This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report through July 20th, 2016. Here’s what’s happening in the skies of southern California.
The brilliant moon and the planets, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn continue to highlight the early evening sky. These objects are currently featured through the public telescopes at Griffith Observatory.
Jupiter, in Leo the Lion, is in the western sky from twilight until it sets at about 11:00 p.m. Jupiter is the brightest of the three planets currently visible. Because Jupiter is drawing closer to the horizon and must be viewed though the blurring effects of the increasingly dense atmosphere night by night, the planet will be too low for detailed telescopic examination after July 20th. In the remaining time, use a telescope to look for Jupiter’s famous oval storm, the Great Red Spot, when it faces the west coast at 9:00 p.m. on July 14th, 17th, and 19th.
Orange-hued planet Mars, the second brightest planet, is in the constellation Libra the Scales and is in the south during evening twilight. Earth and Mars are now moving farther from each other, but Mars is still close enough for examination through astronomical telescopes. Mars sets in the west-southwest at about 1:30 a.m.
Golden planet Saturn, in the constellation Ophiuchus the Serpent Bearer, is about 15 degrees to the left of the brighter Mars. A telescope is needed to the spectacular ring system of Saturn.
The moon lights most of the night as it changes from waxing to waning gibbous between the 13th and 20th. It is full on the evening of the 19th. The traditional American name for July’s full moon is the Buck moon. The moon appears 8 degrees above Mars on the 14th and 3 degrees from Saturn on the 15th.
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, August 6th.
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From Griffith Observatory, I’m Anthony Cook and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org