STAR GAZER
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Notice : These are working drafts of the scripts for STAR GAZER.
Changes may well be made as production requires.


STAR GAZER Episode #SG 044-I


1083rd Show

To Be Aired : Monday 9/7/98 through Sunday 9/13/98

"This Week's Closest Meeting Of Two Planets and

Jupiter At Its Biggest, Brightest And Closest Since 1987"


Greetings, greetings fellow stargazers and just a reminder that if you go outside at dawn and look east this Friday and Saturday morning you'll see an extremely close visual meeting of the two planets closest to the Sun, 3 thousand mile wide Mercury and brilliant 8 thousand mile wide Venus. Indeed they will be less than 1/2 a degree apart which means that we could barely fit one Full Moon between them. Don't miss this.

But if you do we have another planetary goody for you next week because on Tuesday September 15th you will be able to watch the largest planet of them all, Jupiter, all night long, from sunset to sunrise at its biggest, brightest and closest since 1987. Because next Tuesday Jupiter is at opposition which simply means that it will be directly opposite the Sun as seen from planet Earth, which if you think about it a bit, will almost automatically tell you that as the Sun sets in the west, Jupiter will rise in the east and will travel across the sky all night long from east to west and will set in the west just as the Sun rises in the east; which for astronomers is really nice because whenever a planet is "at opposition", it is at its viewing best because it's closest, biggest and brightest for the year.

Now although Jupiter comes into opposition once every year, nevertheless some years it's much farther away than it is this year. In fact, all Tuesday night Jupiter will be only 368 million miles away, whereas at last year's opposition it was 376 million miles away, 8 million miles farther. And 5 years ago when Jupiter came into opposition on March 30th 1993, it was 414 million miles away; that's 46 million miles farther from Earth than it will be next week. So this opposition is very special. To find it all you have to do is go outside Tuesday the 15th just after the Sun sets almost due west and you will see the king of the planets, Jupiter, rising almost due east. And if you stay out all night long you will notice that it will reach its highest point due south around midnight and will slowly move toward the western horizon until it sets at dawn. And while you're looking at it keep in mind that Jupiter is indeed the king of the planets, 88 thousand miles wide, so big that we could line up 11 Earths across its middle, and so huge that if it were hollow we could fit over 1,300 Earth's inside it.

Now if you have a pair of binoculars and can hold them absolutely still you will be able to see 3 of Jupiter's largest moons lined up perfectly off to one side of it on the 15th. But if you miss Jupiter on the 15th, don't worry because even though it will be moving slightly farther away from us night after night, nevertheless for the next several weeks Jupiter will be the brightest object other than our Moon on evening skies. In fact it will be the brightest beacon in the traditionally dim constellations of Autumn, visible for all to see if you remember to Keep Looking Up!


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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 045-I


1084th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 9/14/98 through Sunday 9/20/98

"The Autumnal Equinox :

A Week Of Due East Sunrises and Due West Sunsets"
 


Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings fellow stargazers and next week get ready for some in-your-face sunrises and in-your-face sunsets because every year on the first day of Fall, what astronomers call the Autumnal Equinox, which this year occurs on Wednesday the 23rd, and on the the first day of Spring, what astronomers call the Vernal Equinox, our Sun will rise directly due east and set due west which means that if you drive to work on a due east highway at sunrise the Sun will rise directly over the yellow line in the middle of the road.

And if you drive home at sunset on a due west highway the Sun will set directly over the yellow line in the middle of the road. Now although the Sun rises due east and sets due west only on these two days, nevertheless for about a week centered on the first day of Autumn and the first day of Spring, the Sun rises and sets so close to due east and due west that driving back and forth to work due east and west at sunrise and sunset can be pretty miserable. So get out your shades and put those sun visors down.

But what are the equinoxes anyway? Well the word Equinox comes from the Latin, 'equi' which means equal and 'nox' which means night, which simply means that on the two days of the equinoxes the hours of night are equal to the hours of daylight. This is all because these are the two days when the Sun on its yearly journey through the heavens crosses an imaginary line in the heavens we call the Celestial Equator. One equinox marks the first day of Spring and the other one marks the first day of autumn. Now if you watch the Sun rise on the first day of Spring you will see that it rises due east. But if you watch the Sun rise each successive day you will notice that it will rise a little bit farther north of east each successive day until it reaches its farthest point northeast on the first day of Summer, after which the Sun will seem to back up and rise a little bit less northeast each successive day until once again on the first day of autumn it will rise due east. Then each successive day it will rise a little bit farther south of east until on the first day of winter it will rise at its farthest southeast point after which it will slowly start to retrace its journey north once again. and this entire cycle repeats year after year.

In fact almost all ancient cultures seem to have kept track of this rising and setting of the Sun at different places on the horizon and in so doing realized that one cycle equals one year. Indeed, this cycle was one of early man's first methods for keeping track of time. Something which is almost lost to modern man because we rely on calendars and atomic clocks to keep our time for us. So put those sun visors down as you drive back and forth to work next week and why not start your own personal record keeping track of where the Sun rises and sets on your horizon throughout the entire year. It's fun if you just remember to Keep Looking Up!


Don't miss the cartoon version of

'STAR GAZER' in each monthly issue of

 

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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 046-I


1085th Show
To Be Aired : Monday 9/21/98 through Sunday 9/27/98

"A New Way To Look At The Wonderful

Summer/Early Autumn Triangle"
 

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and although all beginning star gazers quickly learn about the great Summer Triangle, eventually they realize that it is slightly misnamed because not only is it prominent in early evening skies during summer, it's even more prominent in early evening just as Autumn begins, so for a long time I have suggested that we call the great Summer Triangle the great Summer and Early Autumn Triangle. Let me show you:

O.K. we've got our skies set up for the end of September and beginning of October, 8 p.m., local daylight saving time. And if you simply go outside and look directly overhead you will see three very bright stars which if we could draw imaginary lines between them, would make a gigantic celestial triangle. And although most amateur star gazers are well familiar with this wonderful piece of celestial geometry, nevertheless as beautiful as it is to the naked eye from Earth it is even more beautiful and wonderful if we look at it through the eyes of modern astronomy. Now to the naked eye, the brightest star is the one farthest to the west, Vega in the constellation Lyra the Harp. The second brightest, the one to the South, is the star Altair in Aquila the Eagle. And the dimmest of the three and farthest to the east is Deneb the tail star in Cygnus the Swan.

But if we look at each star, not with just the naked eye, but through the eyes of modern astronomy, we see a much different triangle. You see, even though each of these stars is a hot blue-white star, many thousands of degrees hotter than our own Sun, nevertheless their sizes and their distances from us are much much different. So let's imagine that we can take each star and place it at the same distance from our Earth as our Sun, and then see that this triangle would look like. Using our much cooler 1 million mile wide yellow Sun as a comparison, Vega would then appear to be about 2 1/2 times the diameter of our Sun and 50 times as bright. Dimmer Altair, although closer then Vega is nevertheless only 10 times as bright as our Sun because it is a much smaller star, only 1 1/2 times its diameter. But because it's one of the fastest rotating stars known, it is almost twice as wide from side to side as it is from top to bottom.

So now our Summer Triangle is beginning to look a bit different. And although it would seem that the visually dimmest of the three, Deneb, wouldn't make the triangle look too much different, that's where the naked eye fails and astronomy wins because we now know that dim Deneb is several hundred times farther away than either Vega or Altair, and is intrinsically thousands of times brighter, shining with a luminosity 80 thousand times that of our Sun, because it is a true super giant, with a diameter 120 times that of our own Sun. So get thee ouside some some night the next few weeks, look straight overhead and imagine the Summer Triangle, not as it appears to the naked eye, but as it actually is. Believe me, it's a real mind blower if you remember to Keep Looking Up!


Don't miss the cartoon version of

'STAR GAZER' in each monthly issue of

 

To Subscribe

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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 047-I


1086th Show

To Be Aired : Monday 9/28/98 through Sunday 10/4/98

"Celestial Goodies For This October!"
 

Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers, and let me tell you right now that this October is going to have some very nice naked eye sky goodies which most of you will be able to enjoy even if you live inside a brightly lit up city. Let me show you: O.K., we've got our skies set up for this Saturday, October 3rd about 1 1/2 hours after sunset facing southeast where you will see a beautiful two-day-before-full Moon and down and to its left the dazzling brilliant king of the planets, Jupiter which only 2 1/2 weeks ago was at its closest, biggest and brightest since 1987. And although in only 2 1/2 weeks it has moved 5 million miles farther away from us, nevertheless it is still closer, bigger and brighter than it's been in 11 years!

So if Jupiter looks brighter to you than you recall in recent history, well you're absolutely right. and now is the time to go out and find it, every night for the next few weeks, but especially Saturday October 3rd when the Moon will make it much easier to find. Now on Sunday night, October 4th, just after sunset the one-day-before-full Moon will have moved down and below Jupiter and on Monday night the 5th it will rise as the official Harvest Moon of 1998. What a beautiful sight!

Then on Tuesday the 6th the Harvest Moon will once again rise in the east shortly after sunset with the dazzling planet Saturn hovering above it. In fact, Saturn and the Harvest Moon will ride across the sky all night long together. And if you think Saturn also looks brighter than usual, well you're right there too because in less than 3 weeks time Saturn will be brighter than it has been since 1989 and higher than it has been since 1979. Wow! What a time to view the 2 biggest outer planets, Jupiter and Saturn. Once again, this Saturday 2 hours after sunset, a two day-before-full Moon and brilliant Jupiter. Sunday night an almost full Moon just down and to Jupiter's left. Monday evening a wonderful golden Harvest Moon at sunset. And Tuesday a one-day-old Harvest Moon rises in the east attended by a much brighter than usual Saturn, the two of them gliding together across the night sky all night long.

And now for those of you who like to gamble, on Thursday night October 8th you might want to try to see if the Draconid Meteor Shower just may become a meteor storm this year. No one knows, but if you get far away from city lights before the bright gibbous Moon rises and floods the sky with moonlight, you just may have a chance to see a very strong meteor shower because this meteor shower's parent comet, Comet Giacobini-Zinner is only 7 weeks away from zooming through the plane of our Earth's orbit and whenever we pass through a meteor stream near the time of the passage of its parent comet, astronomers believe that we have a much better chance than usual of passing through denser comet litter which of course is what causes a meteor shower. Wow! What a wonderful way to begin the month, huh? So get thee outside and enjoy the show. It's easy if you just Keep Looking Up!


Don't miss the cartoon version of

'STAR GAZER' in each monthly issue of

 

To Subscribe

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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.



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