WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #12-31 "Altair: The Weird but Wonderful Star"
Air Dates July 30 - August 5, 2012



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

MARLENE: And Iím Marlene Hidalgo.

DEAN: And Iím Dean Regas, and weíre here to help you be sure you know what youíre seeing in the night sky when you look up.

JAMES: Whenever we talk about the summer triangle, we often talk about its brightest star, Vega.

MARLENE: But as wonderful as Vega is, it can't beat the second brightest star of the triangle, Altair when it comes to being weird and wonderful.

DEAN: Wondering what weíre talking about? Letís show you:

(STOP & DROP)

DEAN: O.K., we've got our skies set up for early evening, late July - early August and if you look east you'll see the 3 bright stars that make up the points of the summer triangle, the brightest being Vega in Lyra the Harp, the second brightest Altair in Aquila the Eagle and the third brightest, Deneb marking the tail of Cygnus the Swan.

JAMES: Now although there are many strange stars in the heavens, Altair is one of the strangest. Located only 17 light years away from us, which is pretty close starwise, it is the twelth brightest star we can see. And if we compare it to our almost million mile wide sun, Altair is not only 1 1/2 times itís size, but since itís a hot white star, Altair is actually 9 times brighter than our cooler yellow sun.

MARLENE: But the really peculiar thing about Altair has to do with the length of its day. You see, a day for any star or planet is defined as the amount of time it takes for a star or planet to make one complete rotation on its axis. Now we all know that our earth makes one turn on its axis every 24 hours so an earth day is 24 hours long.

DEAN: Our sun however has a much longer day because it makes one complete turn on its axis every 25 1/2 earth days. So one sun day is 25 1/2 earth days long. Thus one might be led to incorrectly think that because our sun is so much larger than our earth and turns so much slower, that an even larger star like Altair would turn even slower than our sun turns. But such is not the case.

(STOP & DROP)

JAMES: In fact, Altair doesn't turn slower than our sun, it is instead one of the fastest rotating stars we know. Indeed, Altair's rotational speed at its equator is 160 miles per second which means that Altair rotates once every 6 1/2 hours! So one Altair day is only 1/4 of an earth day long, plus its incredibly fast rotational speed produces one very weird effect.

MARLENE: Indeed, Altair spins so rapidly that it bulges out all around its middle... So much so that Altair is twice as wide from side to side as it is from top to bottom. This gives Altair the distinction of having one of the worst waist line problems of any star in the cosmos.

JAMES: Have i mentioned how much I like M&Mís?

DEAN: Alrighty, lets see what the planets are doing this week.

(STOP, DROP AND ROLL)

DEAN: OK, head outside shortly after sunset any night next week and if you look toward the west, youíre going to see a beautiful triangular meeting of the red planet Mars, the ringed planet Saturn, and the dazzling blue star, Spica. To find them, simply use our handy ďArc to Arcturus and speed on to SpicaĒ trick.

MARLENE: If you look toward the northwest, youíll see the Big Dipper. Trace an arrow through its handle tracing out an arc to the bright star Arcturus, the brightest star in Bootes the Herdsman.

JAMES: Then, continue that line toward the west where youíll encounter a nice little triangle. The reddish light that isnít twinkling is our old friend Mars. Up and to the left of Mars is my momís favorite planet, the one with the rings, beautiful Saturn.

DEAN: And just below Saturn you can find the brightest star in Virgo, Spica. Spica is over 250 light years away and puts out more than 10,000 times as much radiation as our sun.

MARLENE: So get thee outside to see Altair, the totally out-of-shape star of the summer triangleÖ

JAMES: And look toward the west to see an even smaller triangle made of planets and a star!

ALL: Keep looking up!

 

 

Episode #12-31 "Altair: The Weird but Wonderful Star"
Air Dates July 30 - August 5, 2012



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: Whenever we talk about the summer triangle, we often talk about its brightest star, Vega,

MARLENE: But as wonderful as Vega is, it can't beat Altair when it comes to being weird and wonderful.

JAMES: Wondering what weíre talking about? Letís show you:

(STOP & DROP)

JAMES: OK., we've got our skies set up for early evening, late July - early August and if you look east you'll see the 3 bright stars that make up the points of the summer triangle, the brightest being Vega in Lyra the Harp, the second brightest Altair in Aquila the Eagle and the third brightest, Deneb marking the tail of Cygnus the Swan. The peculiar thing about Altair it that it rotates once every 6 1/2 hours! Making it bulge at it the equator like an M&M!

MARLENE: And while youíre outside, if you look toward the west, youíre going to see a beautiful triangular meeting of the red planet Mars, the ringed planet Saturn, and the dazzling blue star, Spica. To find them, simply use our handy ďArc to Arcturus and speed on to SpicaĒ trick.

BOTH: Keep looking up!

 

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