Bakersfield Night Sky – August 15, 2009
By Nick Strobel
Jupiter is now as bright as it is going to get as we pass between it and the Sun. It was directly opposite the Sun yesterday. Jupiter has been drifting "backward" (toward the west) with respect to the stars for the past couple of months in what is called "retrograde motion". You can see Jupiter in the southeast next to Capricornus in the evening (around 9 to 11 PM---see chart B). Compare its position with respect to the stars in Capricornus over the next couple of months. Jupiter will stop its westward drift in mid-October and then move eastward with respect to the stars. The motion is slow so you probably won't notice much change night-to-night but if you track it week-to-week, you will see that it does move! Turn toward south (toward the right) and see if you can spot the "Teapot" part of Sagittarius about a quarter of the way up in the sky. Further to the right in the south-southwest, you can see the bright orange-red Antares at the heart of Scorpius. Turn back toward the left and look high up to see the "Summer Triangle" of Deneb in Cygnus, Vega in Lyra, Altair in Aquila high in the east. The top of the triangle is Vega and it will be almost directly overhead ("at zenith") between 9:30 and 10 PM---see chart C.
Chart A shows the pre-dawn morning looking east toward the thin waning crescent Moon at around 5 AM. To the upper right of the Moon about half a fist held at arm's length is Mars between the horns of Taurus. By the end of the month Mars will have moved to the feet of Gemini. On Monday pre-dawn morning you will see the even thinner waning crescent Moon above the super-bright Venus. Venus is now on the left (east) edge of Gemini and by the end of the month Venus will have moved to the next zodiac constellation, Cancer. Turn around to the southwest and you will see Jupiter hanging low in the sky.
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