This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report for the period ending Wednesday, November 28, 2012. Here is what’s happening in the skies of Southern California:
The waxing moon changes from crescent to first quarter phase on Tuesday the 20th, and is full on Wednesday, November 28. On that date, the moon will undergo a penumbral eclipse, an excursion through the fuzzy outer shadow of the earth. This will result in a shading of the upper portion of the moon that you should be able to see by 6:00 a.m., during the dawn while the moon is sinking toward the west-northwest horizon. The maximum eclipse at 6:32 a.m. is only 5 minutes before the moon sets as seen from Los Angeles. Then, 92 percent of the moon will be in the penumbra, and the moon’s top edge should appear quite dark compared to the lower edge. Although unrelated to the eclipse, this will also be the year’s smallest full moon, 12 percent smaller than average. This is because the full phase is falling on the same date as the apogee, the farthest distance that the moon’s elliptical orbit takes it from us. This is the opposite condition that produced the “super moon” we all heard about last May.
The brilliant planet Jupiter, in Taurus the Bull, rises in the east-northeast during evening twilight, by 5:20 p.m., and is visible all night long. It is highest, 77 degrees above the southern horizon, shortly before midnight, then moves to the western sky by dawn. The giant planet is in the sky long enough to watch its entire 9 hour, 55 minute rotation through a telescope. When weather permits, Jupiter and its four brightest moons are featured through Griffith Observatory’s public telescopes after 8:00 p.m.
In the early morning, the brightest planet, Venus, clears the eastern horizon at 4:10 a.m., and is still visible at sunrise, 26 degrees above the southeast horizon. Look at 6:00 a.m. (about 30 minutes before sunrise) to see the planet Saturn appearing like a bright star to the lower left of dazzling Venus.
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 before 9:30 p.m. Check our website for our special holiday 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, December 22.
From Griffith Observatory, I’m Anthony Cook, and after November 25, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.