Bakersfield Night Sky – May 16, 2009
By Nick Strobel
Saturn is the lone planet in our evening sky now that Mercury is lost in the glare of the Sun. Mercury will reappear in the morning sky by the second week in June but its showing throughout June is going to be poor because its low position and early sunrise times. Saturn below the triangle of Leo on the left side of Leo. Saturn has been drifting westward for the past four months. It will end that retrograde motion on the 17th and resume its usual eastward drift among the stars. However, it will remain below Leo until the end of August.
The attached chart shows the pre-dawn sky about an hour before sunrise. Look in the southeast sky for bright Jupiter to the left of Capricornus and right of the Third Quarter Moon. Due east is the very bright Venus and the much dimmer Mars to the lower left of Venus in Pisces. On May 21st, the Waning Crescent Moon will make a nice right triangle with Venus and Mars. The Moon disappears into New phase on the 24th and reappear in our evening sky as a thin crescent on the 25th to the right of Gemini, though it won’t be easily visible until the following evening when it is in the middle of Gemini.
Our local astronomy club, the Kern Astronomical Society, will be having public star parties on the fourth Saturdays of the month throughout the summer and early fall except in May when it will be May 30th. Telescopes will be set out next to the Barnes & Noble bookstore starting shortly after sunset and available until around 10 PM. Saturn and the Moon will be favorite targets but maybe a star cluster or two could be arranged. See www.kernastro.org for more information.
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: May 13, 2009
Webpage contact: Nick Strobel