WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #12-52 "Celebrate New Years Eve With a ‘Sirius-Ly’ Bright Star!"
Air Dates December 24 - December 30, 2012

JAMES: Welcome to star gazers. I’m James Albury.

MARLENE: And I’m Marlene Hidalgo.

DEAN: And I’m Dean Regas, and we’re here to help you be sure you know what you’re seeing in the night sky when you…

ALL: Look up!

JAMES: Hey Dean and Marlene! Can you believe 2012 is almost over?

MARLENE: I know. It seems like just yesterday we were talking about the transit of Venus.

DEAN: Indeed, and in star gazer tradition, to end the year, we dedicate this episode to the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius… aka “the dog star”.

JAMES: Or as we Star Gazers like to call it, “the New Year’s Eve star”. Let’s show you!


JAMES: OK we've got our skies set up for 8 p.m. your local time this Monday, December 31st, New Year's Eve, facing due south. And first, like all good astronomers, let's draw an imaginary line from the due south horizon straight up to the zenith point overhead and then down the other side of the sky to the horizon due north. This line is called the meridian and it divides the eastern half of the sky from the western half.

MARLENE: Exactly, and now as our earth slowly and endlessly rotates from west to east, we are treated nightly to the grandest optical illusion in nature as we watch the stars appear to rise in the east, slowly travel across the sky all night long and eventually set in the west.

DEAN: And if you watch the stars every single night, you'll eventually conclude that the highest point any star reaches above the horizon in its nightly journey is when it is on the meridian. Our astronomer ancestors used the crossing of the meridian by the sun, moon and stars to tell time.

JAMES: This is very important to telescope users because the higher an object is above the horizon, the better it will appear in a telescope.

DEAN: Absolutely! And no matter where you happen to be on New Year's Eve this year, Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, will slowly climb up the south-eastern sky hour after hour and at mid-night will reach its highest point, almost on the meridian.

MARLENE: Think of it, the brightest star visible from our planet reaches its highest point above the horizon at midnight every New Year's Eve. It's a wonderful, cosmic reminder that this most brilliant of stellar lights is welcoming in the New Year, giving us all hope for a bright new beginning.

JAMES: And even better, if you happen to miss it on New Year's Eve because of the weather, don't worry. Sirius will be in almost the same spot at midnight each night for the first week of the New Year.

DEAN: And think about this, as you look at Sirius this New Year's Eve. Our sun is an almost million mile wide, relatively cool, yellow star. Meanwhile, Sirius is a much hotter, almost twice as wide, white star. And it's very close… cosmically speaking.

MARLENE: Sirius is only 8 1/2 light years away, which means that when we look at Sirius this New Year's Eve, we will actually be seeing the light that left it 8 1/2 years ago in June of 2004. So as you ring in 2012, step outside at midnight next Monday night and make your New Year bright with cosmic light.

JAMES: Agreed. OK, let’s see what the planets are doing this week.


JAMES: OK, we have our skies set up for just after sunset next week, and if you look high in the eastern sky, you’ll see the largest planet in our solar system, 88,000 mile wide Jupiter, resting comfortably near the horns of Taurus the Bull.

DEAN: Jupiter’s in a great location in the sky, because it’ll be visible for much of the evening, and if you received a telescope or a pair of binoculars for Christmas, this is a great chance for you to see the 4 largest moons of Jupiter as they change their positions each night.

MARLENE: And for you early morning Star Gazers, we have the ringed planet Saturn, visible in the constellation of Virgo the Virgin and brilliant Venus as it heads slowly towards the sun in the constellation of Sagittarius the Centaur Archer.

DEAN: Very well, get outside and do some star gazing this week.

JAMES: And whatever you do, remember to…

ALL: Keep looking up!


Episode #12-52 "Celebrate New Years Eve With a ‘Sirius-Ly’ Bright Star!"
Air Dates December 24 - December 30, 2012

JAMES: Greetings Star Gazers! I’m James Albury.

DEAN: And I’m dean Regas and this week is the last full week of 2012 so James and I have a Star Gazers tradition to help you ring in the New Year!


DEAN: OK we've got our skies set up for an hour before midnight. The date is Monday, December 31st, facing due south. No matter where you happen to be on New Year's Eve, Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, will slowly climb up the southeastern sky and at midnight will reach its highest point.

JAMES: And while you're outside, Jupiter will be the bright white light almost over head just before midnight and if you like to do your planet watching before sunrise, look high in the eastern sky toward the constellation of Virgo and you’ll see the ringed planet Saturn, and close to the horizon you’ll see the bright planet Venus in Sagittarius.

DEAN: So ring in 2013, with a “Sirius-ly” bright cosmic light.

JAMES: Happy New Year and...

BOTH: Keep looking up!


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