This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report through November 8th, 2017. Here’s what’s happening in the skies of southern California.
Daylight saving time ends on Sunday morning, November 5th. Remember to set your clock back one hour before sleeping on Saturday night. On Sunday morning, 1:59 a.m., PDT will be followed by 1:00 a.m. PST. Daylight Saving time will return on March 11 next year.
Setting the clock back an hour will make many things related to the sky appear to happen an hour earlier than we have become accustomed to under Daylight Time. The sky will be brighter when it is time to wake up, and it will seem to get dark too soon, with the time of sunset changing from 5:57 p.m., PDT on the 4th to 4:56 p.m., PST on the 5th.
The moon will brighten most of the nighttime hours, as the full moon occurs on the night of the 3rd. By the 8th, the waning gibbous moon will first appear about four hours after sunset, at 9:36 p.m., PST.
The only planet visible to the unaided eye in the early evening is Saturn. It currently can be observed for about two hours in the southwestern sky starting 30 minutes after sunset. Now set against the backdrop of the stars of the constellation Ophiuchus the Serpent Bearer, Saturn appears bright, star like, and golden. A telescope is needed to see its beautiful system of rings.
A telescope will also provide the opportunity to see two more planets in the early evening. Uranus, in the constellation Pisces the Fishes crosses the meridian at about 11:30 p.m., PDT or 10:30 p.m., PST, while the most distant known planet in the solar system, Neptune – located in Aquarius the Water Bearer – is highest in the sky at 8:45 p.m., PDT or 7:45 p.m., PST. If you don’t have a telescope that automatically points at the planets, try finding them with the aid of the charts included on the Sky and Telescope Magazine Website.
The brightest planet, Venus, rises above the eastern horizon at the start of dawn. Fainter planet Mars is then easy to find, 20 degrees above and slightly to the right of Venus. Remember that 10 degrees is the angular size of your fist when it is seen at arm’s length. Mars, now nearly at its greatest distance from the Earth appears like a moderately bright star, and it can be recognized by its distinctly orange hue.
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 18th.
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From Griffith Observatory, I’m Anthony Cook, and I can be reached at email@example.com.