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 11/24/97

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 004-I


1043rd Show

To Be Aired : Monday 12/1/97 through Sunday 12/7/97

Last Week For The Grand Gathering Of The Planets

And Venus At Its Greatest Brilliancy


Greetings! Greetings! Fellow stargazers and I'd like to implore you please that if you didn't go out any night last week to see the grand gathering of the planets that you do so sometime this week before this spectacular planetary show is over. I'd also like to put you on a Venus alert because this month of December, Venus will be at its absolute brightest for the entire year and will sparkle in the skies after sunset like a dazzling holiday star. Let me show you.: O.K., we've got our skies set up any night this week facing southwest at dusk, just before it gets completely dark out. And if you have a clear, flat horizon without any trees or buildings to obstruct your view you will see, closest to the horizon, 3 thousand mile wide Mercury and up to its left 4 thousand mile wide Mars, to its left 8 thousand mile wide Venus, to its left 88 thousand mile wide Jupiter. And way over toward the Southeast, 75 thousand mile wide Saturn. And if you have a pair of binoculars you will see 32 thousand mile wide Uranus and 30 thousand mile wide Neptune between Jupiter and Venus. And way off to the right of Mercury, if you happen to own a major telescopic observatory, like Mt. Palomar, 15 hundred mile wide Pluto. Now this week will be the last week when you will see all 5 of the naked eye planets visible together at the same time in the night sky because by the beginning of next week, Mercury will rapidly fade from sight as it rapidly drops below the horizon. And now I'd like you to mark one evening on your calendar, Sunday, December 21st, the first night of the Winter Solstice, that is the first night of Winter, as the night when Venus and Mars will appear at their very closest, only one degree apart, that's only two full moons away from each other. If you think about it in terms of how far apart they are this week; 13 Full Moons, it must mean that they will be rapidly approaching each other during the first three weeks of December. In fact, not only will Venus and Mars be rapidly approaching each other but Jupiter likewise will be racing toward Mars. Let me demonstrate: you see, planets change their positions so subtly from night to night that we sometimes forget that in reality they are all moving many miles per second in their respective orbits and only by doing nightly time lapse with the planets can we really see the effect these incredibly swift planetary motions have on the appearance of the night sky as seen from planet earth, because as you can see in time lapse, Jupiter and Venus are rapidly closing in on tiny Mars. Indeed, if you go out every single night you will see that the planets are not static and that they indeed change their positions night after night. Wow! What a week! All the naked eye planets visible together just after sunset; Venus at its greatest brilliancy all month long, and a super close meeting of Venus and Mars on the first night of Winter. Is this or isn't this a great time to Keep Looking Up!

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 11/24/97

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 005-I


1044th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 12/8/97 through Sunday 12/14/97

"The Moon of The Short Shadows"


Horkheimer: Greetings, Greetings fellow stargazers and get ready for the Full Moon of December which occurs officially this Saturday night the 13th. Now many civilizations have named each Full Moon, for things which to them seemed peculiar or special about a particular Full Moon. For instance we all know that the Harvest Moon was so named because it came at the traditional time of harvest in mid-European latitudes. Conversely the Full Moon of May was called the Planting Moon. So what so you think the Full Moon of December should be called? The Christmas Moon? The Long Underwear Moon? Perhaps today The Plastic Moon for all the over-extended credit cards at this time of year? But no, it's not called any of these, although Christmas Moon is close because one of the names for the Full Moon of December is The Moon Before Yule which is very appropriate. But equally appropriate is one of its other names, The Long Night Moon because it occurs so close to the Winter Solstice, the First Day of Winter. Because we all know that on the Winter Solstice days are shortest and nights are longest; Long Night Moon. But I think we could give this moon yet another name which would further describe its uniqueness: The Moon Of The Short Shadows. Let me explain: O.K., we've got our skies set up for the third week of June, the First day of Summer, The Summer Solstice and if we could speed up time and dim the Sun down so we could watch it all day we would see that from sunrise to sunset it takes an extremely high path across the sky. But if we watched the Full Moon of June all night long from moonrise to moonset we would notice that it takes an extremely low path across the sky. In fact the Full Moon closest to the Summer Solstice is the lowest riding Full Moon of the year, and if you've ever been outside under the Full Moon of June, far from city lights you've probably noticed that the June Full Moon casts very long shadows. In fact, I remember as a kid walking down a country road under a June Moon and watching my long shadow stretch out in front of me. So we have a situation in Summer where the Summer Sun rides high across the sky but the Summer Full Moon rides low. And guess what? You've got it. Just the opposite occurs at the Winter Solstice. You see at the Winter Solstice the Sun takes an extremely low path across the sky and the Full Moon a very high one. Indeed, the highest path of any Full Moon of the year which makes everybody's shadow extremely short. If you don't believe me, see for yourself. Go outside this weekend around midnight when the Moon is at its very highest and see just how short your Moon shadow really is. And do you know why we can see the Full Moon longer in Winter than we can in Summer? Simple. Nights are longer in Winter. So get thee outside some night this weekend when the Full Moon will be at its highest for the year and your Moon shadow will be at its shortest. Isn't it fun to Keep Looking Up!

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 11/24/97

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 #006-I


1045th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 12/15/97 through Sunday 12/21/97

"Venus and Mars At Their Closest On The First Day Of Winter; And Why The Winter Solstice Was A Time Of Ancient Fear"


Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and I just want to remind you that this Sunday, the 21st, the first Night of Winter, the most brilliant planet in the heavens, Venus, will reach its closest point to the dim red planet Mars just after sunset in the Southwest and you can watch them in their final approach all week long, night after night after night. Don't miss this wonderful close pairing just after sunset on the shortest day of the year. But now let's journey back in time over two thousand years to find out why the Winter Solstice was almost universally feared and caused the superstitious, and even some of the wise, to believe that each year at the solstice the world might come to an end. Let me show you: O.K., we've got our skies set up for about 500 B.C. on the day we now call the Vernal Equinox, The First Day Of Spring, on which day everyone knew that the Sun would rise exactly due East and set due West, after which day by day the Sun would rise and set just a little bit farther to the North until the first day of Summer, the Summer Solstice, when the Sun would reach its Northernmost point along the horizon and would seem to stand still for a couple of days. In fact, the astronomical term we still use, Solstice, literally means, Sun, SOL, stands still, STICE. Then the Sun would seem to reverse its direction and for the next 6 months would rise and set just a little bit farther South each day and as it did so each successive day would be just a little shorter and each night a little longer until by the 3rd week of December, The Winter Solstice, the Sun would once again stand still for a couple days, then reverse its direction and once again retrace its path Northward until the Summer Solstice occurred once again six months later. Now this yearly journey of the Sun back and forth across the horizon is still going on and will continue for eons. And we don't think much about this in our time but in ancient times the Sun's journey between Summer and Winter and back again was very important because many people believed that the Sun was a god and had a will of its own. Indeed, our ancient ancestors believed that unless they paid great homage to the Sun every year during the third week of December, the Sun just might not stand still, but might continue its journey farther South each day making the days grow even shorter and the nights even longer until the Earth was eventually plunged into eternal night. So, many civilizations performed great rites during the third week of December, praying to the Sun to stop moving Southward and to reverse its direction Northward so that Spring would return and crops could be planted which was necessary for survival. And every December their prayers worked. The Sun would stand still, so to speak, and then began to slowly retrace its path. And you can retrace this path yourself. Simply take note of where the Sun sets at least once a month for the next year and I think you'll understand not only the ancient fear but also the ancient wonder of our ancestors as they Kept Looking Up!

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 writtem permission.


Satellite Feed Info

Monday 11/24/97

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 #007-I


1046th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 12/22/97 through Sunday 12/28/97

"The New Year's Eve Star :

A Different Way To Welcome In The New Year "

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and once again I'm going to tell you about something that will happen every New Year's Eve for as long as you live, something that to me is almost magical because of its sheer coincidence. You see, at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve the brightest star in the heavens reaches its highest point above the horizon and shines like a dazzling beacon welcoming in the New Year. Let me show you: O.K., first let's take a look at the skies at 8 P.M., your local time, New years Eve. We're facing due South and like all good astronomers let's draw an imaginary line which divides the Eastern half of the sky from the Western half, an imaginary line called the Meridian which runs from the horizon due South straight up to the Zenith point and then down the other side of the sky to the horizon due North. Now, as the Earth slowly and endlessly rotates from West to East we are nightly treated to the grandest optical illusion in nature, that of watching the stars seem to rise in the East, slowly travel across the sky all night long and set eventually in the West. And if you watch carefully you will eventually deduce that the highest point any star reaches above the horizon in its nightly journey is when it is smack dab on the Meridian. Now this is very important to telescope users because the higher a sky object is above the horizon, the better its telescopic image will be. So several years ago when I was researching which planets would be high up off the horizon for viewing that New Year's Eve I stumbled across something which was to me an amazing coincidence, something which I had never read about in any astronomy book or periodical. And that coincidence is: No matter where you happen to be on New Year's Eve, as hour after hour goes by, the brightest star in the heavens, Sirius, will slowly climb up the Southeastern sky and at midnight will reach its highest point and be on the meridian. Think of it... the brightest star visible from our planet reaches its highest point above the horizon at midnight every year on New year's Eve. How wonderful, how poetic, almost like a cosmic reminder that this most brilliant of stellar lights is welcoming in and shining on the New Year, giving us all hope for a bright new beginning. But if you happen to miss this on New Year's Eve don't fret because Sirius will be in almost the same spot at midnight each night for the first week of the New Year. And to top it off, if you look just to the right of Sirius you will see the most brilliant pattern of Winter, Orion the Hunter, whereas if you look to Sirius' left you will see the most brilliant pattern of Spring, Leo the Lion. How appropriate, that the New Year's Eve star shines right between the stars of the old season and the stars of the new. So might I suggest that this New Year's Eve and every New Year's Eve you start your new year bright with cosmic light. It's simple just go outside at midnight and Keep Looking Up!

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 writtem permission.


Satellite Feed Info

Monday 11/24/97

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 #008-I


1047th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 12/29/97 through Sunday 1/4/98

"New Year Goodies, The Great Jupiter/Mars Conjunction, and Kiss The Goddess Of Love Goodbye "

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and for those of you who see this episode early in the week, if you want to celebrate New Year's Eve in a different way simply go outside at the stroke of midnight, New Year's Eve, look due South and there you'll see the brightest star in the heavens, Sirius, at its highest point above the horizon, welcoming in the New Year. And on New Year's Day if you go outside just after sunset and look Southwest you will see an absolutely exquisite pairing of a slender crescent Moon and the king of the planets, Jupiter. Don't miss this. And while you're out there New Year's Day Night, if you look just below Jupiter you'll see Venus out-dazzling everything else in the sky. And directly between Venus and Jupiter, the dim red planet Mars. Now if you take note of their relative positions you'll be able to watch a wondrous thing happen during the first few weeks of 1998 as Jupiter races to an outrageously close meeting with Mars on January 20th while Venus slowly slips below the horizon. You see, on January 1st Jupiter and Mars will be 11 degrees apart which means we could fit 22 Full Moons in between them. But by January 20th they will be so incredibly close, only 2/10ths of one degree, that not even one half of a Full Moon could fit between them. Let me show you : and keep in mind as we watch this time lapse what our ancestors must have thought about such planetary goings on in the night sky because long ago our ancestors had no idea what the planets were. Many civilizations thought they were gods... Venus was the Roman goddess of love. Mars was the Roman god of War and Jupiter was the Roman king of the gods. And as you can see while the goddess of love bids us farewell the 2nd week of the new year, the king of the planets continues his race toward the god of war. And if we examine history carefully we find that entire civilizations were changes because of the superstitions people attached to the movement of the planets. Indeed, whenever our ancestors witnessed a close meeting of the planets like the one on January 20th they interpreted it as an omen. Here was the king of the gods visiting the god of war. Often whenever this happened astronomer/astrologer priests interpreted this planetary meeting as an omen to go to war. How sad that such cosmic coincidences had such tragic effects in the ancient world. At any rate, this incredibly close meeting, what we call a conjunction, of Jupiter and Mars on January 20th will be absolutely beautiful. And you might ask, how often does this happen? Well, the last time these two planets were seen this close was just after sunset February 7th, 1951...47 years ago. And if you miss this one I'm afraid you'll have to wait 20 years more until January 6th of the year 2018. So get thee outside and start the New Year right. How? Just Keep looking Up!

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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