This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report through July 22, 2015. Here’s what’s happening in the skies of southern California.
The brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, continue to appear near each other in the western sky after sunset. Venus, the most brilliant of the two, is located to the left of Jupiter. The two planets slowly drift father apart as the days pass, the gap between them growing from 5 to 6½ degrees between the 15th and 22nd. Over the same period, their setting time gets earlier and earlier– from 9:51 p.m. to 9:22 p.m. Venus displays a crescent phase that can be seen using a telescope or powerful binoculars.
The moon is new on Wednesday the 15th and appears as a waxing crescent after sunset on the following evening. At the beginning of each night the moon is higher in the sky and it sets about 35 minutes later than it did the night before. The time of moonset ranges from 8:27 p.m. on Thursday the 16th to 11:50 p.m. on Wednesday the 22nd. The moon will move within a degree of Venus on the 18th, and this should help you spot Venus in broad daylight.
The ringed planet, Saturn, in the constellation Libra the Scales, is well placed in the southern sky for viewing as soon as the sky darkens, appearing like a bright golden star. A telescope will allow you to see Saturn’s spectacular system of rings and several of the planet’s numerous moons. Saturn sets in the west-southwest at about 2:00 a.m. Saturn is currently featured through Griffith Observatory’s public telescopes.
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 successful flyby of the dwarf planet Pluto will be celebrated with All Pluto Considered Friday, July 17. 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 25.
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From Griffith Observatory, I’m Anthony Cook and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org