The Griffith Observatory Sky Report
This is the Griffith Observatory Sky Report for the week ending Wednesday, October 29, 2014. Here is what’s happening in the skies of southern California:
A partial solar eclipse will be visible across most of North America on Thursday the 23rd. From Los Angeles, the eclipse starts at 2:07 p.m., PDT, and ends at 4:39 p.m. At eclipse maximum, 3:27 p.m., the moon will cover 45 percent of the sun’s diameter and 34 percent of its area. The greatest eclipse is visible from the Canadian arctic, where 81 percent of the sun will be covered. Observing a partial solar eclipse requires the same caution as observing the sun itself, and can be done safely only with proper equipment. Sky and Telescope has a guide for safe viewing techniques, and The Stellar Emporium, Griffith Observatory’s gift store, sells safe eclipse viewers. The Observatory and the local astronomical societies will provide free public viewing at Griffith Observatory through properly equipped telescopes. Griffith Observatory will also stream live images of the eclipse.
Eclipse viewers are all you need to see a giant sunspot that first became visible on October 17. The spot (known to solar astronomers as sunspot AR-2192) is associated with intense solar flares. The spot should be close to the center of the sun’s disk on eclipse day, and may be visible for about a week after that.
The giant planet Jupiter is the most prominent planet that can be observed this week. Located in Leo the Lion, Jupiter is the brightest object in the sky after it rises above the east-northeast horizon at 1:30 a.m. Jupiter’s disk and the four largest of its moons can be seen through binoculars, while a telescope can be used to observe the planet’s cloud patterns and storms.
The moon, at new phase during the solar eclipse, will become visible as a waxing crescent during evening twilight on Saturday the 25th. It is above the bright star Antares of Scorpius the Scorpion on the 26th, and appears close to the planet Mars on the following two nights.
The International Space Station, currently home to six people of several countries, will pass directly over Los Angeles on Monday evening, the 27th. The ISS, looking like a brilliant, moving spot of light, will cross the sky from the northwest to the southeast between 6:56 p.m. and 7:03 p.m., PDT. It appears very close to the zenith (the overhead point) at 7:00 p.m. and is then 260 miles away. A small telescope is difficult to point at the fast moving object, but can show the shape of the solar panels and other structures of the ISS.
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 our schedule. Free public observation of the solar eclipse will take place on the Observatory’s front lawn between 2:07 p.m. and 4:39 p.m. on Thursday, October 23. Telescopes for viewing are provided by Griffith Observatory and by the Los Angeles Astronomical Society, the Sidewalk Astronomers, and the Planetary Society. Please note that astronomical telescopes owned by members of the public who do not have prior approval through these organizations are not allowed on the Observatory grounds. Please don’t bring your own telescope!
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From Griffith Observatory, I’m Anthony Cook and I can be reached at email@example.com.