This is the monthly Griffith Observatory Sky Report.
This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report for the period between August 1 and August 31, 2022. Here are the events happening in the sky of southern California.
Mercury sets at 8:47 p.m., PDT, and the sun sets at 7:54 p.m., PDT, on the 1st. Mercury is 85-percent illuminated and five arcseconds in width. On the 31st, the sun sets at 7:20 p.m., PDT, and Mercury sets at 8:15 p.m., PDT. Mercury is 46-percent illuminated and eight arcseconds wide. Do not observe any planet when it appears close to the sun, for the danger to the eyes is great.
Venus rises at 4:20 a.m., PDT, on the 1st, and the sun rises at 6:05 a.m., PDT. The planet is 93-percent illuminated and 11 arcseconds wide. On the 31st, Venus rises at 5:18 a.m., PDT, and the sun rises at 6:26 a.m., PDT. Venus is then 97-percent illuminated and ten arcseconds wide. The disk of Venus slowly diminishes in size and becomes more fully illuminated as it travels to the far side of its orbit.
Mars rises at 12:31 a.m., PDT, on the 1st and at 11:32 p.m., PDT, on the 31st. On the 9th, Mars crosses from Aries the Ram to Taurus the Bull. The disk of Mars is 85-percent illuminated and increases in size from 8.3 arcseconds on the 1st to 9.7 arcseconds on the 31st. A telescope capable of magnification of 100x or more will be needed to show the disk and any large surface features.
Jupiter rises in Cetus the Sea Monster at 10:38 p.m., PDT, on the 1st and at 8:36 p.m., PDT, on the 31st. Jupiter’s disk is 47 arcseconds in width on the 15th. On the 15th, Jupiter is two degrees north of the moon. A telescope capable of magnification 50x will show the Red Spot and the four bright Galilean moons, which can be seen moving back and forth, roughly in a line centered on Jupiter.
Saturn rises in Capricornus the Sea Goat at 8:35 p.m., PDT, on the 1st and at 6:30 p.m., PDT, on the 31st. The rings and Saturn’s largest moon Titan can be seen with a telescope capable of magnification 50x. On the 14th Saturn is opposite the sun in the sky and closest to the earth. This event is called an opposition.
Uranus is in Aries the Ram and rises at 12:27 a.m., PDT, on the 1st and at 10:29 a.m., PDT, on the 31st. On the 15th, Uranus is at Right Ascension 3h 4m 53s with a declination of +16° 59ʹ 54ʺ. Uranus is 3.6 arcseconds in width, and so a telescope with a magnification of 150x is needed to show its diminutive disk.
Neptune is in Pisces the Fishes and rises at 10:02 p.m., PDT, on the 1st and at 8:02 p.m., PDT, on the 31st. On the 15th, Neptune is at Right Ascension 23h 41m 57s and at declination -3° 16ʹ 48ʺ. Neptune is 2.4 arcseconds in width, and so a telescope with a magnification of 150x is needed to show its diminutive disk.
First quarter occurs on the 5th, full moon on the 11th, last quarter on the 18th, and new moon on the 27th.
The Perseid meteor shower is active from July 14th to September 1st. The Perseids peak from the evening of August 12 to the morning of the 13th. Rates will range from 50 to 75 meteors per hour from a dark location. Unfortunately, the moon will be full and will interfere with observation. The Perseids are particles released from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle during its numerous returns to the inner solar system. They are called Perseids because they seem to come from near the constellation Perseus the Hero. The warm summer nights make the Perseids a popular shower to observe.
The comet C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) was reported to be at magnitude 8 as we prepare this report. This makes it bright enough to be visible in binoculars or a small telescope. The comet rises earlier each day as it slowly moves west and south.