WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #14-12 "The Strange Case of the Brightest Star We See the Most Often"
Air Dates March 24, 2014 - March 30, 2014



FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
DEAN: HEY THERE STAR GAZERS I'M DEAN REGAS, ASTRONMER FROM THE CINCINNATI OBSERVATORY AND BEFORE YOU ALL SHOUT "SIRIUS"! AS THE BRIGHTEST STAR WE SEE THE MOST, LET ME  SAY GUESS AGAIN.

MARLENE: AND I'M MARLENE HIDALGO, SCIENCE TEACHER FROM MIAMI FLORIDA. WHILE THE STAR SIRIUS IS THE BRIGHTEST STAR WE CAN SEE WITH THE NAKED EYE , THERE IS ANOTHER STAR THAT IS INDEED THE BRIGHTEST STAR WE SEE MOST OFTEN IN THE HEAVENS FROM THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE.

JAMES: AND I'M JAMES ALBURY FROM THE KIKA SILVA PLA PLANETARIUM IN GAINESVILLE FLORIDA. , THIS OTHER STAR IS ONLY THE 6TH BRIGHTEST STAR IN THE SKY, BUT WE SEE IT MOST OFTEN BECAUSE IT IS THE BRIGHTEST STAR CLOSEST TO THE NORTH STAR. THIS MEANS IT IS VISIBLE MORE NIGHTS OF THE YEAR FROM THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE THAN ANY OTHER BRIGHT STAR. LET'S SHOW YOU:

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 DEAN: OUR SKIES ARE SET UP SO THAT WE'RE FACING DUE NORTH ANY EARLY SPRING EVENING BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 8 AND 10. AND TO FIND THIS BRIGHTEST STAR WE SEE IN THE SKY MORE THAN ANY OTHER BRIGHT STAR SIMPLY LOCATE THE SEVEN STARS OF THE BIG DIPPER, THEN SHOOT AN IMAGINARY ARROW THROUGH THE 2 STARS THAT MARK THE RIM OF THE CUP IN THE DIRECTION AWAY FROM THE HANDLE, AND YOUR ARROW WILL LAND SMACK DAB ON THE BRIGHT YELLOW STAR NAMED CAPELLA WHICH IS THE BRIGHTEST STAR OF THE CONSTELLATION AURIGA, THE CHARIOTEER.

MARLENE:  CAPELLA MEANS 'THE GOAT STAR'. YOU SEE, LONG AGO, AURIGA WAS DEPICTED AS BOTH A CHARIOTEER AND AS A GOAT HERDER. IN FACT, YOU CAN SEE THAT CAPELLA IS THE MOTHER OF THE HERD AND HER 3 KID GOATS ARE VERY CLOSE BY. AT ANY RATE WHILE THE CONCEPT OF A GOAT IN THE HEAVENS ISN'T ALL THAT POETIC TO ME, NEVERTHELESS THE TRUE NATURE OF CAPELLA AS A CELESTIAL OBJECT IS ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL.

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JAMES: ALTHOUGH IT LOOKS YELLOWISH TO THE NAKED EYE, AND ALTHOUGH THROUGH EVEN THE GREATEST TELESCOPE ON EARTH, IT APPEARS AS A SINGLE STAR, NOTHING COULD BE FARTHER FROM THE TRUTH. INDEED, BACK IN 1899 AN INSTRUMENT CALLED A SPECTROSCOPE REVEALED THAT CAPELLA IS TWO STARS, EACH SEVERAL TIMES LARGER THAN OUR SUN, SEPARATED BY ONLY 70 MILLION MILES.

DEAN: BUT A FEW YEARS LATER TWO MORE STARS WERE DISCOVERED, TWO TINY RED DWARF STARS ORBITING ALMOST 1/5 OF A LIGHT YEAR AWAY. SO WHEN WE LOOK UP AT CAPELLA WE ARE ACTUALLY SEEING TWO GIANT YELLOW STARS ORBITING EACH OTHER AND TWO RED DWARF STARS ORBITING EACH OTHER.

MARLENE: AND IF YOU'D LIKE TO MAKE A SCALE MODEL, THE LATE ROBERT BURNHAM, JR. SAYS THAT THE TWO GIANT YELLOW STARS WOULD BE TWO GLOBES 13 AND 7 INCHES IN DIAMETER, ABOUT 10 FEET APART BUT THAT THE TWO RED DWARFS WOULD BE ONLY 3/4 OF AN INCH IN DIAMETER, 420 FEET APART. AND AT THIS SCALE, 21 MILES WOULD SEPARATE THE DWARFS FROM THE GIANTS. WOW!

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JAMES: I REALLY LIKE TO SEE A SUPER SKINNY MOON IN THE EVENING SKY AND NEXT WEEK WE HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO SEE A REALLY GOOD ONE. LET'S SET OUR SKIES UP FOR MARCH 31ST RIGHT AFTER SUNSET FACING WEST. THIS WILL BE A VERY YOUNG MOON BUT NOT A RECORD SETTING OPPORTUNITY.

DEAN:  I BELIEVE THE YOUNGEST MOON SPOTTED WITH THE NAKED EYE WAS SEEN BY STEPHEN JAMES OMEARA IN 1990. IT WAS ONLY15 HOURS 38 MINUTES OLD. THE ONE NEXT WEEK WILL BE ABOUT TWICE AS
OLD.

MARLENE: BUT IT WILL STILL BE A CHALLENGE TO SPOT IT AND IT WILL BE WORTH YOUR TIME. THE NEXT NIGHT APRIL 1ST IT WILL BE MUCH EASIER BUT STILL GIVE YOU A GOOD CHANCE TO SEE A SOMEWHAT RARE MOON IMAGE - THE OLD MOON IN THE NEW MOON'S ARMS.

JAMES: IF YOU HAVE CLEAR SKIES LOOK FOR A FAINT GHOSTLY IMAGE OF THE UNLIT PORTION OF THE MOON ABOVE THE CRESCENT. THIS GHOSTLY LIGHT IS THE REAL MOON BUT IS LIT BY TWICE REFLECTED LIGHT. THE LIGHT HAS COME FROM THE SUN, REFLECTED OFF THE EARTH TO THE MOON, THEN REFLECTED AGAIN FROM THE MOON BACK DOWN TO THE EARTH.

DEAN: THIS IS EARTHLIGHT OR EARTHSHINE. IT'S OFTEN VISIBLE AT EVERY YOUNG OR EVERY OLD MOON BUT MOST PEOPLE NEVER NOTICE.

MARLENE: SO GO OUTSIDE ANY CLEAR SPRING NIGHT BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 8 AND 10 AND SHOOT AN ARROW  THROUGH THE CUP STARS OF THE BIG DIPPER TO THE WONDROUS QUADRUPLE STAR SYSTEM WE SEE AS A SINGLE STAR, CAPELLA.

DEAN: AND BE AMONG THE FEW TO SEE THE EARTH'S REFLECTED LIGHT NEXT WEEK.

JAMES: HOW MARVELOUS IT IS TO

ALL:KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

Episode #14-12 "The Strange Case of the Brightest Star We See the Most Often"
Air Dates March 24, 2014 - March 30, 2014



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES: WHAT BRIGHT STAR DO WE SEE THE MOST?

MARLENE: BEFORE YOU SAY "SIRIUS!" GIVE IT SOME MORE THOUGHT.

STOP

MARLENE: LOOK NORTH ANY MARCH EVENING JUST AFTER DARK, FIND THE BIG DIPPER AND SHOOT AN IMAGINARY ARROW THROUGH THE 2 STARS THAT MARK THE RIM OF THE CUP AND YOU'LL LAND ON ONE OF THE STRANGEST STARS IN THE HEAVENS, YELLOW-GOLD CAPELLA, THE BRIGHTEST STAR OF AURIGA THE CHARIOTEER AND THE 6TH BRIGHTEST STAR WE CAN SEE.

JAMES: THROUGH EARTH'S BEST TELESCOPES IT LOOKS LIKE A SINGLE BRIGHT STAR BUT IN 1899 AN INSTRUMENT CALLED A SPECTROSCOPE REVEALED THAT CAPELLA IS ACTUALLY 4 STARS, 2 GIANT STARS MANY TIMES LARGER THAN OUR SUN AND CLOSER TO EACH OTHER THAN OUR EARTH IS TO THE SUN, AND 2 TINY RED DWARF STARS A TRILLION MILES AWAY. FOUR STARS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE!

MARLENE: NEXT WEEK YOU CAN SEE EARTHLIGHT, THAT FAINT ETHEREAL GLOW ON A VERY YOUNG MOON.

JAMES LOOK WEST AFTER SUNSET APRIL 1ST AND YOU'LL SEE THE OLD MOON IN THE NEW MOON'S ARMS.

BOTH: KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

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