WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #13-34 "Where Did All These Constellations Come From?"
Air Dates August 26, 2013 - September 1, 2013



FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: WELCOME TO STAR GAZERS. I'M JAMES ALBURY, DIRECTOR OF THE KIKA SILVA PLA PLANETARIUM IN GAINESVILLE FLORIDA.

MARLENE: AND I'M MARLENE HIDALGO, SCIENCE TEACHER FROM MIAMI-DADE COUNTY FLORIDA.

DEAN: AND I'M DEAN REGAS, ASTRONOMER FROM THE CINCINNATI OBSERVATORY.

JAMES: HEY DEAN AND MARLENE. WE HAVE SOMETHING SPECIAL TO TALK ABOUT THIS WEEK.

DEAN:…AND WHAT WOULD THAT BE? ANOTHER PLANETARY CLOSE ENCOUNTER?

MARLENE:…OR PERHAPS AN ECLIPSE?

JAMES: WELL, NONE OF THOSE ACTUALLY.  A YOUNG VIEWER OF OUR SHOW VISITED MY PLANETARIUM A WHILE BACK AND HIS NAME IS HENRY.  HE ASKED ME THIS QUESTION: WHERE DID ALL THESE CONSTELLATIONS COME FROM?  I THOUGHT THAT WOULD BE A GREAT THEME FOR THIS WEEKS SHOW!

DEAN: YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!  WELL, HENRY…WE'RE GOING TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION RIGHT HERE ON STAR GAZERS.

MARLENE: WE TALK ABOUT CONSTELLATIONS EVERY WEEK, BUT HENRY'S RIGHT.  WHERE DID THEY ALL COME FROM, AND WHO CAME UP WITH THEM?

JAMES: LET’S SHOW YOU!

JAMES: FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS, OUR ANCESTORS HAVE LOOKED UP AT THE NIGHT SKY AND WONDERED WHAT IT ALL WAS.  EVEN AS RECENTLY AS 100 YEARS AGO, BEFORE THE PROLIFERATION OF STREET LIGHTS, IF YOU WENT OUTSIDE ON A CLEAR, MOONLESS NIGHT, YOU COULD SEE THOUSANDS OF STARS, RIGHT FROM YOUR BACKYARD.

DEAN: WITHOUT A SCIENTIFIC UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT THE STARS ACTUALLY WERE, MANY ANCIENT CULTURES THOUGHT THE STARS WERE DIVINE. EACH STAR WAS CONSIDERED A GOD, FIXED IN POSITION, RELATIVE TO THE OTHERS; APPEARING TO RISE IN THE EAST AND SET IN THE WEST, NIGHT AFTER NIGHT.

MARLENE: IMAGINE HOW MAGICAL, MYSTERIOUS AND AWESOME THE HEAVENS MUST HAVE SEEMED TO OUR ANCESTORS.  AS A PERSON WENT FROM YOUTH TO OLD AGE, THEY WOULD SEE THE SAME STARS IN THE SAME LOCATIONS YEAR AFTER YEAR; THE SAME AT AGE 5 AS AT AGE 50.  AND THE SKY SEEMED SO HIGH ABOVE THEM, THAT THE STARS WERE UNREACHABLE, AS IF THEY WERE ATTACHED TO THE INSIDE OF A LARGE, CRYSTALLINE SPHERE, WITH US AT THE CENTER.

MARLENE: AND THIS CRYSTALLINE SPHERE WOULD APPEAR TO ROTATE AROUND THE EARTH, AGAIN…WITH US AT THE CENTER, MAKING THE STARS APPEAR TO RISE IN THE EAST AND SET IN THE WEST.  THIS REPETITIVE MOTION OF THE STARS WAS VERY PREDICTABLE, SO MANY ANCIENT PEOPLE USED THE NIGHT SKY AS A PRIMITIVE CLOCK.

DEAN: THAT'S RIGHT. BECAUSE, NOT ONLY WAS THE DAILY MOTION OF THE STARS REPETITIVE, BUT OVER THE COURSE OF A YEAR, THE STARS YOU COULD SEE WOULD GRADUALLY CHANGE. BUT 365 DAYS LATER, THE SAME STARS YOU SAW A YEAR AGO WOULD APPEAR IN THE SAME PLACE; SO IF YOU LOOK UP AT THE STARS AFTER SUNSET ON YOUR BIRTHDAY, YOU'LL SEE THE SAME STARS IN THE SAME PLACE, EVERY BIRTHDAY, FOR AS LONG AS YOU LIVE.

JAMES: THE HUMAN BRAIN LIKES TO MAKE ORDER OUT OF CHAOS.   ALTHOUGH THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE STARS IN THE NIGHT SKY IS RANDOM, YOUR BRAIN IMMEDIATELY WANTS TO MAKE PATTERNS OUT OF THE BRIGHTEST STARS.  SO, AS OUR ANCESTORS SPENT THEIR EVENINGS GAZING AT THE STARS, THEY WOULD PLAY A CELESTIAL GAME OF CONNECT-THE-DOTS, MAKING PATTERNS (BOTH BIG AND SMALL) THAT REPRESENTED OBJECTS, ANIMALS OR PEOPLE. WE CALL THESE PATTERNS, CONSTELLATIONS.

JAMES: THERE ARE CURRENTLY 88 OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED CONSTELLATIONS IN MODERN ASTRONOMY.  WHICH CONSTELLATIONS YOU CAN SEE IS DEPENDENT ON WHERE ON THE EARTH YOURE OBSERVING.  FOR EXAMPLE, PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN AUSTRALIA CAN SEE SOME OF THE SAME STARS THAT WE CAN SEE FROM NORTH AMERICA, BUT NOT ALL OF THEM AND VICE VERSA.  AUSTRALIANS CAN SEE THE SOUTHERN CROSS, BUT ONLY A FEW OF US IN NORTH AMERICA CAN.  NORTH AMERICANS CAN SEE URSA MAJOR (THE GREAT BEAR), BUT NEW ZEALANDERS CANNOT.  THE ONLY PLACE ON EARTH WHERE YOU CAN ACTUALLY SEE ALL 88 CONSTELLATIONS IS AT THE EQUATOR.

DEAN: SO AS PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD PLAYED CONNECT-THE-DOTS WITH THE STARS, THEY WOULD CREATE FANCIFUL STORIES ABOUT EACH OF THE CONSTELLATIONS THEY CREATED.  MANY OF THESE STORIES WERE USED TO PASS DOWN CULTURAL VALUES OF MORALITY, OR TELL STORIES ABOUT LOVE, COURAGE OR HONOR.

MARLENE: MANY OF THE STORIES OF THESE CONSTELLATIONS WERE HANDED DOWN FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION, BY WORD OF MOUTH.  SADLY, BECAUSE WE HAVE SO MANY STREET LIGHTS TODAY, MANY OF THE FAINTER STARS ARE INVISIBLE FROM WHERE MOST PEOPLE LIVE.  THEREFORE, WE HAVE GOTTEN OUT OF THE HABIT OF CREATING NEW STORIES AND NEW STAR PATTERNS.

JAMES: BUT THINK OF IT…NEXT TIME YOU GO OUT CAMPING, DO AS JACK HORKHEIMER OFTEN SAID, MAKE THE STARS YOUR OWN.  WHO KNOWS?  YOU MIGHT BE THE FIRST PERSON TO CREATE THE CONSTELLATION OF THE SMARTPHONE.

ALL: KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

Episode #13-34 "Where Did All These Constellations Come From?"
Air Dates August 26, 2013 - September 1, 2013



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: A YOUNG VIEWER OF OUR SHOW NAMED HENRY, ASKED US THIS QUESTION: WHERE DID ALL THESE CONSTELLATIONS COME FROM?  SO WE THOUGHT THAT WOULD BE A GREAT TOPIC FOR THIS WEEK'S EPISODE!

DEAN: YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!  WELL, HENRY…LETS SHOW YOU!

JAMES:  FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS, OUR ANCESTORS HAVE LOOKED UP AT THE NIGHT SKY AND WONDERED WHAT IT ALL REALLY WAS.  ON A CLEAR, MOONLESS NIGHT, THEY COULD SEE THOUSANDS OF STARS.  WHEN WE LOOK AT THE NIGHT SKY, OUR BRAIN IMMEDIATELY WANTS TO MAKE PATTERNS OUT OF THE BRIGHTEST STARS.

DEAN: SO, AS OUR ANCESTORS SPENT THEIR EVENINGS GAZING AT THE STARS, THEY WOULD PLAY A CELESTIAL GAME OF CONNECT THE DOTS, MAKING PATTERNS THAT REPRESENTED OBJECTS, ANIMALS OR PEOPLE. WE CALL THESE PATTERNS CONSTELLATIONS.

JAMES: AND AS PEOPLE ALL AROUND THE WORLD PLAYED CONNECT THE DOTS WITH THE STARS, THEY WOULD CREATE STORIES ABOUT MORALITY, LOVE AND COURAGE INVOLVING EACH OF THE CONSTELLATIONS THEY MADE.

DEAN: SO, THE NEXT TIME YOU GO OUT UNDER A CLEAR DARK SKY, MAKE THE STARS YOUR OWN. AND…

BOTH: KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

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