Bakersfield Night Sky – November 15, 2008
By Nick Strobel
Venus and Jupiter are just 15º apart from each in this evening's sky in the southwest (chart A). Jupiter is left of Venus and both shine brighter than any star in the night sky. Venus continues to close in on Jupiter for its end of the month conjunction when they will be just 2º from each other (also shown on chart A). On the night of the conjunction, a thin crescent Moon will be just to the right of the pair. The following night the crescent Moon will be to the left of them and all three will fit within the field of your binoculars—a truly spectacular sight!
Tonight, the Moon is a couple of days after full phase so you won't see it rise above the mountains until about 8:30 PM. It will be to the left of the horns of Taurus. Can you see the Pleiades star cluster through all of the moonlight? They will be higher up due east. See the chart from last month's column and archived on the planetarium's website.
Saturn is high up in the southeast in the pre-dawn hours (chart B). Saturn rises at about 1:30 AM, below the left side of Leo. The last quarter Moon will be to the right of Leo on November 19th. Two days later a waning crescent Moon passes below Saturn.
The Leonid meteor shower should be near its peak in the pre-dawn morning hours of November 17th but it is expected to be weak as in most years and the gibbous Moon will also wash out most of the streaks. The Leonids appear to shoot out of a point in the sky located in the middle of the "Sickle" of Leo. Meteor showers are the result of Earth running into the dust trail left behind by a comet in the comet's orbit. The Leonids are due to Comet Tempel-Tuttle. See my free online textbook website www.astronomynotes.com for more about meteor showers.
There are spaces still available for the November and December Planetarium shows. Tickets are available only at the BC Ticket Office and will not be sold at the door. See the planetarium's website for information about the show and maps to the planetarium. Also, more Night Sky charts are available on the planetarium website.Save the night sky and save energy (and money) by keeping all the light from street and building lights shining down toward the ground where we need it. Check out www.darksky.org for what you can do to shield your lights
Director of the William M Thomas Planetarium at Bakersfield College
Author of the award-winning website www.astronomynotes.com
last updated: November 9, 2008
Webpage contact: Nick Strobel