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 4/27/98

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 026-I


1065th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 5/4/98 through Sunday 5/10/98

'The Day The Sun Stands Still

And A Close But Difficult Morning Meeting'


Greetings, greetings fellow stargazers and if you're one of those who likes to contemplate the strange and weird goings on in the universe, then this show is for you because next week, Wednesday morning, May 13th two planets, one of which is very strange, will have a very close meeting. Let me show you: O.K., we've got our skies set up for all you early birds about 30 minutes before sunrise next week, Wednesday morning the 13th, facing East and if at all possible try to have a clear, flat unobstructed horizon, which means unobstructed by buildings or hills, and if at all possible try for a water horizon looking East either over a lake or an ocean.

And of course make sure the skies are clear out which is not always the easiest thing to do when you're looking close to the horizon because frequently there are low clouds and haze several degrees up from a lot of horizons. At any rate, if you do have a clear, flat unobstructed horizon, on Wednesday morning you should see a spectacular meeting of tiny 3,000 mile wide Mercury and gigantic 75,000 mile wide Saturn. In fact they will be only one degree apart from each other which means we could barely squeeze two Full Moons between them.

And if you have a pair of binoculars you may want to try to compare their colors. Some people say Mercury appears pink, some people say it appears yellow. It all depends on your local conditions. See what colors both of them appear to you next Wednesday, and while you're out there think of this: because Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun it never gets very high up above the horizon as Saturn does so we usually have only brief periods when we can see Mercury. And because it is closest to the Sun its orbit creates some rather strange things.

You see, Mercury moves so fast in its orbit that it zips around the Sun once every 88 Earth days which means one Mercury year is only 88 Earth days long. But Mercury rotates much slower than our Earth and so, combining its very slow rotation with its very fast orbit we discover that there are only 1 1/2 Mercury days in each Mercury year which would create a truly weird view of the Sun as seen from Mercury.

In fact, if you were standing on Mercury, protected from its incredibly hot temperatures, the Sun would appear over three times as large as it does from Earth. And it would rise very slowly in the East, move very slowly across the sky, gradually slow down and then when almost due South it would come to a complete halt after which it would finally begin westward motion and eventually set in the West.

However this entire sequence of sunrise, sun-stand-still and sunset would take one entire Mercury year, 88 Earth days. So, thank heaven we're all here on the 3rd planet and not the 1st out from the Sun. But Mercury will be fun to watch this upcoming Wednesday as it has a very close but very difficult-to-see meeting with Saturn, which you just may see if 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.





Satellite Feed Info

Monday 4/27/98

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 027-I


1066th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 5/11/98 through Sunday 5/17/98

'How to Use Our Moon To Find The Planets!'


Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings fellow stargazers and in case you've been thinking that evening skies look kind of bare lately and you're having a hard time finding any bright planets after sunset, well you're absolutely right because this month all the bright planets have zipped along in their orbits and moved out of evening skies into morning skies.

Let me show you: O.K., we've got our skies set up for this weekend, Saturday morning May 16th, facing East about 45 minutes before sunrise where you will see three bright planets lined up in a gentle sweeping arc right in front of you. However, for the moment I'm not going to identify them. Instead I simply want you to go out each morning for the next few days and watch them as they slowly change their positions in respect to one another, paying particular attention to the brightest one in the middle.

You see, by Sunday morning the 17th, 45 minutes before sunrise the second brightest planet has moved a little bit farther away from the middle planet and the dimmest planet will have moved slightly closer to it. And this scenario will continue each morning. Monday morning the 18th, and Tuesday morning the 19th. But on Wednesday the 20th a beautiful crescent Moon enters the picture and we can now use it to identify the second brightest and highest planet. Indeed, on Wednesday morning the 20th our crescent Moon will be just above and to the right of the biggest planet of them all, 88,000 mile wide Jupiter.

Now the following morning the planets will have shifted their positions once again and the crescent Moon will be lower and to the left of Jupiter. And one day later, Friday morning the 22nd, it will be between the two brightest planets. And using our Moon as an identifier the planet just to its left is 8,000 mile wide Venus. Then 24 hours later on Saturday the 23rd, an even skinnier crescent Moon will be smack dab underneath the planet with all the rings, 75 thousand mile wide Saturn. So on the 20th you can use the Moon to identify Jupiter; on the 22nd you can use it to identify Venus; and on the 23rd you can use it to identify Saturn. Nifty trick, huh?

However an even better planet show is just around the corner. You see, after you've used the Moon to identify the planets, and have watched them change their positions morning after morning you should have noticed that Jupiter is steadily moving farther away from Venus, and that Saturn is steadily moving closer to it. Indeed if you go out every single morning the following week you will see Saturn move closer and closer to Venus so that by Thursday morning the 28th and Friday morning the 29th, Saturn and Venus will be so close together the sight will take your breath away. Indeed, on the mornings of the 28th and 29th Venus and Saturn will be less than one degree apart! And I'll give you all the details in next week's episode. But in the meantime, get thee out every morning, 45 minutes before sunrise, face East and, of course, as always, 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.

 





Satellite Feed Info

Monday 4/27/98

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 028-I


1067th Show
To Be Aired : Monday 5/18/98 through Sunday 5/24/98

'A Grand Meeting Between the "Biggest" and Brightest Planets'

 

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and mark the 28th and 29th of May as two mornings when you will want to get up 45 minutes before sunrise to see an extremely close meeting between the biggest and the brightest planets in the solar system. But before you jump to conclusions and say "Oh, that must be a meeting between Venus, which is the brightest, and Jupiter, which is the biggest"... let me caution you to think once again about that word 'biggest' because in astronomy that term can be misleading.

I mean if you took the planet Venus which is 8,000 miles wide, and put it right next to Jupiter which is 88,000 miles wide, there would be no question as to which planet is the bigger of the two. But if we put the planet Saturn next to Jupiter we'd have a little explaining to do. You see, strictly speaking, if we count only the spherical portion of Saturn as the planet there would be no question that Jupiter is bigger because the spherical portion of Saturn is only 75,000 miles wide; but whenever I think of Saturn I can't think of it without its ring system. So if you include Saturn's rings when you talk about planet size, then Saturn is much bigger than Jupiter because the distance from one edge of Saturn's ring system to the other is almost exactly twice the diameter of Jupiter, or two times 88,000 miles which is 176,000 miles wide. So in this case of the brightest and the biggest planets meeting each other I deliberately wanted to make you think about planet size because this upcoming meeting of the brightest and so-called biggest planet is really a meeting between Venus and Saturn.

Let me show you: O. K., we've got our skies set up for this weekend, Saturday morning about 45 minutes before sunrise, facing due East where you will be able to see brilliant Saturn just to the left of Venus. However if you go out each sucesssive morning about 45 minutes before sunrise you will notice Saturn and Venus will slowly approach each other. On Monday the 25th, they will be ?? Full Moons apart, on Tuesday the 26th, ?? Full Moons apart, on Wednesday the 27th ?? Full Moons would separate them. But, TA DA! On Thursday and Friday the 28th and 29th they will be separated by only half a degree, which means we could just fit one Full Moon between the two which for all dyed-in-the-wool amateur astronomers is a truly wonderful sight!

In fact, it is one of those special times when you can actually see two planets close up through a telescope at the same time. However if you look through even the cheapest department store telescope at Venus and Saturn the mornings of the 28th and 29th you will notice that even though Saturn is much larger than Venus, they will appear to be about the same size and that is because Saturn is ?? million miles farther away from us than Venus at this time. But even if you don't own a telescope you should make a point to get up to see these planets so close together because it's truly one of those wonderful cosmic sights that makes it wonderful 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.


Satellite Feed Info

Monday 4/27/98

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 029-I


1068th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 5/25/98 through Sunday 5/31/98

'The Heart and Tail of The King Of Beasts'

 

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and before Spring completely slips away from us I'd like you all to go out and take a look some time during the first couple of weeks of June at the most famous constellation of Spring which is getting ready to leave our skies soon and that, of course, is the majestic lion of Spring skies, Leo.

Let me show you: O. K., we've got our skies set up for any clear night just after sunset the next three weeks late May, early June facing West where approximately half way up from the horizon to the zenith you will see the stars which make up the constellation Leo the Lion. He's always pictured in a reclining position and right now he is almost headed face down straight for the horizon - a backward question mark or sickle-shaped group of stars mark his head, mane and forefront and the brightest star Regulus (which means "little king") marking his heart. Then, higher in the sky and forming a perfect right triangle, three stars make up Leo's hind section, the brightest star being Denebola meaning "the lion's tail". And it is these two brightest stars of Leo - Regulus and Denebola - which we're going to look at more closely.

Let's start with Denebola which may sound familiar to many of you because another bright star in the sky called Deneb marks the tail of Cygnus the Swan. So if we add 'ola' to Deneb we have Denebola, which literally means "tail of the lion" which the lion would be very proud to wag, if lions do indeed wag their tails. Indeed this tail star is intrinsically almost as impressive as Sirius, the Dog Star - the eye of Canis Major - which is the brightest star in the sky. In fact, if we could move Denebola as close to Earth as Sirius (only 8 1/2 light years away), Denebola would rival Sirius in brilliance. But because Denebola is five times farther away (43 light years beyond Earth) only its distance makes it less impressive than Sirius. Even so, compared to our Sun, Denebola is a much grander star. Almost twice the diameter of our Sun it shines with a luminosity equal to 20 of our suns.

But impressive as Denebola is, Regulus is even more impressive and although Regulus is exactly twice the distance away from us as Denebola (85 light years away) it still outshines Denebola and that is because Regulus is five times the diameter of our Sun and shines with a luminosity of 160 of our suns! Impressive indeed for the heart of the King of Beasts. So, some time during the next few weeks before the constellations of Spring change to the constellations of Summer, try to go outside just after sunset, look due West, and there you'll see this fabled constellation which is mentioned as far back as 2,100 B. C. by the ancient Babylonians and which even to them signified royalty. However, it took humanity 4,000 years to find the even more impressive science behind this regal constellation which is yours for the viewing if 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.


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