Bakersfield Night Sky – June 21, 2008
By Nick Strobel
Welcome to the first full day of summer! Our season of summer began with the summer solstice that happened yesterday afternoon. From now on the Sun will slowly drifting southward until the December solstice, so you will see it set further and further south along the western horizon as the next six months go by. In our evening western sky Mars is now just a little further left of the brightest star in Leo, Regulus, as Saturn is to the right of Regulus. By June 30th, Mars will be right above Regulus. On that day all three objects should fit nicely in the field of view of binoculars (see chart A). Up above and to the right of Leo you will see the Big Dipper part of Ursa Major, the Big Bear. Use the pointer stars at far right side of the Big Dipper’s bowl to point you to the north star, Polaris. The king of the planets, Jupiter, will be visible low in the southeast by 10 PM and be higher due south at 2:15 AM.
Begin looking for Mercury low in the east-northeast in the pre-dawn sky by around the middle of next week. It will be a little dimmer and lower than the bright star of Taurus, Aldebaran. in the morning twilight. In tomorrow morning’s pre-dawn sky, the waning gibbous Moon will drown out most of the stars of Capricornus in the south but Jupiter will still be shining brightly in the southwest. At the end of the month, the Moon will be a thin crescent just left of the Pleiades cluster in Taurus (a nice view in binoculars—see chart B). Higher up over half-way up in sky, see if you can spot the “W” of Cassiopeia and the great square of Pegasus.
The Planetarium is closed this summer but the fall schedule of shows for the general public is now posted on the Planetarium’s website at www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/planetarium . Past columns are archived on the Planetarium’s website. Additional charts that can’t be printed due to lack of space are found there.
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: June 10, 2008
Webpage contact: Nick Strobel