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 1005
Wednesday Oct. 13, 1230-1330/SD06
Includes episodes 1044, 1045, 1046, 1047, 1048

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 # 10-44 / 1717th Show
To Be Aired : Monday 11/01/2010 through
Sunday 11/07/2010

"How To Look Back In Time 2 1/2 Million Years Or 36 Minutes"


Chris: Hey there star gazers. I'm Chris Trigg. You know everyone is fascinated with the concept of time travel and although actually going back in time is just a thing of science fiction we actually can look back in time and see things as they existed long ago. Let me show you.

O.K., we've got our skies set up for any moonless night in November between 8 and 10 p.m. which means that this week and the first half of next week are very good because there'll be no moonlight in early evening. And make sure you're some place where it's really dark out away from city lights. First look north, then just past overhead, and you'll see four stars which if you could connect with lines trace out a square. It's called the Great Square of Pegasus, the winged horse and marks the main part of his body.

Next look for five bright stars, which if you connect with lines will look like a squashed out letter M. This is the constellation Cassiopeia the Queen. Finally take the brightest star in Cassiopeia and draw a line straight up to the brightest star of Pegasus' square. Then if you look about 2/3rds of the way up that line from Cassiopeia you will see a tiny faint cloud which through binoculars will look even more cloudlike but which isn't a cloud at all. In fact it is the most distant object we can see in the universe with the naked eye, so far away that we have to measure its distance in terms of the speed of light. It's known as the great Andromeda Galaxy.

Now we all know that light is the fastest moving thing in the universe and that it travels at the speed of 186,000 miles per second. Since our Moon is about 240,000 miles away it takes its light about 1 1/3 seconds to reach us. So in reality we always see the Moon not as it exists now but as it existed 1 1/3 seconds ago. Our Sun on the other hand is 93 million miles away, so far away that it takes its light 8 1/3 minutes to reach us, which means that we never see the Sun as it exists right now but as it existed 8 1/3 minutes ago. The great Andromeda Galaxy however is something else. In fact it is so incredibly far away that it takes its light more than 2 1/2 million years to reach us. So when we look at the Andromeda Galaxy we actually see it not as it exists now but as it existed 2 and 1/2 million years ago.

Think of it. When you look up at this dim cloud any dark night this month you are seeing something as it actually existed about the time that Australopithecus, the Lucy creature, walked on this Earth, long before the appearance of modern man, long before any creature on Earth learned how to use fire. And what's equally astonishing is that it is a giant spiral pinwheel of billions of stars, a great galaxy very similar in shape to our own family of stars, the Milky Way Galaxy, but over two times larger.

Let's now take a look at something that's a lot brighter than the Andromeda Galaxy because it's a lot closer. Jupiter is still shining brightly in our evening skies. Look in the south after observing Andromeda and find the best planet to see in our evening skies. Do you remember that Andromeda is about 2 1/2 million light years away? Well Jupiter is so much closer that it is only 36 light minutes away. While you still have those binoculars or that small telescope that you used to look at Andromeda handy turn them to Jupiter and take a look at the family of moons that circle around Jupiter.

The moons of Jupiter are one of the few things you can see in the night sky that actually move fast enough that you can see changes in only an hour or so. The great red spot on Jupiter is another thing that you can see appear and disappear in an evening's viewing. Do you remember that a few weeks ago I told you that there was something new on Jupiter? Specifically that one of its equatorial belts had disappeared since last year? Have you gone out under the night sky and looked for this for yourself? If not, why not? There is no better time to take a look at Jupiter and Andromeda than tonight. So get out this week and next, far from city lights and travel back in time. It's easy, it's fun, it's science, it's real. Keep looking up!

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Please give us your comments. (Click Here)

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

Check Out WPBT's Version

 
 
 
 

Star Gazer Minute

#10-44 M

11/01/2010 thru 11/07/2010

"How To Look Back In Time 2 1/2 Million Years Or 36 Minutes"


Chris: Although we cannot actually go back in time we actually can look back in time. Go out any clear moonless night this month between 8 and 10 p.m. draw a line from the brightest star in Cassiopeia to the brightest star in the Great Square of Pegasus and 2/3rds of the way up that line you'll see a tiny faint cloud which through telescopes reveals itself to be a gigantic family of billions of stars. It's called the Great Andromeda Galaxy and it is so far away it takes 2 1/2 million years for its light to reach us. So we see it not as it exists now but as it actually existed 2 1/2 million years ago before homo sapiens walked this planet. Then turn around and look high in the south and that bright light is the planet Jupiter. The Andromeda Galaxy is 2 1/2 million light years away while Jupiter is only 36 light minutes away. 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 1005
Wednesday Oct. 13, 1230-1330/SD06
Includes episodes 1044, 1045, 1046, 1047, 1048


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 #10-45 /1718th Show
To Be Aired : Monday 11/08/2010 through Sunday 11/14/2010

"Get Ready For The Leonid Meteor Shower Next Week"


Chris: Hey there star gazers. I'm Chris Trigg. Every November we are treated to a meteor shower, which appears to originate from Leo the lion. So we call this event the Leonid meteor shower. Last year the Leonids occurred during a new Moon, which is the best thing a meteor watcher can hope for. This year will not be quite as good but there'll be no moonlight to interfere if you wait until the Moon sets around 2 to 3 a.m. Wednesday morning November 17. So if you get far enough away from city lights and it's clear out you should be able to catch quite a few. Let me explain.

O.K., we've got our skies set up for very early this Wednesday morning November 17th, 3 a.m. facing east where half way up from the horizon you'll see the bright stars which make up the constellation Leo the lion. The front part of Leo is marked by stars, which trace out a sickle shape or backwards question mark and Leo's rear is marked by three stars, which form a triangle. The bright star at the bottom of the sickle is the heart star of Leo, the bright blue Regulus. And this year you may see a bright light down to the left of Leo which isn't always there, planet #6, ringed Saturn.

Now every November on the nights of the Leonid meteor shower bright streaks of light which we call meteors flash across the sky and appear to come from a spot within Leo's sickle. But it's all an optical illusion because the meteors are millions of times closer than the stars of Leo. "But where do these specks come from?", you ask. Well, most meteors are caused by comet litter. You see meteors are tiny bits of comet debris that slam into our Earth's atmosphere so fast that they incinerate and cause gasses in our Earth's atmosphere to briefly light up, kind of like the gasses in a neon tube.

You see every time any comet visits our Sun it sheds some of its tail and leaves a trail of debris in its orbit. And if our Earth happens to pass through this stream of debris as it orbits the Sun we'll get a meteor shower. If the comet's path and the Earth's path do not intersect we're out of luck. There are hundreds of known comets that orbit the Sun but the Earth intersects with only a few of them. The comet that causes the Leonids is comet Tempel - Tuttle, which orbits our Sun every 33 years. It last paid our Sun a visit back in 1998 and won't be back again until 2031.

But every November our Earth plows right through comet Tempel-Tuttle's littered orbital pathway so that many specks of debris from Tempel-Tuttle slam into our Earth's atmosphere and make the trails of light that we call the Leonid meteors. Every time comet Tempel-Tuttle visits our Sun it sheds some of its tail and leaves a trail of debris all along its orbit. So after hundreds of years and dozens of passages Tempel -Tuttle's orbit has become filled with tiny specks of comet debris.

And every November when our Earth plows through this river of comet debris many specks slam into our Earth's atmosphere leaving the trails of light, which we call the Leonid meteors. Now most of these specks are very tiny and leave very faint trails but there are always a few bigger specks and they can leave brilliant trails, which will make you gasp with delight.

So because we have no bright moonlight to interfere this year you can expect to see 15 to 20 meteors per hour if you follow the rules for optimum viewing. Start watching about 3 a.m. this Wednesday morning and make sure you are far away from city lights. Lie back in a sleeping bag or on a lawn chair with your feet pointing east, then slowly scan the sky back and forth for at least an hour and you should see a few bright ones. You'll have a better chance to see more bright ones about an hour before sunrise because that's when Leo will be almost overhead. Patience is required. And remember not to use a telescope or binoculars. This is strictly a naked eye event, which is my favorite kind. 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

#10-45 M

11/08/2010 thru 11/14/2010

"Get Ready For The Leonid Meteor Shower Next Week"


Chris: Next Wednesday morning from about 3 a.m. after the Moon sets to dawn we'll be treated to the annual Leonid meteor shower. Every November our Earth plows through a river of comet debris and when some of these specks of debris slam into our Earth's atmosphere at speeds of 160 thousand miles per hour they heat up the gasses in our Earth's atmosphere and leave trails of light which we call the Leonid meteors because they appear to come from Leo the lion. You may see 15 to 20 or even more per hour if you get far from city lights and watch a couple of hours from 3 a.m. to dawn. Lay back on a lawn chair and slowly scan the sky and have plenty of patience. No telescopes allowed it's a naked eye event only, which is my favorite kind. 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 1005
Wednesday Oct. 13, 1230-1330/SD06
Includes episodes 1044, 1045, 1046, 1047, 1048


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 # 10-46 / 1719th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 11/15/2010 through Sunday 11/21/2010

"Three Cosmic Birds Plus Planets And Stars To Help You Celebrate Thanksgiving"


Chris: Hey there star gazers. I'm Chris Trigg. Cosmically speaking this year Thanksgiving week will be very special because in addition to the usual turkey bird for Thanksgiving dinner we have our annual return of three cosmic birds which you can see right after Thanksgiving dinner or any night Thanksgiving week. Plus the biggest of all the planets is bright and easy to find high in the south.

O.K., we've got our skies set up for any clear night this Thanksgiving week about one hour after sunset facing south where high above the horizon you will see the biggest planet in our solar system, super bright, 88,000 mile wide Jupiter. And if you use binoculars to view Jupiter, which I highly recommend, you'll see not one planet but two in the same binocular view. Three degrees to Jupiter's left you'll find the ringed planet Uranus looking like a pale bluish green dot. And Jupiter and Uranus will keep getting closer to each other for the rest of this year and Jupiter will pass only 1/2 a degree below Uranus on January 3. Keep watching.

Next if you look above the western horizon you'll see three bright stars which if we connect with lines make up what is officially called the Summer Triangle but which every November is unofficially called the "Thanksgiving Is For The Birds" triangle because historically these stars have been associated with cosmic birds. The highest star is Deneb, the bright tail star in Cygnus the swan. So in addition to our Thanksgiving turkey we have a heavenly swan to be thankful for.

The bright star farthest to the left, Altair, is the brightest star in Aquila the eagle, and the brightest of the three stars and closest to the northwest horizon is Vega in the constellation Lyra the harp which, strange as it may sound, has had more feathery incarnations than the other two birds put together. You see, Lyra was not always a harp. In fact long before it became a lyre it was a cosmic turtle but before it was a cosmic turtle it was a bird of one sort or another. Ancient records tell us that Lyra's association with birds goes back over 2,000 years. In ancient India Lyra was seen as a heavenly vulture.

But when Babylonian kings and their queens strolled through the hanging gardens of Babylon they looked up and identified Lyra as their great mythological bird of storms, Urakhga. In ancient Arabia people depicted Lyra's stars, depending on what tribe they belonged to as either a desert eagle or would you believe, a cosmic goose. And Lyra was also seen as a great osprey and as a wood falcon. At any rate, only in the past couple hundred years or so have we in the west seen Lyra exclusively as a lyre, a small harp of ancient Greece. In fact as recently as the American revolution these stars were still depicted as a bird, a great American eagle, but with a lyre in its beak. So perhaps we should play lyre music after Thanksgiving dinner?

At any rate, step outside just after dinner any night this week and look for some birds of a different feather and be truly thankful you won't have them served up as Thanksgiving leftovers for several nights in a row, although you will be able to see them many, many nights in a row. Yes indeed, Thanksgiving is really for the birds but in a really nice way. Then if you are blessed with dark skies you might be able to see our galaxy, the Milky Way going straight up through the Summer Triangle, passing nearly overhead to the north and then down to the eastern horizon.

The reason I'm taking you over here is to give you a preview of the starry wonders that are about to take over the winter sky. Just to the right of the Milky Way about half way up from the horizon is a little box like pattern of stars, the Seven Sisters, the Pleiades. Below them is a v-shaped pattern of stars with a bright reddish star in its midst. The red star is Aldebaran, the brightest star of Taurus the bull. And Taurus is leading the way for the bright stars of winter, especially Orion the hunter. You'll be able to see Orion rise in the east earlier each night over the next few weeks. So see the king of the planets Jupiter and Uranus in the south, the Summer Triangle in the west and Taurus and Orion in the east, lots of bright stars to help you celebrate Thanksgiving. 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

#10-46 M

11/15/2010 thru 11/21/2010

"Three Cosmic Birds Plus Planets And Stars To Help You Celebrate Thanksgiving"


Chris: If the turkey on the table is not enough bird for you on Thanksgiving look west just after sunset and you'll see three cosmic birds depicted by the three constellations marked by the three bright stars of the Summer Triangle, which have historically been associated with birds: Cygnus the Swan, Aquila the Eagle and Lyra the Harp. Lyra the Harp !? Well Lyra has had many feathery incarnations including a vulture and a goose. So if you're tired of turkey look west after Thanksgiving dinner for birds of a different feather. Then look south and find Jupiter and Uranus, who will move closer to each other every night and will be super close January 3. Finally look east and see Orion making his appearance for the winter season. 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 1005
Wednesday Oct. 13, 1230-1330/SD06
Includes episodes 1044, 1045, 1046, 1047, 1048


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 # 10-47 / 1720th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 11/22/2010 through Sunday 11/28/2010

"Let The Moon Show You Saturn, Spica And Venus Before Dawn"

Chris: Hey there star gazers. I'm Chris Trigg. Next week you'll have an opportunity to let the Moon take you on a tour of some of the brightest objects in your morning sky. Get ready to see ringed Saturn, Virgo's Spica and the brightest of all the planets, Earth's twin, Venus. Plus I'll be giving you an early heads up for this year's winter solstice Total Eclipse of the Moon. Let me show you.

O.K., we've got our skies set up for Tuesday November 30th, around 6 to 7 a.m., facing southeast. The first thing you'll probably notice is a waning crescent Moon. Down to its left you'll see a dazzlingly bright spot of light, Venus. Half way between the Moon and Venus you'll spot a dimmer light, the ringed planet Saturn. The next morning, Wednesday, the first day of December, the Moon will have moved closer to Saturn and gotten a bit skinnier. It will be only half as far away from Saturn but will be passing Saturn off to one side. The Moon will be much closer to Saturn than it was yesterday. The Moon seems to move about 13 degrees in the sky from one day to the next.

Then on Thursday morning the Moon will have moved another 13 degrees and will have closed in on Venus and will be about 7 degrees away from Venus. Just above the Moon is a fairly bright star, the brightest star in Virgo the virgin, Spica. The skinny Moon, Venus and Spica will make a very small triangle in the morning sky. But let's take a moment and think about how far away these sky objects really are. The Moon is closest to us, 370,000 kilometers or 228, 000 miles. Venus is next closest : 37 1/2 million miles or how many kilometers? You fill in the blank.

The star Spica, at the top of the triangle, is a huge number of miles and an even more impressive number of kilometers away. But the numbers are so big that they are almost meaningless. Astronomers describe the distance to stars by using how long light takes to travel from the star to us here on Earth. The light from Spica takes about 263 years to reach us. So we say Spica is 263 light years away. So the Moon will be about 1 1/3 light seconds away, Venus, 3 1/2 light minutes away and Spica, 263 light years away.

But what about Saturn, well above the triangle? Well Saturn's light will take almost an hour and a half to get here, 84 minutes to be exact. The next morning Friday December 3rd, the Moon will have moved another 13 degrees and will be even skinnier. The next morning Saturday the 4th, the Moon will have moved another 13 degrees toward the east. Are you beginning to notice a pattern here? 13, 13, 13? The Moon moves about 13 degrees toward the east every day or think about it another way. The Moon moves roughly its own diameter every hour. If you have a really clear low horizon you might see one of the skinniest old Moons of the year, low in the east, as morning twilight starts to fill in the sky.

But there is another Moon event I want you to start planning for. This year we will be treated to a total eclipse of the Moon in the wee hours of the morning on Dec. 21st. The winter solstice occurs on December 21st this year we'll have a double bonus of two celestial events in one day. Total lunar eclipses are especially great things to see because the Moon will pass right through the middle of the Earth's shadow and often turns a rusty red color. I like to think of it as happening Monday night the 20th after midnight but start making plans now. It will be a school night but it's worth making a special effort as the next total eclipse of the Moon visible from North America won't happen until the spring of 2014.

Let's go back over that one more time: Tuesday November 30th, the Moon, Saturn, Spica and Venus. Next day December 1st, next day December 2nd, next day December 3rd, and then December 4th, a really skinny old Moon. Then start making your plans for watching the total lunar eclipse on Dec. 21st around 3 o'clock in the morning. 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

#10-47 M

11/22/2010 thru 11/28/2010

"Let The Moon Show You Saturn, Spica And Venus Before Dawn"


Chris: Next week you'll have an opportunity to use the Moon to find some of the brightest objects in your morning sky, ringed Saturn, Virgo's Spica and the brightest of all the planets, Venus. Let me show you. O.K., we've got our skies set up for Tuesday November 30th, 6 to 7 a.m., facing southeast. The first thing you'll notice is a waning crescent Moon. Down to its left you'll see a dazzlingly bright spot of light, Venus. Half way between the Moon and Venus you'll spot a dimmer light, the ringed planet Saturn. The next morning, the Moon will have moved closer to Saturn and gotten a bit skinnier. Then on Thursday morning the Moon will have closed in on Venus. Just above the Moon is a fairly bright star, the brightest star in Virgo the virgin, Spica. The next morning Friday December 3rd, the Moon will be even skinnier. The next morning Saturday the 4th, if you have a really clear low horizon you might see one of the skinniest old Moons of the year. 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 1005
Wednesday Oct. 13, 1230-1330/SD06
Includes episodes 1044, 1045, 1046, 1047, 1048


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 # 10-48 / 1721st Show

To Be Aired : Monday 11/29/2010 through Sunday 12/05/2010

"See A Double Cluster Of Stars Beloved By Ancient Chinese Astronomers Plus Venus Dazzles Before Dawn"

Chris: Hey there star gazers. I'm Chris Trigg. Although we usually talk about very bright, easy to find, obvious objects in the night sky on Star Gazer, every once in a while we like to entice you to look for less bright and less obvious objects, which have hidden beauty. And such is the case this week because I am going to show you two tiny clouds which have been seen and admired by hundreds of generations and which were written about as far back as the times of TSung-K'ang, the fourth reigning monarch of the Hsai dynasty of ancient China over 4,000 years ago in the early third millennium b.c. Let me show you.

O.K., we've got our skies set up for the end of November and early December between 8 and 10 p.m. facing north where you will see five bright stars which if connected by lines trace out a slightly squashed out capital letter 'm'. This is the constellation named for the ancient queen of Ethiopia, Cassiopeia. And just off to her right is a rather free form shape of stars which if connected by lines would look something like this and which were named for an ancient hero of Greek mythology, Perseus.

Now off to the right of Perseus is perhaps the most famous cluster of stars known and which I speak about frequently. It's easily seen if there is no bright Moonlight and is called the Pleiades, although most people refer to it as the Seven Sisters. But there are two dimmer clusters of stars, to which most people pay little attention because they're not nearly as bright. And I suggest you look for them when there is no bright Moon out. Simply look between Cassiopeia and Perseus and they'll look like two tiny faint clouds. And the farther you are away from city lights the brighter they will appear.

If you look at them through binoculars or a small telescope you will see that there are dozens of stars in each cluster looking very much like the seven sisters. In fact they are the same kind of cluster as the Seven Sisters. The only reason they look different to the naked eye is because they are almost 20 times farther away, about 7,500 light years away compared to the 400 light years distance of the Pleiades. This group is simply called the Double Cluster in Perseus. And there are at least 300 to 400 stars in each cluster many of which are great blazing supergiants of almost unimaginable brilliance, thousands of times larger than our own Sun.

Astronomy writer Stephen J. O'Meara penned one of the best descriptions I've ever read. "This pair of stellar islands spans about one and a half Moon diameters and a small telescope will reveal suns piled like rubies and diamonds on black velvet and strings of stars stretch between the couplet like arms entwining them in an eternal embrace". How poetic. With an estimated age of only a few million years, these are two of the youngest open clusters known. And we are racing toward them at the incredible speed of 26 miles per second. So some dark night this November and December go outside between the hours of 8 and 10 p.m. face north look first for Cassiopeia then for Perseus and right between them the wonderful Double Cluster of stars whose light left them over 7,500 years ago, which means that we see them as they existed almost 8 millennia ago.

For you early birds Venus is putting on quite a show in the east before dawn and she's about as bright as she can get, reaching her brightest for this go round in early December. Venus has also been getting higher every morning but this climbing and brightening is about to come to an end as Venus starts her long, slow curve back towards the Sun. Venus orbits closer to the Sun than we do so her orbit never lets her get too far away from the Sun in the sky, 46 degrees is about as far as she ever gets. Venus will also dim slightly as she gets farther away from us. At the beginning of December Venus is about 37 million miles away from earth but by the end of the month she has receded about 20 million miles and her light takes almost 2 minutes longer to get here. So catch Venus now at her brightest! Keep looking up!

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Star Gazer Minute

#10-48 M

11/29/2010 thru 12/05/2010

"See A Double Cluster Of Stars Beloved By Ancient Chineses Astronomers Plus Venus Dazzles Before Dawn"


Chris: In ancient China in the early third millennium b.c. Chinese court astronomers wrote about two tiny cosmic clouds which you can see this month. Between 8 and 10 p.m. face north and you'll see the five bright stars of queen Cassiopeia and to her right a free form group of stars called Perseus. But if you look carefully between them you'll see these two ancient clouds which through binoculars or a small telescope show themselves to be twin islands of dozens of stars, many of them blazing supergiants thousands of times larger than our Sun. About 7,500 light years away, we see them not as they exist now but as they existed almost 8 millennia ago. We call them the Perseus Double Cluster and they are best seen on a moonless night. Keep looking up!

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