Bakersfield Night Sky – April 19, 2008
By Nick Strobel
Full Moon happens on Sunday morning so this evening the Moon will rise as the Sun is setting. The Moon will be below the bright star, Spica, in Virgo. Alas! The bright Moon will wash out the Lyrid meteor shower that peaks on Monday night, April 21st. Orange-red Mars continues to move quickly eastward high in the southwest evening sky. Mars is now on left edge of Gemini and is on its way to passing Saturn this summer on July 10th. Saturn continues to creep closer to the brightest star in Leo, Regulus. Look for them in the southern sky—Saturn will be just left of Regulus, about 2/3 of the way up in the sky at 10 PM (see chart). At the end of the month, begin trying to catch Mercury low in the west-northwest sky just after sunset.
In the early morning sky Jupiter continues to reign supreme in the southeastern sky on the left side of Sagittarius. By 2:15 AM, Jupiter should be high enough to see it above the mountains. At 3 AM almost directly across the sky low in the west will be Saturn. A waning gibbous Moon will pass under Jupiter the early morning of April 27th. Venus rises just 30 minutes before sunrise on Sunday morning. Mercury is now too close to the Sun to see it before sunrise. We’ll have to wait until the end of the month to try catching it in the evening just after sunset.
The year 2008 has a number of 50-year anniversaries. In January 1958, the U.S. launched its first satellite, Explorer 1 through a collaboration of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the Army. In October 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration began operation. In honor of these 50-year events, the William M Thomas Planetarium will have a special history evening show on the Thursday before the annual JPL Open House, May 1st from 7 to 8:30 PM. The evening will have two films: “Explorer 1: Beginnings of the Space Age” and the premier of the full-dome show “Dawn of the Space Age”. Get tickets at the BC Ticket Office. See the planetarium’s website for further details!
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 14, 2008
Webpage contact: Nick Strobel