This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report for the week ending Wednesday, June 5, 2013. Here is what’s happening in the skies of Southern California:
The finale of the show performed by a trio of bright planets–Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury–happens this week during twilight, about 30 minutes after sunset. On Wednesday the 29th, Venus will be the easiest to spot as the brightest of the planets, about 8 degrees high, or a little less than the height of your clenched fist as viewed from arm’s length, above the west-northwest horizon. Binoculars will help you to swiftly spot Jupiter about 2½ degrees below Venus, and Mercury, 3½ degrees above Venus. Jupiter will appear lower on following nights, and will soon disappear into the glare of the sun. Mercury and Venus will appear to move in formation, appearing a little higher above the horizon each evening. By Tuesday, June 4, Mercury will be 4½ degrees above and slightly to the left of Venus.
The planet Saturn, in Virgo the Maiden, is high in the south-southeast as darkness deepens, the leftmost, brighter, and warmer hued of two bright objects in that part of the sky in the early evening. The other object is Virgo’s bright star Spica. This is an ideal time to see the spectacular rings of Saturn through the public telescopes at Griffith Observatory.
The waning moon changes from gibbous to last quarter phase on Friday the 31st. Moonrise happens an average of 30 minutes later each night, changing from 11:12 p.m., P.D.T. on the 29th to 2:43 a.m. on the 5th.
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 Tuesday-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, June 15.
From Griffith Observatory, I’m Anthony Cook and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.