WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #12-49 "Follow the Orbiting Moon"
Air Dates December 3 - December 9, 2012



FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: Hey there Star Gazers. I’m James Albury, Director of the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium in Gainesville, Florida.

DEAN: And I’m Dean Regas, astronomer for the Cincinnati Observatory. Fellow StarGazer, Marlene Hidalgo, will join us to help you find your way around the sky. People really notice the planets when they’re by the Moon. They often ask me, “What was that bright thing next to the Moon last night?”

JAMES: It could be any number of planets – or bright stars for that matter. From Earth, the Moon appears near each planet about one day out of each month and next week the Moon hops by three, count ‘em three planets.

DEAN: Along the way we’ll hop by a star or two. Let’s show you!

(STOP DROP)

DEAN: Okay, we’re in the pre-dawn skies facing east-southeast on Sunday December 9th. There’s our old friend, the waning crescent Moon who’ll be heading to a New Moon in a few short days. But what’s that bright “star” next to the Moon.

JAMES: Well I know we were talking planets earlier, but this “star” is actually a star. It’s
the blue giant called Spica in the constellation of Virgo the Virgin. But let’s not get distracted. Although Spica is an amazing star, we’re hunting planets. 

DEAN: When we advance the sky one day, same time of morning to Monday December 10th, the Moon has shifted near another “star” of almost equal brightness to Spica. But this is the beautiful ringed planet Saturn.

JAMES: To the naked eye, Saturn looks like an ordinary yellow star but through a telescope… wow! What a view! You can see the rings and several of the bigger, brighter moons in even a backyard telescope.

DEAN: But the Moon moves on and here is the sky on Tuesday December 11th. The Moon hopped over one of Jack Horkheimer’s favorite stars to pronounce. Hey there Zubenelgenubi!

JAMES: Hi Zubenelgenubi! We love you too but this is a planet show and the Moon is just down and to the right of much-more-brilliant Venus. Ah, that morning you’ll get the classic sky view – the brightest planet next to a slim crescent Moon. What could be better than that?!?

DEAN: I’ll tell you what. If you have a clear view to the horizon, and no clouds, you might, just might, see the elusive planet Mercury down and to the left. Mercury never strays far from the Sun and so we can only see him just before sunrise or just after sunset.

JAMES: That means you’ll have to spy speedy Mercury lickety-split before the glare of the sunrise washes him out.

DEAN: So, why does the Moon seem to wander among the planets? Well, from Earth the planets, Sun, and Moon seem to move across the background stars near this imaginary line we call the ecliptic. Marlene, show us the ecliptic from outer space…

(STOP)

MARLENE: Out here we can look down at our solar system. When we speed up time, we can watch the planets revolve around the Sun in nearly circular orbits. But in space we need to think in three dimensions so let’s see the orbits from the side view. Wow, see how the orbits of the planets are almost all lined up? From Earth, the Sun and planets all appear in this line – that’s the ecliptic plane. When we extend the plane outward… that’s where the zodiac constellations would be. Virgo, Libra, Scorpius, and the others. The Moon orbits the Earth in nearly the same plane of space as the planets. It’s tilted by about 5 degrees to the ecliptic but it never strays far. So, as the Moon orbits the Earth every month or so, it will appear near each planet (and the Sun) one or two days each month. That’s why we can see the Moon near planets so often. And on those rarest of occasions, the orbit of the Moon will bring it right in front of the Sun causing a total solar eclipse!

(STOP)

JAMES: All this is happening while the Earth is moving around the Sun – and the Sun is moving around the galaxy and the galaxy is moving through the universe!

DEAN: We’d love to show you all that but the graphics department would kill us. So be sure to look for the Moon near the blue star Spica on the morning of December 9.

JAMES: The Moon near ringed Saturn and not too far from Zubenelgenubi on December 10.

DEAN: And for the beautiful, classic early morning view be sure to check out the slim crescent moon next to brilliant Venus on December 11.

BOTH: Keep looking up!

 

Episode #12-49 "Follow the Orbiting Moon"
Air Dates December 3 - December 9, 2012



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: People often ask us, “What was that bright thing next to the Moon last night?”

DEAN: It could be any number of planets – or bright stars for that matter. From Earth, the
Moon appears near each planet about one day out of each month and next week the Moon hops by three planets.

(STOP DROP)

JAMES: Okay, it’s pre-dawn, facing east-southeast on Sunday December 9th. The waning crescent Moon will be next to the blue star Spica.

DEAN: When we advance the sky one day, same time of morning to December 10th, the
Moon has shifted near another “star” of almost equal brightness to Spica. But this is the
beautiful ringed planet Saturn.

JAMES: And then on the morning of December 11th the Moon is just down and to the right
of beautiful Venus. Ah, what a sight! The brightest planet next to a slim crescent Moon.

DEAN: But look closely lower down near the horizon that day for the planet Mercury 30 minutes before sunrise. It’s all there when you…

BOTH: Keep looking up!

 

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