Griffith Observatory Sky Report through January 11th, 2017

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This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report through January 11th, 2017. Here’s what’s happening in the skies of southern California.

The moon lights the sky for a longer period night after night as it approaches full moon on the 12th. On Wednesday the 4th, the moon sets at 11:30 p.m., and by Wednesday the 11th moonset occurs six hours later, at 5:31 a.m. The moon’s phase is waxing crescent on the 4th, first quarter on the 5th and is waxing gibbous through the 11th.

The brightest planet, Venus, is the brilliant object in the southwest sky after sunset. Through a telescope, Venus currently appears half-lit. The fainter planet Mars is the bright object located to the upper left of Venus. Venus sets 45 minutes before Mars, in the west-southwest, at 8:45 p.m.

The second brightest planet, Jupiter, appears in the constellation Virgo the Maiden, and is located close to Virgo’s bright star Spica. After it rises in the east at 12:30 a.m., Jupiter slowly arcs up to the southern sky by dawn. Of all the planets, the giant planet Jupiter currently has the most to offer when observed through a telescope. Jupiter’s giant oval storm, the Great Red Spot, will be visible to observers in the Pacific Time zone on the mornings of the 6th, 9th, and 11th. The tiny black shadow of the Galilean Satellite Io will transit the face of Jupiter on the 6th between 2:28 a.m. and 4:37 a.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, January 7th.

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From Griffith Observatory, I’m Anthony Cook and I can be reached at