This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report through May 31st, 2017. Here’s what’s happening in the skies of southern California.
The moon is new on the 25th. Its narrow crescent can be spotted in the evening sky low in the west after sunset on the 26th. The waxing moon sets at 8:07 p.m. on the 26th and at 12:42 a.m. on the 31st.
The largest planet of our solar system, Jupiter, now also appears as the brightest planet in the evening sky. Jupiter is visible in the constellation Virgo the Maiden. It is highest in the sky as soon as night falls and it sets in the west at about 3:00 a.m. The planet’s colorful oval storm, the Great Red Spot, faces Los Angeles at 9:00 p.m. on the 24th, 27th, and 29th. Jupiter and its four bright Galilean moons are currently featured through Griffith Observatory’s public telescopes.
The ringed planet Saturn appears bright, golden, and star-like in the constellation Ophiuchus the Serpent Bearer. Saturn is visible above the southeast horizon by 10:00 p.m. It slowly climbs until it is 35 degrees high in the south at about 2:30 a.m. , then it slowly descends to the southwest until dawn blots it from view. A telescope is needed to see the spectacular ring system of Saturn.
Venus, the brightest planet of all, rises in the east at about 3:30 a.m. Venus is bright enough to see at sunrise when it appears about 27 degrees above the eastern horizon.
The International Space Station makes two spectacular passes over Los Angeles. The first is on Thursday the 25th, at dawn. The ISS will cross the sky from the northwest to the southwest between 4:39 and 4:45 a.m. It is highest at 4:42 a.m., when it will appear 78 degrees high in the southwest. The ISS makes an evening appearance on Friday the 26th, when it crosses the sky from southwest to northeast between 8:24 and 8:30 a.m. The brilliant satellite is highest, 64 degrees above the northwest horizon, at 8:27 p.m.
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, June 3rd.
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From Griffith Observatory, I’m Anthony Cook, and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.