Bakersfield Night Sky – August 1, 2009
By Nick Strobel
Saturn is now probably too low in the west to see through the dusty air but bright Jupiter shines brightly in the southeast next to Capricornus to keep you company in the evening. Jupiter may be the only bright star-like object you see in the south and east as the bright gibbous Moon's glare drowns out the rest (see chart A). The orange-red star, Antares in Scorpius may still be visible. The "Summer Triangle" of Deneb in Cygnus, Vega in Lyra, Altair in Aquila is visible high in the east. More of the Moon's daylit side is becoming visible as it heads to full phase on August 5th.
Solar eclipses and lunar eclipses usually happen close to each other. The total solar eclipse on July 22nd will be paired with a lunar eclipse on August 5/6th. Like the solar eclipse of July 22nd, it will be visible on another part of the Earth—the Atlantic Ocean and Africa. However, the Moon will be in only partial shadow so most observers will have a tough time noticing any difference in the full Moon's appearance. Speaking of eclipses: I flew to China for the July 22nd solar eclipse but got pretty much clouded out. My group had to drive about 6 hours further inland than originally planned. There was partial clearing so I could see the Sun almost covered up by the Moon in the few breaks in the clouds and there was about 20 seconds of partial clearing to see the total solar eclipse. We did experience over 5 minutes of night as the Moon's shadow swept over us. The Californian showed a picture of the eclipse taken from India. Those on cruise ships in the East China Sea also had clear skies but they had to go through a typhoon a couple of days earlier. Even though my eclipse experience didn't turn out as well as I hoped, I still had a great time visiting the top tourist sites in China and taking over 500 photos.
By the pre-dawn morning Jupiter will have moved to the lower southwest sky. Venus blazes in the east between Orion and Gemini. Mars is between the horns of Taurus---see chart B. While your body is facing toward Venus, look straight up to see the Great Square of Pegasus and the "W" of Cassiopeia. Almost straight above you will be the great galaxy, Andromeda, a spiral galaxy about the same size as our own Milky Way---see chart C.
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: August 10, 2009
Webpage contact: Nick Strobel