Weekly Sky Report
The Griffith Observatory Sky Report
This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report through January 16, 2019. Here’s what’s happening in the skies of southern California.
The moon has returned to the evening sky. As it waxes, it sets later and is in the sky for a longer time on successive nights, so the moon sets at 8:29 p.m. on the 9th and at 2:10 a.m. on the 16th. Its phase changes from crescent to first quarter on the 13th, and after that it is waxing gibbous before it reaches full––and is eclipsed by Earth’s shadow––on the 20th. The moon will appear next to orange planet Mars on the 12th. Mars sets at about 11:05 p.m.
At 5:00 a.m., a trio of bright objects appears above the southeast horizon. The brightest is the planet Venus. To the lower left of Venus is the second brightest planet, Jupiter, and making a triangle with the planets, to the right of Jupiter, is the bright orange star Antares in the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion. The star, about 550 light-years away, creates a reference against which the shifting positions of Venus and Jupiter, caused by the revolution of those planets, and our own, around the sun can be observed from one morning to the next.
The International Space Station will almost equal the brightness of Venus when it sails through the dawn sky this week. On the 11th, the ISS crosses the sky from the northwest to the southeast between 6:10 and 6:16 a.m., and it appears at its highest, 71 degrees above the northeast horizon a few seconds before 6:13 a.m.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch the Iridium 66-75 communication satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday, January 11 at 7:31 a.m., PST. If the weather is clear, the launch may be visible in the sky as the rocket ascends from the west-northwest of Los Angeles, but day lit morning launches of the Falcon 9 tend to be difficult to observe. Use binoculars to watch for the flame from the booster during launch and as it re-fires before attempting a landing on the drone ship Just Read the Instructions, waiting in the Pacific Ocean. To monitor the launch or to learn of its possible rescheduling, check with www.spacex.com .
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. Weather permitting, 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 12th, from 2:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
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From Griffith Observatory, I’m Anthony Cook, and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.