WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #13-42 "Monsters in the Sky"
Air Dates October 21, 2013 - October 27, 2013



FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
DEAN: HEY THERE STAR GAZERS. I’M DEAN REGAS, ASTRONOMER FROM THE CINCINNATI OBSERVATORY

JAMES: AND I’M JAMES ALBURY, DIRECTOR OF THE KIKA SILVA PLA PLANETARIUM IN GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA.  WE’RE HERE TO HELP YOU FIND YOUR WAY AROUND THE SKY.  NEXT WEEK IS HALLOWEEN SO DEAN AND I THOUGHT WE’D SHARE OUR FAVORITE MONSTERS IN THE SKY.

DEAN: THESE ARE THE STARS AND CONSTELLATIONS THAT STRUCK TERROR IN THE HEARTS OF OUR ANCESTORS.  AND THEY INCLUDE A DRAGON, A SEA MONSTER, AND A WOMAN WITH SNAKES FOR HAIR. 

JAMES: AND FINALLY WE’LL SHOW YOU THE STAR CLUSTER THAT SIGNALED THE DAY OF THE DEAD.  LET’S SHOW YOU…

JAMES: WE HAVE OUR SKIES SET FOR MONDAY OCTOBER 31 FACING NORTH AT 9:30PM.  WE’RE GOING DRAGON-HUNTING AND LOOKING FOR DRACO THE DRAGON.

DEAN: THERE’S OUR GUIDE STAR HALFWAY UP IN THE NORTH – POLARIS OR THE NORTH STAR.  IT’S NOT TERRIBLY BRIGHT BUT YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO SPY IT FROM MOST LOCATIONS.  THE DRAGON’S BODY COILS RIGHT AROUND THE NORTH STAR  

JAMES: THE DRAGON’S HEAD HOLDS THE BRIGHTEST STARS IN THIS MONSTER CONSTELLATION.  THREE BRIGHTER STARS MARK HIS HEAD IN A NEAT TRIANGLE AND IF YOU’RE IN A DARKER SKY, YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO MAKE OUT A FOURTH. 

DEAN: THE ANCIENT BABYLONIANS REFERRED TO DRACO AS THE SHE-DRAGON TIAMAT WHO TERRORIZED CREATION.  SHE’S SAID TO HAVE A BODY SEVEN MILES LONG AND A MOUTH AS BIG AS THE SKY.  ALONG CAME A GOD NAMED MARDUK WHO SLEW THE GREAT BEAST.  MARDUK THEN SLICED THE DRAGON IN HALF – ONE HALF BECOMING THE EARTH, AND THE OTHER, THE HEAVENS ABOVE.  
(ENTER GRAPHIC OF JAMES AS MARDUK…)

JAMES: LET’S LOOK HALFWAY UP IN THE NORTHEASTERN SKY NOW FOR THE CONSTELLATION PERSEUS.  HE’S A TOUGHIE TO FIND SINCE THE STARS DON’T LOOK LIKE AN ARMOR-CLAD HERO WITH WINGED SANDALS

DEAN: I THINK HE LOOKS MORE LIKE A STRETCHED-OUT LETTER, “K”.

JAMES: AND WE SEE PERSEUS HOLDING SOMETHING IN HIS OUTSTRETCHED ARM.  TO THE ANCIENT GREEKS IT’S THE STAR ALGOL A.K.A. THE WINKING EYE OF MEDUSA.  SHE’S THE GORGON WITH SNAKES FOR HAIR.

DEAN: BUT OTHER CULTURES HAD SOME VERY FRIGHTENING NAMES FOR THIS STAR, LIKE: THE SPECTRE’S HEAD, GHOST’S HEAD, SATAN’S HEAD, THE DOUBLE EYE, AND MY PERSONAL FAVORITE, PILED UP CORPSES.

JAMES: WHY SUCH SCARY NAMES? 

DEAN:  ALGOL IS NO ORDINARY STAR - IT’S A SPECIAL TYPE OF STAR
CALLED AN ECLIPSING VARIABLE.  ALGOL IS REALLY TWO STARS OF DIFFERENT BRIGHTNESSES THAT ORBIT EACH OTHER.  WHEN THE BIGGER, DIMMER STAR BLOCKED THE LIGHT OF THE SMALLER BRIGHTER STAR THE ANCIENTS NOTICED.  DURING THESE ECLIPSES ALGOL DIMS LIKE CLOCKWORK EVERY 2.87 DAYS.  SO,
SEE IF YOU CAN SEE THE WINKING EYE OF MEDUSA THIS MONTH – IT WON’T
TURN YOU TO STONE.

JAMES: PERSEUS IS USING MEDUSA’S HEAD TO SAVE PRINCESS ANDROMEDA FROM A BRINY BEHEMOTH– THE SEA MONSTER, CETUS.  LOOK FARTHER TO THE SOUTHEAST, AND MAYBE YOU CAN MAKE OUT THE SEA MONSTER. 

DEAN: HIS OUTLINE LOOKS MORE LIKE A RECLINER CHAIR.
JAMES: NEVERTHELESS, THIS WAS POSEIDON’S VICIOUS PET SEA MONSTER WHO WE SEE TURNED TO STONE BY…

DEAN: MEDUSA’S HEAD!

JAMES: ALGOL STRIKES AGAIN!    

DEAN: FINALLY LET’S TALK ABOUT THE DAY OF THE DEAD…  MANY CULTURES SELECTED NOVEMBER 1 AS A SPECIAL DAY TO HONOR THEIR DEARLY DEPARTED.  IT MARKS A HALFWAY POINT BETWEEN FALL AND WINTER PLUS THE COOLEST STAR CLUSTER DOES SOMETHING SPECIAL THAT NIGHT – AT MIDNIGHT. 

JAMES: THE SEVEN SISTERS, OR PLEIADES, ARE AN OPEN CLUSTER OF STARS VISIBLE IN THE EAST.   AT FIRST GLANCE THEY LOOK LIKE A LITTLE CLOUD, BUT UPON CLOSER EXAMINATION YOU MAY BE ABLE TO MAKE OUT THE INDIVIDUAL STARS IN THE CLUSTER. 

DEAN: A SHARP-EYED FIRST GRADER TOLD ME THEY LOOKED LIKE A DINKY DIPPER. 

JAMES: THIS LITTLE CLUSTER FEATURES HEAVILY IN ALL HALLOW’S EVE CELEBRATIONS AROUND THE GLOBE - WHEN THEY ARE HIGHEST AT MIDNIGHT. AZTECS, MAYANS, PERUVIANS, JAPANESE, AND HINDUS ALL HAD FESTIVALS FOR THE DEAD NEAR NOVEMBER 1 IN HONOR OF THE SEVEN SISTERS. 

DEAN: AS THE NIGHT ROLLS ON, THE PLEIADES RISE HIGHER AND HIGHER IN THE SKY.  AND AT LOCAL MIDNIGHT THE PLEIADES REACH THEIR HIGHEST POINT.  IN FACT FROM THE YUCATAN PENINSULA, THE SEVEN SISTERS WOULD BE STRAIGHT OVERHEAD - THE GREAT MAYAN PYRAMIDS WOULD POINT DIRECTLY AT THE CLUSTER.

JAMES: SO LOOK FOR DRACO THE DRAGON IN THE NORTHERN SKY.

DEAN: THE WINKING STAR, ALGOL, OR MEDUSA’S HEAD, IN THE NORTHEAST

JAMES: CETUS THE SEA MONSTER IN THE SOUTHEAST

DEAN: AND, IF YOU DARE, STAY UP TIL MIDNIGHT TO SEE THE SEVEN SISTERS RIDE ALMOST OVERHEAD.

JAMES: HAVE A HAPPY HALLOWEEN AND…

ALL: KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

Episode #13-42 "Monsters in the Sky"
Air Dates October 21, 2013 - October 27, 2013



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: NEXT WEEK IS HALLOWEEN AND DEAN AND I THOUGHT WE’D SHARE OUR FAVORITE MONSTERS IN THE SKY.

DEAN: THESE ARE THE STARS AND CONSTELLATIONS THAT STRUCK TERROR IN THE HEARTS OF OUR ANCESTORS – AND I HAVE A DOOZY.

JAMES: ALGOL?

DEAN: ALGOL. 

DEAN: LEGEND HAS IT; ALGOL IS THE STAR MARKING MEDUSA’S SEVERED HEAD.  YOU CAN SEE ALGOL IN THE NORTHEAST AFTER SUNSET IN PERSEUS. 

JAMES: DOWN AND TO THE LEFT OF PERSEUS IS BRIGHT CAPELLA AND DOWN AND TO THE RIGHT ARE THE SEVEN SISTERS.

DEAN:  AMONG DIFFERENT CULTURES algol WAS KNOWN AS: “SPECTRE’S HEAD, GHOSTS’ HEAD, SATAN’S HEAD, THE DOUBLE EYE, AND MY PERSONAL FAVORITE, PILED UP CORPSES. 

JAMES: WHY SUCH SCARY NAMES? ALGOL CHANGES ITS BRIGHTNESS DRAMATICALLY

DEAN: VERY SCARY.

JAMES: FARTHER IN THE SOUTHEAST, TO THE RIGHT OF THE SEVEN SISTERS, YOU CAN FIND THE SEA MONSTER CONSTELLATION, CETUS. THIS WAS POSEIDON’S VICIOUS PET WHO WE SEE TURNED TO STONE BY…

DEAN: MEDUSA’S HEAD!

JAMES: ALGOL STRIKES AGAIN. 

DEAN: HAVE A HAPPY HALLOWEEN AND…

BOTH: KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

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