This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report through November 2nd, 2016. Here’s what’s happening in the skies of southern California.
The blazing white planet Venus is visible in the southwest sky at sunset. About 30 minutes after sunset, the sky darkens enough to reveal the golden planet Saturn posed close to Venus. On October 26, Saturn will be to the upper left of Venus, and night by night moves farther down and to the right with respect to Venus until, by November 2, Saturn appears to the right of Venus. Venus and Saturn set at about 8:00 p.m.
Orange planet Mars is the bright object in the southern sky as darkness falls. Mars trails behind Venus and Saturn, and sets in the west-southwest at about 10:50 p.m.
Sirius, the brightest nighttime star, is eye-catching in the early morning. Sirius rises from the southeast at midnight, and is 40 degrees high in the southern sky at dawn. Motion of our air causes Sirius to twinkle and breaks the star’s white light into sparkling colors. Sirius is almost nine light years away, and is the closest star visible to the unaided eye from Los Angeles. Sirius is also the brightest star of the constellation Canis Major, the Big Dog, and appears early in the evening during the winter and early spring months.
The planet Jupiter is in the constellation Virgo the Maiden and is visible in the east after rising at about 5:15 a.m. It currently appears slightly brighter than Sirius, but has a yellow hue and does not appear to twinkle. Its steadiness is the result of being close enough to show a disk in a telescope, and this image is large enough to prevent it from appearing to twinkle the way the point-like image of a vastly distant star does when viewed through our turbulent atmosphere.
The Moon changes from waning crescent to waxing crescent between October 26 and November 2. New Moon is on October 30. The Moon will be visible before sunrise until the 29th, and it will appear after sunset starting on November 1st. The slender crescent Moon is below Jupiter on October 28th and on November 2nd is directly above Saturn and to the upper right of Venus.
The International Space Station will outshine Jupiter as it crosses the sky before sunrise on Halloween morning, October 31st. This ISS moves from the south-southwest to the east-northeast between 6:29 and 6:36 a.m. The brilliant satellite appears highest at 6:32 a.m., when it is 51 degrees above the southeast horizon.
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 the schedule. The next free 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, November 5.
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From Griffith Observatory, I’m Anthony Cook and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org