WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #13-45 "Double Your Cluster, Double Your Fun and the Farthest Thing You Can See With the Naked Eye"
Air Dates November 11, 2013 - November 17, 2013



FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: HEY THERE STAR GAZERS. IíM JAMES ALBURY, DIRECTOR OF THE KIKA SILVA PLA PLANETARIUM IN GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA. 

DEAN: AND IíM DEAN REGAS, ASTRONOMER FOR THE CINCINNATI OBSERVATORY.

JAMES:IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR WHEN YOU CAN SEE ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS STAR CLUSTERS, THE PLEIADES, BETTER KNOWN AS THE SEVEN SISTERS.

DEAN: BUT DO YOU KNOW THAT THERE ARE TWO MORE STAR CLUSTERS, TWIN CLUSTERS SO TO SPEAK, JUST A SHORT VISUAL DISTANCE AWAY.

JAMES: AND HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED WHAT WAS THE FARTHEST THING YOU CAN SEE WITH THE NAKED EYE? LETíS SHOW YOU:

JAMES: O.K., WE'VE GOT OUR SKIES SET UP FOR NEXT WEEK AROUND 9 P.M. †IF YOU LOOK ABOVE THE EASTERN HORIZON YOU WILL SEE WHAT LOOKS LIKE AN EXQUISITE TINY LITTLE DIPPER SHAPED CLUSTER OF STARS, THE SEVEN SISTERS.

DEAN: NOW MOST PEOPLE SEE ONLY 6 STARS HERE WITH THE NAKED EYE, BUT REALLY GOOD EYES UNDER IDEAL CONDITIONS CAN SEE SEVEN OR MORE. WITH BINOCULARS YOU CAN SEE SEVERAL DOZEN. THERE ARE REALLY OVER 250 STARS HERE, ALL MUCH LARGER AND HOTTER THAN OUR OWN SUN. AND COSMICALLY SPEAKING, THEYíRE NOT VERY DISTANT, ONLY ABOUT 400 LIGHT YEARS AWAY WHICH MEANS THAT WE SEE THE PLEIADES AS THEY EXISTED 400 YEARS AGO, ABOUT THE TIME GALILEO FIRST TRAINED A TELESCOPE ON THEM AND DISCOVERED THEM TO BE A FAMILY OF DOZENS OF SUNS.

JAMES: NOW TO FIND THE TWIN CLUSTERS, LOOK DIRECTLY ABOVE THE NORTH STAR WHERE YOU WILL SEE 5 STARS THAT TRACE OUT THE 'M'-SHAPED CONSTELLATION OF CASSIOPEIA THE QUEEN. THEN TO THE RIGHT OF CASSIOPEIA YOU WILL SEE TWO FAINT FUZZY Q-TIP LIKE OBJECTS AND IF YOU ARE FAR AWAY FROM CITY LIGHTS WHERE IT'S GOOD AND DARK OUT YOU WILL NOTICE THAT THEY ARE EMBEDDED IN THE RIVER OF LIGHT WE CALL THE MILKY WAY.

DEAN: (IN SPACE) NOW THESE TWO DIM FUZZY BALLS OF LIGHT ARE CALLED THE DOUBLE CLUSTER OF PERSEUS AND ALTHOUGH EACH HAS ABOUT 100 MORE STARS THAN THE PLEIADES, THE REASON THEY DON'T PRESENT AS DRAMATIC AN APPEARANCE AS THE PLEIADES IS BECAUSE THEY ARE SO MUCH FARTHER AWAY. IN FACT, UNLIKE THE PLEIADES' 400 LIGHT YEARS DISTANCE, THEY ARE A GRAND 7000 LIGHT YEARS AWAY.

JAMES: LETíS GET BACK TO MY QUESTION ABOUT THE FARTHEST THING THATíS VISIBLE WITH THE NAKED EYE. LETíS START WITH THE MOON. ITíS VERY EASY TO SEE AND ITíS ALMOST A QUARTER MILLION MILES AWAY. LETíS STEP IT UP A NOTCH AND TAKE LOOK AT VENUS. NEXT WEEK VENUS WILL BE ABOUT 50 MILLION MILES AWAY, STILL EASILY SEEN WITH THE NAKED EYE. LETíS GO ANOTHER STEP AND LOOK AT JUPITER NEXT WEEK. THE KING OF THE PLANETS IS ABOUT 450 MILLION MILES AWAY AND STILL EASILY SEEN WITH THE UNAIDED EYE.

DEAN: WEíRE APPROACHING THE ANSWER BUT WE HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO YET. WE CANíT DESCRIBE HOW FAR WE CAN SEE IN TERMS OF MILES ALONE. WE HAVE TO SHIFT TO LIGHT YEARS WITH EACH LIGHT YEAR BEING ABOUT 6 TRILLION MILES, QUITE A JUMP, HUH? WEíRE NOT TALKING ABOUT JUST A FEW LIGHT YEARS EITHER. WEíRE TALKING ABOUT TWO MILLION LIGHT YEARS. BUT WHAT COULD BE SO BRIGHT THAT WE CAN SEE IT WITH OUR UNAIDED EYES AT SUCH A DISTANCE?

JAMES: TO ANSWER THAT LETíS FIND THE GREAT SQUARE OF PEGASUS THE HORSE. †IF WE DRAW LINES BETWEEN FOUR NOT-QUITE-SO-BRIGHT STARS WE WOULD TRACE A GREAT CELESTIAL SQUARE. AND WITH A FEW OTHER STARS AND A LITTLE IMAGINATION WE COULD CONNECT STARS TO THE WEST OF THIS SQUARE TO MAKE A LONG NECK WITH THE BRIGHT STAR ENIF AS OUR HORSE'S NOSE, A FEW DIM STARS FROM THE NORTHWEST POINT OF THE SQUARE FOR TWO SHORT FRONT LEGS. AND USING THE BRIGHT STAR TO THE NORTHEAST WE DRAW LINES BETWEEN THE FAINT STARS OF ANDROMEDA AND COME UP WITH TWO HIND LEGS.

DEAN: AND IT IS A VERY SPECIAL OBJECT JUST OFF THE KNEE OF ONE OF THESE HIND LEGS, WHICH PROVIDES THE ANSWER TO OUR QUESTION. IT'S DIFFICULT TO FIND AND YOU MUST HAVE CLEAR DARK MOONLESS SKIES LIKE NEXT WEEK.† IT IS THE FARTHEST OBJECT WE CAN SEE WITH THE NAKED EYE. IT IS CALLED M-31, THE GREAT GALAXY OF ANDROMEDA WHICH, THROUGH A TELESCOPE, REVEALS ITSELF TO BE A GIGANTIC FAMILY OF A TRILLION STARS THATíS OVER TWO MILLION LIGHT YEARS AWAY.

JAMES: SO WE HAVE THREE STAR CLUSTERS AND ONE GALAXY THAT ARE VISIBLE WITH THE UNAIDED EYE IN A FAIRLY SMALL CHUNK OF THE NIGHT SKY NEXT WEEK.

ALL: KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

Episode #13-45 "Double Your Cluster, Double Your Fun and the Farthest Thing You Can See With the Naked Eye"
Air Dates November 11, 2013 - November 17, 2013



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR WHEN YOU CAN SEE ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS STAR CLUSTERS, THE PLEIADES.

DEAN: AND ARE TWO MORE STAR CLUSTERS, JUST A SHORT VISUAL DISTANCE AWAY IN PERSEUS.

JAMES: O.K., NEXT WEEK AROUND 9 P.M.† IF YOU LOOK ABOVE THE EASTERN HORIZON YOU WILL SEE WHAT LOOKS LIKE A TINY LITTLE DIPPER SHAPED CLUSTER OF STARS, THE PLEIADES OR SEVEN SISTERS.

DEAN: NOW MOST PEOPLE SEE ONLY 6 STARS HERE WITH THE NAKED EYE, BUT REALLY GOOD EYES UNDER IDEAL CONDITIONS CAN SEE SEVEN OR MORE. WITH BINOCULARS YOU CAN SEE SEVERAL DOZEN. THERE ARE REALLY OVER 250 STARS HERE, ALL MUCH LARGER AND HOTTER THAN OUR OWN SUN.

JAMES: TO FIND THE DOUBLE CLUSTER, LOOK DIRECTLY ABOVE THE NORTH STAR WHERE YOU WILL SEE 5 STARS THAT TRACE OUT THE CONSTELLATION OF CASSIOPEIA. THEN TO THE RIGHT OF CASSIOPEIA YOU WILL SEE TWO FAINT FUZZY Q-TIP LIKE OBJECTS AND IF IT'S GOOD AND DARK OUT YOU MAY NOTICE THAT THEY ARE EMBEDDED IN THE RIVER OF LIGHT WE CALL THE MILKY WAY.

BOTH: KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

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