Bakersfield Night Sky – October 17, 2009
By Nick Strobel
Jupiter is now moving in its usual eastward motion as the Earth has moved sufficiently ahead of it in our orbit. Jupiter is still at the lower left side of Capricornus in the south in the evening. The Waxing Gibbous Moon will pass by Jupiter on October 26th. It will be two days from full phase when the trick-or-treaters are knocking on your door on the 31st (see chart B).
The early morning sky still sports four planets in the east: Mercury down close to the horizon, super-bright Venus a bit further up in the stars of Virgo, dimmer Saturn at the west edge of Virgo (about a fist-width held at arms length above Venus) and Mars about two-thirds of the way up in the eastern sky near the dim stars of Cancer (see chart A). The early morning hours from October 17th to the 25th will be good times to look for extra meteors as we pass through the dust trail left by Comet Halley. The meteors from the comet bits will appear to shoot out of the Orion constellation so this meteor shower is called the "Orionids". The peak of the Orionids is expected to be on the morning of October 21st. New Moon is on the 18th, so on the 21st the Moon will still be in its waxing crescent phase and set in the evening. Therefore, it will not interfere with meteor observing when the Orionids are at their peak.
The last FALL 2009 Barnes & Noble KAS star party for the public happens next Saturday, October 24th. Members of the Kern Astronomical Society will have telescopes set out for the public after sunset at Barnes & Noble bookstore on California just west of Hwy 99. Teachers and principals: the Kern Astronomical Society would love to give a free star party for the students and parents at your school---see www.kernastro.org for contact 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: October 4, 2009
Webpage contact: Nick Strobel