Want to Hike to a View of Jupiter’s Moons?

Well, OK – maybe not hike all the way up TO Jupiter, but if you’re in the mood to take a nighttime trip to see a rare celestial event you should head to Griffith Park Observatory on Friday January 23rd. The Observatory is staying open late and using its telescopes to broadcast the shadows of three of Jupiter’s moons cast on its surface.

From 8:35PM to just before 11PM, the moons Io, Callisto, and Europa will pass in front of our view of the solar system’s biggest planet. The Observatory will be open until 10PM and will be watching the event with its telescopes as well as broadcasting the event in and outside the Observatory. The lawn will remain open late to 11PM for anyone who’d like to do their own stargazing as well.

Technically the trails in Griffith Park close at sunset, but if you arrange a car-shuttle you can hike up to the observatory via one of these three routes from the Fern Dell area or from Vermont Canyon Avenue (or, if you’re looking for a longer route, on this loop to Mount Hollywood).

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The shadow of the first moon to cross, Io, will be visible at 8:35PM. If you can’t make it, the event will be broadcast on the web via Livestream as well. If you miss this, you’ll have to wait until 2032 to see three simultaneous moon shadows on Jupiter again.

Visitors can also use the Observatory’s telescopes to see the Comet Lovejoy between 7 and 9:30PM through Sunday, January 24th. If you miss that one, you’ll have to wait a bit longer for your next shot – about 14,000 years.

Image of Jupiter’s surface used from NASA archives.

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