Bakersfield Night Sky – June 7, 2008
By Nick Strobel
By about 11 PM tonight all of the naked-eye outer planets, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn will be visible (see the attached chart). All three will span about 155 degrees across the southern sky with Mars low in the west just above the waxing crescent Moon, Saturn a little left of the brightest star in Leo, Regulus, in west-southwest, and Jupiter low in the southeast on the left edge of Sagittarius. Mars is drawing ever closer to Saturn on our sky. Mars closes the gap between the two from 16 degrees tonight to 10 degrees on June 20th. They will be right next to each other on July 10th. The attached chart shows other notable events in the evening June sky: a crescent Moon passes below Regulus tomorrow night; a first-quarter Moon reaches the western edge of Virgo on June 10th; a waxing gibbous Moon passes under Spica (the brightest star in Virgo) on June 12th; a gibbous Moon just misses Antares (the bright orange-red star in Scorpius); a full Moon reaches the lid of the "Teapot" part of Sagittarius on June 18th; and a waning gibbous Moon passes below Jupiter on June 19th and 20th.
Mercury is passing below the Sun this morning and we won’t be able to see it until the end of the month in the pre-dawn sky. One last astronomical event is the June solstice at 4:59 PM on June 20th. That marks the beginning of the season of summer for us in the northern hemisphere. The Sun has been drifting northward among the stars these past few months and so it has been setting further and further north on the western horizon with ever-lengthening daylight. On June 20th, the Sun is as far north of the "celestial equator" (extension of the Earth’s equator onto the sky) as it will be all year. For the rest of the days of summer, the Sun will be moving southward and the daylight length will shrink.
The Planetarium is closed this summer but the fall schedule of shows for the general public is now posted on the Planetarium’s website at www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/planetarium . Past columns are archived on the Planetarium’s website. Additional charts that can’t be printed due to lack of space are found there.
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: June 9, 2008
Webpage contact: Nick Strobel