WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #12-13 "Low Lyiní Orion and the High Flyiní Lion!"
Air Dates March 26 - April 1, 2012



FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: Welcome to Star Gazers. Iím James Albury, director of the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium in Gainesville, Florida.†

DEAN:† And Iím Dean Regas, outreach astronomer from the Cincinnati Observatory.† Weíre both here to help you be sure you know what youíre seeing in the night sky when you...

BOTH: Look up.†

JAMES:† †Itís that time of year again when the night skies almost yell out, "Spring is here!"

DEAN: Thatís because when Orion is low lyin' and the lion is high flyin', winter is on its way out. Letís show you.

(STOP & DROP)

DEAN:† Now most of you know that the star pattern Orion the hunter is about the surest sky sign of winter of them all.† In fact, if you go outside in early evening during December, Orion will be climbing up the southeastern sky as a celestial announcement of the imminent arrival of winter.

JAMES:† And in January and February when winter is coldest, Orion reaches his highest point in the heavens, due south in early evening almost bragging to the world that he is master of the season. But then, Orion slowly leaves center stage in early evening and by the beginning of April is tipped over on his side in the southwest almost hanging on to the sky for dear life. And itís this placement of Orion in the southwestern sky in early evening that always tells us winter is soon coming to an end.

DEAN:† Yes, and although weíre always sad to see Orion's bright stars go, nevertheless a less bright but much bigger constellation takes his place almost over head in early evening announcing that spring is here, the constellation Leo the lion. If you go out any April night in early evening, youíll see Orion slowly sinking in the south west while Leo is crouched at the very roof of heaven roaring that his season, spring, is here.

JAMES:† Leo's easy to find. He's reclining in kind of a sphinx position. His head and forequarters marked by a backward question mark or sickle, with the bright star Regulus marking his heart. The triangle of stars to the east marks his rear.

DEAN:† In ancient times, lions were often associated with royalty and Leo's brightest star Regulus means ďthe little kingĒ although you will sometimes still hear Regulus called ďCor LeonisĒ which means the lion's heart. Regulus is only about 1/2 a degree away from the ecliptic, so youíll often see the moon pass quite close to it. And, occasionally, the moon will briefly occult it, hiding it from view.

JAMES:† And the planets occasionally move very close to Regulus. In fact, on July 7th, 1959, an extremely rare event occurred when Regulus was actually occulted by Venus as Venus passed in front of it, an event which wonít happen again for several centuries.

DEAN:† Regulus is about 85 light years away, which means that we see it not as it looks now, but how it looked 85 years ago. So if you're 85 years old when you look at Regulus you actually see the light that left it the year you were born.

JAMES:† And thank heavens it's that far away because itís 5 times the diameter of our sun and 160 times brighter! †This means that if Regulus were as close to us as our sun, we'd all be crispy critters.

DEAN:† Toasty!† Letís see what the planets are doing this week.

(STOP & DROP)

DEAN:† OK, we have our skies set up for an hour after sunset any night this week.† If you look to the west, youíll see the two brightest planets in the sky, Venus and Jupiter.† On Monday, March 26th a super skinny crescent moon will have a close encounter with Venus.

JAMES:† If you pay close attention to Venus over the next few nights, you can watch it glide silently closer and closer to the seven daughters of atlas, the Plieades.† The exciting part happens next week on April 2nd and 3rd.

DEAN: Thatís right James, because Venus is going to be in just the right position that weíll see it occult the Plieades, blocking them from view.† It should look spectacular, especially in a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.

JAMES:†† Itís almost as if Venus is giving us a preview of the solar transit later on in June.

DEAN:† Yes sir.† And while youíre outside, look high in the eastern sky for the red planet Mars.† Itís just to the left and a little below Regulus.

JAMES: And if you go outside shortly before midnight, when Mars is at its highest, youíll see the ringed planet Saturn, high in the southeast, forming a triangle with Arcturus and Spica.

DEAN: So get outside after sunset for low lyin' Orion and the high flyin' Lion.

JAMES:† Two sure signs that winter's goin' and spring is here.

BOTH: Keep looking up!

 

Episode #12-13 "Low Lyiní Orion and the High Flyiní Lion!"
Air Dates March 26 - April 1, 2012



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: Dean, itís that time of year again when the night skies almost yell out , "spring is here!"

DEAN:† Yep, thatís because when Orion is low lyin' and the lion is high flyin', winter is on its way out. Letís show you.

(STOP & DROP)

DEAN:† Now most of you know that Orion the hunter is the best celestial sign that winter is here.† But by early April, Orion slowly leaves center stage and is tipped over on his side in the southwest, almost hanging on to the sky for dear life. †And itís this early evening placement of Orion in the southwestern sky that tells us winter is coming to an end.

JAMES:† Meanwhile, as Orion is leaving the sky, Leo the lion is crouched at the very roof of heaven roaring that his season, spring, is here.

DEAN:† While youíre outside watching Orion and Leo, check out Venus this week.† Every night Venus will be inching closer and closer to the Plieades, until it completely covers them on April 2nd and 3rd.

JAMES: and if you go outside shortly before midnight, youíll see Mars high in the south, and over in the southeast, youíll see the ringed planet Saturn, forming a triangle with Arcturus and Spica.

BOTH: Keep looking up!

 

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