WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #12-11 "Star Colors"
Air Dates March 12 - March 18, 2012



FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
DEAN: Hey there Star Gazers.  I’m Dean Regas, 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.  It's embarrassing to admit, but Dean and I have favorite stars.  

DEAN: Who’s embarrassed?  It’s true.  Now, you may think we've been looking at the stars too long, but some stars just have character. 

JAMES: They vary in brightness, size, distance, and especially color.

DEAN: When we think of stars, we immediately think they’re all white.  Not so.  Stars come in all colors of the rainbow, from ruby red to tangerine…

JAMES: From platinum blonde to deep blue. 

DEAN: And these distinct colors that you can see with the naked eye tell us a bunch.  Here, let’s show you…

(STOP DROP)

JAMES: We have our skies set for any night this week after sunset facing south.  There you’ll find the constellation Orion the Hunter with his distinctive belt of three stars.  If you look a little closer you’ll see stars of different brightness and color.  

DEAN: Star color is an indication of its temperature – blue stars being the hottest and red stars being the coldest.  You can really see the colors of the brightest stars like those in Orion.  Most of his stars are blue like the belt stars Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka.

JAMES: And Orion’s left foot, the star Rigel is blue too. 

DEAN: But my favorite blue star is in Orion’s shoulder – called Bellatrix.  Bellatrix is one of the hottest stars at over 38,000 degrees.  Through a telescope, Bellatrix is the deepest blue i have ever seen - almost purple.  Whenever I show this star to visitors at the observatory, they become mesmerized as if they were peering into a deep, clear lake.   

JAMES: Bellatrix has a mysterious history.  Its name means “beautiful Amazon woman star.”  The star’s influence was said to produce strong qualities in women and rendered all those born under it lucky and loquacious.  However, little else is known about the Greek and Roman origins of this name. 

DEAN: But what is such a feminine star doing in Orion, the biggest, baddest macho man in the sky?  As tough as Orion is, he’s still in touch with his feminine side.   

(STOP)

DEAN: Marking Orion’s other shoulder is the star Betelgeuse.  Actually, in most legends, Orion has his right arm raised up holding a club and Betelgeuse marks his underarm.  Betelgeuse translates from ancient Arabic as “armpit of the giant.”  

JAMES: Not only does this star have a colorful name but it also shines with a beautiful orange glow.  This ruddy color gives us a hint to its temperature – about 5,800 degrees on its surface.  Much colder than blue Bellatrix.

DEAN: The Native Americans of the Amazon River valley link these two stars of opposing colors, Bellatrix and Betelgeuse, in a mythological story.  They picture Bellatrix as a young boy swiftly paddling his canoe, while old man Betelgeuse is struggling to keep up.    

JAMES: Look for Orion’s belt of three stars, as well as Betelgeuse and Bellatrix in the southwest after sunset.  But the brightest star in the night sky is the Dog Star, Sirius.  But don’t mistake it for even-brighter Venus and Jupiter visible in the western sky.  Sirius blazes with a stark white light in the south and a temperature of about 17,000 degrees. 

(CLOSE-UP – Maybe James can pluck Sirius out of the sky and throw it at me and I can hold it in front of much larger Betelgeuse?)

DEAN: Sirius is a tiny star compared to blue Bellatrix and is almost nothing next to behemoth Betelgeuse.  The only reason Sirius is so bright is because it’s so much closer to us – only 8.6 light years away.  Compared to over 240 light years to Bellatrix and 640 light years to Betelgeuse.

(BACK OUT)

JAMES: Capella is a bright star really high in the western sky this evening. 

DEAN: Aaah, Capella. 

(CLOSE-UP Where i can maybe juggle the four suns of Capella?)

JAMES: Capella is similar to our sun in temperature – and so it should look about the same color – yellowish-white.  But Capella is much larger. 

DEAN: Plus there’s not just one star there, but three or more stars orbiting each other!  Imagine all the sunsets and sunrises you could see from a planet in that system with four suns!

JAMES: As a star, our sun falls right in the middle of the temperature spectrum.  With a surface temperature of roughly 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the sun bathes us in the yellow-white light we all know and love. 

(BACK OUT)

DEAN: I know that dimmer stars all appear white to our eyes.  But if you look at these same dimmer stars through binoculars or a telescope, you'll see their individual colors more distinctly. 
           
JAMES: From red to blue, the hues are subtle, but once you train your eye to search out these variations of color, you may discover that you have favorite stars too.

BOTH: Keep looking up!

 

Episode #12-11 "Star Colors"
Air Dates March 12 - March 18, 2012



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: Each star has a personality.  They vary in brightness, size, distance, and especially color.

DEAN: Stars can be blue, white, yellow, orange, and red and their color is an indication of their temperature – blue stars being the hottest and red stars being the coldest.

(STOP DROP)

JAMES: You can tell the colors of the brightest stars like Betelgeuse here – the star marking Orion the Hunter’s armpit.  Betelgeuse is a red supergiant star with a cool surface temperature of about 5,800 degrees Fahrenheit. 

DEAN: On Orion’s left shoulder is the star Bellatrix.  Through a telescope, Bellatrix is the deepest blue - almost purple.  Bellatrix is one of the hottest stars at over 38,000 degrees.

JAMES: Look for Orion’s belt of three blue stars, as well as Betelgeuse and Bellatrix in the southwest after sunset.     

DEAN: The brightest star in the night sky is the Dog Star, Sirius.  But don’t mistake it for even-brighter Venus and Jupiter visible in the western sky.  Sirius blazes with a stark white light in the south and a temperature of about 17,000 degrees

JAMES: Check out the colorful stars of winter.

BOTH: Keep looking up!

 

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