WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #13-10 "Two Dogs and One Really Big Cat"
Air Dates March 11, 2013 - March 17, 2013

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.  Fellow Star Gazer, Marlene Hidalgo, will join us to help you find your way around the sky. It seems that there are dog people…

DEAN: And cat people…

JAMES: Well, we have something for everyone. We have two canine constellations

DEAN: And one giant feline in the sky.

JAMES: And if you're not a dog or cat person maybe we can convince you to be a comet person!

DEAN: Let's show you.


JAMES: First let's see the big conjunction on Sunday march 17th. Look west at 9:30 p.m, and you'll see a waxing crescent moon right next to the giant planet Jupiter.

DEAN: Wow, that's a close encounter! They'll be less than 2 degrees apart that night so get out there and see the show!


DEAN: Now let's face south and you'll see the brightest star in the sky, Sirius. I know that Jupiter is brighter, but as stars go, this is definitely a scorcher. Sirius is the nose of the big dog constellation, Canis Major. He's one of Orion's hunting dogs -- oh yeah, there's our main man, Orion, over to the dogs' right.

JAMES: In fact, you can use the three belt stars of Orion to find Sirius. Shoot an arrow from the belt to the left and it'll take you over to Sirius.

DEAN: Sirius is one of our closest stars. It's only 8.6 light years away. And it's really two stars orbiting each other. A big white star, that's twice as massive as our sun, and a small white dwarf star that has almost the mass of our sun but is only the size of the earth.


JAMES: Higher in the southern sky is another bright star called Procyon. Now get your imaginations ready for this... Procyon and the star next to it (named Gomeisa) make up
the entire constellation Canis Minor, the little dog.

DEAN: Wait, two stars? That's it? Must be a hot dog!

JAMES: Anyway… Procyon, like Sirius is a white star that's close to earth (relatively speaking). It's only 11.5 light years away. Also like Sirius, Procyon is a multiple star system with a white dwarf star in tow.


JAMES: To find our friendly feline constellation we need to face east. Look for a backward question mark of stars for a head and a triangle of stars for a rear.

DEAN: Friendly… ha. This is Leo the Lion, most feared creature to ever walk the jungles of Nemea.

JAMES: That's in Greece.

DEAN: Yes, and Leo was finally taken out by Hercules. After strangling the beast, Hercules fashioned Leo's hide into a coat. So if you ever see pictures of Hercules wearing a lion skin, that's what happened to old Leo.

JAMES: But here we see Leo in more peaceful days, lying cat-like in the skies. The brightest star in Leo is called Regulus and means little king

DEAN: Now that we're heading into spring, you'll be seeing the king of the starry skies nightly.


DEAN: Last year astronomers discovered a comet way out in the solar system. It definitely had potential to be a bright comet visible to the naked eye. But comets are notoriously fickle.

MARLENE: Well, this comet, called comet Panstarrs will be whipping around the sun in early march and will enter the evening skies mid-month. Let me show you where to look for it.


MARLENE: Comets are named after their discoverers, but there's not a Mr. or Mrs. Panstarrs. It's short for the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response
System. Yeah, that's why we call it Panstarrs. It's a telescopic project conducted by a lot of astronomers to hunt for near-earth objects. But it's been great at finding comets too.


MARLENE: Panstarrs made its closest approach to the sun on March 10th so you can start looking for it every night this week, low in the western sky just after sunset. If it's bright enough to be seen in twilight, maybe, just maybe you can catch a glimpse of its tail pointing away from where the sun set. As the week goes on, Panstarrs will be higher in the sky after dark, but will also be getting fainter as it moves away from the sun.


JAMES: You never know what a comet will do

MARLENE: But it can be an inspiring sight!

DEAN: And if nothing else, find the two dogs and big cat tonight as you…

ALL THREE: Keep looking up!


Episode #13-10 "Two Dogs and One Really Big Cat"
Air Dates March 11, 2013 - March 17, 2013

JAMES: We're looking for two dog stars and a cat constellation

DEAN: And the moon is next to Jupiter while a comet might make an appearance.


DEAN: In the evening look south and you'll see the brightest star in the sky, Sirius. Sirius is the nose of the big dog constellation, Canis Major.

JAMES: The little dog, Canis Minor is higher in the sky. Look for the bright star called Procyon. Procyon and the star next to it make up the entire constellation.

DEAN: Wow, what a hot dog!


DEAN: To find our friendly feline face east. When you spy a backward question mark of stars for a head, and a triangle of stars for a rear, you've spotted Leo the Lion.


JAMES: Just after dark on Sunday march 17th high in the west you'll see the moon next to the planet Jupiter.

DEAN: Now look low in the west and you might, just might see the wispy tail of comet Panstarrs.

BOTH: Keep looking up!


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