Bakersfield Night Sky – October 18, 2008
By Nick Strobel
Venus and Jupiter are now 45º apart from each in this evening's sky in the southwest (chart A). By month's end, they will be 30º apart as Venus speeds through Scorpius. On October 26th, Venus will just 3º north of the bright star, Antares, in Scorpius, a nice pairing in binoculars! At the end of November Jupiter and Venus will have a spectacular conjunction. Jupiter is a bit higher up in the southern direction just above the handle part of the "Teapot" part of Sagittarius. Trick-or-treaters will see a thin crescent Moon just left of Antares and below right of Venus. Parents: take along a pair of binoculars as you escort your kids as all three will just fit within the field of your binoculars.
Early risers can see Saturn low in the east at about 6 AM (chart B). It will be below the left side of Leo. Closer to sunrise, you may be able to spot Mercury below Saturn near the horizon. At this time of morning the Big Dipper part of Ursa Major will be standing straight up on its handle in the northeast. The waning crescent Moon joins the scene on the 23rd just right of the "Sickle" part of Leo. The thinning Moon passes below Saturn between the mornings of the 24th and 25th.
The Orionid meteor shower should be near its peak the pre-dawn morning hours of October 21st. Look in the southeast to south direction during the wee hours of pre-dawn October 21st for the constellation Orion. The Orionids will appear to come out the upper left part of Orion. Don't worry if you can't make it outside that night, though. The Orionids should still have about the same activity for a few nights before and after the peak. Meteor showers are the result of Earth running into the dust trail left behind by a comet in the comet's orbit. The Orionids are due to Comet Halley. See my free online textbook website www.astronomynotes.com for more about meteor showers.
At the time of writing there were still a few tickets left for the October 24th Planetarium show "Oasis in Space". There are spaces still available for the November and December shows. Tickets are available only at the BC Ticket Office and will not be sold at the door. See the planetarium's website for information about the show and maps to the planetarium. Also, more Night Sky charts are available on the planetarium website.Save the night sky and save energy (and money) by keeping all the light from street and building lights shining down toward the ground where we need it. Check out www.darksky.org for what you can do to shield your lights
Director of the William M Thomas Planetarium at Bakersfield College
Author of the award-winning website www.astronomynotes.com
last updated: November 9, 2008
Webpage contact: Nick Strobel