WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #11-43 "The Monsters Of The Sky For Halloween"
Air Dates October 24-30, 2011



FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
DEAN: Welcome to Star Gazers. I’m Dean Regas, Outreach Astronomer from The Cincinnati Observatory.

JAMES: And I’m James Albury, Director of the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium in Gainesville, Florida. Next week is Halloween so Dean and I thought we’d share our favorite monsters in the sky.

DEAN: These are the stars and constellations that struck terror in the hearts of our ancestors. And they include a dragon, a sea monster, and a woman with snakes for hair.

JAMES: And finally we’ll show you the star cluster that signaled the Day of the Dead. Let’s get started…

Okay we have our skies set for Monday October 31 facing north at 9:30 p.m. We’re going dragon hunting and looking for Draco the Dragon.

DEAN: There’s our guide star halfway up in the North – Polaris or The North Star. It’s not terribly bright but you should be able to spy it from most locations. The Dragon’s body coils right around the North Star.

JAMES: The Dragon’s head holds the brightest stars in this monster constellation. Three brighter stars mark his head in a neat triangle and if you’re in a darker sky, you might be able to make out a fourth.

DEAN: The ancient Babylonians referred to Draco as the She-Dragon Tiamat who terrorized creation with her brood of monsters. She’s said to have a body seven miles long and a mouth as big as the sky. Along came a god named Marduk who slew the great beast with bow and arrow.  Marduk then sliced the Dragon in half – one half becoming the Earth, and the other, the Heavens above.

JAMES: Let’s look high in the East now for the constellation Perseus. He’s a toughie to find since the stars don’t look like an armor-clad hero with winged sandals.

DEAN: I think he looks more like a stretched letter, K.

JAMES: And we see Perseus holding something in his outstretched arm. To the ancient Greeks it’s the star Algol aka The Winking Eye of Medusa.

DEAN: But other cultures had some very frightening names for this star like: The Spectre’s Head, Ghost’s Head, Satan’s Head, The Double Eye, and my personal favorite, from the Chinese, Tseih She, Piled Up Corpses.

JAMES: Why such scary names? Algol is no ordinary star – it’s a special type of star called an eclipsing variable. Algol is really two stars of different brightnesses that orbit each other. When the bigger, dimmer star regularly blocked the light of the smaller brighter star, the ancients noticed. During these eclipses Algol dims like clockwork every 2.87 days.

DEAN: So, see if you can see the Winking Eye of Medusa this month – it won’t turn you to stone.

JAMES: Perseus is using Medusa’s Head to save Princess Andromeda from a briny behemoth – The Sea Monster, Cetus. Look farther to the Southeast, and just below Jupiter, you can find the Sea Monster.

DEAN: His outline looks more like a recliner chair.

JAMES: Nevertheless, this was Poseidon’s vicious pet sea monster who we see turned to stone by…

DEAN: Medusa’s Head!

JAMES: Algol strikes again!

DEAN: Finally let’s talk about the Day of the Dead… many cultures selected November 1 as the special day to honor the dead. It marks a halfway point between fall and winter plus the coolest star cluster does something special that night – at midnight.

JAMES: The Seven Sisters, or Pleiades, are an open cluster of stars visible in the East. At first glance they look like a little cloud, but upon closer examination you may be able to make out the individual stars in the cluster.

DEAN: A sharp-eyed first grader told me they looked like a dinky dipper.

JAMES: This little cluster features heavily in All Hallows Eve celebrations around the globe – when they are highest at midnight. Aztecs, Mayan, Peruvians, Japanese, and Hindus all had festivals for the dead near November 1 in honor of the Seven Sisters.

DEAN: As the night rolls on, the Pleiades rise higher and higher in the sky. And at local midnight, the Pleiades reach their highest point. In fact from the Yucatan Peninsula, the Seven Sisters would be straight overhead – the great Mayan pyramids would point directly at the cluster.

JAMES: Very cool! So look for Draco the Dragon in the Northern sky.

DEAN: The winking star, Algol, or Medusa’s Head, in the East

JAMES: Cetus the Sea Monster in the Southeast

DEAN: And, if you dare, stay up ’til midnight to see the Seven Sisters ride almost overhead.

BOTH: Have a Happy Halloween and Keep looking up!

 

Episode #11-43 M "The Monsters Of The Sky For Halloween"
Air Dates October 24-30, 2011



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: Next week is Halloween and Dean and I thought we’d share our favorite monsters in the sky.

DEAN: These are the stars and constellations that struck terror in the hearts of our ancestors – and i have a doozy.

JAMES: Algol?

DEAN: Algol. Legend has it; this is the star marking Medusa’s severed head. You can see Algol in the East after sunset in Perseus. Among different cultures this star was known as: Spectre’s Head, Ghost’s Head, Satan’s Head, The Double Eye, and my personal favorite, from the Chinese, Tseih She, Piled Up Corpses.

JAMES: Why such scary names? Algol changes its brightness dramatically.

DEAN: Very scary.

JAMES: Farther in the Southeast, and just below bright Jupiter, you can find the Sea Monster Constellation, Cetus. This was Poseidon’s vicious pet sea monster who we see turned to stone by…

DEAN: Medusa’s Head!

JAMES: Algol strikes again.

BOTH: Have a Happy Halloween
Keep looking up!

 

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