STAR GAZER
THE INTERNATIONAL EDITION



STAR GAZER is seen nationally on most PBS stations. 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. You may take STAR GAZER off satellite for personal use, classroom use, astronomy club use, etc. without written permission.



Satellite Feed Info

Monday 3/30/98

10:30-11:00 a.m. Eastern Time

Schedule 5-B-5

GE 3

Transponder 512

Digital Only

 





Notice : These are working drafts of the scripts for STAR GAZER.

Changes may well be made as production requires.



STAR GAZER Episode #SG 022-I


1061st Show

To Be Aired : Monday 4/6/98 through Sunday 4/12/98

'The Smallest Full Moon Of The Year, and

The Horse On The Handle Of The Big Dipper'


Greetings! Greetings! Fellow stargazers and this Saturday night if it's clear out you will see the smallest Full Moon of the entire year. That is because it will be the most distant Full Moon of the year, 253,000 miles away, which means that this Saturday's Full Moon will be 35,000 miles farther away than the closest Full Moon of the year in November. So if this Saturday's Full Moon seems to be a bit anemic, a bit puny, your eyes aren't deceiving you. And while you're out there you just might want to check out the horse on the handle of the Big Dipper.

O.K., we've got our skies set up for early evening, April or May and if you look north you should be able to find the Big Dipper without any difficulty. Four stars trace out a cup and three stars behind them make its handle. We're going to pay attention to what looks like, to most people, one star at the bend of the handle, a star named Mizar which in Arabic means a girdle or waistband. But, if you have really good eyesight and look really close at Mizar you will see a slightly dimmer star, a star called Alcor which in Arabic means The Lost One, or The Friendless One.

Now centuries ago it was said that these two stars, bright Mizar and dimmer Alcor were used as a kind of ancient eye test for one of the sultans' armies. If you could see the two stars, you were in; if you couldn't you were out. But most people could see the two stars, even though nowadays I have to use my glasses. And even if you can see these two stars which are now popularly called The Horse and Rider, bright Mizar being the horse - dimmer Alcor being the rider, you still are not seeing the whole picture for there is much more to this horse and rider than meets the naked eye.

You see, if we could use a special device called a spectroscope and aim it at the rider we would see that the so-called Friendless One is not so friendless after all. Indeed, he has a companion star, invisible to the naked eye, thus making Alcor two riders on Mizar's horse. But hold on a second. That's not exactly true either because if we look very closely at Mizar with astronomical instruments we see that Mizar is not just one star . . . in fact it is not even a double star, nor a triple star, nor a quadruple star, but is in fact a rare quintuple star. In other words, when we look at the ancient Arab's solitary horse with its friendless rider we are in reality looking at two horsemen driving a team of five horses across the night sky at the bend in the handle of the Big Dipper.

Incredible, isn't it? What modern astronomy reveals about objects in the heavens that generations of mankind have seen for thousands of years? So, some time this Spring go outside and look for the ancient horse and rider, two visible stars which we now know are in reality seven. Wow! Sometimes it's mind boggling when you go out and remember to Keep Looking Up!

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

For graphics for this script (Click) Here

 

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



 


STAR GAZER
THE INTERNATIONAL EDITION




STAR GAZER is seen nationally on most PBS stations. 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. You may take STAR GAZER off satellite for personal use, classroom use, astronomy club use, etc.without written permission.





Satellite Feed Info

Monday 3/30/98

10:30-11:00 a.m. Eastern Time

Schedule 5-B-5

GE 3

Transponder 512

Digital Only

 

 





Notice : These are working drafts of the scripts for STAR GAZER.

Changes may well be made as production requires.


 



STAR GAZER Episode #SG 023-I


1062nd Show

To Be Aired : Monday 4/13/98 through Sunday 4/19/98

'Next Week Is The Week For The Most Spectacular

Celestial Gathering Of The Year!'


Horkheimer: Greetings, Greetings fellow stargazers and as I said a few weeks ago, if you only go out star gazing once the entire year, make sure it's next week just before dawn, Thursday April 23rd when you will see what will be the most spectacular gathering of the three brightest nighttime objects in the heavens which, according to some astronomers will be one of the most visually stunning conjunctions of the Moon, Venus and Jupiter for many years. Let me show you.

O.K., we've got our skies set up for this Friday morning, April 17th about an hour before sunrise facing east/southeast where you will see an incredibly bright Venus just above and to the right of a not-quite-as-bright Jupiter. They will be only five degrees apart which means that we could fit about ten Full Moons between them because a Full Moon is exactly 1/2 a degree wide. But the distance separating Venus and Jupiter will change dramatically by the next morning, Saturday the 18th because in just 24 hours time Venus will have moved one entire degree, or two Full Moon widths closer to Jupiter. Twenty-four hours later on Sunday the 19th, one degree closer - only three degrees apart or six Full Moons separation. Twenty-four hours later, Monday the 20th, another degree closer and only four Full Moons separate the two.

However the next day, Tuesday the 21st Venus approaches by only 1/2 a degree, one Full Moon width, slowing down as if to tease us for the big event on Thursday morning on top of which the third player in this team makes its appearance, an exquisite crescent Moon which appears to be slowly drifting toward them. And 24 hours later on Wednesday the 22nd an even slimmer Moon will be even closer. But then, Ta Da! The big day, Thursday morning, April 23rd the three will form one of the most visually stunning celestial trios you can imagine. Indeed, Venus and Jupiter will be so close you could scarcely fit one Moon between them.

But while you are out there gazing at this spectacularly beautiful gathering, keep in mind that it's only because of our vantage point on Earth and the varying motions of the Moon, Venus, Jupiter and Earth that create this illusion because illusion indeed it is. You see, even though these three objects appear snuggled close together, nothing could be farther from the truth for on Thursday morning, April 23rd our 2,000 mile wide Moon will be only 225,000 miles away whereas 8,000 mile wide Venus will be 83,000,000 miles away and Jupiter over a half a billion miles beyond. And incredibly, just because we all happen to be lined up for a few brief moments in time and space, we are treated to a sky show that cannot fail to delight the eyes of all those who remember to Keep Looking Up!

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

For graphics for this script (Click) Here

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


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




STAR GAZER
THE INTERNATIONAL EDITION




STAR GAZER is seen nationally on most PBS stations. 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. You may take STAR GAZER off satellite for personal use, classroom use, astronomy club use, etc. without written permission.

 





Satellite Feed Info

Monday 3/30/98

10:30-11:00 a.m. Eastern Time

Schedule 5-B-5

GE 3

Transponder 512

Digital Only

 





Notice : These are working drafts of the scripts for STAR GAZER.

Changes may well be made as production requires.


STAR GAZER Episode #SG 024-I


1063rd Show
To Be Aired : Monday 4/20/98 through Sunday 4/26/98

'Don't Forget This Week's Most Spectacular

Celestial Gathering of the Year!

And An Exquisite Moon Bids Farewell To Winter Stars'

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and please don't forget to go outside this Thursday morning, April 23rd, just before dawn and look east/southeast to see the most spectacular celestial gathering of the three brightest nighttime objects you'll see in many years to come. Simply go outside half an hour to an hour before sunrise, look east/southeast and there you'll see an exquisite Moon right beneath a dazzling Venus and a brilliant Jupiter huddled so close together the sight will take your breath away. Don't miss this! You see, if you go out only 24 hours later on Friday the 24th at dawn you will see that the crescent Moon is getting ready to disappear below the horizon and Venus and Jupiter will have pulled considerably apart.

Now as all of you regular sky gazers know, whenever we bid a fond farewell to an old Moon, like the crescent Moon at the end of this week, we can soon look forward to a brand new crescent Moon appearing just after sunset in evening skies. Let me show you. O.K., we've got our skies set up for Monday, April 27th, just as it starts to get dark out, looking west and if you're lucky you'll be able to see an exquisite brand new crescent Moon just below and to the left of the Seven Sisters, and just below and to the right of the bright red star marking the eye of Taurus the Bull, Aldebaran. And on the following night, Tuesday the 28th you will see an exquisite pairing of the eye of the Bull and a slightly fatter crescent Moon. The next night, an hour or so after sunset, a slightly less slender crescent Moon will hover just above the shoulder of Orion the Hunter. So here we have an almost literal picture of a very new Moon passing by and bidding farewell to the star patterns of winter, Taurus and Orion because by the time of the next new Moon at the end of May, Taurus and Orion will no longer be with us and will have made room for the stars of summer.

In fact, you can sneak an early preview of summer stars if you just wait a few hours because ancient legend tells us that winter's Orion and summer's Scorpion are never seen in the sky together and that shortly after one of them is gone the other makes its appearance. Because according to mythology the Scorpion, a long time ago, stung Orion in the heel and ever since Orion has always managed to keep his distance. So after you see the crescent Moon slowly wander past Taurus and Orion this upcoming Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, why not step outside around midnight to take another look, and you will indeed see that Taurus and Orion have left the heavens and that over in the southeast summer's Scorpion will have just cleared the horizon. So remember to catch an exquisite old Moon snuggling up to Venus and Jupiter just before dawn Thursday the 23rd and then early, next week along with an exquisite brand new crescent Moon, bid a fond farewell to winter stars. You know it's really fun if you simply remember to Keep Looking Up!

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

For graphics for this script (Click) Here


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

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




STAR GAZER
THE INTERNATIONAL EDITION




STAR GAZER is seen nationally on most PBS stations. 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. You may take STAR GAZER off satellite for personal use, classroom use, astronomy club use, etc., without written permission.


Satellite Feed Info

Monday 3/30/98

10:30-11:00 a.m. Eastern Time

Schedule 5-B-5

GE 3

Transponder 512

Digital Only





Notice : These are working drafts of the scripts for STAR GAZER.

Changes may well be made as production requires.


 

STAR GAZER Episode #SG 025-I


1064th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 4/27/98 through Sunday 5/3/98

'How To Time Travel Through The Big Dipper'

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and you know, every spring you should make an effort to go out and find the most famous and best loved star pattern of all, the Big Dipper, because every spring in early evening it can be found riding at its highest above the North Star. To find it simply go out any April or May evening after it gets dark out, look due north and there you'll see it high above the horizon. Now since I was a kid I've always been fascinated with the concept of time travel and when we look at the stars we're literally looking back in time because the stars are so far away that the light we see coming from them actually left them a long time ago.

In fact the stars are so incredibly far away that we have to measure their distance with a special term, a measure of distance which we call a light year; which simply means the number of miles light travels in one year, which is approximately six trillion miles; which further means that if there were a star six trillion miles away from us we would be looking at the star not as it exists now, but as it existed a year ago.

Well, many years ago I decided to look up the distance to each star in the Big Dipper so I'd know how far back in time I was seeing each star and here's what I found: the closest star, the star at the bend of the handle, Mizar, is 60 light years away which means that when we look at Mizar we see it as it actually existed sixty years ago. The star next to it and one of the cup stars are each sixty-two light years away. And the star where the handle attaches is sixty-five light years distant. We see the two remaining cup stars as they existed seventy-five years ago but if you've got really good eyes you can see that the star in the bend of the handle is really two stars, and the dimmer star is eighty light years away.

Well, as I said, I tried to memorize these distances but somehow they slipped out of my brain like water out of a dipper until one night recently it dawned on me that with the exception of the star at the end of the handle, all the Dipper stars are between sixty and eighty light years away, twenty years time, roughly the last quarter of a person's lifetime. And as I looked up it struck me as being almost poetic that these stars, the very first stars most of us learn about as a child, the Big Dipper, we don't really 'see' until we reach the last years of our lives. For although they were shining brightly on the night we were born, we have to wait a lifetime to see them as they actually existed way back then.

So, next time you look up at the Big Dipper remind yourself, if you're still young, that some day you will see these stars as they actually existed when you first appeared on this planet. And if you're not so young, delight in the thought that you are looking back at some of the few things that appear exactly as they were in those sunlit days and star filled nights of youth. And what about the star at the end of the handle of the Dipper? Well, that's the exception. It's one hundred and ten light years away . . . which gives us all a star to grow on. So happy star gazing and Keep Looking Up!

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

For graphics for this script (Click) Here


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

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


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