Bakersfield Night Sky
By Nick Strobel
(appeared October 20, 2007)
In the early evening sky tonight just after sunset, look for bright Jupiter in the southwest but don't wait too long as it will set by about 9 PM. Jupiter will set earlier and earlier each following night as the Sun catches up to it. A bright gibbous Moon lights up the southern sky during the evening (and makes the surrounding stars of Capricornus hard to see!).
Mars will shine brightly starting at around 11 PM in the east at the feet of Gemini. Later in the pre-dawn sky Mars will much higher in the southeast. As the next several weeks go on by you will see Mars continue to drift eastward through Gemini but in mid-November it will stop and then begin drift backward toward Taurus in what is called "retrograde motion". This happens when the Earth passes close to Mars in our respective orbits around the Sun. As this retrograde motion is going on, Mars will become even brighter. (Undoubtedly, there will be the spam email about a large Mars coming to your Inbox about that time too.)
In the pre-dawn sky looking east you will see the very bright Venus below the dimmer but still bright Saturn. Both of them are next to the constellation Leo as shown in the accompanying chart. Saturn will be next to the star Regulus in Leo.
A special event tonight is the peak of the Orionid meteor shower. If you are under dark skies away from Bakersfield you may see up to about 20 meteors per hour between 2 or 3 am and sunrise. They will appear to shoot out of the constellation Orion. Don't worry if you can't make it outside tonight, though. The Orionids should still have about the same activity for several nights.
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