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.



 

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


STAR GAZER Episode #SG 039-I


1078th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 8/3/98 through Sunday 8/9/98

"Week Of Togetherness For Mars and Venus

and The Perseid Meteor Shower"


Greetings, greetings fellow stargazers and as you may recall last week I encouraged you all not to miss this week's close meeting between the planets Mars and Venus. Let me remind you: O.K., we've got our skies set up for Tuesday morning, August 4th just before dawn facing East/Northeast where you will see an absolutely spectacular conjunction, that is close meeting, between Venus and Mars. The following day, Wednesday morning August 5th at dawn they will still be extremely close together, with the twin stars of Gemini, Castor and Pollux looking on.

But even if you happen to miss this close conjunction luckily they'll still be quite close together the next few days even though they will be drawing steadily farther apart from each other morning after morning. The 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and so on. And if you are an astute observer and take a look at dawn at least once a week you will notice that by the middle of the month, the 15th, Mars and Castor and Pollux will be much higher in the sky at dawn while Venus will be much lower.

And this Mars, Castor and Pollux steadily rising higher and higher above the horizon each morning will thus make Mars, Castor and Pollux much easier to spot as the month progresses and Venus a bit more difficult as it gets lower and lower. But on the morning of August 27th and 28th Venus will have yet another conjunction with a much dimmer planet when it will be less than 2 degrees away from the tiny planet Mercury. So might I suggest that you get outside some time this week to see Mars and Venus come together, then take a peek once a week throughout the month as Mars and Venus distance themselves from each other with yet another conjunction of Venus and the first planet, Mercury on August 27th.

And now, for the Perseid Meteor Shower which is usually one of the best meteor showers of the year, and which I always encourage you to watch after midnight. But this year is different because a last quarter Moon will be rising around midnight and will consequently wipe out all but the very brightest of meteors. So this year if you expect to see any Perseid Meteors at all get far away from city lights and do your meteor observing before midnight on the evenings of Tuesday August 11th and Wednesday August 12th. and of course, always remember that even though meteors are frequently called shooting stars, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Indeed the meteors of the Perseid Meteor Shower are simply little specks of comet litter left in the wake of Comet Swift-Tuttle. And every year in August our Earth happens to plow right through this wake of comet debris, providing us in some years with spectacular, and in other years, like this year, with not quite so spectacular meteor showers. So do your Mars and Venus gazing just before sunrise and your meteor showering after sunset. It's fun if you 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.





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


 

STAR GAZER Episode #SG 040-I


1079th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 8/10/98 through Sunday 8/16/98

"A Wonder Of The Universe:

Where An Ancient Archer Aims His Arrow"
 


Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings fellow stargazers and if you go out any moonless night any August of your life and look due South you will see an ancient sky wonder leading the way to a modern cosmic marvel. And without further ado I'd like to show you: O.K., we've got our skies set up for about 9 to 10 p.m. any mid- August night when there's no moon present. This year that means the end of this week and all of next week and if you go outside and look due South you will see almost every body's two favorite constellations of Summer, the summer Scorpion riding just above the Southern horizon, looking like a capital letter "J", its red heart marked by a red star hundreds of times larger than our own Sun, Antares.

And directly behind it stars which in modern times look like a very nice teapot, its handle to the East, its spout to the West, its lid to the North. But in reality this teapot pattern of stars is only the brightest part of a much larger pattern of stars named thousands of years ago for a mythical creature called a Centaur, a strange creature half man and half horse. And this particular Centaur was named Sagittarius and was known as a great hunter, a master of the bow and arrow, a Centaur / Archer. And for thousands of years our ancient ancestors were not bothered by city lights which wiped out most of the stars from view. Indeed, on clear moonless nights they could always see that although Sagittarius' arrow was aimed at the red heart star of the Scorpion, nevertheless the tip of his arrow was embedded in the widest and densest part of the great river of light they called the Milky Way.

In fact if you're far away from city lights any clear moonless night in August you too will be able to see the Milky Way stretched all the way from the Southern horizon up to the Zenith and back down to the Northeast horizon. And, like the ancients, you too will notice that the Teapot/Arrow portion of Sagittarius and the bottom half of the Scorpion are embedded in the Milky Way. Now although some of our ancestors suspected that the Milky Way was the collective light from millions of stars so far away that all their light fuzzed together in a blur, nevertheless it wasn't until the invention of the telescope that this fact was confirmed.

But the astonishing thing about the Milky Way was not discovered until the 20th century when it was proven that our Sun is just one of over 200 billion suns in a huge family of suns we call a galaxy... The Milky Way Galaxy. And shaped like a spiral pinwheel of stars, our Sun happens to be located about 2/3 of the way out from the center, the center being the thickest part of the galaxy. And we also now know that when we look at Scorpius and Sagittarius, the reason the Milky Way is widest here is because the center of our galaxy lies in this direction and the tip of the ancient archer's arrow is pointed directly at it. What a lovely coincidence. The ancient archer of the cosmos pointing the way over the millennia to a secret target, a wonder of the universe only recently discovered in our time and which you can see for yourself if you just 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.

 




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



STAR GAZER Episode #SG 041-I


1080th Show
To Be Aired : Monday 8/17/98 through Sunday 8/23/98

"Nights Of The Nihplod and

The Summer Triangle"
 

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and this week I'd like to show you a constellation which has two very strangely named stars, a constellation I personally call The Nihplod. Let me show you: O.K., We've got our skies set up for this week and next between the hours of 9 and 10 p.m. And if you look up, almost overhead, you will see the 3 bright stars that make up the great Summer Triangle, Vega, Deneb and Altair. And just to the east of Altair 5 much dimmer stars that make up an itty bitty constellation I call the Nihplod but which has been called many things by many civilizations.

For instance the Arabs said that these 5 stars were a cosmic camel, whereas the ancient Chinese said that these 5 stars make up a drinking gourd and I'll have to agree that Nihplod does look a bit more gourdish than camelish to me. However, one of its most famous names some people use even to this day is Job's Coffin. And if you remove one of the stars it does indeed look like a tiny cosmic coffin. But the name almost everyone uses today is neither that of an Arab camel, a Chinese gourd or a biblical coffin, or even a nihplod for that matter.

The real astronomical name is Delphinus which is Latin for 'The Dolphin'. and its 2 brightest stars have really peculiar names and they are the reason why I personally refer to Delphinus as the Nihplod. You see these two stars were named over 200 years ago in one of the strangest star-naming tales you'll ever hear. It seems that the great Italian astronomer Guiseppe Piazzi, who incidentally discovered the first asteroid, decided to pay special tribute to his hard working assistant by naming these two stars after him. Now his assistant's name was Nicolo Cacciatore but I defy you to find a star in the heavens named Cacciatore, although you will frequently encounter it in Italian restaurants. And in my research I discovered that Cacciatore means 'Hunter' which I suppose might mean that Chicken Cacciatore means 'Chicken Hunter'. And believe me, in some Italian restaurants I've had to do quite a bit of hunting for any chicken in my Cacciatore.

At any rate, most stars are usually given Latin or Arabic names which Cacciatore definitely is not, so Piazzi found that the Latin word for Cacciatore is Venator; and the Latin for Cacciatore's first name Nicolo is Nicolaus so these two stars were almost named Nicolaus and Venator but the old astronomer Piazzi didn't want to make it as simple as all that so he decided to spell Nicolaus and Venator backward. Nicolaus spelled backward is Sualocin and Venator spelled backward is Rotanev. And believe it or not that's what he named these two stars and they still bear those names today. So by now you've probably figured out why I call Delphinus the Dolphin, Nihplod. That's right Nihplod is Dolphin spelled backward. And you can see it all summer long as it follows the Summer Triangle across the sky, which always makes me hungry for chicken cacciatore. At any rate enjoy these nights of the Dolphin as summer comes to an end and it's easy if you 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.



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


 

 

STAR GAZER Episode #SG 042-I


1081st Show

To Be Aired : Monday 8/24/98 through Sunday 8/30/98

"The 'False Dawn' of Omar Khayyam,

and How To Find It"
 

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and how many of you remember that famous line " A jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou beside me in the wilderness...". If so, how many of you remember how long ago it was written? Give up? Well, that romantic piece of verse has been around for almost a thousand years and was written by the Persian poet Omar Khayyam in his famous book of poetry, "The Rubaiyat". But did you know that in addition to being a poet, Omar Khayyam was an astronomer? Indeed, he even sprinkled his verse with subtle references to some of the odd things that can occur in the night sky. In fact, in the Rubaiyat Omar makes a poetic allusion to a 'false dawn' which for him was not only poetry, but also a reality. Indeed, the poetic false dawn of Omar Khayyam is a scientific reality and not only can we show you when and where to find it, but we can also tell you something about it that Omar never suspected.

We can tell you what it is scientifically. Let me show you: O.K., if we could go way out in space and look back 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, a humongous cloud of dust made up of trillions of particles of matter about the size of dust grains, and while one would expect such a thing would be impossible to see from Earth, nevertheless in March and September when the Earth's plane of its orbit is almost vertical to the horizon we have a chance to see not only the 'false dawn', but also the 'false dusk' if you listen carefully and do exactly what I tell you. The best time to see the false dawn is in September but you must be far away from city lights on a moonless night. And if you can see the Milky Way you'll have a good chance of seeing this rare phenomenon. Look for it in the East, before it starts to get light, that is before dawn. And look for a wedge or cone-shaped dim patch of light about the same brightness as the Milky Way that extends from the horizon almost half way up to the zenith, about 40 degrees... a dim, faintly glowing pyramid of light. And if you want to see the false dusk then wait until March and go out after twilight is over and look for the same thing in the West.

Remember, September is the time of the Autumnal Equinox and false dawn, and March is the time of the Vernal equinox and the false dusk. The scientific name of these phenomena is ' the zodiacal light' and is caused by sunlight scattered from all those trillions and trillions of dust particles. And if you ever see a similar oval shaped glow directly overhead at midnight , you could just be seeing the zodiacal light's sister phenomenon called the gegenschein, or simply counterglow. Rare but exquisite phenomena that poets have sung about over centuries of time and which take almost poetic patience to perceive and enjoy. But it's worth the effort 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.



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


 

 

STAR GAZER Episode #SG 043-I


1082nd Show

To Be Aired : Monday 8/31/98 through Sunday 9/6/98

"Jupiter/Moon Weekend and

An Early Bird Planet Shuffle"
 

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and since the king of the planets Jupiter will dominate the skies of this Autumn '98 I would like to show you how to find it easy as finding the Moon this weekend because the Full Moon of September and Jupiter will slowly glide across the heavens all night long side by side. O.K., we've got our skies set up for this Sunday, September 6th just after sunset facing East where you'll be able to see the beautiful September Full Moon rising over the horizon, But just a few minutes after it clears the horizon you'll see a bright beacon of light following it which is 88 thousand mile wide Jupiter. And if you stay up all night long you will be able to see them cross the heavens side by side until they both set in the West at sunrise Monday morning. So if you've never been able to find Jupiter, this Sunday night will provide you with an easy opportunity.

But the real sky show for planet aficionados and one that is not quite as easy to follow occurs every morning about one hour before sunrise, Saturday morning the 5th through Friday morning September 11th when the two planets closest to the Sun, Mercury and Venus shuffle themselves around the brightest star of Leo, Regulus. Let me show you: O.K., we've got our skies set up for Saturday morning September 5th an hour before sunrise facing East where you will see dazzling 8 thousand mile wide Venus and just above it, much dimmer 3 thousand mile wide Mercury. And closest to the horizon 1 1/2 million mile wide Regulus. A week later, on Friday September 11th Regulus will be where Mercury was and Mercury and Venus will be side by side where Regulus was. A real planet/star shuffle. But the real fun is watching them in the process of shuffling around from morning to morning.

Once again, Saturday the 5th, then Sunday the 6th when you will notice that both Mercury and Venus have moved closer to the horizon and Regulus has moved slightly up, away from it. In fact, Venus and Regulus will appear extremely close to each other. The change from the 6th to Monday the 7th is quite dramatic when Regulus appears off to the side, and equidistant from Mercury and Venus as the three form an absolutely exquisite miniature celestial triangle. Tuesday September 8th Regulus is above both the planets and by Wednesday September 9th you can see that Mercury and Venus appear to be zeroing in on each other which is even more obvious on Thursday morning September 10th. But the great morning is on Friday September 11th when Venus and Mercury appear side by side in an extremely close meeting that will take most amateur astronomer's breath away. In fact, if you have binoculars or a small telescope you will definitely want to view Venus and Mercury together on this wonderful morning. So, in just one week's time we went from this on September 5th to this on September 11th. Let me show you the days in between once again: September 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and Ta! Da! the 11th. Wow what a wonderful week 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.



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