Bakersfield Night Sky – March 1, 2008
By Nick Strobel
(appeared March 1, 2008)
Mars is fading as it moves away from the horns of Taurus but is still easily visible as the orange-red "star" high in the southwest in our evening sky. It is now the same brightness as the yellow-white planet Saturn near Leo half-way up in the east-southeast sky. Mars will move into Gemini by mid-month and dim further as we leave it behind in our respective orbits around the Sun. Saturn will remain close to the brightest star in Leo, Regulus, within a distance of about the knuckles of your index finger and ring finger when held at arm's length, through mid-year. Orion is still prominent about halfway up in the southwestern sky. A line through Orion's belt extending to the left leads you to the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius. Sirius is at the nose of Orion's larger hunting dog, Canis Major in the south. Slightly more than the distance between your pinky fingertip and thumb tip when held at arm's length straight up from Sirius is the bright star, Procyon, in the smaller dog, Canis Minor.
In the early morning about an hour and half to two hours before sunrise Jupiter blazes brightly near the handle of the "Teapot" part of Sagittarius in the southeast. Venus rises about an hour before sunrise. About the distance between two knuckles at arm's length to the upper right of Venus will be Mercury. The Moon will be a waning crescent (decreasing sliver of light) in the early morning sky passing by Jupiter during Sunday. A nice gathering of a very thin crescent Moon with Mercury and Venus occurs on Wednesday. The three will easily fit within the field of view of typical binoculars (see the chart below).
The William M Thomas Planetarium is showing "Black Holes" on Friday evening, March 14th and "Oasis in Space" on Saturday evening, March 15th. See http://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/planetarium/ for details and purchase 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: April 4, 2008
Webpage contact: Nick Strobel