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 035-I


1074th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 7/6/98 through Sunday 7/12/98

"How To Find The Planets of Summer '98!"


Greetings, greetings fellow stargazers and nature couldn't have planned it better because this July when most children are out of school and a lot of people are taking summer vacations several of the planets are putting on a sky show almost made to order for all those who are out enjoying the wonders of nature far from the bright lights of city life.

Let me show you: O.K., we've got our skies set up for one hour before sunrise beginning next week, Tuesday July 14th, spanning the heavens from East/ Northeast all the way over to due South where you will see 4 planets lined up across the sky almost like widely spaced beads on a gently curving string. And if you go out every single morning one hour before sunrise from Tuesday the 14th through Tuesday the 21st you will be able to identify each planet as easy as pie by using the Moon as a planet finder. Plus you will also be able to watch the Moon go all the way from a fat last quarter down to a slender sliver of a last crescent. So I strongly recommend to all you beginning star and planet gazers to get up every morning one hour before sunrise from the 14th to the 21st and watch this exquisite early morning sky show as our nearest neighbor in space, the Moon, passes by each planet in turn and changes its shape and position from morning to morning.

Now on Tuesday morning the 14th a very fat last quarter moon will be parked due South and just down and to the right of the largest planet of them all, 88 thousand mile wide Jupiter. Then on Wednesday the 15th, the Moon will have moved about 1/3 of the way from Jupiter to the next planet. And on Thursday the 16th it will be 2/3 along the way. But by Friday it will have just skimmed by this wondrous planet so you can use the Moon this morning as a guide to identify it, 75 thousand mile wide Saturn. And in case you'd like to see just how fast the Moon travels from hour to hour; if we turn the clock back a few hours to around 1 A.M. you will see that the Moon hasn't glided past Saturn as of yet but is directly underneath it as they both rise in the East. Indeed, if you go out between 1 and 2 a.m. on Friday the 17th you will be able to watch an exquisite Moon and Saturn rise together over the eastern horizon. Now on Saturday morning the 18th, the Moon advances farther on its way and on Sunday the 19th it passes through Taurus the Bull just above Taurus' red eye star Aldebaran. Then on Monday morning it will be half way between Aldebaran and the brightest planet. And on Tuesday the 21st, Ta Da! you will be treated to an exquisite sky picture of a beautiful slender sliver of a Moon nestled just below dazzling Venus.

And if you have really good eyesight and look close to the horizon you may be able to just make out dim pinkish Mars. Once again: Tuesday the 14th, the Moon near Jupiter. Friday the 17th the Moon near Saturn, and on Tuesday the 21st an exquisite meeting of the Moon, Venus and Mars. Wow! What a wonderful summer week to get up early and 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 036-I


1075th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 7/13/98 through Sunday 7/19/98

"This Week's Saturn/Moon Rise,
Next Week's Venus/Moon Pairing,
And Summer Midnight Magic
 


Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings fellow stargazers and if you're one of those lucky enough to be on vacation and like to stay up late and enjoy the wonders of the heavens, might I suggest that this week and next you go outside around midnight your local time and look straight up because directly overhead you will see the three brightest stars of summer forming the great Summer Triangle, the brightest being Vega in Lyra the Harp, the second brightest Altair in Aquila the Eagle and the third Deneb in Cygnus the Swan.

Now the reason I like looking up at midnight this week and next is because at midnight you will be able to see the Milky Way stretched out on either side of the triangle, extending all the way down to the northeast and southwest horizons. And embedded in the Milky Way just above the southwestern horizon you will also see two of the most famous constellations of summer, Scorpius the scorpion followed by the teapot-shaped portion of Sagittarius, the centaur archer. And to top it off, if you stay out an hour or so after midnight on Thursday the 16th, you will be able to see, between the hours of 1:00 and 2:00, Friday morning the 17th, a fabulous dual rising of a wonderful last quarter moon and the ringed-planet Saturn. But if you're not a midnight person you'll still be able to see Saturn and the Moon close together in the east/southeast just before sunrise on Friday the 17th.

And next week you will be treated to something even more dramatic if you are an early riser because on Tuesday the 21st, one hour before sunrise if you look east/northeast you will see a breathtakingly beautiful pairing of a very old slender crescent moon with the brightest planet of them all, eight thousand mile-wide Venus. And although not as spectacular because they won't be nearly as close to each other, you can prepare for Tuesday morning's close pairing on Monday morning the 20th, one hour before sunrise when the Moon, although much farther away will still make an exquisite sky picture with Venus.

Once again, if you go out any night for the next couple of weeks at midnight you will see the exquisite three bright stars of the Summer Triangle directly overhead and descending down from it on opposite sides of the heavens, the legendary Milky Way with summer's Scorpius and Sagittarius embedded in it on the southwest horizon. Then a dual rising of Saturn and the Moon around 1:00 AM on Friday the 17th, plus an exquisite pairing of the Moon and Venus Tuesday the 21st. And since a lot of you will be on vacation far from the glare of city lights please take this incredible opportunity to go outside and take it all in. It's fun and it's wonderful 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 037-I


1076th Show
To Be Aired : Monday 7/20/98 through Sunday 7/26/98

"A Wonderfully Weird Summer Night Wonder and

How to Find It Easy As Pie"
 

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and since it's summer time and a lot of you are on vacation out enjoying the beauties of nature, make it a point some time during the next few weeks to go outside and find the Summer Triangle and its wonderfully weird star Altair. Let me show you: O.K., we've got our skies set up for just after it gets dark out, any night in any July. And if you look over toward the East you'll see the 3 bright stars that form the points of the Summer Triangle, the brightest being Vega in Lyra the Harp, the second brightest Altair in Aquila the Eagle, and the third brightest, Deneb marking the tail of Cygnus the Swan.

Now although there are many strange stars in the heavens, Altair is one of the strangest. Located only 16 light years away from us it is the 12 th brightest star we can see. And if we could compare it to our million mile wide Sun, we would see that Altair is about one and a half times its size. However, being a very hot white star and not a cooler yellow star like our Sun, it is 9 times brighter. But the really peculiar thing about Altair is its rapid rotation, and the length of its day, a day being defined as the amount of time it takes a star or planet to make one turn on its axis.

Now we all know that an Earth day is 24 hours long because that's how long it takes for our Earth to turn around once on its axis. Our Sun, however, has a much longer day because it makes one complete turn on its axis only once every 25 and a half Earth days. So we say that one Sun day is 25 and a half Earth days long. And one might be led to incorrectly think that because our Sun is so much larger than our Earth and turns so much slower that an even larger star like Altair would turn even slower than our Sun turns. But such is not the case.

In fact, Altair is one of the fastest rotating stars known. Indeed, Altair's rotational speed at its equator is 160 miles per second which means that Altair makes one complete turn on its axis every 6 and one half hours which means that 1 Altair day is only one quarter of an Earth day long. And this incredibly fast rotation period produces a very weird effect. You see, Altair spins so rapidly that it bulges way out all across its middle, so much so that it is twice as wide from side to side as it is from top to bottom, which gives Altair the distinction of having one of the worst waistline problems of any star in the cosmos. So get thee outside to see this bent-out-of-shape summer star wonder rising in the East with its 2 sister stars of the Summer Triangle. And remember the faster a star turns the wider it gets which in Altair's case is weird but wonderful as you 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 038-I


1077th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 7/27/98 through Sunday 8/2/98

"Mars and Venus Pay A Visit As The Gemini Twins Look On"
 

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and this week I'd like you to start watching Venus and Mars every morning, at least every other morning, as they draw closer and closer to each other for a very close meeting on the mornings of Tuesday and Wednesday, August 4th and 5th. Let me show you: O.K. we've got our skies set up for 1 hour before sunrise this Wednesday morning, July 29th, facing East/Northeast and the brightest object in front of you be the planet Venus. Then down just to its left and much, much dimmer because it's half the size of Venus, and almost twice as far away, the pinkish red planet Mars which many of you may remember was one of the brightest objects in the sky way back on St. Patrick's Day, 1997.

And if you've got really clear skies look to the left of Mars and Venus and you'll see the two brightest stars of the constellation Gemini, Castor and Pollux; Pollux being the brighter one and closer to the horizon. Now if you look carefully you will notice that Mars and Venus will be separated about the same visual distance between each other as are Castor and Pollux. But that my friends will change because morning after morning Venus and Mars will draw closer to each other. Thursday the 30th, 1 hour before sunrise, Friday the 31st, Saturday August 1st, Sunday the 2nd, Monday the 3rd and Ta Da! on Tuesday August 4th and Wednesday August 5th Venus and Mars will be only one degree away from each other which is what astronomers call a conjunction which is just a fancy word for a close visual meeting.

But as close as they will appear to be to each other to the naked eye, nothing could be farther from the truth. Indeed, on the morning of the 4th, Venus now shining 250 times brighter than Mars will be only 143 million miles away while Mars will be 230 million miles beyond. Or to put it another way, Venus will be so close to us on the morning of the 4th that we will be looking at the light that left it only 13 minutes ago. Mars however will be so much farther away that we will be looking at the light that left it 20 minutes ago. But compared to Castor and Pollux, Venus and Mars are practically on our doorstep because when we look at bright Pollux on the 4th we will be looking at the light that left it 35 years ago. And dimmer Castor is so much farther away than Pollux we will be looking at the light that left it 47 years ago. Or as astronomers would put it, this upcoming morning of August 4th : Venus will be 13 light minutes away; Mars 20 light minutes away; Pollux 35 light years beyond and Castor 47 light years distant, which once again proves that when it comes to the heavens there's a lot more than meets the eye. So once again, watch Mars and Venus as they appear to approach each other morning after morning for the rest of this week and the beginning of next and then on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 4th and 5th watch them in a close meeting with the Twins looking on. Which is easy to do if you get out of bed with the chickens and 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.



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