WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #14-04 "The Great Orion Nebula"
Air Dates January 27, 2014 - February 2, 2014



FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
DEAN: WELCOME TO STAR GAZERS. I'M DEAN REGAS, ASTRONOMER FROM THE CINCINNATI OBSERVATORY.

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

JAMES: AND I'M JAMES ALBURY, DIRECTOR OF THE KIKA SILVA PLA PLANETARIUM IN GAINESVILLE FLORIDA.

DEAN: ONE OF THE BEST THINGS ABOUT WINTER IS THAT IT ALWAYS BRINGS THE RETURN OF ONE OF THE TRUE WONDERS OF THE UNIVERSE.

JAMES: THAT WOULDN'T BE SNOW, WOULD IT?

MARLENE: NOT QUITE, JAMES! BUT IT IS SOMETHING THAT'S VERY EASY TO SPOT. LET'S SHOW YOU!

(STOP & FLY)

DEAN: OUR SKIES ARE SET UP FOR ANY NIGHT OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKS DURING EARLY EVENING AND IN THE SOUTHEAST YOU'LL SEE WHAT HAS TO BE THE SECOND MOST FAMILIAR PATTERN OF STARS (AFTER THE BIG DIPPER THAT IS), A PATTERN WHICH IS LOADED WITH BRIGHT STARS, KNOWN AS ORION THE HUNTER.

MARLENE: TO FIND HIM LOOK FOR HIS BELT, WHICH IS SIMPLY 3 EVENLY SPACED STARS IN A ROW. THESE ARE THE STARS, ALNITAK, ALNILAM AND MINTAKA. ABOVE THESE 3 BELT STARS YOU WILL SEE 2 BRILLIANT STARS MARKING ORION'S SHOULDERS, BETELGEUSE AND BELLATRIX. AND BELOW HIS BELT, 2 BRILLIANT STARS MARK HIS ANKLE AND HIS KNEE, RIGEL AND SAIPH.

JAMES: AND ALTHOUGH WE TALK ABOUT HIS BRIGHT STARS EVERY WINTER, FOR THIS EPISODE, WE WOULD LIKE TO ZERO IN ON ONE OF ORION'S DIMMER STARS BECAUSE AS MAGNIFICENT AS ORION'S BRIGHT STARS ARE, THIS ONE IS, IN REALITY, ONE OF THE MOST AWESOME WONDERS OF OUR NEARBY UNIVERSE. TO FIND IT, LOOK BELOW THE BELT STARS FOR 3 MUCH DIMMER STARS, THE STARS WE CALL THE SWORD OF ORION.

(STOP & FLY)

DEAN: IF YOU LOOK VERY CAREFULLY AT THESE 3 STARS YOU'LL NOTICE THAT NO MATTER HOW SHARP YOUR EYESIGHT, THE MIDDLE STAR ALWAYS SEEMS TO LOOK FUZZY AND SLIGHTLY OUT OF FOCUS AND THAT'S BECAUSE THIS STAR IS NOT A STAR AT ALL, BUT SOMETHING WE CALL A NEBULA.

MARLENE: A NEBULA IS A COSMIC CLOUD OF GAS AND DUST. THE GREAT NEBULA OF ORION IS ACTUALLY A STELLAR RECYCLING CENTER. SOME NEBULAE ARE WHATS LEFT BEHIND AFTER A STAR DIES. WITHIN THIS NEBULA, BRAND NEW STARS HAVE BEEN, AND ARE STILL BEING, BORN.

JAMES: IN FACT, YOU CAN SEE THIS NEBULA USING EVEN THE CHEAPEST PAIR OF BINOCULARS. THIS CLOUD IS ACTUALLY ILLUMINATED BY 4 RECENTLY BORN STARS ARRANGED IN THE SHAPE OF A BASEBALL DIAMOND CALLED THE TRAPEZIUM, AND THESE 4 STARS CAN ACTUALLY BE SEEN WITH A SMALL TELESCOPE. NOW, ALTHOUGH THE ORION NEBULA LOOKS LIKE A TINY, Q-TIP SHAPED CLOUD THROUGH A PAIR OF BINOCULARS, IN REALITY, ITS SIZE IS MIND-BOGGLING.

(STOP & FLY IN SPACE)

DEAN: BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THERE IS ENOUGH MATERIAL IN THIS NEBULA TO PRODUCE OVER 10 THOUSAND STARS THE SIZE OF OUR SUN! BUT IF YOU REALLY WANT TO BE IMPRESSED, CHECK OUT THE WIDTH OF THE ORION NEBULA. AS NEBULAE GO, THIS ONE IS GIGANTIC; SPANNING OVER 30 LIGHT YEARS IN DIAMETER.

(STOP)

MARLENE: JUST TO GIVE YOU A REFRESHER, A LIGHT YEAR IS NOT A MEASURE OF TIME, BUT A MEASURE OF DISTANCE. SPACE IS SO BIG AND THE STARS ARE SO FAR AWAY, THAT WE ASTRONOMERS DONT MEASURE THE DISTANCES BETWEEN THE STARS IN TERRESTRIAL UNITS LIKE MILES OR KILOMETERS. WE USE THE TERM LIGHT YEAR.

JAMES: LIGHT TRAVELS A WHOPPING 186,000 MILES PER SECOND, WHICH IS ALMOST 670 MILLION MILES PER HOUR! THIS MEANS THAT IF YOU WERE TO TRAVEL AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON, YOU COULD MAKE THE TRIP IN A LITTLE LESS THAN ONE AND A HALF SECONDS. IF YOU TRAVELED FROM THE EARTH TO THE SUN AT THAT SAME SPEED, YOU COULD MAKE THE TRIP IN A LITTLE OVER 8 MINUTES. AND IF YOU WERE TO TRAVEL FROM EARTH TO PLUTO AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT, YOU COULD MAKE THE TRIP IN A LITTLE OVER 5 HOURS.

(STOP)

DEAN: BUT THE ORION NEBULA IS SO WIDE THAT IF YOU WERE TO TRAVEL AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT FROM ONE SIDE OF THE NEBULA TO THE OTHER, IT WOULD TAKE YOU ALMOST 30 YEARS TO GET THERE! WHEN COMPARED TO THE SIZE OF OUR SOLAR SYSTEM, IT WOULD TAKE 20 THOUSAND OF OUR SOLAR SYSTEMS LINED UP END TO END TO REACH FROM ONE EDGE OF THE NEBULA TO THE OTHER. WOW!

MARLENE: OR TO PUT IT YET ANOTHER WAY, IF THE DISTANCE FROM OUR EARTH TO THE SUN WERE 1 INCH, THE DISTANCE ACROSS THE ORION NEBULA WOULD BE OVER 12 MILES. IS THAT MIND-BOGGLING OR WHAT?

JAMES: SO GET OUTSIDE AND ENJOY THE GREAT ORION NEBULA AS YOU…

ALL THREE: KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

Episode #14-04 "The Great Orion Nebula"
Air Dates January 27, 2014 - February 2, 2014



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
MARLENE: ONE OF THE BEST THINGS ABOUT WINTER IS THAT IT ALWAYS BRINGS THE RETURN OF ONE OF THE TRUE WONDERS OF THE UNIVERSE.

JAMES: AND IT'S SOMETHING THAT'S VERY EASY TO SPOT. LET'S SHOW YOU!

(STOP AND FLY)

MARLENE: OUR SKIES ARE SET UP FOR EARLY EVENING ANY DAY THIS WEEK. IF YOU LOOK TO THE SOUTHEAST, YOU WILL SEE A CONSTELLATION WHICH IS LOADED WITH BRIGHT STARS, ORION THE HUNTER.

JAMES: THE BEST WAY TO FIND HIM IS TO LOOK FOR HIS BELT, THREE STARS IN A ROW. NOW, LET'S ZERO IN ON THE AREA JUST BELOW ORION'S BELT FOR THREE MUCH DIMMER STARS, THE SWORD OF ORION, WHICH CONTAINS THE ORION NEBULA, A GREAT COSMIC CLOUD WHERE NEW STARS ARE BEING BORN.

MARLENE: IN FACT, THIS NEBULA CONTAINS ENOUGH MATERIAL TO PRODUCE OVER 10 THOUSAND STARS THE SIZE OF OUR SUN AND IT'S 30 LIGHT YEARS IN DIAMETER, WHICH MEANS IT WOULD TAKE 20 THOUSAND OF OUR SOLAR SYSTEMS LINED UP END TO END TO REACH FROM ONE EDGE OF THE NEBULA TO THE OTHER.

JAMES: SO GET OUTSIDE TO SEE THE ORION NEBULA!

BOTH: KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

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