WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #12-28 "The Dragon Versus The Scorpion"
Air Dates July 9 - July 15, 2012

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, what’s scarier to you, a dragon or a scorpion?

DEAN: What? Scorpion? Where?

JAMES: Heh, I guess you’re more scared of scorpions… don’t worry, the scorpion is hanging out in the summer stars, crawling across the southern sky.

DEAN: Ah, and the dragon must be the constellation Draco the Dragon who flies high in the northern sky in summer.

JAMES: Yep. Plus we have an awesome traffic jam of stars, planets and the moon to look for Sunday morning.

DEAN: Let’s show you!


JAMES: Okay, we have our sky set for any night this week at 11 p.m. facing south. Scorpius is one of the few constellations that actually looks like its namesake. You won’t need to strain your imaginations to see a scorpion in these stars.

DEAN: Scorpius scuttles just above the southern horizon as a long fishhook shape of stars. The curve marks the scorpion’s tail and stinger. You need more imagination to see his body and claws but there’s his red beating heart – the red supergiant star Antares.

JAMES: Antares has inspired observers for thousands of years. It means “rival of Mars” because it’s similar in color to the red planet. But it’s nothing like Mars. First, Antares is a star and Mars is a planet. Second, Antares is one of the largest known stars in the galaxy. This is what Antares would look like next to our sun. Mars would be too small to show on the screen. Yikes, that’s a huge star!

DEAN: In mythology, Scorpius was the slayer of Orion. Of course we all know about Orion’s belt of three stars, but Scorpius has three stars almost in a row. You can find them at the head of the scorpion. Okay, they’re not quite lined up like Orion’s belt, but still they’re easy to find. Their names are Graffias on the top… Dschubba in the middle… and Pi Scorpii on the bottom.

JAMES: You just wanted to say “Dschubba” didn’t you.

DEAN: It’s definitely a fun star to say! Plus Dschubba is a variable star. That means it changes it brightness from time to time.


DEAN: Okay now let’s look to the northern sky and go dragon-hunting! Draco the Dragon lurks in the north with her tail beginning between the Big Dipper on the left and the North Star right there.

JAMES: If you’re having trouble finding the North Star, use the brighter stars in the Big Dipper to point your way. Shoot an arrow from the two stars at the end of the Big Dipper’s spoon and continue that to the right and bingo! You’ll run into the North Star.

DEAN: You’ll need a dark sky to see the dragon’s tail that coils around the Little Dipper, so let’s zoom into the dragon’s head which holds the brightest stars in this monster constellation. Three semi-bright stars mark his head in a neat triangle – they are, in order or brightness Eltannin… Rastaban… and Grumium… - and if you’re in a darker sky, you might be able to make out a fourth.

JAMES: You just wanted to say Rastaban didn’t you?

DEAN: Yep. I like my quirky star names.

JAMES: To the Babylonians, Draco was the she-dragon Tiamat. She’s said to have a body seven miles long and a mouth as big as the sky. Along came a god named Marduk who slew the great beast with a bow and arrow. Marduk then sliced the dragon in half – one half becoming the earth, and the other, the heavens above.


JAMES: On Sunday morning, we have a treat for you just before sunrise. If you look to the eastern sky at around 5 am you’ll find the waning crescent moon.

DEAN: Wow, look at all the other objects around it! There’s the planet Jupiter above and to the right of the moon…

JAMES: And you can’t miss even brighter Venus a little down and to the right of the moon.

DEAN: And all of this is happening right in the middle of the bull’s face. The brightest star in Taurus the Bull is right there too, orange Aldebaran and you might be able to make out the fainter stars called the Hyades star cluster.

JAMES: Quite the pile-up of planets, stars and the moon.

DEAN: Get out and see the action Sunday morning.

JAMES: And don’t forget to look for Scorpius in the southern sky – not in the studio.

DEAN: Whew!

JAMES: And… Draco in the northern sky.

BOTH: Keep looking up!



Episode #12-28 "The Dragon Versus The Scorpion"
Air Dates July 9 - July 15, 2012

DEAN: This week the scorpion scuttles low across the southern sky…

JAMES: And the dragon flies high in the northern sky.

DEAN: Plus we have a pile-up of planets, stars, and the moon to look for Sunday morning.


JAMES: When you look south any night this week at 11 pm, you’ll find the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion. Look for his red beating heart-star called Antares. But watch out for his stinger – the string of stars that curl down and to the left and end with two stars right next to each other.

DEAN: Then when you look north, almost overhead, you’ll find some semi-bright stars that mark the head of Draco the Dragon. You’ll need a little imagination and a darker sky to see his body coiling down and between the Big and Little Dipper. But when you find him, you’ll be an expert star gazer.

JAMES: And on Sunday morning, just before sunrise, look east for a waning crescent moon bracketed by the planets Jupiter and Venus, with the bull’s eye star Aldebaran nearby as well.

BOTH: Keep looking up!


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