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!

Half Hour Feed
1103 SD Base P389222-001
Wednesday 17 August 2011 - 1230-1300
Includes episodes 1136, 1137, 1138, 1139


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 on YouTube

 

 
 

STAR GAZER 5 MINUTE

Episode # 11-36 / 1761st Show
To Be Aired : Monday 9/5/2011 through
Sunday 9/11/2011

"Use The Harvest Moon To Find Jupiter And The Ram"


Dean: Hey there star gazers. I'm Dean Regas, Outreach Astronomer for the Cincinnati Observatory. Let me be your guide to the Moon, the planets and beyond. This week is a perfect time to sit outside under the September Moon. You'll be able to see it right after Sunset. But I want to give you a preview of next week's sky too. You'll have to stay up a little later to see the celestial highlights, but it'll be worth it because near the Moon you can find the largest planet and the first sign of the zodiac. Here, let me show you.

Okay we've got our skies set to Monday September 12th at 11:30 p.m. looking east. This year's Harvest Moon will be just a smidgen past full and really lighting up the night sky. See if you can spot the Man in the Moon outlined by the dark splotches, often called maria, on the surface. I have to admit, whenever I try to imagine a face on the Moon, all I see is a bunny rabbit leaping across the lunar highlands. There's his head, ears, and fluffy tail.

Anyway, over the next week you'll notice the Moon waning, and getting dimmer each night. And the Moon will shift its position from night to night. Here it is same time, same direction but on the very next day, Tuesday September 13. And here it is September 14 and September 15. Now the Moon is easy to find, but what's that other bright thing below it? That's Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system. You can't miss it, it's so bright! Jupiter is famous for its legendary size, but it's pretty far away - almost 400 million miles from Earth. Compare that to our nearby neighbor, the Moon, who is only about 240,000 miles away. But even at that tremendous distance, Jupiter shines brighter than any star in the night sky. That's because Jupiter is about 88,000 miles wide and reflects a lot of Sunlight. It's so big you could stretch 40 Moons across its diameter or 11 Earths!

Jupiter will get even brighter as the Earth gets closer to it in October. That's when Jupiter will be at opposition - meaning for us Earthlings, it'll be on the opposite side of the sky from the Sun and therefore closest to us. Opposition this year for Jupiter is October 28th so make sure to mark your calendars to see it at its best! The closer Jupiter is, the better chance you have of spying his Great Red Spot through a good telescope.

Just above the Moon is a second magnitude star called Hamal. This is the brightest star in the constellation Aries, the Ram. But with the overwhelming glare of the Moon's light, you'll probably get a better view of the Ram after the Moon moves away like on September 16th and 17th. Aries is a tiny constellation but was of humongous importance to the ancients. 2500 years ago, the Sun was visible in front of Aries' stars during the spring equinox. And so it was called the first sign in the zodiac. But that was an age or two ago.

Have you ever heard the song, "The dawning of the Age of Aquarius?" Thanks to a slow wobble of the Earth the spring equinox Sun is heading through the constellation Pisces right now and is on its way to the dawning of the age of Aquarius in about 600 years. You can use Aries to measure how dark your sky is where you live. If you can see Hamal, maybe you can see Aries' other two stars. Just to the right of Hamal is a dimmer star called Sheratan. Sheratan is only half as bright as Hamal. So if you can see it, you'll be able to see maybe three times as many stars in the entire sky. The dimmest of the three stars is called Mesarthim which is only 1/3 as bright as Sheratan. If you can see Mesarthim then chances are you have a pretty good sky and can start spotting constellations like a pro. Boy, even with all three stars, it still doesn't look like a ram to me.

So next week stay out 'til midnight to watch the eastern sky. You'll see the Moon shift from night to night until it's right above Jupiter on September 15. Then try to see one, two, or three stars in Aries the Ram. The Moon, a giant planet, and a zodiacal constellation are all there when you keep looking up!

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

#11-36 M

9/05/2011 thru 9/11/2011

"Use The Harvest Moon To Find Jupiter And The Ram"

Dean: The Moon shines in prime time this week and if you stay up a little later next week, I can show you the largest planet and the first sign in the zodiac. Right this wayokay we've got our skies set to Monday September 12th at 11:30 pm looking east. Now the Harvest Moon is easy to find, but if you look lower in the east you can't miss that other bright thing. That's Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system. Each night, the Moon will creep closer and closer to Jupiter. Here's the sky on September 13th and September 14th and September 15th. Up and to the left of the Moon is a dim star called Hamal. This is the brightest star in the constellation Aries, the Ram. You'll get a better view of the Ram after the Moon moves away like on September 16th and 17th. I'm Dean Regas from the Cincinnati Observatory reminding you to keep looking up!

How did you like this episode?
Please give us your comments. (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!

Half Hour Feed
1103 SD Base P389222-001
Wednesday 17 August 2011 - 1230-1300
Includes episodes 1136, 1137, 1138, 1139


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 #11-37 /1762nd Show
To Be Aired : Monday 9/12/2011 through Sunday 9/18/2011

"Welcome Autumn With Jupiter And Vega"

Dean: Hey there star gazers I'm Dean Regas, Outreach Astronomer from the Cincinnati Observatory, and I'll be your guide to the sky this month on Star Gazer. Next Friday September 23rd is the autumnal equinox, the first day of autumn. And we have several very bright lights in the evening sky helping us welcome the end of summer's scorching heat. The giant planet Jupiter is reappearing in the early evening skies. It will rise a little higher each night and will put on a wonderful show. But did you know that if you go outside any night during the first week of autumn of any year and look straight up you will see one of the top 5 brightest stars in the heavens almost overhead? And that our Sun and Earth are actually flying toward it and getting closer every day? Let me show you.

O.K. we've got our skies set up for any clear night next week around 9:30 p.m. your local time. And if you look east you'll easily see a bright spot of light just above the horizon. Jupiter is now entering its best viewing season for this year so get out your binoculars and telescopes and enjoy the king of the planets. Then face north, look straight up, almost overhead, and you will see an extremely bright star right next to four dimmer stars which if connected by lines would make a lopsided rectangle which is more properly called a parallelogram. These stars plus a handful of others make up the ancient constellation Lyra the harp.

But Lyra's brightest star Vega is the real attention grabber. It is the fifth brightest star and compared to our Sun it's a doozy. For starters while our Sun is 865 thousand miles wide, Vega is over twice as wide, two million miles. And Vega's white color tells us that it is a super hot star, much hotter than our own yellow-orange Sun. In fact our Sun's surface temperature is a mere ten thousand degrees Fahrenheit whereas Vega's is a blistering 17,000 degrees. So because Vega is much bigger and hotter it is over 50 times brighter! Talk about getting a suntan in a hurry!

But one of the really nifty things about Vega is that it once was and will again be our North Star, a much brighter one than our current North Star, which is the end star of the handle of the Little Dipper. You see the North Star is simply the star directly above our Earth's north pole, the one towards which our Earth's axis points. But because of a regular, very slow wobbling motion of our Earth, like a top slowing down, our Earth's axis doesn't always point to the same spot in the heavens. In fact our Earth's axis traces out a great circle in the sky.

Right now our Earth's axis is pointed to a spot on that circle very close to our current North Star. But the Earth's axis slowly drifts, constantly changing where it points in that circle. A hundred years from now it will point even closer to our current North Star but a thousand years from now it will be well past it. And once every 26,000 years it points to Vega. So 14 1/2 thousand years ago Vega was the North Star of our cave man ancestors and Vega will be our North Star once again eleven and a half thousand years from now. Wow! But what I really love about Vega is that it marks the direction our Sun and Earth are headed. In fact our Sun and Earth are racing towards Vega at the incredible speed of 12 miles per second. But Vega is so far away it would take our Sun almost 500 million years to reach it. And unfortunately by the time we get there Vega will have already moved. So don't pack your bags for Vega yet.

Just go out any night next week the first week of autumn between 8 and 9 p.m., look overhead and contemplate the incredible beauty of this brilliant white star. And in your mind's eye see if you can almost feel our Earth and all of us on it zooming through space at 12 miles per second toward it. You know sometimes I feel as if I almost need a seat belt. So look east in the early evening for giant Jupiter and then look straight up for Vega. Keep looking up!


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

#11-37 M

9/12/2011 thru 9/18/2011

"Welcome Autumn With Jupiter And Vega"

Dean: Hey there star gazers. Every year during the first week of autumn Vega the fifth brightest star shines directly overhead in early evening. It is twice as big as our Sun, much hotter and over 50 times brighter. And every 26 thousand years our Earth's axis points to Vega, which makes it our North Star, a much brighter one than our current North Star in the Little Dipper's handle. It was our cave man ancestors' North Star 14 1/2 thousand years ago and it will be the North Star again 11 1/2 thousand years from now! Our Sun and Earth are actually racing toward it at the incredible speed of 12 miles per second. But it's so far away it would take us 500 million years to reach it. So don't pack your bags for Vega yet. Just look overhead all next week for this brilliant white beauty. Keep looking up!


Please give us your comments. (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!

Half Hour Feed
1103 SD Base P389222-001
Wednesday 17 August 2011 - 1230-1300
Includes episodes 1136, 1137, 1138, 1139


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 # 11-38 / 1763rd Show

To Be Aired : Monday 9/19/2011 through Sunday 9/25/2011

"Call Triple A For Star Trouble!"


Dean: Hey there star gazers I'm Dean Regas, Outreach Astronomer from the Cincinnati Observatory, and I'll be your guide to the sky this month on Star Gazer. Having star trouble? Never fear, I'm sending "Triple A" your way! And each "A" is from a different constellation! Wondering what I'm talking about? Here, let me show you!

Alright, I have our skies set for about an hour after sunset facing northeast. High above the northeastern horizon you'll see a large, square pattern of stars called "The Great Square of Pegasus". Pegasus is a winged horse that is part of an ancient story involving many characters from Greek mythology and you can find all these characters in the same part of the sky. The first "A" in our "Triple A" is "Andromeda". Andromeda is the beautiful daughter of Cassiopeia the queen and Cepheus the king. You can find Andromeda next to the great square of Pegasus. Use the fourth star in the square, a star named Alpheratz. Then follow the two lines of stars downward and that forms the body and long legs of Andromeda. Her arms are marked by another group of faint stars which trail away from her body. Cassiopeia and Cepheus can both be seen off to the left of Andromeda. Because of Cassiopeia's arrogance, Andromeda was to be sacrificed to Cetus the sea monster, a rather obscure constellation down to the right of Pegasus.

The second "A" in our "Triple A" involves the final player in this cosmic drama, Perseus the hero and the "A" is Algol. Algol is the second brightest star in the constellation of Perseus. You can find Perseus just below Andromeda's feet. Follow the line of stars from Alpheratz (her head) down through the dimmer stars and, if you keep going, you'll run smack dab into the star Mirphak (the brightest star in Perseus). Off to the right of Mirphak is the second brightest star in Perseus, "Algol". This part of Perseus represents the severed head of Medusa. Medusa was an infamous gorgon, a monster who could turn you to stone with just one look. Perseus slew Medusa by cutting off her head while looking at her harmless reflection in his shield. Then later Perseus rescued Andromeda from the sea monster Cetus by using the severed head of Medusa to turn the dreaded sea monster into stone.

Algol is said to be the "winking eye of Medusa" because Algol is not just any other star. Algol is what we call an eclipsing variable, and it was the first one ever discovered. Algol is a star system where two stars of different brightnesses orbit each other and the light of the brighter star is temporarily blocked by the larger, dimmer star. Algol dims and re-brightens like clockwork every 2.87 days and it's pretty easy to observe. In the middle of an eclipse Algol is three times dimmer than normal! So, if you go outside on Monday, September 19th, Algol will be near its brightest and almost 3 days later, Algol will be near its dimmest.

The eclipse of Algol's brighter star (when the eclipse is at its greatest) lasts about 2 hours. Due to Algol's location in the sky, it's sometimes at its dimmest during the daytime, when we can't see it. However if you check it out next month on October 3rd , at 02:11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, Algol will be at its dimmest. The next day, October 4th, Algol will be near its brightest, and then again the next day, on October 5th, at 11:00 pm eastern standard time Algol will again be at its dimmest. This is why Algol is often called the "winking eye of medusa".

Our final "A" in our "Triple A" involves a constellation that appears in the middle of all this mythological action. This constellation is "Aries" the Ram. Aries can be a toughie to find because it only has two bright stars. However, this month the largest planet in the solar system, 88,000 mile wide Jupiter is nearby to help you find him. The horns of the ram are marked by the stars "Hamal" (to the left) and "Sheratan" (to the right). Aries might be faint, but he's special, because he marks the beginning of the zodiac. So get outside this week for a stellar "Triple A" and as always, keep looking up!


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

#11-38 M

9/19/2011 thru 9/25/2011

"Call Triple A For Star Trouble"


Dean: Hey there star gazers! I'm sending "Triple A" your way! What am I talking about? Here, let me show you! Alright, I have our skies set for about an hour after sunset facing northeast. Andromeda is our first "A". This constellation is high above the eastern horizon. To find her, use the fourth star in the Great Square of Pegasus, then follow the two lines of stars downward and that forms the body of Andromeda the princess. The second "A" is "Algol". Algol is an infamous star in the constellation Prseus. Algol is said to be the "winking eye of Medusa" because it dims and re-brightens like clockwork every 2.87 days. And the final "A" is "Aries" the Ram. Aries can be tough to find because it has only two bright stars. However, this month the largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter, is nearby to help you find him. So get outside this week for a stellar "Triple A" and, keep looking up!


How did you like this episode?
Please give us your comments. (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!

Half Hour Feed
1103 SD Base P389222-001
Wednesday 17 August 2011 - 1230-1300
Includes episodes 1136, 1137, 1138, 1139


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 # 11-39 / 1764th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 9/26/2011 through Sunday 10/2/2011

"The False Dawn Of Omar Khayyam"


Dean: Hey there star gazers I'm Dean Regas, Outreach Astronomer from the Cincinnati Observatory, and I'll be your guide to the sky this month on Star Gazer. Almost a thousand years ago the Persian poet Omar Khayyam in his book of poetry "The Rubaiyat" wrote his most famous line " a jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou beside me singing in the wilderness". But elsewhere in "The Rubaiyat" Omar made a poetic allusion to a mysterious "false dawn" as opposed to the real dawn, which can only be seen at a certain time of year. And happily next week is your best chance this year to see it because there will be no bright Moon light to wipe out this delicate astronomical phenomenon. Let me tell you all about it and what you have to do to find it.

O.K., if we could go way out into space and look down on our solar system with superhuman vision, we would notice a faint, almost imperceptible vast cloud extending outward from the Sun in the plane of the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth and slightly beyond, an enormous cloud of cosmic dust. And while one would expect it would be impossible to see this super faint cloud from Earth, nevertheless in Autumn when the plane of our Earth's orbit is almost vertical to the horizon, we can under the right conditions. And those conditions require that there is no bright Moon light out and that you must be far away from city lights because even the faintest Moon light or urban lighting will wipe out the extremely delicate, ethereal glow of the false dawn.

As a general rule, if you can see the Milky Way from where you're observing, you'll have a good chance to see this rare phenomenon next week. To see it, look toward the east about 2 hours before sunrise, before the real dawn. It will look like a wedge or cone-shaped dim patch of light about the same brightness as the Milky Way and it will extend from the horizon about one third to half way up to the zenith ... A ghostly, faintly glowing rounded pyramid of light.

Now the scientific name of this phenomenon is the zodiacal light and it's caused by sunlight scattered from all those trillions and trillions of dust particles which make up the great cosmic cloud. And although Omar didn't mention it, this 'false dawn' also has an evening counterpart ... A 'false dusk', the evening zodiacal light, which looks pretty much the same except that it is visible 2 hours after sunset in the west in March when the plane of our Earth's orbit is also almost vertical to the horizon. Additionally, if you ever see a similar oval-shaped glow directly overhead at midnight you would be seeing the zodiacal light's sister phenomenon called the gegenschein or counterglow. And I personally wonder whether any poet ever wrote about that.

And for those of you who wouldn't think of getting out to take a look at the sky at dawn, we have scheduled a bright planet for you to see early in the evening. Giant Jupiter is now rising in the east not long after dark. Jupiter is almost its closest of the year and is almost as bright as it gets. Jupiter's brightness varies as its distance from us changes, the closer the brighter. It will be closest, at opposition, that is, opposite the sun in the sky on October 28.

And before any of you write in that the internet says Oct. 29 is the date of opposition this year, the time of opposition is 2 hours Universal Time which means it's still Oct. 28 for us here in the U.S. at any rate, remember that next week is your best chance this year to see the 'false dawn' of Omar Khayyam, the morning zodiacal light, which I admit is very elusive. But once you've found it I think you'll know why it appeared in poetry centuries before it appeared in scientific writings. So get outside before dawn next week when there's no Moon and make sure you're far from city lights and see if you can see what inspired an ancient poet. I think you'll find it inspiring too. Keep looking up!

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

#11-39 M

9/26/2011 thru 10/02/2011

"The False Dawn Of Omar Khayyam"


Dean: Hey there star gazers. Almost a thousand years ago the Persian Poet Omar Khayyam wrote about a 'false dawn' which can only be seen in the fall. And which you can see next week if you're far from city lights because there will be no Moon out to hide its faint glow. Look east about 2 hours before sunrise for a very dim cone shaped patch of light about the brightness of the Milky Way extending from the horizon almost half way up to the zenith. Although Omar couldn't know it his 'false dawn' is actually a humongous cloud of cosmic dust extending from the Sun past Mercury and Venus and slightly beyond Earth. Astronomers call it the zodiacal light. And next week is your best chance to see it this year. So see what inspired an ancient poet and you may be inspired yourself. Keep looking up!


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


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