Bakersfield Night Sky
By Nick Strobel
(appeared November 24, 2007)
By 6:00 tonight Jupiter will have already set---you may see it low in the southwest just after sunset but we'll have to wait a few months to see it easily again in the early morning sky. Look east at 9 PM and you'll see Mars shining brightly at the feet of Gemini (see attached chart). Mars is now drifting westward ("retrograde"). It will reach the horns of Taurus by January. Comet Holmes (17 P) may still be visible to the naked eye in Perseus under dark skies away from the city but the very bright waning gibbous Moon will make it hard to see the comet.
By 9 PM Taurus will be easily visible in the east. The bright little clump of stars at Taurus' shoulders is the Pleiades. How many stars can you see in the cluster? You will also begin to see parts of Orion coming up. The three belt stars of Orion stand vertically up from the horizon at this time of night.
In the pre-dawn (about 4 AM) sky looking east you will see the very bright Venus below the western (right) end of Virgo. Higher up you will see Saturn below the middle of Leo. Venus was much closer to it on our sky a few weeks ago, but Venus is a much faster planet!
Next weekend marks the beginning of the holiday run of the Christmas show at the William M Thomas Planetarium, "Season of Light". Get tickets from the BC Ticket Office before they are gone! See www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/planetarium/seasonlight for more information.
Want to see more of the stars at night and save
energy? Shield your lights so that the light only goes down toward
the light. See www.darksky.org for
Director of the William M Thomas Planetarium at Bakersfield College
Author of the award-winning website www.astronomynotes.com
last updated: January 7, 2008
Webpage contact: Nick Strobel