Bakersfield Night Sky – October 4, 2008
By Nick Strobel
Venus and Jupiter are the two brightest star-like objects you will see in this evening's sky (chart A). Venus is low in the southwest just to the right of the star alpha-Librae that also has a name sure to challenge your spellcheck, "Zubenelgenubi". Jupiter is a bit higher up in the southern direction just above the handle part of the "Teapot" part of Sagittarius. Venus and Jupiter are 60 degrees apart and closing. They will pass very close to each other at the end of November. The waxing crescent Moon lies mid-way between Venus and Jupiter and about 7 degrees left of Anatares at the heart of Scorpius. The next night, the Moon will above the spout of the Teapot.
Saturn is low in the east about an hour before sunrise (chart B). It will be below the middle part of Leo. Later this month, you will be able to see Mercury joining it in the eastern sky before sunrise. At this time of morning the Big Dipper part of Ursa Major will be standing straight up on its handle in the northeast.
Straight up overhead in the early evening, look for the "Summer Triangle" made from the brightest stars in Cygnus (the swan), Lyra (the little harp) and Aquila (the Eagle). The stars are Deneb in Cygnus, Vega in Lyra and Altair in Aquila (see chart C). The central part of Cygnus looks like a cross tipped over a bit. The top of the cross is Deneb and is at the tail of the swan. Cygnus flies down the direction of the Milky Way (visible to those of you well outside of the city). On October 7th, we will see the International Space Station pass through the Summer Triangle at 8:06 PM. But you will want to catch it in the northwestern sky starting at 8:04 PM when it is still bright. It will pass above the keystone in Hercules. As it enters the Summer Triangle the ISS will fade abruptly as it passes into shadow but it will still be visible. Tagging along behind ISS and just as bright will be the PROGRESS-M 65 satellite. See the "Heavens-Above" website for ISS and other satellite predictions including "Iridium Flares".
Tickets are on sale for the Planetarium’s October show, “Oasis in Space” playing on October 24th and 25th. Tickets are available only at the BC Ticket Office and will not be sold at the door. See the planetarium's website www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/planetarium for information about the show and maps to the planetarium.
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: September 29, 2008
Webpage contact: Nick Strobel