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 052-I


1091st Show

To Be Aired : Monday 11/2/98 through Sunday 11/8/98

"The Bragging Stars Of An Ancient Queen In November's Milky Way"


Greetings, greetings fellow stargazers and even though this week's Full Moon will be the closest, biggest and brightest Full Moon of the entire year and will be absolutely beautiful, you should always remember that Full Moons always make for poor star gazing because bright moonlight, like bright city lights, wipes out all but the brightest stars from view. So I suggest that you wait until the middle of next week or so to explore two wonders of autumn skies which I call the 'Bragging Stars' and the east-west Milky Way. Let me show you:

O.K., we've got our skies set up for any clear night in November between the hours of 8 and 10 where, if you look directly due north, you will see 5 medium bright stars directly above the North Star which, if we could draw lines between them, would make a very nice, although somewhat squashed out capital letter "M". These stars make up the constellation which I call 'The Bragging Stars' because they were named for an ancient legendary queen of Ethiopia named Cassiopeia who was so extremely vain that she bragged that she was more beautiful than any creature on Earth and who was thus punished for her excessive pride by being placed in the heavens where she has been forced to ride ever since endlessly around the North Star, sometimes in an upright position but most often in a most uncomfortable position where she has to hold on for dear life to keep from falling off her throne. You can easily see the queen's throne, which is on its side right now, directly above the North Star in early evening November if we add a less bright star and draw a line from it making the seat of the throne, the front leg of the throne between these two stars, the back leg between these two stars, and the back of the throne here. A very nice, simple depiction of a chair in the heavens.

And although we can see Cassiopeia's stars even when there is a Full Moon, what we can't see until the Moon is gone is the wonderful celestial backdrop against which her throne is placed. In fact, to see this backdrop not only must there be no Moon, but you must likewise be far away from all city lights, because when you look at Cassiopeia in early evening every November far from city lights on moonless nights you will see this: the incredible river of faint celestial light called The Milky Way, stretching out from both sides of Cassiopeia all the way to the due East and due West horizons. Much, much different than the way the Milky Way appears in mid-Summer when it is stretched across the sky from North to South. So get thee outside some clear November night in early evening, look due North, high above the North Star and there you'll see the 'Bragging Stars' of Cassiopeia as she hangs on to her throne for dear life, plus the exquisite Milky Way stretched equidistant East to West from side to side. It's wonderful if you simply take the time 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.



 


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 053-I


1092nd Show

To Be Aired : Monday 11/9/98 through Sunday 11/15/98

"Will Leo The Lion and His Leonids Roar Next Week? Getting Ready For A Possible Meteor Storm!"
 


Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings fellow stargazers and mark next Tuesday morning, November 17th from midnight 'til dawn as the time when you may see one of the best Leonid Meteor Showers of your life. The reason I say may is because astronomers all around the world can't quite agree as to whether the annual Leonid Meteor Shower which occurs every November may this year turn out to be not the usual faint sprinkling of meteors but may actually turn into a humongous meteor storm of hundreds , even thousands of meteors per hour. Let me explain.

Now we should think of meteor showers as comet litter showers. You see just as the planets have orbits around the Sun, so too do many comets. And while it takes our Earth one year to make one orbit around the Sun, each comet has its own period of time for one orbit. For instance it takes Halley's Comet 76 years to make one orbit around the Sun and the comet that is responsible for next week's meteor shower, Comet Tempel-Tuttle, takes 33 years to orbit the Sun.

Now whenever a comet comes close to the Sun it sheds a lot of itself and all this comet litter and debris is eventually spread out pretty evenly all along the orbit of the comet, pretty evenly except near the head of the comet itself where the debris is much denser and much more concentrated. Now whenever our Earth passes through a comet's orbit, comet debris slams in to the Earth's upper atmosphere so fast that great heat is caused by friction making the tiny pieces of comet debris and atmospheric gasses light up. And while most people call these of light 'shooting stars', astronomers call them meteors and although there many meteor showers a year, even the best ones produce only about 50 to 100 meteors per hour at their peak.

But every 33 years as Comet Temple-Tuttle itself returns close to Earth along with its surrounding huge cloud of comet litter we often encounter a meteor storm of thousands per hour. There was a great one in 1799 and the best one ever recorded occurred in 1833 and a real doozy, which I missed by one hour, occurred in November 1966. And guess what? Comet Tempel -Tuttle has just paid us a visit once again only a few months ago. Now although astronomers can't say for sure if we will experience a great meteor storm next Tuesday, nevertheless scientists will be repositioning critical satellites to protect them from what could be celestial sandblasting from outer space.

You see although we're protected from meteor storms by our Earth's atmosphere, all satellites ride unprotected above the atmosphere. So how can you see this 'maybe' meteor storm for yourself? Well, get as far away from city lights as possible and watch the sky all over from 1 a.m. next Tuesday 'til sunrise. I know for sure I'll be up all night because it just may be one of the best nights in 33 years to Keep Looking Up!

Star Gazer recommends this link as a great source of info on the Leonids. Click Here


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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.




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 054-I


1093rd Show
To Be Aired : Monday11/16/98 through Sunday 11/22/98

"Moon, Planet and Star Magic For Thanksgiving Weekend"
 

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and have we ever got some sky goodies for you this Thanksgiving weekend. Let me show you: O.K., we've got our skies set up for 8 p.m., your local time, Thanksgiving night, Thursday November 26th after it's gotten good and dark out and you've had enough time for your meal to digest, and perhaps you decide to go out for a walk to take in the beauty of the stars and planets this Thanksgiving night.

And what a night it will be, because as you look southwest you will see an exquisite 1st Quarter Moon and and to its left, about 14 degrees away, that's 28 Full Moon widths away, the brightest planet visible at this time, brighter than it's been in many years, the king of the planets, Jupiter. And way over to its left, southeast, though not nearly as bright, the planet Saturn, which is at its highest since 1979. And over towards its left, a tiny group of stars which always tells us Thanksgiving is here, the Pleiades, also called the Seven Sisters. And below them another sure sign of Thanksgiving night, the bright red star Aldebaran, the eye of Taurus the Bull. And just below it the stars which always remind us on Thanksgiving night that the harvest is over and winter is just around the corner, the very bright stars of Orion creeping up over the horizon announcing to all that he will soon take center stage as autumn gives way to winter.

And if we do an about face and look toward the northeast we'll see the three bright stars which make up the late summer-early autumn triangle getting ready to make their disappearance, knowing full well that Orion on the opposite side of the sky is about to take over for a good while. And this is the way the sky looks every Thanksgiving night all across North America between 8 and 9 P.M.; the summer stars disappearing in the west while the stars of winter arise in the east, with the exception of course of Jupiter and Saturn which continually change their places among the stars and the seasons.

But Jupiter and Saturn are so close and so bright this Thanksgiving weekend they're an added treat so be sure to go outside and look for them. And the looking gets even better the night after Thanksgiving because the Moon will have moved from being 28 full moon widths away from Jupiter to only 1/2 a degree, and will provide a spectacular pairing in the heavens. On Saturday the 28th a slightly fatter Moon will have moved almost equidistant between Jupiter and Saturn, and on Sunday the 29th it will appear to be closing in on the ringed planet. Indeed, Monday the 30th the Moon will be only 6 ° away from Saturn. S there you have it, the moon and the planets, Thanksgiving night, and on Friday the 27th, Saturday the 28th, Sunday the 29th and Monday the 30th between the stars of summer setting and the stars of winter rising. What a wonderful weekend 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.




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 055-I


1094th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 11/23/98 through Sunday 11/29/98

"A No Bull About It Star

And A Thanksgiving Weekend Reminder"
 

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and right off the bat I simply want to remind you that this Thanksgiving weekend, Friday night the 27th you should go outside just after it gets dark out and look toward the South where you will see an absolutely exquisite pairing of the First Quarter Moon and the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter, which is now brighter than it's been in 10 years. An don Monday, the 30th, if you look to the southeast you will see the Moon close by the ringed planet Saturn which is at its highest since 1979.

And now for a 'no bull about it' star. Let me show you: O.K. we've got our skies set up for between 8 and 10 p.m. the next couple of weeks, facing east and as I mentioned last week, every year at Thanksgiving and the end of November if we look east we'll always see the tiny exquisite group of stars, the Seven Sisters, the Pleiades. And below them and much closer to the horizon all the bright stars including the 3 lined up in a row which make up Orion the Hunter. But in between the stars of Orion and the Pleiades you will find a reddish-orange star named Aldebaran which is the fierce eye of Taurus the Bull and to make sure you have found it, all you have to do is shoot an imaginary arrow up through the 3 belt stars of Orion and you'll land almost smack dab on it.

But perhaps an easier way to remember how to find Aldebaran is to remember that its name actually means 'The Follower' and that it always follows the Pleiades. Now although Aldebaran is the eye of Taurus the Bull, it's difficult for most people to imagine a picture of a bull in this part of the heavens. In fact, only the horns, head and upper shoulder of the bull are usually shown in drawings with the Seven Sisters actually riding on the shoulder of the Bull. Many scholars think that Taurus was one of the most important constellations in ancient history and was probably named at least 6 thousand years ago.

Indeed, many civilizations depicted a bull in this part of the heavens including the ancient Minoans, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, going as far back as Paleolithic Europe where we often see bulls depicted in ancient cave paintings. And although Aldebaran has been seen for thousands of years, today we know exactly what it is. Indeed it is a much greater star than our Sun, a giant star 34 times as wide as our own Sun and 125 times more luminous, and so far away that the light we see when we look at Aldebaran left it 65 years ago. In other words, we see Aldebaran not as it exists now, but as it existed 65 years ago. Fascinating for a star humanity has been looking at and admiring for at least 6 thousand years. So get thee outside some clear night in the next few weeks, and look towards the East for Aldebaran the Follower who always follows the Seven Sisters across autumn skies. It's easy if you remember to Keep Looking Up!


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


* 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 056-I


1095th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 11/30/98 through Sunday 12/6/98

"The Flying Horse Of The Heavens And

Gateway To Paradise"
 

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and for those of you who like to do your star gazing just after it gets dark out in early evening, we'd like to show you something which is almost directly overhead between 6 and 8 P.M. in early December. Let me show you: O.K., if you go outside between 6 and 8 P.M. the next couple of weeks, look almost straight overhead and you will see four stars which, if we could draw lines between them, would make a square. Now for over 2,000 years this square has been called ' The Great Square of Pegasus', the winged horse. And if you add a few other stars plus your imagination you'll come up with what looks like the head and shoulders and forelegs of a horse. And if we could picture it the way people saw it long ago it might look something like this.

But, why, you might ask, did people of long ago imagine only part of a horse in this part of the heavens? Well, it is believed that the word 'Pegasus' comes from two ancient Phoenician words, 'pega' and 'sus' which means the 'bridled horse', and since the image of a flying bridled horse was often used for figureheads of ships, this would account for this constellation being shown with only his head and forequarters. In fact, in an ancient work called "The Destruction of Troy" we read "...a ship named Pegasus which was likened to a flying horse"... And Pegasus is indeed ancient for it is featured on some of the most beautiful ancient coins of Corinth and Carthage. But you know not all people see the stars the same way.

Indeed, the ancient Hindus said that this great square represented a bedstead, an ancient mattress woven of strips of leather and that the Moon frequently rested here. The Arawak and Warrau Indians of Guiana however, saw this square as a huge barbecue grill resting on high stilts, huge for sure and high for even more sure. But my favorite description of the Great Square of Pegasus has nothing to do with a horse, mattress or barbecue grill. Instead I prefer to look up at the Great Square and think of it the way some ancient Persians thought of it, for they imagined that this great square was a great portal to another dimension, the dimension of eternal bliss. Indeed they saw this great square as the doorway to Paradise. I sometimes when I stand outside looking up at this square I almost want to leap up and fly through it and see what lies beyond.

Of course astronomers know what lies beyond and although this square doesn't seem to have any celestial objects within it,nothing could be farther from the truth because with a good telescope you can find dozens of tiny gas clouds called nebulae within the square. And on a clear moonless night, far from city lights, some star gazers claim they can count 10 to 15 dim stars with the naked eye within the square. How many can you count?

So get thee out some night between 6 and 8 the next couple of weeks, look directly overhead and decide which sky picture you like best . . . a flying horse, a mattress, a barbecue or the portal to paradise. It's fun if you simply remember to Keep Looking Up!


Don't miss the cartoon version of

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For graphics for this script (Click) Here

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


* 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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