WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #11-48 "The Old Moon in the New Moon's Arms"
Air Dates November 28- December 4, 2011



FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES:  Greetings fellow stargazers!  I'm James Albury, Director of the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium in Gainesville, Florida.

DEAN: And I'm Dean Regas, Outreach Astronomer from the Cincinnati Observatory.  Now that fall is firmly upon us, we have some really neat opportunities to watch the Moon and planets wander across the sky each night just after sunset.

JAMES:  Plus, we have a ghostly phenomenon with the Moon to show you in the early evening, and for you early morning star gazers, we have another neat triangular arrangement of planets just before sunrise. Let's show you!

JAMES:  Alrighty!  We have our skies set up for just after sunset facing west.  In the early part of this week, you'll see a waxing crescent Moon.  If your sky is dark enough, you may see a phenomenon that is often referred to as the "old Moon in the new Moon's arms".  If you look at the dark portion of the Moon, you'll barely make out the pattern of the man in the Moon, hiding in the darkness. And you can spot this every month within a few days after new Moon.

DEAN:  That’s right, James.  What you're seeing is called "earthshine".  This happens when sunlight from the Earth illuminates the nighttime side of the Moon. Typically, this results in the Moon's nighttime side being bathed in a soft, faint light.

JAMES:  Now if that weren't exciting enough, did you know that the boundary between the daytime and nighttime side of the Moon actually has a name?

DEAN:  Yes indeed.  Astronomers call it… "the terminator".

JAMES:  But wait, there's more!  Take a look to the left of the Moon and you'll see our sister planet, Venus. Named after the Roman goddess of beauty and love, Venus is making its grand reappearance in the evening sky.

DEAN: When Venus is visible just after sunset, we early evening star gazers like to call Venus, the evening star.

JAMES: And when Venus is visible just before sunrise, we early morning star gazers refer to Venus as the morning star.

DEAN:  As the nights pass, you'll notice Venus will be getting higher and higher in the sky, moving through the constellation of Sagittarius the centaur archer. Although Venus looks beautiful and bright in the night sky, she's hiding a dreadful reality.

JAMES:  Indeed.  Venus is bright because sunlight is reflecting off the thick layer of clouds, which completely cover the planet. Years ago, scientists thought the clouds of Venus were made of water, like the clouds of Earth.  The first space probes to fly into the clouds, however discovered that they were made of something much different.

DEAN:  Yeah.  Sulfuric acid. And since sulfuric acid eats metal, the first space probes to enter Venus' atmosphere didn't last long.

JAMES:  Wow.

DEAN: Exactly!  And the atmosphere of Venus is made of carbon dioxide.  There's so much of it in fact, that it’s created a run-away green house effect, causing the planet to overheat. 

JAMES:  The surface temperature of Venus is a toasty 854 degrees Fahrenheit.  That's over 300 degrees hotter than the oven in your house!  And it's like that all day long!

DEAN:  Now, if you swing around to the east just after sunset, you'll see another planet rising on the opposite horizon from Venus; 88,000 mile wide Jupiter.  As we go further into the month of December, you'll notice Jupiter rising earlier and earlier and Venus is setting later and later. 

JAMES: And... On the night of March 12th, 2012 they will appear right next to each other in what we call a conjunction.  So mark your calendars! 

DEAN:  For you early morning star gazers, James and I have a special planet and star pairing to show you.

JAMES: Ok, we have our skies set for about an hour before sunrise facing east during the first week of December.  If you look high in the eastern sky, you can see the constellation Leo the lion.  It'll look like a backwards question mark, with the bright star Regulus marking the heart of the lion.  Just below Regulus and a little to the left, you'll see the red planet Mars.

DEAN:  And if you look further down and to the left, close to the eastern horizon, you'll see Arcturus, the brightest star in Bootes the herdsman.  To the right of Arcturus, you'll spot two bright lights very close to each other.  The one on the right is the star Spica, and the one on the left is our old friend, the planet Saturn.  Saturn and Spica are going to be pretty close to each other throughout the month of December, so it'll be a good opportunity for you to find Saturn easily.  Saturn will be the dimmer one that isn't twinkling.

JAMES:  Well, my friends… out under the stars with you and remember, whatever you do...

BOTH:  Keep looking up!

 

Episode #11-48 "The Old Moon in the New Moon's Arms"
Air Dates November 28- December 4, 2011



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES:  Greetings fellow stargazers!  This week we’ll watch the Moon and planets wander across the evening sky.

DEAN:  Plus, we have some planets visible just before sunrise. Lets show you!

JAMES:  Alrighty!  Look west just after sunset.  There you'll see a waxing crescent Moon.  If you look at the dark portion of the Moon, you may be able to see the “Man in the Moon”.  We call that "The Old Moon in the New Moon's Arms".  If you look to the right of the Moon, you'll see the planet Venus.

DEAN:  If you look east at the same time, you'll see Jupiter. And as time goes by, you'll notice Jupiter and Venus will be getting closer in the sky. 

JAMES:   Look east about an hour before sunrise during the first week of December.  If you look high in the sky, you can see the red planet Mars in Leo.

DEAN:  And if you look down and to the left of Mars, you'll spot two bright lights very close to each other. The one on the right is the star Spica, and the one on the left is the planet Saturn. 

BOTH:  Keep looking up!

 

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