Bakersfield Night Sky – April 4, 2009
By Nick Strobel
There was a good turnout for this year's Astronomy Day sponsored by the Kern Astronomical Society with help from the Foothill High School Astronomy club. Spring had definitely arrived with warm temperatures during the afternoon that turned quite pleasant in the evening for the star gazing. More star gazing may be happening this evening at Panorama Park and Riverwalk Park.
Venus has now left our evening sky and is now visible just before dawn very low in the east. Later in the month it will be easier to see in the pre-dawn sky as it climbs up away from the Sun on our sky. Saturn is now the only planet in our evening sky. Look about halfway up in the eastern sky below the triangle of Leo (on the left side of Leo). The brightest "star" below Leo is Saturn. If skies are good, telescopes may be set out at Panorama Park and Riverwalk Park this evening as part of the global star party that is happening in conjunction with 100 Hours of Astronomy. Saturn and the Waxing Gibbous Moon on the right side of Leo will be some of the targets for the evening star party. Chart A shows Leo and its solar system objects (including dwarf planet, Ceres---need binoculars for it). An even fuller gibbous Moon will pass below Saturn on April 7th. Full Moon is on April 9th. Later in mid-April Mercury will becoming visible in the western sky just after sunset and climb higher in the west throughout April---see chart C.
Early morning observers will see bright Jupiter low in the southeastern sky in Capricornus. Lower in the east you may be able to spot faint Mars but the mountains may block the view. Venus will now be joining Jupiter in the morning sky. Tomorrow morning it will be at the same altitude as Mars in the east (and therefore, probably blocked by the mountains) but those at Easter sunrise services may be able to spot Venus as it continues to climb higher in the eastern pre-dawn sky---see chart B.
Tickets are going fast for the last Planetarium shows of the spring semester "Black Holes" on April 17th + 18th. At the time that I write this there were still spots available for the Saturday afternoon show (Friday is sold out). Get tickets at the BC Ticket office.
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: March 29, 2009
Webpage contact: Nick Strobel