WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #14-18 "May Is Your Month to See Mercury"
Air Dates May 5, 2014 - May 11, 2014



FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
DEAN: HEY THERE STAR GAZERS. I'M DEAN REGAS, ASTRONOMER FOR 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. QUICK DEAN! WHAT ARE THE FIVE NAKED-EYE PLANETS?

DEAN: UH, THERE'S VENUS… JUPITER… MARS… SATURN… AND MERCURY.

JAMES: EXCELLENT JOB! AND I'M GLAD YOU MENTIONED MERCURY LAST BECAUSE IT'S THE TOUGHEST OF THE FIVE TO FIND.

DEAN: I KNOW. IT'S SO CLOSE TO THE SUN THAT YOU CAN ONLY CATCH IT AT CERTAIN TIMES OF THE YEAR - JUST BEFORE SUNRISE OR JUST AFTER SUNSET.

JAMES: MAY IS OFTEN A GREAT MONTH TO CATCH MERCURY AFTER SUNSET. AND THIS MAY YOU'LL HAVE A WEEK OR TWO TO LOOK FOR IT ALONG WITH JUPITER, MARS, AND SATURN.

DEAN: LET'S SHOW YOU!

DEAN: OKAY WE HAVE OUR SKY SET TO MONDAY MAY 12TH LOOKING WEST-NORTHWEST. WE CAN START TO SEE THE BRIGHTEST STARS POP OUT.

JAMES: THERE'S BRIGHT WHITE JUPITER HIGH IN THE WEST. I HOPE YOU'VE GOTTEN TO KNOW JUPITER SINCE IT'S BEEN UP ALL SPRING. WE GET TO SEE JUPITER, SATURN, MARS, AND VENUS FOR LONG STRETCHES OF TIME, NIGHT AFTER NIGHT, OR MORNING AFTER MORNING.

DEAN: BUT MERCURY IS SHIFTY AND SPEEDY. IT ONLY POKES ITS HEAD ABOVE THE HORIZON FOR A FEW DAYS AT A TIME. IT WAS NO WONDER THAT THE ANCIENT GREEKS LIKENED IT TO THE WINGED GOD WHO WAS FAST-FLYING AND FAST-TALKING.

JAMES: TO SEE MERCURY IN THE SKY YOU'LL NEED A CLEAR, FLAT HORIZON TO THE WEST AND NORTHWEST - FREE OF TREES OR BUILDINGS. DO YOU SEE THAT LITTLE DOT, JUST ABOVE THE HORIZON? THAT'S MERCURY. TO SEE IT, YOU HAVE TO TIME IT JUST RIGHT. IF YOU LOOK TOO EARLY, THE GLARE OF THE SUN'S RAYS WILL WASH IT OUT. IF YOU LOOK TOO LATE - LIKE 30 MINUTES LATER - IT WILL HAVE SET BELOW THE HORIZON.

DEAN: LET'S ADVANCE THE TIME NOW DAY BY DAY AND WE CAN WATCH HOW MERCURY WANDERS UP. HERE IT IS, SAME TIME OF NIGHT, BUT ON MAY 13. AND HERE IS MAY 14… MAY 15… MAY 16… AND MAY 17… SO EACH DAY, MERCURY WILL BE JUST A BIT HIGHER AND EASIER TO CATCH.

JAMES: WELL, KINDA. EACH DAY MERCURY WILL GET FARTHER AND FARTHER FROM US, SO IT WILL APPEAR DIMMER AND DIMMER. BUT SINCE IT WILL BE HIGHER IN THE SKY, YOU MAY CATCH IT EARLIER AND BE ABLE TO WATCH IT SET IN A DARKER SKY.

DEAN: WOW, MERCURY IS TRICKY!

JAMES: I KNOW!

DEAN: I MENTIONED THE FIVE PLANETS YOU CAN FIND WITH THE NAKED EYE. YOU MAY WONDER: DO THEY EVER LINE UP? WELL…, ALMOST. FOR A FEW DAYS IN MAY 2002 YOU COULD SEE JUPITER, VENUS, MARS, SATURN, AND MERCURY ALL IN THE SAME PART OF THE SKY AFTER SUNSET.

JAMES: IT WASN'T EXACTLY A PLANETARY ALIGNMENT - MORE OF A PLANET CLUMP. AND THAT WAS DEFINITELY AN AMAZING PLANET CLUMP. THE NEXT TIME THAT WE'LL GET ALL FIVE PLANETS CLUMPED TOGETHER WILL BE IN THE YEAR 2040. BUT THIS YEAR YOU CAN FIND ALL FIVE NAKED-EYE PLANETS IF YOU'RE PATIENT.

DEAN: SO WE'RE BACK TO THE FUTURE SKY. ITS MAY 22 AT AROUND 10PM. THERES MERCURY REALLY LOW  IN THE SKY. DAZZLINGLY BRIGHT JUPITER IS UP AND TO THE LEFT.

JAMES: THEN IF WE TURN TOWARD THE SOUTH WE CAN FIND THE RED PLANET MARS, HIGH UP IN THE SKY.

DEAN: AND IF WE TURN AND FACE SOUTHEAST, WE COME TO THE RINGED PLANET SATURN, LOOKING LIKE A YELLOW-COLORED STAR ABOUT A THIRD OF THE WAY UP IN THE SKY.

JAMES: WELL, WE'RE STILL MISSING ONE PLANET: VENUS. WHILE YOU CAN SEE FOUR PLANETS IN THE EVENING SKY AT ONE TIME, YOU'LL HAVE TO WAIT A FEW HOURS FOR VENUS TO COME AROUND.

DEAN: LOOK TO THE EAST JUST BEFORE SUNRISE EVERY MAY MORNING AND YOU CAN'T MISS HER. VENUS IS THE MOST BRILLIANT PLANET AND WORTH WAKING UP EARLY FOR. SO THERE YOU HAVE IT - WHEN AND WHERE TO LOOK FOR THE MOST ELUSIVE PLANET, MERCURY....

JAMES:....  AS WELL AS THE FOUR OTHER NAKED EYE PLANETS. NOW DEAN, I THINK I SHOULD POINT OUT THAT THERE ARE ACTUALLY SIX NAKED-EYE PLANETS.

DEAN: SIX?!

JAMES: OF COURSE. YOU CAN'T FORGET THE EARTH!

DEAN: ITS TRUE. I DO SEE THE EARTH ALL THE TIME.

JAMES: PRETTY MUCH EVERY DAY.

DEAN: BUT TO SEE FIVE PLANETS IN THE SKY THIS WEEK, YOU HAVE TO…

ALL: KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

Episode #14-18 "May Is Your Month to See Mercury"
Air Dates May 5, 2014 - May 11, 2014



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
DEAN: OUT OF THE FIVE PLANETS VISIBLE TO THE NAKED EYE…

JAMES: VENUS, JUPITER, MARS, SATURN AND MERCURY…

DEAN: MERCURY IS THE TOUGHEST TO FIND.

JAMES: BUT  MAY 2014 WILL BE MERCURY-MONTH AND WE'LL SHOW YOU WHERE TO FIND THE ELUSIVE PLANET.

JAMES: IT'S JUST AFTER SUNSET AND WE'RE LOOKING WEST-NORTHWEST. YOU CAN START YOUR MERCURY-WATCH ON MAY 13 WHEN IT'LL APPEAR VERY LOW IN THE SKY AS A LITTLE STAR.

DEAN: THAT'S MERCURY. IT'S TOUGH TO FIND BECAUSE IT NEVER STRAYS FAR FROM THE SUN. YOU HAVE TO TIME IT JUST RIGHT. IF YOU LOOK TOO EARLY, THE GLARE OF THE SUN'S RAYS WILL WASH IT OUT. IF YOU LOOK TOO LATE - LIKE 30 MINUTES LATER - IT'LL HAVE SET BELOW THE HORIZON.

JAMES: OVER THE NEXT TEN DAYS, MERCURY WILL GET HIGHER AND HIGHER EACH NIGHT AT SUNSET. BUT BY THE END OF MAY IT'LL BE LOST IN THE GLARE OF THE SETTING SUN.

DEAN: LIKE THE FAST-FLYING MESSENGER OF THE GODS, VIEWS OF MERCURY ARE FLEETING. SO CHECK IT OUT AFTER SUNSET AND

BOTH: KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

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