Bakersfield Night Sky – February 2, 2008
By Nick Strobel
(appeared February 2, 2008)
In our evening sky Mars is beginning to retreat from the horns of Taurus. It will grow dimmer as it drifts back towards Gemini in the following weeks. The Moon has now moved far enough around the Earth that it is not washing out the evening stars. Orion is now due South with his two hunting dogs, Canis Major and Canis Minor, east of him. The brightest star in the night sky, Sirius, is at the nose of Canis Major. A line drawn through Orion’s belt and extending to the left will lead you to Sirius. In the east, you’ll see Saturn rising up just below Leo. Saturn will be getting brighter over the next couple of months as it closes in on the bright star Regulus at the right edge of Leo (see chart A). In the northeast, the Big Dipper part of Ursa Major will be standing straight up. .
It is now past the spectacular February 1st conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in the pre-dawn sky. You will see Venus just to the left of Jupiter in the southeastern sky about a couple of hours before sunrise. Over the following weeks Venus will move quickly closer to the Sun leaving Jupiter behind in the stars of Sagittarius. A nice photo opportunity presents itself the morning of February 4th with a thin sliver of a waning crescent Moon just below Venus and Jupiter (see chart B).
New Moon on February 6th brings an annular solar eclipse that happens when the Moon is directly between us and the Sun but too far away from us to totally cover up the Sun. Alas! It will only be visible to the penguins in Antarctica and those sailing the far southern Pacific Ocean at about 8:45 PM our time. However, a lunar eclipse and solar eclipse usually go together within a two-week span of time and we will get to see a total lunar eclipse on the evening of February 20th.
See the planetarium’s website for the entire spring schedule
of shows for the general public! “Black Holes” is showing
Friday evening, Feb 15th and Saturday afternoon, Feb 16th. Tickets
are available only at the BC Ticket Office (and it now has a website
too!). Tickets are NOT sold at the Planetarium and they’ll probably
Planetarium website: www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/planetarium
BC Ticket Office website: www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/ticketoffice
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: January 26, 2008
Webpage contact: Nick Strobel