WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #12-10 "Planet, Planet Burning Bright"
Air Dates March 5 - March 11, 2012



FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: Welcome to Star Gazers. Iím James Albury,

DEAN: And Iím Dean Regas, this week weíll talk about three bright planets in your evening sky and the bright star we see most often.

JAMES: Monday night, March 12th look west after sunset and youíll see two brilliant points of light that might be the eyes of some fierce creature staring back at you, somewhat like Aliceís famous cat.

DEAN: These two eyes in the night are really the two brightest planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Venus. Venus, the one on the right, is about 7 times brighter than Jupiter mainly because it is so much closer to us.

JAMES: Yes, Venus on Monday night will be 81 million miles away while Jupiter will be 6 Ĺ times farther, over 522 million miles. Another way to think of it is that the light we see from Jupiter takes almost 48 minutes to get here while the light from Venus takes only about 7 minutes to get here.

DEAN: Be sure to get out Monday night and take a look since seeing Venus and Jupiter close together in a dark sky after sunset is quite rare. If itís cloudy Monday night donít worry because the next night tuesday the 13th Venus will actually be a bit closer to Jupiter but it will also be a bit higher. Venus has an 8 year cycle of sky appearances. And this is the year that Venus gets highest in the sky after sunset. And luckily for us Jupiter just happens to be nearby. You wonít have another chance to see Venus and Jupiter put on a show nearly as good as this until March 1st of 2023.

JAMES: Venus will keep getting higher above the sun each night and Jupiter will drop lower each night for the rest of March. But Jupiter and Venus arenít the only bright-planet game in town next week. Turn and look east in the early evening and the bright red-orange light of mars will stare you in the face. Mars is as big and bright as it will be for this year so this is prime mars watching time. Here are a few mars images from Dr. Don Parker. These are from January because thatís when we record the show but there will be many more and more recent mars images from Dr.parker on our stargazersonline.org web site. check them out.

DEAN: Now letís ask you a star question. What is the bright star we see in the night sky the most? Now you know that the sky is always slowly changing and we donít always see the same stars. So, the bright star we see most often from the northern hemisphere. Is the bright star closest to the North Star, letís show you:

JAMES: OK., we've got our skies set up facing north any evening next week just after it gets dark and to find this star which we see most often simply locate the right in front of you, then shoot an imaginary arrow through the two stars that mark the rim of the cup in the direction opposite the handle and you'll land smack dab on the bright golden yellow giant star Capella which is the brightest star of the constellation Auriga the charioteer. Now Capella is not the eye or shoulder of Auriga, or even a star in his chariot. Strangely enough Capella means "the goat star". You see Auriga was depicted not only as a charioteer but also as a goat herder. In fact if you imagine that Capella is a nanny goat you can see her 3 kid goats very close by. Now although Capella looks like a single bright golden yellow star to both the naked eye and through a telescope, itís not. You see years ago in 1899 an instrument called the spectroscope revealed that Capella is 2 giant stars, each of them several times larger than our sun, but separated by only 70 million miles. That's 23 million miles closer than our earth is to our sun. And things got even stranger a few years later when 2 more stars were discovered to be part of the Capella system, 2 tiny red dwarf stars a trillion miles away from Capella. So when we look at golden yellow Capella we are actually seeing 2 giant yellow stars orbiting each other plus 2 red dwarf stars orbiting each other. So shoot an arrow through the rim stars of the Big Dipper's cup and you'll land right on the strange and marvelous quadruple star system which we see as a single star, golden yellow Capella, the goat star.

BOTH: Keep looking up!

 

Episode #12-10 "Planet, Planet Burning Bright"
Air Dates March 5 - March 11, 2012



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: This week weíll talk about three bright planets in your evening sky.

STOP AND DROP

JAMES: Monday night March 12th look west after sunset and youíll see two brilliant points of light Jupiter and Venus. Venus, the one on the right, is about 7 times brighter than Jupiter mainly because it is so much closer to us.

DEAN: be sure to get out Monday night and take a look since seeing Venus and Jupiter close together in a dark sky after sunset is quite rare. If itís cloudy Monday night donít worry because the next night Tuesday the 13th Venus will actually be a bit closer.

JAMES:† but Jupiter and Venus arenít the only bright-planet game in town next week. Turn and look east in the early evening and the bright red-orange light of Mars will stare you in the face. Mars is as big and bright as it will get for this year so this is prime Mars watching time.

DEAN ††so look for Venus and Jupiter in the west and Mars in the east.

BOTH: Keep looking up!

 

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