WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #13-39 "How to Find the False Dawn of Omar Khayyam"
Air Dates September 30, 2013 - October 6, 2013



FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
MARLENE:   HI STAR GAZERS I'M MARLENE HIDALGO FROM MIAMI-DADE COUNTY FLORIDA.

DEAN:   AND I'M DEAN REGAS FROM CINCINNATI OHIO.

JAMES:   AND I'M JAMES ALBURY FROM GAINESVILLE FLORIDA AND WERE HERE TO TELL YOU ABOUT THE SKY AT NIGHT.

DEAN:   HOW MANY OF YOU REMEMBER THAT FAMOUS LINE, "A JUG OF WINE, A LOAF OF BREAD AND THOU BESIDE ME SINGING IN THE WILDERNESS...". WELL, THAT ROMANTIC PIECE OF VERSE HAS BEEN AROUND FOR ALMOST A THOUSAND YEARS AND WAS WRITTEN BY THE PERSIAN POET OMAR KHAYYAM IN HIS FAMOUS BOOK OF POETRY, "THE RUBAIYAT".

MARLENE:   BUT DID YOU KNOW THAT IN ADDITION TO BEING A POET, OMAR KHAYYAM WAS A MATHEMATICIAN AND AN ASTRONOMER? IN FACT, IN THE RUBAIYAT, OMAR MAKES A POETIC ALLUSION TO A 'FALSE DAWN', WHICH WE NOW KNOW TO BE A SCIENTIFIC REALITY.

JAMES:   AND NOT ONLY CAN WE SHOW YOU WHEN AND WHERE TO FIND IT, WE CAN ALSO TELL YOU SOMETHING ABOUT IT THAT OMAR NEVER SUSPECTED, WE CAN TELL YOU   THE "FALSE DAWN" ACTUALLY IS, ASTRONOMICALLY SPEAKING. LET'S SHOW YOU.

JAMES:   IN SPACE: O.K., IF WE COULD GO WAY OUT IN SPACE AND LOOK BACK DOWN ON OUR SOLAR SYSTEM WITH SUPERHUMAN VISION, WE WOULD NOTICE A FAINT ALMOST IMPERCEPTIBLE VAST CLOUD EXTENDING OUTWARD FROM THE SUN IN THE PLANE OF THE ORBITS OF MERCURY, VENUS, EARTH AND SLIGHTLY BEYOND - A HUMONGOUS CLOUD OF DUST MADE UP OF TRILLIONS OF PARTICLES OF MATTER ABOUT THE SIZE OF DUST GRAINS,

MARLENE:   AND WHILE ONE WOULD EXPECT SUCH A THING WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE TO SEE FROM EARTH, NEVERTHELESS IN EARLY AUTUMN WHEN THE PLANE OF EARTH'S ORBIT IS NEARLY VERTICAL TO THE HORIZON WE CAN SEE THIS VAST CLOUD, THE 'FALSE DAWN' OF OMAR KHAYYAM.

DEAN:   NOW THE BEST TIME TO SEE THE FALSE DAWN IS IN EARLY AUTUMN BEFORE THE SUN STARTS TO LIGHT UP THE SKY AND YOU MUST BE FAR AWAY FROM CITY LIGHTS AND YOU MUST HAVE NO MOONLIGHT TO HIDE THIS FAINT GLOW, LIKE NEXT WEEK. LET'S TAKE A LOOK.

DEAN:   WE HAVE OUR SKIES SET UP ABOUT 5 A.M. FACING EAST. YOU HAVE TO LOOK BEFORE THE SUN STARTS TO AFFECT THE SKY. IF YOU CAN SEE THE MILKY WAY IN YOUR SKY YOU'LL HAVE A GOOD CHANCE OF SEEING THIS RARE PHENOMENON. LOOK FOR IT IN THE EAST, AN HOUR OR TWO BEFORE SUNRISE, BEFORE THE REAL DAWN AND LOOK FOR A WEDGE OR CONE-SHAPED, DIM PATCH OF LIGHT ABOUT THE SAME BRIGHTNESS AS THE MILKY WAY THAT EXTENDS FROM THE HORIZON ALMOST HALF WAY UP TO THE ZENITH, ABOUT 40 DEGREES...A DIM, FAINTLY GLOWING PYRAMID OF LIGHT.

JAMES:   THIS YEAR YOU HAVE A LOCATOR BEACON IN THE PLANET JUPITER TO HELP YOU FIND THE ZODIACAL LIGHT. JUPITER WILL BE THAT BRIGHT POINT OF LIGHT HIGH IN THE EAST SURROUNDED BY BRIGHT STARS. IF YOU CANT SEE THE MILKY WAY CHANCES ARE YOUR SKY ISN'T CLEAR AND DARK ENOUGH TO SEE THE FALSE DAWN EITHER. BUT JUPITER IS STILL GOING TO BE THERE AND IT WILL BE AT THE TOP OR JUST ABOVE THE TOP OF THE FALSE DAWN.  SO,  LOOK BELOW JUPITER TO FIND IT. THE PLANET MARS IS A DIMMER, REDDISH ORANGE SPOT OF LIGHT BELOW JUPITER AND MARS SHOULD BE RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FALSE DAWN.

MARLENE:   NOW THE SCIENTIFIC NAME OF THIS PHENOMENON IS 'THE ZODIACAL LIGHT' AND IT'S CAUSED BY SUNLIGHT SCATTERED FROM TRILLIONS AND TRILLIONS OF DUST PARTICLES THAT LIE IN THE ORBITAL PLANE OF THE PLANETS.

DEAN:   NOW ALTHOUGH OMAR DIDN'T WRITE ABOUT IT WE NOW KNOW THAT HIS 'FALSE DAWN' HAS AN EVENING COUNTERPART, THE 'FALSE DUSK' WHICH LOOKS PRETTY MUCH THE SAME EXCEPT THAT IT IS VISIBLE ONE TO TWO HOURS AFTER SUNSET IN THE WEST IN SPRING WHEN THE PLANE OF EARTH'S ORBIT IS ALSO NEARLY VERTICAL TO THE HORIZON.

JAMES:   AND IF YOU EVER SEE A SIMILAR OVAL-SHAPED GLOW DIRECTLY OVERHEAD AT MIDNIGHT, YOU COULD JUST BE SEEING THE ZODIACAL LIGHT'S SISTER PHENOMENON CALLED THE GEGENSCHEIN, OR COUNTERGLOW. AND I PERSONALLY WONDER WHETHER ANY POET EVER WROTE ABOUT THAT.

DEAN:   AT ANY RATE, REMEMBER THAT AUTUMN IS THE TIME TO SEE THE ZODIACAL LIGHT, THE 'FALSE DAWN' OF OMAR KHAYYAM WHICH IS VERY ELUSIVE AND TAKES ALMOST POETIC PATIENCE TO PERCEIVE,

MARLENE:   BUT ONCE YOU'VE FOUND IT I THINK YOU'LL KNOW WHY IT APPEARED IN POETRY CENTURIES BEFORE IT APPEARED IN SCIENTIFIC WRITINGS.

JAMES:   SO GET OUT AND LOOK EAST AROUND 5  A.M. NEXT WEEK,  FIND THE FALSE DAWN OF OMAR KHAYYAM, AND WHATEVER YOU DO IN THE MEANTIME REMEMBER 'KEEP LOOKING UP!'

 

Episode #13-39 "How to Find the False Dawn of Omar Khayyam"
Air Dates September 30, 2013 - October 6, 2013



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
DEAN:   ALMOST A THOUSAND YEARS AGO THE PERSIAN POET OMAR KHAYYAM WROTE ABOUT A 'FALSE DAWN'. AND YOU CAN SEE IT BEST IN EARLY AUTUMN IF YOU'RE FAR AWAY FROM CITY LIGHTS AND THERE IS NO MOON OUT, LIKE NEXT WEEK.

JAMES:   LOOK EAST ABOUT AN HOUR OR TWO BEFORE SUNRISE FOR A DIM, CONE SHAPED PATCH OF LIGHT THAT EXTENDS FROM THE HORIZON ALMOST HALFWAY UP TO THE ZENITH. IT SHOULD LOOK LIKE THE MILKY WAY WHICH WILL START ON YOUR SOUTHEASTERN HORIZON AND ARC OVERHEAD.

DEAN:   IF YOU CAN'T SEE THE MILKY WAY YOUR SKY PROBABLY ISN'T CLEAR AND DARK ENOUGH TO SEE THIS FALSE DAWN. THE BRIGHT PLANET JUPITER WILL HELP YOU LOCATE IT THIS TIME- AROUND, BECAUSE JUPITER WILL BE JUST ABOVE IT AND THE REDDISH PLANET MARS WILL LIE RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE.

JAMES:   ALTHOUGH OMAR COULDN'T KNOW IT, THIS FALSE DAWN IS A HUMONGOUS CLOUD OF COSMIC DUST EXTENDING FROM THE SUN, PAST MERCURY AND VENUS TO SLIGHTLY BEYOND EARTH. IT'S QUITE EERIE TO BEHOLD AND WORTH THE SEARCH. TODAY WE CALL IT THE 'ZODIACAL LIGHT'.

BOTH:   KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

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