STAR GAZER
THE INTERNATIONAL EDITION



STAR GAZER is seen nationally on most PBS stations. There is a five minute and a one minute version available each week. If it is not currently on your PBS station we suggest you contact your local PBS programming director and let them know it is available free to all PBS stations. Visit http://www.pbs.org/stationfinder/index.html for help in locating your local PBS station. You may take STAR GAZER off satellite for personal use, classroom use, astronomy club use, etc. without written permission.

Satellite feed info:

GE 3 - PBS Transponder 512 - Digital Only!

One Hour Feed STAH 1007
Wednesday Dec. 15, 1230-1330/SD06
Includes episodes 1101, 1102, 1103, 1104, 1105

Star Gazer is also available from NASA CORE. A videotape of the current month is available from NASA CORE (Contact us for current price)

NASA Central Operation of Resources for Educators (CORE)
Lorain County JVS-CORE
15181 Route 58 South
Oberlin, OH 44074

Phone: (440) 775-1400
Fax: (440) 775-1460
E-mail: NASA_order@lcjvs.net
http://www.nasa.gov/education/core

Notice : These are working drafts of the scripts for STAR GAZER.
Changes may well be made as production requires.

"Star Gazer" is available with iTunes,
for downloading with Quicktime
and we're now on YouTube

 

 
 

STAR GAZER 5 MINUTE

Episode # 11-01 / 1726th Show
To Be Aired : Monday 1/3/2011 through
Sunday 1/9/2011

"Venus And The Sun : Now Closest, Biggest And Brightest For 2011"


Dean: Hey there star gazers. I'm Dean Regas from the Cincinnati Observatory and I'll be your guest host this month on Star Gazer. Yep, you heard right, the brightest star, our Sun and the brightest planet, Venus are the closest they'll be for the rest of 2011 right now. Venus will not be this close again until April of 2012 and the Sun was at its closest for the year on Monday Jan. 3 and will get farther away from us every day until the 4th of July. This sounds backwards, as most of us feel that our weather is about as cold as it can get and since our Earth receives its heat and light from the Sun does it make sense that the Sun is closest to the Earth right now? Well that is how it works. We'll talk more about the seasons next week but for now let's focus on Venus.

Venus is our closest planet neighbor in the solar system and she passed between us and the Sun at the end of October. She was closest to Earth at that time, a bit over 25 million miles but we couldn't see her then. She has moved far enough away from the Sun for a good view and on Jan. 8 reached her greatest elongation west, a fancy way to say Venus was as far off to the west of the Sun as it's going to get.

If you go out Monday morning the 10th about an hour before Sunrise and take a look in the southeast, you'll easily spot Venus, which will be about two fists above the horizon. This brilliant planet will be 64 million miles away Monday morning but she'll get much farther away, almost another 100 million miles, when she passes beyond the Sun next August. So your best view of Venus is right now but she will be in the morning sky for the next six months. If you have a telescope get it out and use it on Venus. Venus will look like a tiny last quarter Moon and if you keep checking Venus with your telescope over the next few months she'll get smaller as she gets farther away and more and more round as more and more of her sunlit surface faces us.

While you're out there Monday morning look a bit lower and left of Venus, and close to the horizon, about half a fist high, see if you can find the second planet closer to the Sun than our Earth, pinkish elusive Mercury. Mercury will rapidly drop lower in the sky every morning and in another week or so will probably vanish until it reappears in the evening sky near Jupiter above the setting Sun in March. Down below Venus, about half way between Venus and the horizon you'll see a bright red star that marks the heart of the scorpion, a star pattern that makes you think of summer. That bright star is Antares, a red supergiant star that is over 700 times the width of our Sun and about 550 light years away while the light from Venus will take between 5 and 6 minutes to get here.

Just to the right of Venus is a line of three fairly bright stars that mark the front of the head of the scorpion. Tuesday morning Venus and mercury will each be a little bit lower, then Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and at last Sunday. Can you still see Mercury or has it faded into the glow of morning? At the beginning I said that the Sun was closest for this year but what does that mean for us?

Well the Sun is closest now not because it has moved closer but rather our Earth has moved closer to it. The Earth's orbit is shaped like an ellipse, a kind of squashed circle. We're exaggerating here, but as it goes around this ellipse the Earth speeds up when it gets closer to the Sun and slows down as it gets farther away. As it comes back in toward the Sun our Earth continues to speed up until it reaches its closest point to the Sun the first week of January, zipping along at 67,600 miles an hour which is over 2,000 miles an hour faster than its speed in July. Can't you just feel the Earth zooming along? Keep looking up!

How did you like this episode?
Please give us your comments. (Click Here)

For GRAPHICS for this script (Click) Here


"Star Gazer" is available with iTunes,
for downloading with Quicktime
and we're now on YouTube

Check Out WPBT's Version

 
 
 
 

Star Gazer Minute

#11-01 M

1/03/2011 thru 1/09/2011

"Venus And The Sun : Now Closest, Biggest And Brightest For 2011"

Dean: The brightest star, our Sun and the brightest planet, Venus are the closest they'll be for the rest of 2011 right now. Venus will not be this close again until April of 2012 and the Sun was at its closest for this year on Monday Jan. 3. If you go out Monday morning Jan. 10th about an hour before sunrise and take a look in the southeast, you'll easily spot Venus, which will be about two fists above the horizon. Then look a bit lower and left of Venus, and close to the horizon, about half a fist high, see if you can find pinkish elusive Mercury. Down below Venus, about half way between Venus and the horizon you'll see Antares the bright red star that marks the heart of the scorpion, a star pattern that makes you think of summer. Get out every morning next week and enjoy the show as you keep looking up!

How did you like this episode?
Please give us your comments. (Click Here)

 

For GRAPHICS for this script (Click) Here


Don't miss the cartoon version of
'STAR GAZER' in each monthly issue of


* This week's Sky At A Glance and Planet Roundup from Sky & Telescope.
This week's Sky At A Glance displays current week only.

Starry Night Deluxe was used to produce this episode of Star Gazer






STAR GAZER
THE INTERNATIONAL EDITION

STAR GAZER is seen nationally on most PBS stations. There is a five minute and a one minute version available each week. If it is not currently on your PBS station we suggest you contact your local PBS programming director and let them know it is available free to all PBS stations. Visit http://www.pbs.org/stationfinder/index.html for help in locating your local PBS station. You may take STAR GAZER off satellite for personal use, classroom use, astronomy club use, etc. without written permission.

Satellite feed info:

GE 3 - PBS Transponder 512 - Digital Only!

One Hour Feed STAH 1007
Wednesday Dec. 15, 1230-1330/SD06
Includes episodes 1101, 1102, 1103, 1104, 1105


Star Gazer is also available from NASA CORE. A videotape of the current month is available from NASA CORE (Contact us for current price)

NASA Central Operation of Resources for Educators (CORE)
Lorain County JVS-CORE
15181 Route 58 South
Oberlin, OH 44074

Phone: (440) 775-1400
Fax: (440) 775-1460
E-mail: NASA_order@lcjvs.net
http://www.nasa.gov/education/core

Notice : These are working drafts of the scripts for STAR GAZER.
Changes may well be made as production requires.


"Star Gazer" is available with iTunes,
for downloading with Quicktime
and we're now on YouTube

 

 
 

STAR GAZER

Episode #11-02 /1727th Show
To Be Aired : Monday 1/10/2011 through Sunday 1/16/2011

"The Reasons For The Seasons"


Dean: Hey there star gazers. I'm Dean Regas from the Cincinnati Observatory and I'll be your guest host this month on Star Gazer. If someone asked you, "why is it colder in January than in July?" could you give the correct answer? Well many people would tell you that the reason it's colder in January is because our Earth is farther from the Sun in January than in July. But believe it or not that is about as far from the truth as you can get because our Earth was at its closest point to the Sun for the year on January 3rd and will be at its farthest point this year on the 4th of July. So why is it colder now if we're closer to the Sun? Let me explain.

O.K., we're out in make believe space with a make believe Sun and Earth and if our Earth's path around the Sun, its orbit, were a perfect circle and if our Earth were not at all tilted the weather and the seasons would be approximately the same all year long, year after year after year. But about 400 years ago an astronomer named Johannes Kepler discovered that our Earth does not travel around the Sun in a perfect circle but rather in a stretched out circle called an ellipse and that our Sun is not at the center of that ellipse. So as the Earth makes its annual trip around the Sun the Earth's distance from the Sun changes. It's always closest in January and always farthest in July. Some calculations suggest that this change in the distance of the Earth from the Sun would result in about a seven degree variation in temperature, but that's not enough to account for the seasons, is it?

The major cause of the different seasons is due to the tilt of our Earth. Right now we're experiencing the cold of winter but only in the northern hemisphere, above the equator. Everywhere south of the equator is experiencing summer. Now our Sun always puts out relatively the same amount of light and heat. But in northern hemisphere winter our Earth is in the place in its orbit where the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun and thus the Sun's rays strike less directly on the northern hemisphere than the southern hemisphere. So right now in the northern hemisphere the Sun's rays are less direct and thus it's colder for us than in the southern hemisphere where the Sun's rays are more direct, so it's warmer in the southern hemisphere.

Conversely when our Earth is on the other side of the Sun in July, even though it'll be at its farthest point for the year, our northern hemisphere will be tilted so that the Sun's rays will be more direct upon it. So we'll have the heat of summer while the southern hemisphere will be tilted away from the Sun's rays, so it'll be winter time for them. It's really as simple as that. Now this does not mean the Earth flops back and forth. Earth's axis always points to the same spot in space. What matters is whether the axis is leaning toward or away from the Sun. So the reason for the seasons is because of our Earth's tilt. Our distance from the Sun has very little to do with it.

In fact when our Earth was closest to the Sun on January 3rd it was only 91 and a half million miles away. But every day since that time the Earth has moved farther and farther away from the Sun and on this upcoming July 4th will be 94 and a half million miles away. And that 3 million miles doesn't make a heck of a lot of difference temperature wise. Another part of the story is that the length of day time and night time changes also. During winter the length of daylight is shorter than the length of night so there is less time for the Sun's heat to warm up the daytime side of the Earth and more time at night for that heat to escape back out into space. So this week ask somebody to explain why it's colder in January than it is in July and see what kind of answers you get. Keep looking up!


How did you like this episode?
Please give us your comments. (Click Here)

For GRAPHICS for this script (Click) Here


"Star Gazer" is available with iTunes,
for downloading with Quicktime
and we're now on YouTube

Check Out WPBT's Version

 
 
 
 

Star Gazer Minute

#11-02 M

1/10/2011 thru 1/16/2011

"The Reasons For The Seasons"

Dean: "Why is it colder in January than in July?" Well one answer is that it's colder in January because our Earth is farther from the Sun in January. But that is not the way it is because our Earth was closest to the Sun on January 3rd and will be farthest away on the 4th of July. So why isn't it hotter now if we're closer to the Sun? Let me explain. The cause of the seasons is the tilt of our Earth's axis and the way this tilt is pointed with respect to the Sun. In northern hemisphere winter the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun and the Sun's rays strike less directly. So right now in the northern hemisphere the Sun's rays are less direct which makes it colder. Again the reason for the seasons is the way the tilt of our Earth's axis is oriented to the Sun. So this week ask someone why is it colder in January than in July and see what kind of answers you get. Keep looking up!


Please give us your comments. (Click Here)


For GRAPHICS for this script (Click) Here


Don't miss the cartoon version of
'STAR GAZER' in each monthly issue of




 
* This week's Sky At A Glance and Planet Roundup from Sky & Telescope.

This week's Sky At A Glance displays current week only.


Starry Night Deluxe was used to produce this episode of Star Gazer




 


STAR GAZER
THE INTERNATIONAL EDITION


STAR GAZER is seen nationally on most PBS stations. There is a five minute and a one minute version available each week. If it is not currently on your PBS station we suggest you contact your local PBS programming director and let them know it is available free to all PBS stations. Visit http://www.pbs.org/stationfinder/index.html for help in locating your local PBS station.

You may take STAR GAZER off satellite for personal use, classroom use, astronomy club use, etc. without written permission.

Satellite feed info:

GE 3 - PBS Transponder 512 - Digital Only!

One Hour Feed STAH 1007
Wednesday Dec. 15, 1230-1330/SD06
Includes episodes 1101, 1102, 1103, 1104, 1105


Star Gazer is also available from NASA CORE. A videotape of the current month is available from NASA CORE (Contact us for current price)

NASA Central Operation of Resources for Educators (CORE)
Lorain County JVS-CORE
15181 Route 58 South
Oberlin, OH 44074

Phone: (440) 775-1400
Fax: (440) 775-1460
E-mail: NASA_order@lcjvs.net
http://www.nasa.gov/education/core

Notice : These are working drafts of the scripts for STAR GAZER.
Changes may well be made as production requires.


"Star Gazer" is available with iTunes,
for downloading with Quicktime
and we're now on YouTube

 

 
 

STAR GAZER

Episode # 11-03 / 1728th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 1/17/2011 through Sunday 1/23/2011

"The Moon Shows You The Way To Venus And Mercury.
Plus Which Is The Shortest Season?"


Dean: Hey there star gazers. I'm Dean Regas from the Cincinnati Observatory and I'll be your guest host this month on star gazer. Next week is a great time to enjoy the Moon near Venus and mercury in pre-dawn skies. The best four days will be Friday Jan. 28 through Monday Jan. 31st.

On Friday morning just before sunrise look in the southeast and find the brilliant planet Venus. A skinny waning crescent Moon will be about 20 degrees up to Venus' right, Saturday it will be skinnier and just to the right of Venus. Sunday it'll be just below Venus and skinnier yet. And then on Monday an even skinnier Moon will be down and to the left of Venus. The toughest day will be Feb. 1st Tuesday morning about half an hour before sunrise. The morning sky will have started to get bright but just above the horizon an amazingly skinny Moon will be just above Mercury. It'll be tough to find and you'll need a clear flat horizon but it will be an impressive sight if you can find it.

Now I bet that most of you are under the impression that the 4 seasons are equal in length, when in fact none of them are the same number of days and nights long. So which season is the longest and which is the shortest? Well I'm sure most school children would say that summer is the shortest because it seems to just fly by. But is that true or is it simply a matter of human perception? Let's find out.

O.K. now everyone knows that our Earth makes one trip around the sun once a year. In fact, astronomically speaking that's exactly what a year is ... The amount of time it takes for any planet to make one trip around the sun, and one Earth trip is 365 1/4 Earth days long. Now according to Kepler's laws of motion the closer a planet is to the sun the faster it will travel ... The farther it is from the Sun the slower it will travel. So, because our Earth's orbit is not a perfect circle, but is a slightly stretched out circle called an ellipse and since our Sun is not at the center of this ellipse our Earth actually varies its distance from the Sun during the year. When it's closest to the Sun it travels fastest and when it's farthest it travels slowest. Now believe it or not our Earth is actually closest to the Sun in January and farthest in July. So our Earth actually travels faster when it's winter in the northern hemisphere and slower during the summer. Let me show you.

O.K., on the first day of spring our Earth is traveling at a speed of 66,900 miles an hour and is moving farther from the Sun and slowing down. Therefore it takes 93 days to go from the first day of spring to the first day of summer, so spring is 93 days long. Then the Earth continues to slow down until it is at its farthest point from the Sun the first week of July when it reaches its slowest speed of 65,500 miles an hour. Thereafter, because it's starting to move back closer to the Sun it slowly starts to speed up. Even so it takes 94 days for our Earth to travel from the first day of summer to the first day of fall, which makes summer 94 days long. Then as it moves closer and closer to the Sun it picks up more speed day by day so that it takes only 90 days to travel from the first day of fall to the first day of winter. Thus fall is 90 days long. And our Earth continues to speed up until it reaches its closest point to the Sun the first week of January, zipping along at 67,600 miles an hour which is over 2,000 miles per hour faster than its speed in July. In fact, it takes only 89 days for our Earth to go from the first day of winter to the first day of spring.

So even though summer feels like the shortest season to any school kid, winter is actually 5 days shorter and is the shortest season of the year for the northern hemisphere. And summer is the longest. In the southern hemisphere it would be just the reverse, happy 'shortest season of the year'. And look at the Moon by Venus and Mercury next weekend. Keep looking up!


How did you like this episode?
Please give us your comments. (Click Here)

For GRAPHICS for this script (Click) Here


"Star Gazer" is available with iTunes,
for downloading with Quicktime
and we're now on YouTube

Check Out WPBT's Version

 
 
 
 

Star Gazer Minute

#11-03 M

1/17/2011 thru 1/23/2011

"The Moon Shows You The Way To Venus And Mercury.
Plus Which Is The Shortest Season?"


DEAN: Next week follow the crescent Moon past several bright stars and three planets just before dawn. Let me show you. O.K., we're set up for an hour before sunrise on Tuesday Dec. 28th, facing southeast. Look for the last quarter Moon and about 13 degrees down to its left you'll see the bright star Spica. About ten degrees to the Moon's left you will find the ringed planet Saturn. The next morning, Wednesday Dec. 29th, same time, same direction the Moon will have moved below Spica. Friday Dec. 31st, New Year's Eve, a very skinny Moon will be down to the right of brilliant Venus. The next morning, New Year's Day, a super skinny 27 day old Moon will be just above the giant red star, Antares. The last day of our tour January 2nd, has the Moon, even skinnier, just down to the right of elusive Mercury. Keep looking up!


How did you like this episode?
Please give us your comments. (Click Here)

For GRAPHICS for this script (Click) Here


Don't miss the cartoon version of
'STAR GAZER' in each monthly issue of




 
* This week's Sky At A Glance and Planet Roundup from Sky & Telescope.

This week's Sky At A Glance displays current week only.


Starry Night Deluxe was used to produce this episode of Star Gazer




STAR GAZER
THE INTERNATIONAL EDITION


STAR GAZER is seen nationally on most PBS stations. There is a five minute and a one minute version available each week. If it is not currently on your PBS station we suggest you contact your local PBS programming director and let them know it is available free to all PBS stations. Visit http://www.pbs.org/stationfinder/index.html for help in locating your local PBS station.

You may take STAR GAZER off satellite for personal use, classroom use, astronomy club use, etc. without written permission.

Satellite feed info:

GE 3 - PBS Transponder 512 - Digital Only!

One Hour Feed STAH 1007
Wednesday Dec. 15, 1230-1330/SD06
Includes episodes 1101, 1102, 1103, 1104, 1105


Star Gazer is also available from NASA CORE. A videotape of the current month is available from NASA CORE (Contact us for current price)

NASA Central Operation of Resources for Educators (CORE)
Lorain County JVS-CORE
15181 Route 58 South
Oberlin, OH 44074

Phone: (440) 775-1400
Fax: (440) 775-1460
E-mail: NASA_order@lcjvs.net
http://www.nasa.gov/education/core

Notice : These are working drafts of the scripts for STAR GAZER.
Changes may well be made as production requires.



"Star Gazer" is available with iTunes,
for downloading with Quicktime
and we're now on YouTube

 

 
 

STAR GAZER

Episode # 11-04 / 1729th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 1/24/2011 through Sunday 1/30/2011

"See The Skinniest Moon Of The Year And
Has Jupiter Made A Comeback?"


Dean: Hey there star gazers. I'm Dean Regas from the Cincinnati Observatory and I'll be your guest host this month on Star Gazer. Next week you'll have a good chance to spot a very young Moon just after sunset. Now everybody has heard of the new Moon but what does the "New Moon" really mean? Well in astronomy the term "New Moon" means the same as "no Moon". It marks the moment when the Sun and the Moon are in precisely the same direction in the sky and unless there is a solar eclipse going on you won't see the Moon at all because its lit up face is pointing away from us here on Earth. We'd be trying to see the dark unlit side of the Moon which doesn't work very well. Now next Friday, Feb. 4th you'll have a good chance to spot a Moon that's less than 2 days old or. Less than 2 days past new.

Go out next Friday Feb. 4th and watch the Sun set. As the sky starts to get dark look just above the horizon where the Sun went down and if the clouds cooperate you should be able to spot a very skinny young Moon. It will be less than 3 percent lit, which means that most of the sunlit side of the Moon is facing away from you. The best time of year to try to see this very young Moon is in January, February and March because at this time of year the Moon's path through the sky is nearly vertical which means that it gets higher and farther away from the Sun sooner and gives you a better chance to see a very young Moon.

In some cultures the actual sighting of this young Moon is used to determine how their calendars run and in this case the term "New Moon" is used to refer to the actual sighting of this very young Moon but that's not how it's used in astronomy. If you can't spot the Moon Friday night because of clouds or whatever all is not lost because higher up in the sky Jupiter will be very bright and still putting on quite a show with its family of moons circling around it. Notice that the line of moons around Jupiter is nearly vertical with respect to the horizon. The same effect that makes the young Moon easy to see is also at work here with Jupiter's moons.

A really special event with Jupiter's moons Friday night will be the sudden brightening and appearance of Jupiter's biggest moon Ganymede as it passes out of Jupiter's shadow between 7 and 7:30 depending on your location. The next night, Saturday, Feb. 5th, the Moon will be a bit fatter, a bit higher and even closer to Jupiter. The next night, Sunday, Feb. 6th, the Moon will be fatter again and even closer to Jupiter, about 6 degrees to Jupiter's right. While you are out there gazing at Jupiter and the Moon remember that the Moon, even though it's brighter and looks bigger than Jupiter, is really much, much smaller and much, much closer. Jupiter is 41 times wider than the Moon and the light from Jupiter will take over 46 minutes to get here Sunday night while the light of the Moon will take only one and a third seconds to make the trip from the surface of the Moon to your eye.

The next night Monday February 7th the Moon will fatter yet and well above Jupiter. The Moon will then be about 4 and a half days old and much brighter and fatter than when we started our Moon watch on Friday the 4th. At the time this show was being written it looked like the missing equatorial belt of Jupiter was on its way to flaring back up to its normal appearance. Take a look at Jupiter and see for yourself if Jupiter has one or two dark bands along its equator. Although the reason why this happens is still not known, what happens is perhaps becoming a bit clearer. It's thought that a white layer of ammonia covers up the darker gas layers underneath causing the change in Jupiter's appearance. This has happened before but it's not clear exactly why it happens. So get out and watch the skinniest new Moon of the year next week and then watch each night as it passes Jupiter in the evening sky. Keep looking up and say hi to the stars tonight.

How did you like this episode?
Please give us your comments. (Click Here)

For GRAPHICS for this script (Click) Here


"Star Gazer" is available with iTunes,
for downloading with Quicktime
and we're now on YouTube

Check Out WPBT's Version

 
 
 
 

Star Gazer Minute

#11-04 M

1/24/2011 thru 1/30/2011

"See The Skinniest Moon Of The Year And
Has Jupiter Made A Comeback?"


Dean: Next week you'll have a good chance to spot a very young Moon just after sunset. Go out next Friday Feb. 4th and watch the Sun set. Look just above the horizon where the Sun went down and if the clouds cooperate you should be able to spot a very skinny young Moon. If you can't spot the Moon Friday night Jupiter will be very bright up to the left of the Moon. The next night, Saturday, Feb. 5th, the Moon will be a bit fatter, a bit higher and even closer to Jupiter. The next night, Sunday, Feb. 6th, the Moon will be fatter again and even closer to Jupiter. Take a look at Jupiter and see for yourself if Jupiter has one or two dark bands along its equator. One of the belts has been missing since last year. So get out next week and look for the skinniest new Moon of the year and then watch as it passes Jupiter in the evening sky. Keep looking up and say hi to the stars tonight.


How did you like this episode?
Please give us your comments. (Click Here)

For GRAPHICS for this script (Click) Here


Don't miss the cartoon version of
'STAR GAZER' in each monthly issue of




 
* This week's Sky At A Glance and Planet Roundup from Sky & Telescope.

This week's Sky At A Glance displays current week only.


Starry Night Deluxe was used to produce this episode of Star Gazer



STAR GAZER
THE INTERNATIONAL EDITION


STAR GAZER is seen nationally on most PBS stations. There is a five minute and a one minute version available each week. If it is not currently on your PBS station we suggest you contact your local PBS programming director and let them know it is available free to all PBS stations. Visit http://www.pbs.org/stationfinder/index.html for help in locating your local PBS station.

You may take STAR GAZER off satellite for personal use, classroom use, astronomy club use, etc. without written permission.

Satellite feed info:

GE 3 - PBS Transponder 512 - Digital Only!

One Hour Feed STAH 1007
Wednesday Dec. 15, 1230-1330/SD06
Includes episodes 1101, 1102, 1103, 1104, 1105


Star Gazer is also available from NASA CORE. A videotape of the current month is available from NASA CORE (Contact us for current price)

NASA Central Operation of Resources for Educators (CORE)
Lorain County JVS-CORE
15181 Route 58 South
Oberlin, OH 44074

Phone: (440) 775-1400
Fax: (440) 775-1460
E-mail: NASA_order@lcjvs.net
http://www.nasa.gov/education/core

Notice : These are working drafts of the scripts for STAR GAZER.
Changes may well be made as production requires.



"Star Gazer" is available with iTunes,
for downloading with Quicktime
and we're now on YouTube

 

 
 

STAR GAZER

Episode # 11-05 / 1730th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 1/31/2011 through Sunday 2/06/2011

"The Orion Family"


Dean: Hey there star gazers, I'm Dean Regas from the Cincinnati Observatory, and I'll be your guest host this month on Star Gazer. This week we're going to focus on a group of winter constellations around Orion the mighty hunter. Often called the Orion family, these constellations have some of the brightest stars and most easily recognized star formations in the sky. Now the ancients watched the sky the same way we watch TV. Get this, when they tuned into the winter stars they saw a giant hunter with three stars for a belt being trampled by a bull with seven women on its back while two hunting dogs were chasing after a unicorn and bunny rabbit down by the river. Say what? All right, let me walk you through it.

O.K. we've got our skies set for 9 pm looking south. The constellation Orion takes center stage with his seven bright stars. The Arabs called him, "The great central one" and he'll play the central role in our winter sky saga. The two brightest stars in Orion make a nice contrast. Bright blue Rigel marks Orion's left knee while ruby red Betelgeuse shines in his armpit. The colors of the stars are an indicator of their temperature. A blue star like Rigel is hot - about 11,000 degrees Celsius on its surface while a red star like Betelgeuse is much cooler - about 3000 degree Celsius.

Most of the stars in Orion are blue including his trademark belt. Not only are the belt stars your cue that you've found Orion, they'll point the way to several other constellations in the sky. If you follow a line from the belt stars and continue up and to the right you'll pass just under a bright red star called Aldebaran. Look out because this is the menacing eye of Taurus the bull. Taurus has a small "v" shape of five stars for a face and two long horns. Now if you continue past the "V" of Taurus you will come to the best and brightest open star cluster in the northern sky. These are the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. The Pleiades look like a little cloud of stars to the naked eye but upon second glance you might be able to make out 5 or 6 of the sisters. In a good pair of binoculars they are just awesome. Formed from the same nebula the sisters are young hot stars burning the candle at both ends. These stars are so hot that they may only live millions of years as opposed to our Sun which has a lifespan of about 10 billion years. The cluster includes hundreds of stars, with only the seven brightest visible to the ancients.

In Greek mythology, Orion fell in love with the sisters - all seven of them. The sisters hardly felt the same and fled into the night sky and now have a protector from Orion in the form of Taurus the bull. So the sisters are sitting pretty on the bull's back while Orion must fend off the charging beast. When Orion asked the gods for help with the bull they let him call up his two hunting dogs. This time let the belt stars point you down and to the left and take you to the brightest star in the sky, Sirius. Sirius, a.k.a. the dog star is the nose of Canis Major, the big dog. From Sirius look up and you'll find the little dog star, Procyon in Canis Minor Aww, what a cute little puppy. Procyon along with Sirius and Betelgeuse make a nice triangle of bright stars. Unfortunately the two dogs aren't helping with the bull. They're too busy chasing after a unicorn (the constellation Monoceros) and a hare (the constellation Lepus) by the banks of the river in the sky (the constellation Eridanus). These last three constellations are much harder to find, with only a few bright stars. But they're still worth the hunt.

So there we have it. Tonight after sunset go to the heavenly movies and see a giant hunter being trampled by a bull with seven women on its back while two hunting dogs chase after a unicorn and a bunny rabbit down by the river. Whew! This is the Orion family of constellations and they're the same stars our ancestors have marveled at for thousands of years. Keep looking up and say hi to the stars tonight!

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Star Gazer Minute

#11-05 M

1/31/2011 thru 2/06/2011

"The Orion Family"

Dean: This week Orion's belt will lead you on a tour of the constellations in the winter sky. When you look south tonight you can't miss Orion and his snazzy belt of three stars. Orion is the great central one of the winter sky. Follow the belt up and to the right and "bull's eye" you'll pass just below the bright reddish star Aldebaran, the eye of Taurus the bull. Keep going to discover the Pleiades star cluster a.k.a. the Seven Sisters, Orion's forbidden loves who ride the bull's back. From the belt stars down and to the left you'll run into Sirius the dog star, brightest star in the sky. Turn right and you'll see the little dog star, bright, white Procyon. These two stars are part of Orion's hunting dogs Canis Major and Canis Minor. Respect the belt and let Orion show you the way. Keep looking up!


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