The Bakersfield Night Sky
By Nick Strobel
(appeared August 18, 2007)
Despite the city lights lighting up the sky over Bakersfield, it is still possible to see the brighter objects such as Jupiter in the evening, Mars during the early morning and some of the famous constellations like Cygnus, Hercules, and Ursa Major. Jupiter will be the first star-like object you'll see in tonight's sky. Look south just after sunset and you'll see it just above the star Antares that forms the red heart of the constellation Scorpius. The view of Jupiter at around 10 PM is shown in chart A. Mars will be visible in the east-northeast sky in the head of the constellation Taurus in the early pre-dawn sky. Mars will be the brightest object in Taurus and will have an orangish color. Look in the eastern sky for Mars.
Total lunar eclipse in the early morning of August 28th! You'll see the Moon begin to slip into the Earth's shadow at 1:51 AM and reach totality at 2:52 AM. At 4:23 AM the Moon will begin to slide out of the Earth's shadow. At this time of night, look for the Full Moon in the south-southwestern sky (see chart B). Even though the Moon will be completely in the Earth's shadow during totality, you'll probably see the Full Moon have an orangish-red color from sunlight refracting through the Earth's atmosphere. For more information on lunar eclipses, see www.astronomynotes.com.
In the evening the brilliant stars Deneb at the tail of Cygnus the Swan, Vega at the base of the little harp Lyra, and Altair at the neck of Aquila the Eagle, form the famous "Summer Triangle". The Summer Triangle will be high overhead in the late evening (see chart C). The center of the Milky Way Galaxy in which our solar system resides is off in the direction of Sagittarius so a view through binoculars or a telescope in that direction will show a number of star clusters and gas clouds.
Want to see more night sky even in town? Shield your
lights so all of the light hits the ground instead of being wasted
by lighting up the sky! See www.darksky.org for how to shield your
lights while still providing light to the ground (and save energy
Author of Astronomy Notes at www.astronomynotes.com and
Planetarium Director at BC: www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/planetarium
See the planetarium's website for reservation information
last updated: January 7, 2008
Webpage contact: Nick Strobel