Bakersfield Night Sky – April 18, 2009
By Nick Strobel
Saturn is no longer alone in the evening sky—Mercury appears opposite Saturn as the bright star low in the west. Mercury is brighter than Saturn. Saturn is still in eastern sky below the triangle of Leo (on the left side of Leo). Saturn will be the bright "star" below Leo. Mercury will continue to climb higher in the west away from the Sun until April 26th. On that day, look for Mercury below the Pleiades and the thin Waxing Crescent Moon to the upper left of the Pleiades. All three may just fit within the field of typical binoculars. See chart B. After that Mercury will quickly fade over the next two weeks.
Early morning observers will see bright Jupiter low in the southeastern sky in Capricornus (see the chart). The Waning Crescent Moon will be right next to it. Venus is now visible lower in the east at the right side of Pisces. Mars is to the lower right of Venus but may be lost behind the mountains until about half an hour before sunrise. The chart also shows the details of the special event happening on the morning of April 22nd. The very thin crescent Moon will "occult" (pass in front of) Venus from 5:09 to 6:01 AM. Venus appears as a fatter crescent in a telescope. Earlier that morning, see if more meteors appear than usual as the Lyrid meteor shower is expected to be at its peak. It usually is a weak shower but every now and then it puts on a good show with strong outbursts. Look toward whatever part of the sky is darkest.
Want to see more of the
stars at night and save energy? Shield your lights so that the light
only goes down toward the ground. See www.darksky.org for how.
Director of the William M Thomas Planetarium at Bakersfield College
Author of the award-winning website www.astronomynotes.com
last updated: April 10, 2009
Webpage contact: Nick Strobel