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 057-I


1096th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 12/7/98 through Sunday 12/13/98

"A Pink Planet and A Red Star For The Holidays"


Greetings, greetings fellow stargazers and this week you can start looking for the reappearance of the pink planet which is the first planet out from the Sun and which is the most difficult of all the naked eye planets to find, the planet which appears for only 2 to 3 weeks at a time, the fastest moving planet of them all, Mercury. And if you watch it from this week through the end of this month not only will you watch it quadruple in brightness, but you'll also be able to watch it move closer and closer to one of the biggest red stars in the heavens, Antares. Let me show you:

O.K., we've got our skies set up for any morning this week and if you go outside about 45 minutes before sunrise and look east/southeast you will be able to see the tiny pinkish 3 thousand mile wide planet Mercury close to the horizon. And if you look from day to day you will notice that it will grow progressively brighter so that by the beginning of next week, Monday the 14th, it will be considerably brighter and just up and to the left of the 3 stars which make up the head of Scorpius the Scorpion. And for those of you who like to brave the cold might I remind you that from 1 A.M. until dawn, Monday the 14th, you may just also happen to see more meteors than usual from the annual Geminid meteor shower.

At any rate, if you're still having difficulty finding Mercury wait until Wednesday, December 16th, when a a very slender last crescent moon will hover just above it making Mercury much easier to find. And if you have a very flat unobstructed horizon on Thursday morning, December 17th, an extremely thin sliver of a last crescent moon will be just below and to the left of Mercury. Now continue watching every morning about 45 minutes before sunrise, and if you do so you you will notice that Mercury will get progressively brighter and will slowly drop down below the 3 stars of Scorpius so that on Christmas day morning, the 25th, Mercury will be just to the left of the great red star which marks the heart of the Scorpion, Antares. Indeed, on Christmas morn we'll have a cosmic Christmas gift of a pink planet and a red star.

In fact, I'm making a special note to get up 45 minutes before sunrise Christmas day so that I can see just how pink Mercury really is and how red Antares appears when the two are side by side. And while you're out there you may want to compare not only their colors, you may want to also mentally compare their sizes because their appearance together is definitely deceiving. Indeed, while Mercury is a 3 thousand mile wide planet, Antares is a 500 million mile wide star. In fact, Antares is so huge it would take almost 170,000 Mercury's lined up end to end to reach across its middle. So get thee out some time the next few weeks, 45 minutes before sunrise, have a clear, flat, unobstructed horizon and you should be able to catch the elusive pink planet Mercury. And on Christmas morning compare it to the Scorpion's humongous red star. What a great December to Keep Looking Up!


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

For graphics for this script (Click) Here


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. 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 058-I


1097th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 12/14/98 through Sunday 12/20/98

"The Return of the Christmas 'Star' and

A Christmas Eve / Christmas Night Sky Duo"
 


Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings fellow stargazers and you know it seems everyone remembers some Christmas or another when they recall seeing a bright star, brighter than anything else in the sky during the Christmas season. And to some the appearance of a bright star at Christmas is as important as snow at Christmas. But like the weather, the heavens can be fickle. So just as all our Christmases may not be white, neither will all our Christmases be Christmas Star bright. But this year there will be a Christmas Star. Let me show you:

O.K., we've got our skies set up for just after sunset as it starts to get dark out this Saturday December 19th facing southwest and if you've got a really clear sky and a very flat unobstructed horizon you will see an exquisite slender sliver of a new crescent moon and just to its left a dazzlingly brilliant Christmas star. But to see this Christmas star you have to make sure you go out right after sunset because both the crescent moon and the Christmas star will quickly disappear below the horizon.

Now on Sunday night, December 20th, right after sunset, just as it gets dark out you will have another chance to see the dazzling Christmas star and above it an even more exquisite crescent moon making an absolutely beautiful pairing in these holiday skies. A Christmas gift from the cosmos you absolutely will not want to miss. However, if you do then go out Monday night the 21st just as it gets dark out and you will see a slightly fatter but still absolutely gorgeous crescent moon much higher above the southwest horizon with the Christmas star still dazzling below it. In fact the Christmas star will be with us all throughout the holidays and beyond because in reality it is not a star at all, but simply the brightest planet in our solar system, the Earth-sized 8 thousand mile wide planet Venus which is making its reappearance this month and getting ready to put on a spectacular sky show for this Christmas and the first half of 1999.

Indeed, if you go out every night just as it gets dark out all throughout Christmas week you'll see this Christmas star, the planet Venus, low in the southwest just begging you to look at it. And to top it off, on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Night we'll have an exquisite pairing of the Moon and the second brightest planet, 88 thousand mile wide Jupiter. Simply go outside just as it gets dark out, look up and to the left of our Christmas star, Venus. And on Christmas Eve, the 24th, the Moon will appear just to the right of Jupiter. And if you go out Christmas Night it will have moved just to Jupiter's left. So there you have it... Venus playing the role of this year's Christmas Star just after sunset in the southwest and on Christmas Eve and Christmas Night two exquisite pairings of the Moon and the planet Jupiter. What more could you want for Christmas if you remember to Keep Looking Up?


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

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

For graphics for this script (Click) Here

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. 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 059-I


1098th Show
To Be Aired : Monday12/21/98 through Sunday 12/27/98

"A Sky Full Of Planets For Christmas!"
 

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and have we ever got a Christmas present for you because all through this holiday season every planet visible to the naked eye will be visible every clear night right up to the new year. So if you get a new telescope for Christmas you'll be able to see all the naked eye planets through it close up. What a fabulous gift from the cosmos! Let me show you:

O.K., we've got our skies set up for just after sunset, facing South where the brightest thing you will see in the sky will be the king of the planets, Jupiter. Then if you look over to Jupiter's left, that is southeast, you will see a much dimmer but still fairly bright light which is the ringed planet Saturn. Then if you look to Jupiter's right and very, very close to the southwest horizon you will see the most brilliant planet of them all, the planet Venus which, this year, we can call our Christmas 'Star' even though it will disappear within an hour after sunset.

And if you're watching this show early this Christmas week you may want to watch the Moon as it travels across the sky all week. Monday night December 21st which is the first day of winter, the Winter Solstice, an exquisite crescent Moon will be up and to the left of Venus and you can watch as it travels nightly towards Jupiter. Tuesday the 22nd, Wednesday the 23rd and on Christmas Eve, Thursday December 24th, an exquisite waxing Moon will be just to the right of the king of the planets, Jupiter. And on Christmas night, Friday the 25th an almost first quarter Moon will be just to the left of Jupiter. Saturday the 26th the Moon will be at first quarter and will be smack dab between Jupiter and the ringed planet Saturn. And Sunday the 27th you will see an absolutely breathtaking picture of the Moon and Saturn snuggled up together.

Now to see the 2 other naked eye planets might I suggest that you go out any morning Christmas week about an hour before sunrise and look southeast because just above the horizon there you will see the first planet out from the Sun, pinkish Mercury, just to the left of the bright red star Antares which marks the heart of the Scorpion, and above pinkish Mercury and red Antares an even brighter rouge-gold planet Mars. Think of it; if you go out any night Christmas week just after sunset you will see Venus, Jupiter and Saturn and if you go out one hour before sunrise you'll see Mercury and Mars plus the red star star Antares thrown in for good measure. And remember that on Christmas Eve the Moon will be just to the right of Jupiter and on Christmas night it will be just to Jupiter's left. And on Sunday night the 27th it will be snuggled up next to Saturn. What a fabulous season for planet gazing, especially if you can get a small telescope for Christmas which will make it even more fun to Keep looking Up.


Don't miss the cartoon version of

'STAR GAZER' in each monthly issue of

 

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contact

'ODYSSEY'

30 Grove Street

Suite C

Peterborough, NH 03458

or 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.

For graphics for this script (Click) Here

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. 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 060-I


1099th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 12/28/98 through Sunday 1/3/99

"The New Year's Eve Star :

A New Way To Ring 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 every 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 Year's 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 to me was an amazing coincidence, something which I had never read about in any astronomy book. 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 star pattern of Winter,Orion the Hunter, whereas if you look to Sirius' left you will see the most brilliant star 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 if you just remember to Keep Looking Up!


Don't miss the cartoon version of

'STAR GAZER' in each monthly issue of

 

To Subscribe

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contact

'ODYSSEY'

30 Grove Street

Suite C

Peterborough, NH 03458

or 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.

For graphics for this script (Click) Here

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




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