bull, the planet is visible most of the night, and is nearly overhead at 3 a.m. P.S.T. or 2 a.m., P.D.T. The moon perches close to it on October 31 and November 1.
Early risers can see the brightest planet, Venus, low in the east after it rises at the beginning of dawn. By sunrise, Venus is 32 degrees high in the east-southeast.
The International Space Station should rival Jupiter in brightness when it makes a pass high in the evening sky over Los Angeles on Thursday, November 1. Now housing a crew of six under the command of NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, The ISS will cross the sky from the northwest to the south-southeast between 6:37 and 6:44 p.m., P.D.T., and reaches its apex, 54 degrees high in the southwest at 6:41 p.m. For appearances of satellites from any location on earth, check www.heavens-above.com.
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 five days a week (Wednesday-Sunday) through Griffith Observatory’s telescopes before 9:30 p.m. Check our website for our schedule. The next Griffith Observatory public star party, hosted by Los Angeles Astronomical Society, the Sidewalk Astronomers, and the Planetary Society, is scheduled for Saturday, November 17.
From Griffith Observatory, I’m Anthony Cook, and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.