Bakersfield Night Sky – November 7, 2009
By Nick Strobel
Jupiter is alone in the early evening sky blazing brightly at the lower left side of Capricornus in the south (see chart A). After 10 PM, the Waning Gibbous Moon will be seen low in east as the other naked eye solar system object visible in the evening next to Cancer. Above it you will see the two bright stars of Gemini, Pollux and Castor. Pollux is one bright star you can point to as one we know that has a planet going around it. Another bright star with a planet you can point to even with all of the light pollution in Bakersfield is Fomalhaut about 25º to the left of Jupiter (a bit more than your hand at arms length with all of your fingers spread out). Fomalhaut is about a quarter of the way up in the sky at around 8 PM. Fomalhaut's planet is the first one seen directly in the visible band. A few other planets have been imaged in the infrared band but the rest of the over 400 planets (as of the time of writing) have been found indirectly either by their gravitational effect on the star they orbit or by blocking a tiny fraction of their star's light as they pass in front of it ("transiting the star"). High up almost overhead at 8 PM is the great square of Pegasus (the flying horse). Extending a line between the two right stars in the square of Pegasus downward will lead you to Fomalhaut.
At around 11 PM Mars will rise in the east and be up high in the south at around 5:30 AM. Its orange-red color will be more noticeable as the month progresses. In your binoculars with Mars on the left side of your field of view, you'll be able to see the Beehive Cluster of stars at the heart of Cancer at the right side of your field of view. However, the Waning Gibbous Moon near them will not make them as easy to see.
At around 3 AM Saturn will rise. Look for it on the right edge of Virgo. At around 5 AM, super-bright Venus will rise in the left side of Virgo. Chart B below shows this view. The Moon will have passed Mars by the following night and be in Third Quarter phase on November 9th. The Moon will pass just under the bright star Regulus at the bottom of the sickle in Leo on the 10th. On the 12th a thin Waning Crescent Moon will be below Saturn and a very thin crescent Moon will be just below the bright star Spica on the 14th. The Moon will be in new phase on the 16th so it will be out of the way for Leonid meteor shower that usually peaks the night of November 16/17th. More Leonids will be visible on the night before and following the peak night. The Leonids are the result of the Earth running into the dust trail left behind by Comet Temple-Tuttle.
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: October 31, 2009
Webpage contact: Nick Strobel