Episode #11-42 "Pegasus, The Pleiades And The Farthest
FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: And I’m James Albury, Director of the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium in Gainesville, Florida.
DEAN: This week, we’d like to show you a sure sign of Autumn which at 8:00 p.m. your local time will be halfway up the Eastern sky. It’s called The Great Square of Pegasus the Flying Horse.
JAMES: And… we have a few bright planets you can keep an eye out for as well! Wondering what we’re talking about? Let’s show you!
DEAN: Ok, we have our skies set up for just after sunset, facing East. If we could draw lines between four not-so-bright stars we could indeed trace a great celestial square.
JAMES: And with a few other stars nearby and a little imagination, we could connect stars to the West of this square to make a long neck with the bright star Enif as our Horse’s Nose, a few dim stars from the Northwest point of the square to form two short front legs.
DEAN: And using the bright star to the Northeast we could draw lines between the faint stars of Andromeda or come up with two respectable hind legs. Now that we’ve traced out the Flying Horse there is a very special object just off the knee of one of these hind legs. It’s difficult to find but well worth the effort if you have clear dark moonless skies.
JAMES: First of all look below the Square of Pegasus for five bright stars which, if you could draw lines between them would trace out the letter “M”, the constellation named for the ancient queen of Ethiopia, Cassiopeia.
DEAN: Absolutely! Then take the second brightest star in Cassiopeia, draw a line from it straight up through the bright star of Pegasus’s square where the hind legs connect; and if you go about 2/3 of the way up that line from Cassiopeia and look just to the right of it you will see a tiny faint cloud. If you look at it through a pair of binoculars, it becomes even brighter, but a cloud it is not.
JAMES: Indeed, it is the farthest object we can see in the universe with the naked eye. It is called M-31, the great galaxy of Andromeda which, through a large telescope, reveals itself to be a gigantic family of stars similar to our own Milky Way Galaxy.
DEAN: That’s right James, and the truly amazing thing is this: although Autumn’s skies have the fewest bright stars of any season, the celestial objects in Autumn skies are either breathtakingly beautiful, or intellectually mind boggling; because when you look at the lovely Pleiades for instance, you are looking at a group of stars whose light, which we see now, left it over 400 years ago, about the time of the invention of the first telescope.
JAMES: Ah, yes! And when you look up at the tiny dim cloud at the knee of Pegasus, the Great Galaxy of Andromeda, you are looking at the light which left it two and a half million years ago, just about the time Australopithecus, the Lucy creature, walked on this Earth, long before the appearance of man.
DEAN: Just imagine, the light we see tonight actually left this great galaxy over a million years before any creature learned how to use fire.
DEAN: Oh yes, the stars of Autumn may be less brilliant than those of any other season, but their intrinsic magnificence and beauty is overwhelming.
JAMES: Most definitely, Dean. Now, lets check out where the planets are going to be this week. Shortly after sunset, you’ll see the triumphant return of our sister planet, Venus. It’s going to be very low in the Western sky and may get caught in the glare of sunset, but as the nights pass, the Roman goddess of beauty and love will be slowly getting higher and higher in the West, moving through Libra and into Scorpius the Scorpion.
DEAN: Then, at the same time on the opposite horizon, you can see the 2nd brightest planet in the sky, 88,000 mile wide Jupiter. In its current position, you’ll be able to watch Jupiter all night long. Named after the king of the Roman gods, Jupiter is almost as bright as Venus; even though it’s much further away from us. It’s bright because it’s almost 11 times larger than Venus. Jupiter is rapidly approaching what we call opposition; meaning that Jupiter will be opposite the Sun in the sky. At opposition, Jupiter will appear bigger and brighter than it will for the rest of the year. So go outside this week and catch Jupiter, Venus, the Andromeda Galaxy and The Pleiades!
JAMES: And it’s all there for you to see if you just remember to…
BOTH: Keep looking up!
Episode #11-42 M "Pegasus, The Pleiades And The Farthest
ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
DEAN: And… we have a few bright planets you can keep an eye out for as well!
Ok, we have our skies set up for just after sunset, facing East. If we could draw lines between four not-so-bright stars we trace out The Great Square of Pegasus. Look off to left of the Square for five bright stars which, form Cassiopeia the Queen.
JAMES: Then if you look about 2/3 of the way between Cassiopeia and Pegasus, you will see a tiny faint cloud. Then if you look at it through a pair of binoculars, its the Andromeda Galaxy, over two million light years away!
DEAN: Now let’s see where the planets are going to be tonight! Shortly after sunset, you’ll see Venus low in the Western sky. As the nights pass, Venus will be getting higher and higher.
JAMES: Then, at the same time on the opposite horizon, you can see 88,000 mile wide Jupiter. So go outside this week and catch Jupiter, Venus and the Andromeda Galaxy!
DEAN: And it’s all there for you to see if you
BOTH: Keep looking up!
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