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 # 99-05

1104th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 2/1/99 through Sunday 2/7/99

"A Great Big Red Star For Valentine's Day :

About As Great And As Big As It Gets"


Greetings! Greetings! Fellow stargazers and because the color red is always associated with Valentine's Day we thought we'd give you a special cosmic red Valentine, one which you can share with your loved one or even with your not-so-loved one if you choose. Let me show you: O.K., we've got our skies set up for any Valentine's Day night for any year as long as you live. And if you go out on any Valentine's Day night between the hours of 8 and 9, and look due South you'll see a very bright red star shining high above the horizon.

Indeed it is the brightest red star we can see with the naked eye from planet Earth and just coincidentally it reaches its highest point above the horizon every Valentine's Day between the hours of 8 and 9 p.m. It marks the shoulder star of the great sky giant, Orion the Hunter and its name is 'Betelgeuse' which in Arabic means 'The Armpit' which isn't very romantic for Valentine's Day. But if you want to give your beloved a really big Valentine, well this is about as big a one as you'll ever find. You see if we do some comparison of Betelgeuse, our Valentine Star, with our own star the Sun and our own planet the Earth you'll understand why.

Now we all know that our Earth is 8 thousand miles wide, pretty dinky compared to our Sun which is 865 thousand miles wide. But to really understand their differences in size just try to imagine that we could fit over one million Earth's inside our Sun. However to understand the size of Betelgeuse really takes a stretch because we could fit over 160 million of our Suns inside of it! When it's at its smallest size. And I say smallest size because Betelgeuse is one of those stars that changes its size regularly, like a humongous slowly pulsating heart that beats only once every six years. In fact when Betelgeuse is fully contracted and at its minimum size it is still about 500 times the diameter of our Sun. And when it expands to its maximum size it stretches to almost 900 times our Sun's width. Or if you care to think of it this way, if we could place Betelgeuse where our Sun is, at its minimum Betelgeuse would stretch out all the way past the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, all the way to Mars, and at its maximum would reach all the way to Jupiter. Wow!

So there you have it. A great big humongous Valentine for your sweetheart, courtesy of our local galaxy. And to see it simply go outside any clear Valentine's Night between 8 and 9 p.m., look due South and there you'll see it at its very highest above the horizon. But just to play it safe, and so as not to look like a cheapskate, I still recommend that you purchase that traditional box of chocolates. Besides, it will be great fun to eat by the light of the great Valentine's Star if you simply remember to Keep Looking Up!


Star Gazer Minute

#99-05 M

2/1/99 thru 2/7/99

A Great Big Red Star For Valentine's Day

 

Greetings, I'm Jack Horkheimer with this week's Star Gazer Minute. Want to give someone you love the biggest, reddest Valentine ever? Then go outside with your honey Valentine's Day night between the hours of 8 and 9 p.m. and look due south and there you'll see the brightest red star visible to the naked eye from planet Earth at its highest point above the horizon. It's named Betelgeuse and it slowly pulsates like a giant heart. And when fully expanded it is so huge that if we could place it where our Sun is, it would reach past Mercury, Venus, Earth and all the way out to the planet Jupiter, almost a billion miles. So this Valentine's Day give the biggest Valentine of all, a giant red star which pulses like a heart full of cosmic love. And it's easy to find if you Keep Looking Up!

 


Don't miss the cartoon version of

'STAR GAZER' in each monthly issue of

 

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contact

'ODYSSEY'

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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 #99-06


1105th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 2/8/99 through Sunday 2/14/99

"A Cosmic Switcheroo!

The 8th and 9th Planets Change Places This Week!

And Getting Ready For February 23rd's Super Duper Conjunction!"


Greetings, greetings fellow stargazers and would you believe that this week the 8th and 9th planets will actually change places with each other? That's right, although at the beginning of this week Pluto is the 8th planet from the Sun and Neptune is the 9th, by the end of the week they will have switched places and Neptune will become the 8th planet and Pluto the 9th. What's going on here? Well, if you look at any standard text book diagram of our Solar System you will always see Pluto pictured as the ninth and farthest planet from the Sun and such was the case when it was discovered back in 1930.

But if you look closely you will notice that Pluto's orbit isn't on the same plane, or level, as the other planets. In fact Pluto has a greatly tilted and off-center orbit which causes Pluto to actually cross the orbit of Neptune every 220 years or so and thus actually brings Pluto closer to the Sun than Neptune for several years, thus making Neptune the 9th planet and Pluto the 8th. And this happened way back on January 21st, 1979. In fact, I did a "Star Gazer" episode all about it way back then. Remember? So for the past 20 years planet Pluto has actually been closer to the Sun than Neptune.

But this week things will be back to normal and once again Neptune will resume its rightful place as the 8th planet and Pluto its rightful place as the 9th. So if you've been saying that Pluto was the farthest planet out from the Sun you've been wrong for the past 20 years. But after this week you'll be right for the next 228. That's right, Pluto will remain the 9th planet until the year 2227 and then once again it will change places with Neptune for a couple of decades. Kinda nifty,huh?

But now for something that will really knock your socks off visually. O.K. we've got our skies set up for just after sunset facing west/southwest next Wednesday, which is Ash Wednesday, February 17th where you will see an absolutely exquisite slender crescent Moon hovering just below the brightest planet Venus and the second brightest planet Jupiter. And this celestial trio will be absolutely breathtaking. Then if you go out the next evening, Thursday, February 18th, you will see a slightly fatter crescent Moon just above Jupiter and Venus in another breathtakingly beautiful picture.

But the real super duper sky event will occur about one week later on Tuesday the 23rd just after sunset when Jupiter and Venus will meet in the closest planetary conjunction of the entire year and one of the best of the entire decade. And you can watch them come closer and closer together every night, Friday the the 19th, Saturday the 20th, Sunday the 21st, Monday the 22nd, and Ta! Da! Tuesday night the 23rd, a night which will stand out forever in your memory of sky gazing, if you simply remember to go outside and Keep Looking Up!


Star Gazer Minute

#99-06 M

2/8/99 thru 2/14/99

"Pluto Changes Places With Neptune This Week!"

 

Greetings, I'm Jack Horkheimer with this week's "Star Gazer Minute". Strange but true, this week the planet Pluto switches places with Neptune. You see for the past 20 years Pluto, because of its highly eccentric orbit, has actually been closer to the Sun than Neptune, but this week it once again regains its status as the 9th planet and Neptune returns to its former position as number 8. And while you'll have to wait over 220 years for Pluto and Neptune to play this cosmic switcheroo once again, next week you can see an exquisite crescent Moon form a breathtakingly beautiful trio with the 2 brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter. First on Ash Wednesday, February 17th just after sunset; second on Thursday night February 18th, proving once again that the cosmos is wonderful if you just Keep looking Up!

 


Don't miss the cartoon version of

'STAR GAZER' in each monthly issue of

 

To Subscribe

(only $26.95 for 9 issues)

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 # 99-07


1106th Show
To Be Aired : Monday 2/15/99 through Sunday 2/21/99

"How to Watch Next Week's Spectacular

Super Duper Meeting of the Planets!"
 

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and if you go out star gazing only once this entire year please, I beg you, make that night Tuesday night next week, February 23rd because on that night the 2 brightest planets will come together visually in the closest meeting of any planets for the entire year! Astronomers call this a planetary conjunction and many consider next week's planetary meeting one of the best of the entire decade. And I agree. Let me show you: O.K., we've got our skies set up for the middle of this week, Wednesday February 17th, looking west/southwest about 45 minutes after sunset where you will see an absolutely exquisite celestial threesome. Closest to the horizon an exquisite new crescent Moon, and just above it the brightest planet, 8 thousand mile wide Venus and just above it the second brightest planet, 88 thousand mile wide Jupiter.

Now what I want you to do is this: if at all possible go out every single night about an hour after sunset and watch these two planets as they move closer and closer to each other until Tuesday the 23rd they will be so close it will take your breath away. O. K., on Wednesday of this week, the 17th, Jupiter and Venus are about 12 full Moon widths apart but by the next night, Thursday the 18th they will be only 9 full Moon widths apart and will make an even more exquisite picture with the crescent Moon than they did the night before. Don't miss this please.

Then Friday the 19th, 7 Moon widths apart and on Saturday the 20th only 5 full Moon widths separate them. Sunday the 21st 3 Moons apart and Monday the 22nd only 1 1/2 Moon widths apart. But then unbelievably , in just one day's time Jupiter and Venus come so close visually that on Tuesday night, February 23rd Ta Da! less than 1/2 of a full Moon's width will separate them. Please, please don't miss this super duper outrageously wonderful superlative, superlative conjunction of the 2 brightest planets no matter what.

And keep your fingers crossed please for clear skies wherever you happen to live because, if you miss this on Tuesday night the 23rd, less than 24 hours later on Wednesday night the 24th, they will be almost two full Moon widths apart. Now if you've been paying close attention you've probably noticed that Venus and Jupiter swapped places in relation to each other from Monday February 22nd to Wednesday the 24th. Let me show you again: Monday February 22nd, Wednesday February 24th. But the real night, the best night, the one night for planetary hoot and holler is Tuesday February 23rd after sunset, just after it gets dark out when the 2 brightest planets in our solar system put on a sky show you'll never ever forget. And if you have a pair of binoculars or a small telescope be sure you take a peek at these two on the 23rd. It will make the night even more spectacular. Am I excited or what? Yes, indeed, and so will you be if you simply remember to Keep Looking Up!


Star Gazer Minute

#99-07 M

2/15/99 thru 2/21/99

"How to Watch Next Week's Spectacular

Super Duper Meeting of the Planets!"

 

Greetings, I'm Jack Horkheimer with this week's "Star Gazer Minute". If you go out Star Gazing only once this entire year please make that night next Tuesday night, February 23rd, 45 minutes after sunset. Simply face west/southwest and right above the horizon you will see the closest meeting of the two brightest planets of the entire year. In fact, 8 thousand mile wide Venus will be less than 1/2 a Moon width away from 88 thousand mile wide Jupiter. And if you want to see how quickly the planets change their position from night to night than look at them Monday night the 22nd and Wednesday night the 24th and you'll see that they actually switch places. But Tuesday night is the night to see what experts say is one of the best planet shows of the decade if you remember to Keep Looking Up!


Don't miss the cartoon version of

'STAR GAZER' in each monthly issue of

 

To Subscribe

(only $26.95 for 9 issues)

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 #99-08


1107th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 2/22/99 through Sunday 2/28/99

"The Elusive First Planet and

How To Find It Easy As Pie"

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and if you're watching this show at the beginning of the week may I remind you one more time about the best planetary conjunction, that is meeting of 2 planets, for the entire year. Let me show you: O.K. we've got our skies set up for Monday night , February 22nd just after sunset facing west/ southwest where you will see the 2 brightest planets forming an exquisite duo just above the horizon. The next night however, Tuesday the 23rd, Venus and Jupiter will be so close to each other that not even 1/2 a full Moon could fit between them. Please don't miss this because this is the best planetary conjunction of the year, and one of the best of the entire decade.

Now on Wednesday night the 24th they will have pulled apart once again and changed places with respect to each other and if you look very carefully, very very close to the horizon you may catch a glimpse of the first planet out from the Sun, tiny 3 thousand mile wide Mercury which is said to be the most difficult to find of all the naked eye planets because whenever it makes its appearance it never gets very high up above the horizon. But if you have difficulty finding it this week might I suggest you start your Mercury hunt next week on Monday, March 1st when Mercury will be much higher off the horizon and you will be able to use Venus and Jupiter as cosmic guides because on Monday night Mercury will be the same visual distance away from Jupiter as Venus is from Jupiter although it will be much much dimmer than either of them.

Now if you watch every single night during the first week of March you'll be able to see Mercury and Jupiter come closer and closer together. Tuesday March 2nd, Wednesday March 3rd and Thursday March 4th. Then over the weekend on Friday March 5th and Saturday March 6th Mercury and Jupiter will be almost side by side in what astronomers call a quasi-conjunction. So might I suggest if you've never been able to find tiny Mercury, do so the weekend of March 5th and 6th. And while you're out there take a look at Mercury and Jupiter in binoculars or a small telescope because some experts say that Mercury will be as good as it ever gets as seen through a telescope the first week of March. And you will see that while 88 thousand mile wide Jupiter appears perfectly round, dinky 3 thousand mile wide Mercury will look like a tiny half Moon.

Now for the next few days after the 5th and 6th, Mercury and Jupiter will slowly drop side by side, night after night, toward the horizon but unfortunately each successive night Mercury will get dimmer and dimmer and then quickly fade from sight. So if you missed this week's super duper conjunction of Venus and Jupiter on Tuesday the 23rd, for pete's sake don't miss the quasi-conjunction of Mercury and Jupiter the weekend of the 5th and 6th. You won't be sorry believe me if you just Keep Looking Up!


Star Gazer Minute

#99-08 M

2/22/99 thru 2/28/99

"How To Find Mercury Easy As Pie!"

 

Greetings, I'm Jack Horkheimer with this week's "Star Gazer Minute". If you watched this week's super close meeting of the 2 brightest planets Venus and Jupiter you can use them to find the most elusive of all the naked eye planets, tiny 3 thousand mile wide first planet out from the Sun, Mercury. It's difficult to find because when it appears it never gets very high above the horizon and it hangs around for only a couple of weeks at a time. But next Monday, March 1st you can find Mercury by looking west about 1/2 hour after sunset. Simply make a mental note of the distance between Venus and Jupiter and Mercury will be that same distance below Jupiter just above the horizon. Then watch Mercury and Jupiter move closer to each other each night until they're almost side by side on the weekend of March 5th, 6th and 7th. It's a tiny world but fun to find if you simply remember to Keep Looking Up!

 


Don't miss the cartoon version of

'STAR GAZER' in each monthly issue of

 

To Subscribe

(only $26.95 for 9 issues)

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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