WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #12-08 "How To Find The Gemini Twins and Their Sensational Siblings"
Air Dates February 20- February 26, 2012



FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: welcome to star gazers. 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

DEAN: We’re both here to help you be sure you know what you’re seeing in the night sky when you...

BOTH: Look up. 

JAMES: Right now the constellation Gemini the twins is at its best for viewing in early evening and while most people have heard of castor and Pollux the brightest two stars of Gemini not many people are aware that these twin brothers have a magnificent assortment of hidden siblings. Let’s show you.

(STOP AND DROP)

DEAN: O.K., we've got our skies set up for the next two weeks, 8 p.m. your local time, facing due south where a third of the way up from the horizon you'll see the brightest star in the heavens, Sirius which marks the eye of Orion's bigger dog. And just up to Sirius' right the bright stars which mark Orion himself. But up much higher and to Orion's left you will encounter two more bright stars, which are named for the famous twin brothers in Greek mythology Castor and Pollux.  

JAMES: Pollux, the brighter of the two, is closer to the horizon and if you look closely, has a slightly orangeish tint to it. Castor on the other hand, although a tiny bit dimmer, is a bright white. For over two thousand years these two stars were considered the patrons of all sailors and seafaring peoples. Plus they have also long been associated with the phenomenon called "St. Elmo's Fire."

DEAN: But as ancient as these twin stars are modern science has revealed that there is much more to them hidden from the naked eye. Indeed upon closer examination we find that the brighter twin Pollux is a humongous star, much bigger than its brother, and is in fact almost eleven times the diameter of our own million-mile wide sun. Dimmer Castor however is not to be outdone by his brother because he hides magnificent secrets. In fact, with telescopes and other instruments Castor has revealed himself to be more than just one star.

JAMES: Indeed way back during the time of the American Revolution astronomers discovered that when they looked at Castor through a telescope it had a companion. Thus Castor became the first true binary star ever discovered. But later as telescopes improved and other astronomical instruments were invented, astronomers were astonished to find out that both Castor and his hidden brother also each had a companion, which made Castor a quadruple star. And then surprise of surprises, several years later two more smaller siblings were found, which gave Castor the distinction of being not just a quadruple star but a sextuplet star. Three pairs of stars, totaling six stars, all together and all moving about each other in an extremely intricate and magnificent cosmic ballet, with four of the stars being bigger than our own sun. Wow! Who ever said, "appearances are deceiving," wasn't kidding.

DEAN: So go outside this week and next around 8 p.m. look due south and after you've found the brightest star Sirius and above him all the bright stars of Orion the Hunter, above him you'll see the most famous twins in the cosmos which modern science has revealed to be seven sensational siblings.

JAMES: But the show’s not over yet folks because we have three dazzlingly bright planets to add to the menu for tonight. Look in the center of your southern sky for three bright stars making a super bright triangle. Sirius, Betelgeuse and Procyon. Draw a line to the left from Betelgeuse through Procyon. Double that distance and you’ll come across a brighter reddish yellow point of light the planet Mars. Mars will be its brightest for this year because it will be at its closest on March 5th.

DEAN: Then go back to that bright triangle and draw a line the other way from Procyon through Betelgeuse, to the right and double that distance again and you’ll easily spot giant Jupiter and just down to its right, brilliant Venus. Be sure to get out each night the next few weeks and watch Venus close in on Jupiter for one of the best planetary pairings of the year.

JAMES: So that’s Castor and Pollux, the twins of Gemini in the south, the bright winter triangle of Sirius, Procyon and Betelgeuse along with mars in the east and Jupiter plus Venus in the west. Lots of bright things to see as you…

BOTH:  Keep looking up!

 

Episode #12-08 "How To Find The Gemini Twins and Their Sensational Siblings"
Air Dates February 20- February 26, 2012



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
DEAN:  Everyone has heard about the constellation Gemini the twins but have you heard about their siblings?

(STOP AND DROP)

JAMES: Around 8 p.m., face south and above the brightest star we can see Sirius and the super bright stars of Orion you'll find castor and Pollux the two brightest stars of Gemini.

DEAN: Brighter Pollux is 11 times wider than our own million mile wide sun, but dimmer Castor is the more fascinating twin. During the American Revolution early telescopes showed it to be a double star but more modern telescopes revealed that it is not just two stars but three pairs of stars, six stars all together orbiting each other in an intricate cosmic ballet.

JAMES: And there’s more! Well off to the left of Castor and Pollux you’ll easily find bright yellowish orange Mars and the same distance to the right of Castor and Pollux you’ll easily spot two brilliant planets in the western evening sky Venus and Jupiter. Keep looking up!

 

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