WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #12-15 "Venus in Transit"
Air Dates April 9 - April 15, 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.  Hey Dean, do you remember where you were exactly 8 years ago? 

DEAN: Hmmm, probably looking at the planet Venus.  Venus and the earth share an interesting synchronicity.  For every 8 times the earth revolves around the sun, Venus completes almost exactly 13 circuits of the sun.

JAMES: That means that every 8 years, Venus returns to almost the same exact place in the sky.  And eight years ago this June, Venus did something no living person had seen before.  Something that will happen only one more time in the next 100 years. 

DEAN: Get your calendars out, because we're going to tell you when you can see the transit of Venus!

(STOP DROP)

JAMES: Okay, we have our sky set to any night this week facing west at 9 pm.  The sun has just set and the brighter stars are coming out.

DEAN: But not all of these night lights are stars.  Look quickly after 9 pm in the west to spy the giant planet Jupiter.  Jupiter will be riding off into the sunset soon when it will actually go behind the sun.  Jupiter will then pop up in the morning sky in late June. 

JAMES: Up a little higher in the west you'll find dazzling Venus.  People often mistake Venus for a low-flying airplane or a UFO.  But there's nothing unidentified about Venus.  You simply can't miss it.  Venus is named for the Roman goddess of beauty, and with just one look you can see why she garnered so much attention.

DEAN: 400 years ago the famous astronomer from Pisa, Italy, Galileo, aimed his small telescope at Venus and saw something startling.  Venus was not a pinpoint like a star, and definitely not a perfect disc like Jupiter.  Over the next few months, Galileo sketched what he saw.  Check this out, Venus not only went through phases like the moon, but it also got bigger in the telescope as it appeared more like a crescent!  This was the first proof that planets orbited the sun.  Why, you ask?

(STOP)

JAMES: Like in April 2004, this month Venus will appear to be halfway lit up in a telescope.

DEAN: A half-Venus.

JAMES: Venus is reflecting the light of the sun coming to us on a 45 degree angle.  So it looks half-lit.  As the days go on, Venus will catch up to the earth in our orbit around the sun.  That means Venus will get closer and closer to us…

DEAN: while the sunny side of Venus will be pointed more and more away from us.  Then the phase of Venus will look more like a crescent.  Here is Venus on May 5th…and again on May 20th.  Notice that it's appearing to get bigger too, as it gets closer?  This can only happen if Venus orbits the sun!

JAMES: The culmination of this déjà vu-from-2004 will come on the evening of June 5, 2012, when Venus will be directly between the earth and the sun.  This transit of Venus will appear like a tiny black dot going in front of the sun - an eclipse in miniature.  The same thing happened on June 8, 2004. 

DEAN: There'll be a little black spot on the sun that day…

JAMES: One slight problem: you can't look directly at the transit of Venus without protection.  I mean you're still looking right at the sun and that will definitely damage your eyes.

DEAN: There are a number of safe ways to look at the sun, but all require varying degrees of investment and research.  Don't take chances when looking at the sun.  Contact your local planetarium, observatory, or amateur astronomy group because chances are they'll be having a transit-watching party with safe solar telescopes and would love to have you join! 

JAMES: What's the big deal?  Won't this transit happen again 8 years from now?

DEAN: Venus returns to almost the same place in the sky every eight years.  But not exactly.  In 2020, the earth, sun, and Venus will almost line up.

JAMES: But almost isn't good enough?

DEAN: Nope, and the next time Venus will go perfectly in front of the sun will be the year 2117!

JAMES: So you better mark your calendars for this transit of Venus on June 5th.

DEAN: But you don't have to wait for June 5th to see the clouded, shrouded goddess of beauty.  You can find Venus blazing in the western sky after sunset - almost exactly where you left her eight years ago. 

BOTH: Keep looking up!

 

Episode #12-15 "Venus in Transit"
Air Dates April 9 - April 15, 2012



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
DEAN: Get out your calendars, because we're going to prepare you for one of the rarest celestial events.

JAMES: Let's show you the transit of Venus!

(STOP DROP)

JAMES: Okay, we have our sky set to any night this week facing west at 9 pm. The sun has just set and the brighter stars are coming out.

DEAN: But not all of these night lights are stars. Look quickly after 9 pm in the west to spy the giant planet Jupiter. 

JAMES: Up a little higher in the west you'll find dazzling Venus. You'll be seeing a lot of her until mid May.

DEAN: Then on June 5th, Venus will pass directly in front of the sun. There'll be a little black spot on the sun that day - an eclipse in miniature.

JAMES: When viewing, always use safe, approved solar filters or contact your local astronomy club to keep your eyesight safe.

DEAN: Please, please, please don't miss this one because the next time Venus will go in front of the sun will be the year 2117! 

BOTH: Keep looking up!

 

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