This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report through June 14, 2017. Here’s what’s happening in the skies of southern California.
The giant planet Jupiter, in the constellation Virgo the Maiden, is the brilliant object high in the southern sky after sunset. Jupiter sets in the west at about 2:20 a.m. In addition to its four largest moons, which are bright enough to see through binoculars, the planet offers many cloud features for observation through telescopes. The planet’s colorful oval storm, the Great Red Spot, is visible to observers in Los Angeles at 9:00 p.m. on June 8th, 10th, 12th, and 13th. Jupiter is one of the featured objects through Griffith Observatory’s public telescopes.
The moon is full at sunrise on Thursday the 8th. Starting on Friday night, it is in gibbous phase and rises after sunset, and by Sunday the 11th it rises after night falls. On the 13th moonrise occurs at 11:16 p.m.
The golden planet Saturn, appearing bright in the constellation Ophiuchus the Serpent Bearer, is visible low in the southeast when darkness falls. It reaches the meridian in the south at about 1:00 a.m. Saturn is at opposition–the point in the sky directly opposite the sun– on the night of the 14th. Observe Saturn night by night to see the rings brighten relative to the planet as the opposition approaches, an effect called the “opposition surge”. The surge is caused by the reflective properties of the rings. The full moon will appear next to Saturn on the 9th.
The brightest planet, Venus, appears in the eastern sky after it rises at 3:16 a.m. The blazing planet now shows a gibbous phase through telescopes.
The International Space Station will outshine Jupiter on two visible passes high above Los Angeles through the 14th. The first, on Saturday the 10th, lasts from 9:56 p.m. until 9:59 p.m. During that time, the ISS will appear above the northwest horizon and ascend until it is 69 degrees high in the west-southwest, then promptly vanishes into Earth’s shadow. On the following night, Sunday the 11th, the Space Station is visible as it travels across the sky from the northwest to the east-southeast between 9:04 and 9:09 p.m. The ISS will reach its highest point, 51 degrees above the northeast horizon, at 9:07 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, July 29th.
Follow the Sky Report on Twitter for updates of astronomy and space-related events.
From Griffith Observatory, I’m Anthony Cook, and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.