WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #12-50 "The Geminid Meteor Shower And Comets Are A Comin’, Maybe"
Air Dates December 10 - December 16, 2012



FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: Hey there Star Gazers. I’m James Albury,

MARLENE: And I’m Marlene Hidalgo

DEAN:  And I’m Dean Regas. On Thursday night December 13th and early Friday morning December 14th you will have an opportunity to see one of the best meteor showers of the entire year, the Geminids.

MARLENE:  They’re called the Geminid meteor shower because they appear to come from the constellation Gemini the Twins.

JAMES: Although that’s just an illusion. Plus we want to give you a heads-up about two comets that may put on a super show in the coming year. Let’s show you.

MARLENE:  OK, our skies are set up for Thursday night Dec. 13 about 10 p.m. facing east where you'll see winter's most famous constellation Orion the Hunter. Look for the three equally spaced stars, which mark his belt. If you shoot an arrow up from his belt you’ll spot a super bright light, the planet Jupiter.

DEAN:  And if you shoot an arrow down through those same stars you'll land on the brightest star we can see, Sirius, which marks the eye of Orion's bigger dog.

MARLENE:  Plus up to his left are two other bright stars, Castor and Pollux, the two brightest stars of the Gemini twins. And it is here, near the star Castor that the Geminid meteors will appear to originate. And this year they should be super good because there will be no moonlight whatsoever to wipe out even the faintest meteors. When the shower is at its peak some may actually see up to 75 meteors per hour.

JAMES:  Now this year I'd suggest you watch from about 10 o'clock Thursday evening until dawn Friday if you can. It will make a big difference if you get far away from city lights. Lie back on a lawn chair or sleeping bag and slowly scan the sky, no binoculars or telescope needed.

MARLENE:  As time goes by Gemini will rise higher and higher in the sky so that by 2 or 3 a.m. it will be super high above the southern horizon.

DEAN:  Meteor showers occur when our earth rides through a stream of comet debris left in the path of a comet, but the Geminids are actually asteroid debris and appear every December when our earth rides through the stream of debris left by asteroid Phaethon 3200. So we could call the Geminids an asteroid shower.

JAMES:  Now let’s ask an important question. What’s the difference between a meteor and a comet? They’re both big flaming balls that zoom across the sky, right? Nope! That’s not right for either of them. Let’s talk about meteors first. The word meteor comes from Greek and means “high in the sky”. The weather person on TV is called a meteorologist, and talks about stuff that’s high in our atmosphere and that’s where you’ll find meteors.

MARLENE:  Meteors are streaks of light that you see when a small piece of space rock collides with our atmosphere. What you see is the column of air that the particle passes through. Meteors are not usually very big. Typically they are smaller than your thumb.

DEAN:  The Geminid meteors you’ll see will be about 50 to 70 miles up. On any dark night you might expect to see a meteor every 10 to 15 minutes. So there are a lot of meteors every night but you’ll see a lot more than usual during a meteor shower. But what exactly is a comet? And how is it different from a meteor?

MARLENE:  Comets are much larger objects that are in orbit around the sun and produce huge tails of gas and dust when they come close to the sun. The lighter stuff in their make-up vaporizes and forms long tails that can stretch for hundreds of thousands of miles plus they’re millions of miles away.

DEAN:  And these particles are visible only because they reflect the light of the sun. And if everything is right they can put on a spectacular show that last sometimes for weeks at a time. Meteors on the other hand last for just a few seconds.

JAMES:  And around the 12th of March a comet will appear in the western sky just after sunset. And it might be super bright…

DEAN: Or maybe not…

JAMES:  And next fall there’s a chance we may see the brightest comet in over 300 years but…

MARLENE:  Don’t count your comets before they hatch.

JAMES:  But there’s a chance it could be fantastic. To find out you’ll have to…

ALL 3:  Keep looking up!

 

Episode #12-50 "The Geminid Meteor Shower And Comets Are A Comin’, Maybe"
Air Dates December 10 - December 16, 2012



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES:  On Thursday night December 13th and early Friday morning December 14th you may see one of the best meteor showers of the year, the Geminids.

MARLENE: And they’re called the Geminid meteor shower because they appear to come from the constellation Gemini the Twins.

JAMES:  Although that’s just an illusion. Let’s show you.

MARLENE:  OK, we've got our skies set up for Thursday night Dec. 13 about 10 p.m. facing east where you'll see winter's most famous constellation Orion the Hunter and to his left are two other bright stars, Castor and Pollux, the two brightest stars of the Gemini twins. And it is here, near Castor that the Geminid meteors will appear to originate. This year it should be super good because there will be no moonlight to wipe out even the faintest meteors.

JAMES:  I suggest you watch from about 10 pm Thursday evening through dawn Friday. Try to get far away from city lights. Lie back on a lawn chair or sleeping bag and slowly scan the sky, no binoculars or telescope needed.

BOTH:  Keep looking up!

 

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