WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #12-07 "The Brightest Of The Bright"
Air Dates February 13- February 19, 2012



FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
DEAN: Hey there star gazers.  I’m Dean Regas, outreach astronomer for the Cincinnati Observatory.

JAMES: And I’m James Albury, director of the Kika Silva Pla planetarium in Gainesville, Florida.  We’re here to help you find your way around the sky tonight.  With so many planets, stars, and constellations, where do you begin? 

DEAN: I recommend starting the same way the ancients did: by studying the brightest, most conspicuous objects in the night sky.  We’ve picked the five brightest nighttime objects of 2012.  Visible even from downtown locations, these celestial wonders are sure to capture your imagination and jumpstart your relationship with the universe.  Let’s get started!

(STOP DROP)

JAMES: Of course, we have to begin with the moon - #1 brightest nighttime object.  How can you not be awed by the sight of a full moon rising above the eastern horizon?  Or a thin, delicate crescent cradling the darkened orb after sunset?

DEAN: This week the moon is visible in the morning just before sunrise.  It’s called a waning crescent and will soon move to the invisible phase called new moon on February 21 when it will be almost directly in front of the sun. 

JAMES: But next week, on February 23rd, you’ll see the slimmest of waxing crescents right after sunset, low in the west.  And each night after that, the moon will appear fuller and fuller and farther from the sun.  Here it is on the 24th… the 25th… and the 26th…

DEAN: Wait a second. Hold up.  Go back one day.

JAMES: To the 25th?

DEAN: There…what’s that bright thing just below the moon? 

JAMES: Is it a bird?  Is it a plane?  Is it a UFO?  No, that’s the second brightest nighttime object, the dazzling planet Venus.  Venus is the brightest star-like object in the night sky and can now be seen in the evening low in the west

DEAN: Venus is so incredibly bright because the planet is perpetually covered in clouds – and these clouds reflect sunlight much better than any other planet.  Venus is about 86 million miles away right now, but will be getting closer each day and will be blazing away in the evening skies until may.

JAMES: Now when we look ahead to February  26th, again we’ll see the crescent moon next to the third brightest nighttime object – the giant planet Jupiter.  You’ve probably seen the king of the planets up there since October.  

DEAN: there is no mistaking Jupiter’s steady, cream-colored glow.  With even a small telescope, Jupiter reveals a hidden system of four moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.  The cloud bands and great red spot can also be seen with a larger scope.

DEAN: Next up let’s look to the southeast for Sirius, aka the Dog Star.  Sirius is seriously bright – making it the fourth brightest nighttime object.  The name Sirius comes from a Freek word meaning searing or scorching.  And it lives up to its name, since it’s twice as bright as any other star in the sky.

JAMES: Sirius appears so bright because it is so close – relatively speaking.  At only 85 light years away, the Dog Star is the fifth closest star to us.  Look for Sirius rising in the southeast after dark.  The star marks the nose of the constellation Canis Major, the Big Dog.

DEAN: Number 5 on our list is another planet who’s been brightening up as we rapidly approach it – the red planet, Mars.  Here, we are looking east at about 8pm.  Mars is bright but its color is what really stands out.  Although it’s called the red planet, it looks more orange to the naked eye. 

JAMES: But it’s definitely a different hue than brighter Sirius in the southeast.  The diameter of Mars is about half that of the earth.   So it’s a pretty small planet, and right now it’s over 60 million miles away. 

DEAN: But this is about as close as Mars will be to us this year.  Check it out tonight and wave to the Martians.   

JAMES: There you have it, the top five brightest nighttime objects. 

DEAN: Get out there and find the moon, Venus, Jupiter, Sirius, and Mars tonight.  The moon will be right next to Venus on the 24th.

JAMES: Right next to Jupiter on the 25th.

DEAN: And then look for sparkling Sirius in the southeast and orangey Mars in the east.

JAMES: Now, technically there are brighter things in the sky.

DEAN: Manmade objects you mean?

JAMES: Exactly.  Several satellites reflect enough sunlight to appear brighter than the brightest stars.  The International Space Station can outshine Jupiter and a fleet of satellites called Iridium satellites can shine almost 100 times brighter than Venus.

DEAN: Check out websites like heavens-above.com and n2yo.com to find out when the space station or other satellites will go over your home.  Seeing a satellite steadily crossing the sky only adds to the star gazing experience.  It’s all there when you…

BOTH: Keep looking up!

 

Episode #12-07 "The Brightest Of The Bright"
Air Dates February 13- February 19, 2012



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: Hey there star gazers.  This week dean and i have lined up the five brightest objects in the night sky for you.

DEAN: #1 on the list… let’s take you to the moon!

(STOP DROP)

DEAN: Next week, on February 23rd, you’ll see the slimmest of crescents right after sunset, low in the west.  And each night after that, the moon will appear fuller and higher in the sky.  Here it is on the 24th… and the 25th.

JAMES: Wow, the moon will be right next to the second brightest nighttime object, dazzling Venus.   Venus will be blazing away in the west until May.

DEAN: Now when we look ahead to February 26th, we’ll see the crescent moon next to the third brightest nighttime object – giant Jupiter.  You’ve probably seen the king of the planets up there since October. 

JAMES: Next let’s look to the southeast for Sirius, aka the Dog Star.  Sirius is seriously bright – making it the fourth brightest nighttime object. 

DEAN: And in the east you’ll find Mars, rounding out our top five list.

BOTH: Keep looking up!

 

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