This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report through November 16th, 2016. Here’s what’s happening in the skies of southern California.
Venus is the brightest of the three evening planets visible in the southwest sky after sunset. Saturn can be seen to the lower right of Venus as twilight deepens. The angular separation between Venus and Saturn increases from 12 to 20 degrees between the 9th and 16th. Over the same period, the red-hued planet Mars is high and to the left of Venus. Saturn is the first to set at about 6:15 p.m., followed by Venus at about 7:15 p.m., and finally by Mars at about 9:45 p.m.
The moon changes from waxing crescent on the 9th to waning gibbous on the 16th. Full Moon occurs on Monday the 14th. The moment of Full Moon, at 5:52 a.m., PST, is just 7 minutes before it sets, and it occurs a little more two hours after the Moon’s perigee, when the moon is closest to the Earth. The perigee occurs at 3:28 a.m., PST. At that time, the center of the Earth and the center of the Moon will be separated by 221,525 miles. Because the Earth is a sphere with a radius of about 4,000 miles, we are even closer to the Moon when it is high overhead. Los Angeles will be at its closest to the Moon on Sunday night, the 13th, at 11:36 p.m., PST, at a range of 217,843 miles. The perigee full moon appears 7 percent larger and produces about 15 percent more illumination than an average full moon. This perigee Full Moon is the closest since 1948 and another won’t be this close again until 2024.
Telescopes are needed to see Neptune, in the constellation Aquarius the Water Bearer and Uranus in Pisces the Fishes. Neptune is best placed for observation at 7:00 p.m., and Uranus is highest at about 9:00 p.m. Finder maps for the outermost planets are available from the Sky and Telescope magazine website.
The giant planet Jupiter, in the constellation Virgo the Maiden, appears over the eastern horizon at about 3:30 a.m. The planet is becoming well placed for telescopic observations just before sunrise.
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, December 10th.
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From Griffith Observatory, I’m Anthony Cook and I can be reached at email@example.com