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 048-I


1087th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 10/5/98 through Sunday 10/11/98

"Mars and Regulus: The Meeting and Parting Of A Planet And A Star"


Greetings, greetings fellow stargazers and for those of you who are early birds and like to catch an occasional planet and star along with your worm, have we ever got an early morning treat for you. Let me show you : O.K. we've got our skies set up for the middle of this week, Wednesday October 7th, and if you go outside half an hour to an hour before dawn and face due East you will see 2 medium bright objects hovering in the sky next to each other. Now if you look carefully at their colors one will appear to be bluish-white and the other kind of a brassy rouge-gold. One is a planet and one is a star and you can usually tell which one is the star because stars frequently twinkle whereas planets seldom do. And although to the naked eye they appear very close to each other this week, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Indeed, the planet, which is 4 thousand mile wide Mars, is 205 million miles away from us this week, whereas Regulus which is a 1 1/2 million mile wide star is 432 trillion miles away. Or to put it another way, Mars is so relatively close that its light takes only 18 minutes to reach us this week, whereas Regulus is so incredibly far away it takes 72 years for its light to reach us which means that when we look at Mars we are seeing it as it existed in time 18 minutes ago, and when we look at Regulus we are seeing it as it existed 72 years ago. Kind of nifty, huh?

At any rate, because Mars is so close to us its motion against the background of stars is quite dramatic and changes from day to day. For instance, this Wednesday, the 7th, Mars is only 2 Full Moon widths away from Regulus, and only 2 days later on Friday the 9th, it will be 3 Full Moon widths away. On Sunday morning, October 11th, a full 6 Full Moons away and 2 days later, Tuesday the 13th, 8 Full Moons away. And although on Thursday, October 15th, Mars and Regulus will be 10 Full Moons apart, nevertheless this is a fabulous morning to view them because riding just above Regulus you will see an exquisite slender sliver of a waning crescent moon. And if you want to see how rapidly the Moon travels against the background of stars, simply go out the next morning, Friday October 16th and you will see that an even skinnier crescent moon has fallen, so to speak, past Regulus and past Mars and forms yet another exquisite early morning just-before-dawn sky picture.

Once again: all times half an hour to an hour before sunrise, facing due East. Tuesday October 7th, Friday October 9th, Sunday October 11th, Tuesday October 13th, Thursday October 15th and Friday the 16th. And while you're out there remember that the sky show we'll be treated to all week long is simply the result of an illusion created by our Earth and Mars zipping along in their orbits around our own star, the one we call the Sun. A sky show worth watching if you get up with the chickens and 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




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 049-I


1088th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 10/12/98 through Sunday 10/18/98

"Saturn: At Its Closest In 20 Years!"
 


Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings fellow stargazers and you heard right, the most beautiful planet in the solar system will be at its closest to Earth in 20 years because next week, Friday the 23rd, the planet Saturn will come into opposition and will be only 771 million miles away. Additionally, because its rings are less edge-on to us and more tilted they will reflect more sunlight, so the combination of closeness and favorable ring tilt will also make Saturn brighter than it's been in almost a decade. Let me show you.

O.K., we've got our skies set up for next week, Friday night, October 23rd, and if you go outside just after the sun sets and look due east you will see a pale yellow light rising above the horizon and that my friends is the planet Saturn. Now make sure you don't confuse it with the planet Jupiter which will be almost due southeast and about 14 times brighter because it is only half as far away.

Now whenever a planet comes into opposition it simply means that the planet is directly opposite the Sun as seen from Earth, which means that for several nights before and after opposition date the planet at opposition will rise in the east as the Sun sets in the west and will be visible all night long as it slowly travels across the night sky to its highest point at midnight and setting in the west as the Sun rises in the east. Amateur astronomers always love it when a planet is at opposition because planets are usually at their closest and brightest at opposition and can be seen all night long providing the best opportunities for telescopic viewing. So if you happen to have access to a small telescope now is the time to view both Saturn and Jupiter (as Jupiter also came into opposition only a few weeks ago).

Now although Jupiter is called the 'King of the Planets' since it is 88,000 miles wide, if you count Saturn's ring system from edge to edge, Saturn is much wider. In fact, we could line up two Jupiters - side by side - across Saturn's rings. And although Saturn is twice as far away as Jupiter, one of the reasons it is still so bright is because those rings are composed of ice covered pebbles and rocks which reflect 70% of the sunlight that hits them. In fact, if Saturn didn't have its rings it would be less than half as bright.

Now although Jupiter and Saturn are about 40 degrees apart from each other right now something nifty is going to happen with them over the next couple of years. you see since Jupiter is so much closer to us than Saturn, Jupiter changes its place among the stars much faster than Saturn, so Jupiter will rapidly close in on Saturn. In fact, by May of the year 2000 Jupiter will be less than a degree and a half away from it. So get thee out this week and next and watch Saturn rise in the east as the Sun sets in the west and see if you can't find someone with a telescope so that you can see those beautiful rings close up. They're 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




 

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 050-I


1089th Show
To Be Aired : Monday 10/19/98 through Sunday 10/25/98

"No Tricks But Some Real Cosmic Treats This Halloween of '98!"
 

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and while it's always nice to have a bright yellow-orange Full Moon looking like a Jack-O-Lantern, rising right after sunset on Halloween, such is not the case for this year's Halloween which is next Saturday night, October 31st. So although we've been tricked out of a Full Moon on this spookiest of all nights of the calendar, nevertheless in a way we have something even better skywise to accompany you in early evening as you make your rounds of trick or treating. Let me show you:

O.K. we've got our skies set up so we're facing southeast about one hour after sunset the night before Halloween, next Friday October 30th when you will see a beautiful waxing gibbous Moon lighting up the heavens and right below it the brightest star in this part of Autumn skies, the star named Fomalhaut which we traditionally call the loneliest star in the heavens because it is almost always the only bright object in this part of Autumn's sky. However this year things are a bit different because if you look up above Fomalhaut and to its left and the Moon's left on the Friday the 30th you will see one of the brightest objects in the heavens, the 'King of the Planets', Jupiter. And if you look way over toward the east, and closer to the horizon you'll see another bright object, the planet Saturn. And because both Jupiter and Saturn are closer and brighter than they have been in many, many years and because they just happen to be in this part of Autumn skies, Fomalhaut is no longer very lonely.

Indeed, the presence of these two planets in this part of Autumn skies which is usually so empty of bright stars except Fomalhaut will make trick or treating this Halloween very special because Saturday night, October 31st, Halloween, a slightly fatter Moon will have moved just past Jupiter and will ride with Jupiter like witch on a broom across the sky almost all night long and with Saturn, like a witch's cat, tagging along behind. So if you are out trick or treating in early evening this Halloween make sure you look up because you'll be able to see Jupiter, the Moon and Saturn from even the most brilliantly lit up cities.

And while you're out there in your costumes going from house to house try to imagine, if you will, the differences in sizes and distances of these four cosmic bodies. The smallest, of course, is our Moon which is only 2,000 miles wide and will be only 223,000 miles away this Halloween. Jupiter, the next closest, 88,000 miles wide and 400 million miles away. Saturn , 176,000 miles wide from one edge of its rings to the other and 772 million miles away this Halloween night. And lastly, the most distant of the four, Fomalhaut a whopping 22 light years away and a humongous 1,250,000 miles wide. What a cosmic treat this Halloween, even better than any Mars bar or Milky Way you'll find in your sack of goodies; that is 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


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 051-I


1090th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 10/26/98 through Sunday 11/1/98

"The Closest, Biggest and Brightest Full Moon of the Year!"
 

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and get ready for the closest Full Moon of the entire year which will occur next week, Tuesday night the 3rd and Wednesday morning the 4th, which if you think about it should also mean that next week's Full Moon will appear to be the biggest and brightest Full Moon of the entire year. And you'll easily be able to see the difference, especially when it rises and sets. In fact, it will look over 15% bigger than the farthest and thus smallest Full Moon of the year which occurred back on April 11th when the Full Moon was 253,000 miles away. You see, next week's Full Moon will be only 216,000 miles away which means it will be 37,000 miles closer to us. Wow! And this year we have an extra special treat for you because riding across the sky with the Moon all night long will be the bright planet Saturn which is now also at its brightest since 1989.

To enjoy the show all night long simply go outside at sunset, look toward the east and there you'll see Saturn just above the horizon and, about 10° behind it, a giant full Hunter's Moon which various native American tribes call the Beaver Moon or the Frosty Moon. And as each hour slips by both Saturn and the Moon will slowly climb higher into the southern skies until the Moon reaches its highest point due south around midnight, after which both it and Saturn will slowly descend toward the southwest -- Saturn setting about 45 minutes before the Moon sets and the Moon setting just as the sun rises. Of course, as with all Full Moons, this Moon will appear much, much larger when it's close to the horizon rising and setting than it will when it's at its highest point all due to something we call the horizon illusion.

And now let's see how bright you are under the light of the Full Moon. O.K., we've got our skies set up for Wednesday of this week, the 28th, just after sunset facing due south where you will see a First Quarter Moon which to many people seems misleading because, in reality, one half of the side of the Moon facing us is actually lit up. And now let's cheat a little bit and pop in next week's Full Moon rising in the southeast. And now let's see how bright you are . . . how much brighter is a Full Moon than a half lit First Quarter Moon? Is it twice as bright as logic would dictate? No way. In fact, a Full Moon is actually nine times brighter than a First Quarter Moon because the surface of a half lit First Quarter Moon is very mountainous which causes more shadows and thus reflects much less sunlight than a Full Moon, when the Sun casts far fewer shadows. Incredible, isn't it that a Full Moon is actually nine times brighter than a First Quarter Moon and all because there are less shadows cast by mountains.

So get thee outside next week to see the closest, biggest and brightest Full Moon of the entire year as it glides across the sky all night long with the ringed planet Saturn and see for yourself just how big a Full Moon can be, 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



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.



Return to the [STAR GAZER Main Page]