WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #13-38 "The Curious Case of the Wandering Stars"
Air Dates September 23, 2013 - September 29, 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: LAST MONTH, WE ANSWERED A QUESTION FROM ONE OF OUR VIEWERS ABOUT THE CONSTELLATIONS. WELL, IN THIS EPISODE WED LIKE TO TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT PLANETS.

DEAN:…BUT JAMES. WE TALK ABOUT PLANETS IN ALMOST EVERY EPISODE.

JAMES: YES, BUT I WAS THINKING THAT THIS TIME, WE CAN GO A LITTLE MORE INTO THE MYTHOLOGY BEHIND THE PLANETS AND WHY ANCIENT PEOPLE CONSIDERED THEM SO SPECIAL.

MARLENE: HMMM…THAT DOES SOUND LIKE A GREAT IDEA!

JAMES: EXACTLY!  LET’S SHOW YOU!

JAMES: THROUGHOUT HUMAN HISTORY, CULTURES AROUND THE WORLD HAVE MADE PATTERNS OUT OF THE BRIGHTEST STARS.  WE CALL THESE PATTERNS CONSTELLATIONS, AND THE STARS THAT FORM THEM APPEAR FIXED WITH RESPECT TO EACH OTHER; GLIDING IN UNISON THROUGH THE NIGHT SKY, FROM EAST TO WEST.

MARLENE: FOR MOST OF HUMAN HISTORY, THERE WAS NO SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION FOR WHAT THE STARS WERE.  SO MANY CULTURES CONSIDERED THE STARS AS BEING DIVINE.  THE MOTION OF THE STARS THROUGH THE SKY WAS SO PREDICTABLE, THAT PEOPLE COULD ACTUALLY TELL TIME BASED ON THE POSITION OF THE STARS.  THIS HARMONIOUS RHYTHM OF THE STARS WAS SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE COULD RELY ON AND THEY USED THE SKY AS A PRIMITIVE CLOCK.

DEAN: HOWEVER, NOT ALL OF THESE BRIGHT LIGHTS IN THE SKY WERE IN HARMONY. THERE WERE A FEW PECULIAR LIGHTS THAT SEEMED TO MOVE AMONG THE STARS; APPEARING IN A DIFFERENT POSITION EACH NIGHT.  AND NOT ONLY WOULD THEY MOVE, BUT THEY WOULD CHANGE THEIR DIRECTION, THEIR SPEED, THEIR BRIGHTNESS, AND EVEN THEIR COLOR.  THESE LIGHTS WOULD EVEN DISAPPEAR FOR A WHILE AND THEN REAPPEAR.

JAMES: THE STRANGE BEHAVIOR OF THESE LIGHTS PROMPTED MANY ANCIENT CULTURES TO BELIEVE THAT THESE WANDERING STARS WERE GREATER GODS THAN THE  FIXED STARS, AND THEIR BIZARRE MOTIONS WERE MESSAGES FROM THE GODS EXPRESSING THEIR PLEASURE OR DISPLEASURE WITH THE DOINGS OF MAN.

DEAN: ANCIENT GREEK ASTRONOMERS REFERED TO THESE WANDERING STARS AS ASTERES PLANETES, WHICH WE HAVE SHORTENED TODAY TO PLANET.  WE NOW DEFINE A PLANET AS BEING A RELATIVELY LARGE, SPHERICAL BODY THAT ORBITS A STAR, IN OUR CASE, THE SUN. OUR SOLAR SYSTEM HAS 4 ROCKY PLANETS, 4 GAS GIANT PLANETS, AND NUMEROUS ICY DWARF PLANETS. GIVEN THE GODLY HISTORY OF THE PLANETS, EACH OF THE MAJOR PLANETS IS NAMED AFTER A CHARACTER IN ROMAN MYTHOLOGY.

MARLENE: FOR EXAMPLE, MERCURY IS NAMED AFTER THE MESSENGER OF THE ROMAN GODS.  HE WAS KNOWN FOR HIS SPEED, AND THIS PLANET LIVES UP TO ITS NAMESAKE.  MECURY IS TRAVELLING OVER 100,000 MILES PER HOUR AROUND THE SUN, AND CAN COMPLETE ONE ORBIT IN ABOUT 88 DAYS.  EARTH COMPLETES ONE ORBIT IN A LITTLE OVER 365 DAYS.

JAMES: VENUS, THE BRIGHTEST AND THE MOST DAZZLING OF THE NAKED EYE PLANETS, WAS NAMED AFTER THE ROMAN GODDESS OF BEAUTY AND LOVE.  HOWEVER, ITS BEAUTY IS DECEPTIVE.  VENUS HAS ONE OF THE MOST HOSTILE PLANETARY ENVIRONMENTS WE KNOW.  ITS ATMOSPHERE IS POISONOUS TO US AND ITS SURFACE TEMPERATURE ALONE IS HOT ENOUGH TO MELT LEAD.

DEAN: MARS, THE RED PLANET IS SPECIAL BECAUSE OF ITS DRAMATIC CHANGE IN BRIGHTNESS AND COLOR.  THE REDDISH COLOR OF THE SURFACE OF MARS PROMPTED MANY CULTURES TO ASSOCIATE THIS PLANET WITH THEIR GODS OF BLOOD AND VIOLENCE.  AND, EVERY 2 YEARS, MARS' ORBIT BRINGS THE PLANET CLOSE TO THE EARTH AND ITS BRIGHTNESS AND COLOR CAN CHANGE DRAMATICALLY, GOING FROM A PALE GOLD TO A BRIGHT RED.  IT WAS BELIEVED THAT WHENEVER THIS HAPPENED, WAR, PESTILENCE AND DEATH WERE NOT FAR BEHIND.  THE GREEKS NAMED THE PLANET AFTER THEIR GOD OF WAR, ARES, AND THE ROMANS NAMED IT AFTER THEIR GOD OF WAR, MARS; THE NAME WE STILL USE TODAY.

MARLENE: JUPITER IS OUR LARGEST PLANET AND IS, QUITE FITTINGLY, NAMED AFTER THE KING OF THE ROMAN GODS. THIS PLANET TAKES ALMOST 12 YEARS TO ORBIT THE SUN, SPENDING ALMOST A YEAR IN EACH OF THE 12 CONSTELLATIONS OF THE ZODIAC.  JUPITER CURRENTLY HAS OVER 66 MOONS, AND IF IT WERE HOLLOW, YOU COULD FIT OVER ONE THOUSAND EARTHS INSIDE IT

JAMES: SATURN IS THE LAST OF THE NAKED EYE PLANETS AND IT’S MY MOM'S FAVORITE.  THIS PLANET WAS NAMED AFTER THE ROMAN GOD OF AGRICULTURE WHO ALSO HAPPENED TO BE JUPITER'S FATHER.  THIS PLANET IS SPECIAL BECAUSE IT HAS RINGS MADE OF BILLIONS OF PIECES OF ICE, ROCK AND DUST THAT SUBSEQUENTLY MAKE THEM VERY EASY TO SEE, EVEN WITH THE SMALLEST TELESCOPE.

DEAN: SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON HOW THE WANDERING STARS GOT THEIR NAMES.

JAMES: WITH A LITTLE PLANETARY TRIVIA THROWN IN FOR GOOD MEASURE.

MARLENE: AND THEY'RE ALL IN THE SKY WAITING FOR YOU…AS YOU…

ALL:  KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

Episode #13-38 "The Curious Case of the Wandering Stars"
Air Dates September 23, 2013 - September 29, 2013



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: IN THIS EPISODE WE'D LIKE TO TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HOW THE PLANETS GOT THEIR NAMES.

DEAN: LET'S SHOW YOU!

DEAN: UNLIKE THE FIXED STARS, THE PLANETS WERE PECULIAR LIGHTS THAT SEEMED TO MOVE AMONG THE STARS; OFTEN CHANGING THEIR DIRECTION, THEIR BRIGHTNESS, AND EVEN THEIR COLOR???

JAMES: THE STRANGE BEHAVIOR OF THESE LIGHTS PROMPTED MANY ANCIENT CULTURES TO BELIEVE THAT THESE WANDERING STARS WERE GREATER GODS THAN THE  FIXED STARS, AND THEIR BIZARRE MOTIONS WERE MESSAGES FROM THE GODS EXPRESSING THEIR PLEASURE OR DISPLEASURE WITH THE DOINGS OF MAN.

DEAN: THEREFORE, EACH OF THE MAJOR PLANETS IS NAMED AFTER A GOD IN ROMAN MYTHOLOGY. MERCURY IS NAMED AFTER THE MESSENGER OF THE ROMAN GODS.  VENUS WAS NAMED AFTER THE ROMAN GODDESS OF BEAUTY AND MARS WAS NAMED AFTER THE ROMAN GOD OF WAR.

JAMES: JUPITER, OUR LARGEST PLANET WAS NAMED AFTER THE KING OF THE ROMAN GODS AND SATURN, THE FARTHEST OF THE NAKED EYE PLANETS WAS NAMED AFTER THE ROMAN GOD OF AGRICULTURE.

BOTH: KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

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