WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #13-30 "Plan Now for the Perseid Meteor Shower"
Air Dates July 29, 2013 - August 4, 2013



FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
DEAN: HEY THERE STAR GAZERS. IM DEAN REGAS, ASTRONOMER FOR THE CINCINNATI OBSERVATORY.

JAMES: AND IM JAMES ALBURY, DIRECTOR OF THE KIKA SILVA PLA PLANETARIUM IN GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA.

MARLENE: AND IM MARLENE HIDALGO, SCIENCE TEACHER FROM MIAMI-DADE COUNTY FLORIDA AND WE'VE GOT GOOD NEWS AND SOME EVEN BETTER NEWS. THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT THE PERSEID METEOR SHOWER, TRADITIONALLY THE BEST METEOR SHOWER OF THE YEAR WILL PEAK MONDAY NIGHT AUG 12TH THROUGH TUESDAY MORNING THE 13TH

DEAN: BUT THE EVEN BETTER NEWS IS THAT THE WAXING CRESCENT MOON WILL SET BEFORE MIDNIGHT AND GIVE US NICE DARK SKIES FOR WATCHING THE PERSEIDS.

JAMES: AND THE REASON WERE GIVING YOU TWO WEEKS WARNING IS BECAUSE WE WANT YOU TO HAVE PLENTY OF TIME TO PLAN AHEAD.LETS SHOW YOU HOW TO WATCH.

MARLENE: O.K., WE'VE GOT OUR SKIES SET UP FOR SUNDAY NIGHT TO MONDAY MORNING AUGUST 12TH BETWEEN MIDNIGHT AND SUNRISE FACING NORTHEAST AND ALTHOUGH ITS SUMMER TIME DON'T BE SURPRISED TO SEE SOME OF WINTER'S BRIGHTEST STARS. CLOSE TO THE HORIZON IS ORION THE HUNTER, TAURUS THE BULL, GEMINI THE TWINS. AND UP TO YOUR LEFT THE DIMMER
STARS OF THE MYTHICAL HERO PERSEUS, FOR WHOM THIS METEOR SHOWER IS NAMED.

JAMES: BUT, FIRST, WE'D LIKE TO GET A COUPLE OF THINGS STRAIGHT. AND THAT IS THAT WE PERSONALLY, STRONGLY DISLIKE THE TERM 'METEOR SHOWER'. WE MUCH PREFER THE TERM 'METEOR SPRINKLE' BECAUSE AT THE PEAK OF ALMOST ANY METEOR SHOWER THE MOST METEORS YOU CAN EXPECT TO SEE ARE ABOUT 50 TO 100 PER HOUR, EXCEPT OF COURSE FOR EXTREMELY RARE OCCASIONS WHEN ALL HEAVEN BREAKS LOOSE AND THOUSANDS CAN BE SEEN. BUT THOSE ARE RARE, RARE, UNEXPECTED OCCASIONS.

DEAN: SO, IF YOURE PREPARED FOR THE FACT THAT DURING A GOOD METEOR SHOWER YOU MAY HAVE A CHANCE TO SEE 50 OR SO METEORS STREAK ACROSS THE SKY DURING THE COURSE OF AN HOUR, THATS ONE EVERY MINUTE OR SO, THEN THE PERSEIDS IS THE SHOWER FOR YOU.

MARLENE: WONDER WHY THEYRE CALLED THE PERSEIDS? WELL METEOR SHOWERS ARE ALWAYS NAMED FOR THE CONSTELLATION FROM WHERE THE METEORS APPEAR TO ORIGINATE. BUT IN CASE YOU'VE FORGOTTEN WHAT A METEOR IS, LETS HAVE DEAN TAKE YOU OUT INTO SPACE AND EXPLAIN.

DEAN: METEORS ARE THE FLASHES OF LIGHT WE SEE WHEN TINY SPECKS OF SPACE DEBRIS SLAM INTO OUR EARTH'S ATMOSPHERE AND LIGHT UP. YOU SEE, EVERY TIME A COMET VISITS OUR SUN IT SHEDS TONS OF DEBRIS IN ITS PATH. AND EVENTUALLY THIS DEBRIS GETS SPREAD OUT ALONG THE COMET'S PATH.

MARLENE: NOW IF OUR EARTH PLOWS INTO THIS PATH OF COMET DEBRIS THESE TINY PIECES OF COMET LITTER WILL SLAM INTO OUR EARTH'S ATMOSPHERE TRAVELING MANY MILES PER SECOND. THE PARTICLES THEMSELVES ARE FAR TOO SMALL TO BE SEEN BUT THE FRICTION OF THESE PARTICLES HITTING THE AIR CAUSES THE AIR SURROUNDING THEM TO HEAT UP AND MAKE VISIBLE STREAKS OF LIGHT.

JAMES: AND WE CALL THESE STREAKS OF LIGHT METEORS OR INCORRECTLY "FALLING STARS". THE METEORS WE SEE DURING THE PERSEID METEOR SHOWER EACH AUGUST ARE DEBRIS FROM A COMET NAMED SWIFT-TUTTLE AND OUR EARTH PLOWS THROUGH ITS DEBRIS-FILLED PATH AT THE SAME TIME EVERY AUGUST. IT IS ONE OF THE OLDEST RECORDED METEOR SHOWERS IN HISTORY AND HAS BEEN SEEN EVERY AUGUST FOR OVER 2000 YEARS!

DEAN: TAKE A BLANKET OR A LAWN CHAIR OUTSIDE EARLY TUESDAY MORNING AUG 13TH, LIE BACK WITH YOUR FEET FACING NORTHEAST, THEN SLOWLY SCAN THE SKY AS LONG AS POSSIBLE BECAUSE THE LONGER YOU STAY OUT THE BETTER YOUR CHANCE OF SEEING A FEW BRIGHT PERSEIDS.

MARLENE: AND WHILE YOURE WAITING FOR SOMETHING TO HAPPEN THERE ARE A COUPLE PLANETS OVER IN THIS DIRECTION TO HELP GIVE YOU SOMETHING ELSE TO WATCH. THE BRIGHT LIGHT YOULL SEE CLOSE TO THE HORIZON IS THE GIANT PLANET JUPITER AND DOWN TO ITS LEFT IS THE RED PLANET MARS. BUT PLEASE LEAVE YOUR TELESCOPES PACKED UP BECAUSE THIS METEOR WATCHING EVENT IS FOR YOUR NAKED EYE. 

JAMES: AND LET ME GIVE YOU THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT RULE FOR OBSERVING A METEOR SHOWER, WHICH IS YOU MUST CONSTANTLY SCAN THE SKY AND HAVE PATIENCE. YOU MAY SEE NO METEORS FOR 20 MINUTES OR SO AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN 2 OR 3 MAY FLASH BY ALL AT ONCE.

MARLENE: BUT EACH TIME YOU SEE A PERSEID STREAK ACROSS THE SKY REMIND YOURSELF THAT WHAT YOU'RE ACTUALLY SEEING IS A TINY PIECE OF COMET LITTER PLUNGING TO ITS FIERY DEATH. HEAD FOR THE SHOWER!

THREE: KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

Episode #13-30 "Plan Now for the Perseid Meteor Shower"
Air Dates July 29, 2013 - August 4, 2013



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
DEAN: THE BEST METEOR SHOWER OF THE YEAR WILL HAPPEN ON THE NIGHT OF MONDAY AUGUST 12 THROUGH THE MORNING OF TUESDAY AUGUST 13TH.

MARLENE: WERE GIVING YOU TWO WEEKS NOTICE FOR THE PERSEIDS, THE BEST METEOR SHOWER OF THE YEAR. WHY? LETS SHOW YOU.

MARLENE: O.K., WE'RE SET UP FOR MONDAY NIGHT AUGUST 12TH THROUGH TUESDAY MORNING AUGUST 13TH A LITTLE AFTER MIDNIGHT FACING NORTHEAST. ABOUT HALF WAY UP FROM THE HORIZON YOULL SEE THE W SHAPE OF CASSIOPEIA. LOOK ABOUT HALF WAY TO THE GROUND BELOW CASSIOPEIA AND THATS WHERE THE METEORS WILL APPEAR TO ORIGINATE, THE CONSTELLATION PERSEUS, WHICH IS WHY WE CALL THIS THE PERSEID METEOR SHOWER.

DEAN: THE PERSEID METEOR SHOWER WILL BE BEST MONDAY NIGHT THROUGH TUESDAY MORNING BUT MAY ALSO BE SEEN A DAY OR SO BEFORE OR AFTER. AND EACH TIME YOU SEE A PERSEID STREAK ACROSS THE SKY REMIND YOURSELF THAT WHAT YOU'RE ACTUALLY SEEING IS A TINY PIECE OF COMET LITTER PLUNGING TO ITS FIERY DEATH. HEAD FOR THE SHOWER!

BOTH: KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

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