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 061-I

1100th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 1/4/98 through Sunday 1/10/98

"The Evening Star and The Seventh Planet

and Earth Closest To The Sun This Week"


Greetings, greetings fellow stargazers and would you believe that even though it's Winter, this week the Earth is closer to the Sun than it was last July!? In fact, although our Earth was 94 1/2 million miles away from the Sun last July 4th, in just 6 month's time it has careened over 3 million miles closer. So, are we on a collision course with the Sun? No, not to worry because in just 6 more months, July 1999, our Earth will be right back where it was last July, and 3 million miles farther away than it is this week. you see, this happens every year, just like clockwork, the simple reason being that our Earth's orbit around the Sun is not a perfect circle but a slightly stretched out circle called an ellipse.

So it just so happens that every January our Earth is at that point in the ellipse closest to the Sun and every July is at that point farthest from it. So why is it colder in January than it is in July? It isn't, if you happen to live south of the equator where it's Summer right now instead of Winter. And it's all because our Earth is out of kilter, or perhaps I should say, is tilted 23 1/2 degrees to its orbit which means that in January our Northern hemisphere is tilted farther away from the Sun than the Southern hemisphere and thus gets less direct rays from the Sun and thus less heat, whereas the Southern hemisphere in January is tilted more towards the Sun and thus gets more direct rays and thus more heat.

Think of it like this: Whichever hemisphere of the Earth is tilted away from the Sun, Winter will occur in that hemisphere. Well, right now because the Southern Hemisphere is tilted toward the Sun and getting more direct rays and because our Earth is also getting closer to the Sun right now, should Summers in the Southern Hemisphere be warmer than Summers in the Northern Hemisphere? The answer is yes, and Winters in the Southern Hemisphere should also be colder. In fact, the difference in the seasonal temperatures between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres would be much greater if it weren't for the fact that the Southern Hemisphere is covered with much more water which greatly modifies the temperature extremes. And now for a sky goody!

Go outside just after sunset Wednesday night the 13th and you'll have an opportunity to see the 7th planet, 32 thousand mile Uranus just one degree away from the second planet, 8 thousand mile wide Venus. But you'll have to use a pair of binoculars to see Uranus which some say has a pale bluish-green tint. And think of this: While Venus will be only a hundred and fifty million miles away Wednesday night,Uranus will be almost two billion miles beyond. So even though we're 3 million miles closer to the Sun this week, bundle up and get thee outside to see if you can find planet number seven. It's easy if you just 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 062-I


1101st Show

To Be Aired : Monday 1/11/99 through Sunday 1/17/99

"Hail, Caesar, And Happy New Year!

And Getting Ready For A Super-Duper Grand Conjunction

Of The Two Brightest Planets!"


Greetings, greetings fellow stargazers and if we all lived back in the days of ancient Rome we would be wishing each other Happy New Year this week on the 14th because according to the Julian Calendar, which was named after and adopted by Julius Caesar, our January 14th this year is really January 1st. So if Julius and his gang were still around to celebrate New Year's Day, this Thursday they'd be celebrating the year 2752 a.u.c. which stands for ab urbe condita which is Latin for "From the city's founding", which is what the Romans considered the starting date of their calendar.

And according to them the great city of Rome was founded 2,752 years ago this week. Of course today we use the Gregorian Calendar which was introduced by Pope Gregory in 1582 because the Julian Calendar just didn't keep up with our Earth's orbit around the Sun. However even the Gregorian Calendar doesn't keep the years and days in precise step with each other so that in about 1500 years enough time will have accumulated to add up to one whole day which means that some time 1500 years from now we'll probably have one extra holiday, but for one year only.

And now let me show you how to get ready for the most spectacular conjunction of the decade of the two brightest planets. O.K., we've got our skies set up for just after sunset any night this week facing southwest. And if you look close to the horizon you will see the dazzlingly brilliant 2nd planet out from the Sun, Venus. And up to its left, not quite as bright, but still pretty bright, the 5th planet out from the Sun, Jupiter. And up to its left the much dimmer but still lovely 6th planet, Saturn. Now if you look at them at least one night each week you will be able to watch these planets slowly come closer and closer to each other until Tuesday night, February 23rd Venus and Jupiter will look as if they'll almost slam into each other because on February 23rd they will be less than 2/10ths of one degree away from each other. Indeed, this is the closest meeting of any of the planets of the entire year. In fact, some astronomers are calling this the best planetary conjunction of the decade. Let's give you a preview.

O.K., next Tuesday, January 19th, you will see an exquisite crescent Moon just above Venus. Wednesday the 20th it will be half way between Venus and Jupiter. On the 21st you'll see a breathtakingly beautiful Moon and good old Jupiter. Friday the 22nd the Moon will be half way between Jupiter and Saturn and on the 23rd Saturn and the Moon will make yet another lovely couple. And if you watch from week to week, these 3 planets will move closer and closet to one another. Here's what they'll look like on Monday February 2nd, Monday February 8th, Monday the 15th, and Ta Da! on Tuesday the 23rd, the big super conjunction! So Happy New Year Julius, wherever you are, and everyone else get ready for the conjunction of the decade which will be a doozy if you Keep Looking Up!


Don't miss the cartoon version of

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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 063-I


1102nd Show
To Be Aired : Monday 1/18/99 through Sunday 1/24/99

"The Orion Nebula: A True Winter Wonder"
 

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and you know one of the best things about Winter is that it always brings the return of one of true wonders of the universe. Let me show you: O.K., we've got our skies set up for any night the next few weeks during early evening hours and if you look over to the southeast you will see what has to be the second most familiar pattern of stars after the Big Dipper, a pattern which is loaded with bright stars, Orion the Hunter. Now the best way to find him is to look for his belt which is simply 3 evenly spaced stars in a row.

Above these 3 belt stars you will see 2 brilliant stars marking Orion's shoulders and below his belt 2 brilliant stars marking his knees. And although I usually talk about his brightest stars every January , this year I'd like to zero in on one of Orion's dimmer stars because as magnificent as Orion's bright stars are in reality, one of his dimmer stars is in reality one of the most awesome wonders of our nearby universe. To find it simply look below the 3 evenly spaced belt stars for 3 more evenly spaced, but much dimmer stars, the stars we call the Sword of Orion. And now if you look very carefully at these 3 stars you will notice that no matter how sharp your eyesight, the middle star always seems to look fuzzy, slightly out of focus and that's because this so-called middle star is not a stat at all, but something we call a nebula which is a great cosmic cloud of gas and dust out of which brand new stars have been, and are still being born. In fact, this nebula, the Orion Nebula, is a stellar womb, a birthplace and nursery of stars, a place where new stars are constantly being born. And incredibly you can see this cloud with some of its new-born stars embedded inside it with even the cheapest pair of binoculars.

Indeed this cloud is actually illuminated by 4 recently born stars arranged in the shape of a baseball diamond called the Trapezium. And these 4 stars can actually be seen with a department store telescope. Now although the Orion Nebula looks like a tiny Q tip shaped cloud through a pair of binoculars, in reality, its size is mind-boggling. Indeed there is enough material in this nebula to produce over 10 thousand stars the size of our Sun and it is an outrageous 30 light years in diameter which means it would take 20 thousand of our Solar Systems lined up end to end to reach from one edge of the Nebula to the other. Or to put it another way, if the distance from our Earth to the Sun were 1 inch, the distance across the Orion Nebula would be over 12 miles. Is that mind-boggling or what? So get thee outside to see this wondrous fuzzy middle star in the Sword of Orion and experience for yourself the awe and wonder of this part of the universe. Which is easy if you just 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

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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 #SG 064-I


1103rd Show

To Be Aired : Monday 1/25/99 through Sunday 1/31/99

"Two Blue Moons For 1999! And

The Big Blue Moon Brouhaha"
 

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and yes indeed, you heard right. This year we will experience not only one but two Blue Moons, an event which has not occurred in North America since 1980, and has not occurred for Europe since 1961. Indeed, this Sunday night January 31st, we will experience the first Blue Moon of 1999 and Wednesday night, March 31st we will experience the second Blue Moon of 1999 which kind of sounds like if you go outside this Sunday night the 31st and Wednesday night, March 31st you will see a blue colored Moon. Right?

Well nothing could be farther from the truth because the term "Blue Moon" does not pertain to the Moon's color, but is the name given to the second full Moon of any month that has two full Moons. Now on average we experience a month with two full Moons about every 2 1/2 years. But about every 20 to 40 years, if there is no full Moon in the month of February, we can have two full Moons in the month ahead of February and the month after, January and March. And this year is that year.

So why do we call the second full Moon of a month a Blue Moon if it isn't blue in color? Well that's where the big brouhaha comes in. You see no one in the astronomical community seems to agree as to the origin of calling the second full Moon of the month a Blue Moon. Several years ago we ran a contest on "Star Gazer" in search of answers. And although thousands of answers came in about how yes indeed we really could experience a blue-colored Moon after volcanic eruptions and forest fires and that blue colored Moons have been mentioned as far back as the ancient Minoan civilization; nevertheless we received only 3 plausible answers to our non-blue Blue Moon question.

For instance, one viewer wrote that the term "Blue Moon" dated back to Egyptian times when an extra full Moon in a month was seen as a good omen and called a Blue Moon because blue was the color of heaven and thought to be a lucky color, which I think is kind of a stretch. The two I find most satisfying claim that the term Blue Moon for the second full Moon of a month really came as a corruption of a word from another language. One such corruption,a viewer told us, came from an old French word for double which was spelled 'deblieux' which was later contracted to simply 'blieu' which was pronounced blue. Another viewer wrote that the phrase came from the Old English word 'belewe' which meant 'to betray' so the word 'belewe' as used to identify the second full Moon in one month was the Moon that betrayed the usual count of one full Moon per month.

Be that as it may, after thousands of your responses we are still not absolutely certain where the term Blue Moon as applied to the second full Moon in a month came from. If you know, let us know please and let's settle this Blue Moon brouhaha once and for all. At any rate, having 2 full Moons in 2 months in one year is really kind of nifty, no matter what you call them. So get thee outside this weekend to watch the first Blue Moon of 1999, which is easy if you just 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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