This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report for the week ending Wednesday, July 2, 2014. Here is what’s happening in the skies of southern California:
The giant planet Jupiter, in Gemini the Twins, is visible during evening twilight, shortly before it sets in the west-northwest.
As the sky darkens, look to the south to see the orange planet Mars, in Virgo the Maiden. Mars is about 5 degrees to the upper right of Virgo’s bright star, Spica. Through a telescope, Mars now presents a tiny disk, only 9-arcseconds across. A telescope will require high magnification and a steady atmosphere to show any detail on Mars.
The golden planet Saturn is 30 degrees from Mars, slightly lower and to the left of Mars, in Libra the Scales. The planet, its moons and its spectacular ring system are all ideally placed for viewing through Griffith Observatory’s public telescopes.
The moon is new on Friday the 27th and becomes visible on the Sunday evening that follows. The slender crescent can then be found 13 degrees to the upper left of Jupiter. The moon is higher and easier to see on following nights. It will pass the bright star Regulus in Leo the Lion on Tuesday, July 1.
The brightest planet, Venus, appears briefly at dawn, low in the east-northeast. A telescope can reveal the planet’s gibbous phase.
A rocket launch may be visible in the western sky from Los Angeles early on the morning of Tuesday, July 1. NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory is scheduled to lift off at 2:56 a.m., PDT from Vandenberg Air Force Base aboard a Delta II rocket. The launch can be monitored by watching the web coverage provided by NASA-TV and the United Launch Alliance. The launch window–the period of time in which the launch must occur–is only 30 seconds long.
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, July 5.
Additional sky information is available by following the Sky Report on Twitter.
From Griffith Observatory, I’m Anthony Cook and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.