WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #11-46 "Planets, Stars, and the Moon at Dawn’s Early Light"
Air Dates November 14- November 20, 2011



FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
DEAN: Hey there stargazers.  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. 
DEAN, you're not going to like it, but this week’s show is for the morning people.

DEAN: I know James. I'm more of a night owl than an early bird, and staying up 'til midnight to stargaze is no problem at all.  But do we have to get up before dawn?

JAMES: We do… if we want to catch the waning crescent Moon just below Mars on Saturday and if we want to see the Moon line up with Saturn and the star Spica next Tuesday. 

DEAN: All-right! That does sound pretty cool.  I'll go set my alarm while you get us started…

JAMES: Okay, we have our skies set to Saturday, November 19th at 6 a.m., looking southeast.  Dawn might be dancing on your horizon, but you'll easily spy the Moon high up in the southeast.  The Moon is in its waning crescent phase next week - meaning the lit part of the Moon will be getting smaller and smaller every day until it reaches new Moon at around midnight on November 25th. 

DEAN: On the morning of November 19th, you'll see two stars of similar brightness just above the Moon. The star up and to the right is called Regulus, which marks the heart of the constellation Leo the Lion. 

JAMES: The other isn't really a star at all.

DEAN: That's right.  It's a planet, and if you look closely, its subtle orange color might give it away as… the planet Mars.    

JAMES: Right now Mars is still relatively far away from us. 

DEAN: It's over 132 million miles away!

JAMES: But if you keep an eye on Mars you'll notice it slowly get brighter as the weeks go on - as we get closer to it.  In fact, you'll be seeing Mars in the morning sky until it reaches its closest point to the Earth on March 5, 2012.

DEAN: When it'll be only 62 million miles away!

JAMES: That sounds like a lot, but that's nothing compared to the distance to the stars.

DEAN: Regulus for example is a whopping 446 trillion miles away!  But let's talk like astronomers and use light years.  And Regulus is about 77 light years from earth, meaning the light you see today left Regulus 77 years ago, and is only now getting to our eyes.

JAMES: Let’s compare that to Mars.  How long does the light take to go from Mars to Earth?

DEAN: Let me think… at 132 million miles away… it takes the light only 11 minutes and 45 seconds to get here.

JAMES: So it's only 11 and three-quarter light minutes away!

JAMES: Let's follow the Moon day by day.  At 6 a.m. on Sunday the 20th, the Moon will have shifted farther to the east and away from Mars and Regulus.  Here's the Moon on the 21st… and the 22nd.

DEAN: On the morning of the 22nd, the Moon will almost line up with two other stars.  The one closest to the Moon is the blue star Spica, in the constellation Virgo the maiden.

JAMES: And the other one isn't a star at all.

DEAN: Right again. That's the ringed planet Saturn, who has switched from dazzling star gazers in the evening to putting on a planetary show in the morning sky.

JAMES: Saturn's much farther away than Mars. Right now it's 970 million miles away. 

DEAN: How many light minutes is that?

JAMES: Uh, about 86 and a half light minutes away.

DEAN: Fast math James.  And that's nothing compared to the distance to Spica.  Spica is about 260 light years away.  Meaning the twinkling blue light you see from Spica left the star before the United States was a country!

JAMES: You'll be seeing more of Saturn and Spica as the year rolls on.  Each morning they'll rise about 4 minutes earlier above the eastern horizon.  In three months they'll be visible at midnight - instead of only at 6 a.m.  And five months from now they'll be visible in prime time.

DEAN: So when you observe the early morning skies, you're actually getting a sneak preview.  Early risers get to see the stars and planets months before the night owls.

DEAN: So don't miss the Moon just below the star Regulus and the planet Mars on the morning of November 19th.

JAMES: Watch the waning Moon move eastward on the 20th …and 21st.

DEAN: And check out the Moon lined up with Virgo's brightest star, Spica, and the ringed planet Saturn on the morning of the 22nd. 

JAMES: So did I convince you to be an early bird next week?

DEAN: Nah, I'll just stay up all night - since I don't wanna miss a thing.

BOTH: Keep looking up!

 

Episode #11-46 "Planets, Stars, and the Moon at Dawn’s Early Light"
Air Dates November 14- November 20, 2011



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: Dean, this week’s show is for the morning people.

DEAN: I know James.  Early risers can catch the Moon just below Mars on Saturday and see the Moon line up with Saturn and the star Spica next Tuesday. 

JAMES: Okay, we have our skies set to Saturday November 19th at 6 a.m. looking southeast.  Before daybreak look for the waning crescent Moon high in the southeast.

DEAN: You'll also see two stars of similar brightness just above the Moon. The star up and to the right is called Regulus in the constellation Leo. 

JAMES: The other one is actually the planet Mars.

JAMES: Lets follow the Moon day by day.  Here it is, same time, on the 20th… 21st… and the 22nd.

DEAN: On the 22nd, the Moon will almost line up with two other stars.  The one closest to the Moon is the star Spica in the constellation Virgo.

JAMES: And the other one is actually the ringed planet Saturn.

DEAN: So get up early next week.

JAMES: Or stay up really late and…

BOTH: Keep looking up!

 

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