WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #14-43 "Mercury and the Maiden Versus Mars and the Teapot"
Air Dates October 27, 2014 - November 2, 2014


FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES:  WELCOME TO STAR GAZERS. I'M JAMES ALBURY, DIRECTOR OF THE KIKA SILVA PLA PLANETARIUM IN GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA.

DEAN:  AND I'M DEAN REGAS, ASTRONOMER FROM THE CINCINATTI OBSERVATORY AND WE'RE HERE TO HELP YOU BE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE SEEING IN THE NIGHT SKY WHEN YOU…

BOTH:  LOOK UP!

JAMES:  WE HAVE TWO PLANET-STAR SCOOCHIES COMING UP NEXT WEEK ON THE NIGHT OF NOVEMBER 3RD AND THE MORNING OF NOVEMBER 4TH.

DEAN:  ON MONDAY NIGHT, NOVEMBER 3RD, THE RED PLANET MARS PASSES EXCEPTIONALLY CLOSE TO THE STAR IN THE TOP OF THE TEAPOT IN SAGITTARIUS.

JAMES:  AND LATER THAT EVENING, JUST BEFORE SUNRISE ON THE MORNING OF TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4TH, THE PLANET MERCURY WILL HAVE A CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH THE BRIGHT STAR SPICA IN VIRGO THE MAIDEN.  LET'S SHOW YOU!

DEAN:  OK, WE'VE GOT OUR SKIES SET TO MONDAY NIGHT, NOVEMBER 3RD, JUST AFTER SUNSET, FACING SOUTHWEST.  HERE YOU'LL SEE EIGHT BRIGHT STARS THAT MARK AN ASTERISM KNOWN AS THE TEAPOT.  IF YOU LOOK CLOSELY ON THE NIGHT OF NOVEMBER 3RD, THE STAR MARKING THE TOP OF THE TEAPOT WILL HAVE A REDDISH COMPANION.  THAT BRIGHT LIGHT IS THE RED PLANET MARS.

JAMES:  WE DON'T OFTEN GET TO TALK ABOUT THE INDIVIDUAL STARS OF THE TEAPOT, BUT THIS STAR IS QUITE SPECIAL.  ITS BAYER DESIGNATION IS LAMBDA SAGITTARII, HOWEVER IT WAS KNOWN TO THE ANCIENTS AS KAUS BOREALIS  BECAUSE IT MARKED THE NORTHERN POINT OF THE BOW OF SAGITTARIUS THE CENTAUR ARCHER.

DEAN:  KAUS BOREALIS IS AN ORANGE SUBGIANT STAR ABOUT 11 TIMES THE DIAMETER AND TWO AND HALF TIMES THE MASS OF OUR SUN. IT'S ALSO 78 LIGHT YEARS AWAY FROM US, SO THE LIGHT YOU SEE TONIGHT COMING FROM KAUS BOREALIS LEFT THE STAR BACK IN 1936.

JAMES: THIS PARTICULAR PASSAGE OF MARS NEAR KAUS BOREALIS IS SPECIAL BECAUSE SINCE THIS STAR IS SO CLOSE TO THE ECLIPTIC, IT IS OCCASIONALLY OCCULTED BY THE MOON AND SOME OF THE PLANETS.  FOR EXAMPLE, THE LAST TIME KAUS BOREALIS WAS OCCULTED BY A PLANET WAS WHEN VENUS BLOCKED IT FROM VIEW ON NOVEMBER 19TH, 1984. 

DEAN:  THIS PASSAGE HOWEVER WILL NOT RESULT IN AN OCCULTATION, BUT MARS AND KAUS BOREALIS WILL BE TANTALIZINGLY CLOSE TO EACH OTHER;   DEFINITELY SOMETHING TO LOOK OUT FOR.

JAMES:  NOW, FOR YOU EARLY MORNING PLANET WATCHERS, WE HAVE ANOTHER PLANET-STAR RENDEZVOUS TO SHOW YOU.

JAMES:  OK, WE HAVE OUR SKIES SET FOR ABOUT AN HOUR BEFORE SUNRISE ON THE MORNING OF TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4TH, FACING EAST.  YOU'LL SEE THE STARS OF THE CONSTELLATION VIRGO THE MAIDEN RISING JUST SOUTH OF EAST.  YOU'LL SEE THREE BRIGHT OBJECTS NEAR THE HORIZON.  THE STAR ARCTURUS WILL BE JUST TO THE NORTH OF EAST AND THE PLANET MERCURY WILL BE JUST TO THE SOUTH OF DUE EAST.  THE BRIGHT STAR SPICA, WHICH MARKS THE STALK OF GRAIN VIRGO IS HOLDING IS JUST TO THE RIGHT OF THE PLANET MERCURY.

DEAN:  IF YOU'VE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO SPOT MERCURY AND KNOW FOR CERTAIN THAT IT IS INDEED MERCURY, THIS IS A GOOD TIME TO TRY YOUR HAND AT FINDING IT.  SPICA IS A BLUE-WHITE STAR APPROXIMATELY 262 LIGHT YEARS AWAY FROM US AND OVER 12,000 TIMES AS BRIGHT AS OUR SUN. MERCURY IS POSITIONED IN JUST THE RIGHT SPOT IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM FROM US THAT IT WILL APPEAR SLIGHTLY BRIGHTER THAN SPICA.  SINCE THERE ARE NO BRIGHT STARS NEAR THE CENTER OF THE CONSTELLATION VIRGO, MERCURY WILL BE EASY TO SPOT.

JAMES:  COMPARED TO SPICA, YOU MIGHT NOTICE THAT MERCURY HAS A PINKISH HUE TO IT, BUT YOU'LL HAVE TO BE QUICK IF YOU WANT TO SEE IT.  MERCURY ORBITS VERY CLOSE TO THE SUN. THEREFORE, DURING THE COURSE OF ITS YEAR, IT NEVER GETS VERY FAR AWAY FROM THE SUN.  THE DISADVANTAGE OF THIS IS THAT MANY TIMES, MERCURY GETS CAUGHT IN THE GLARE OF THE SUN, MAKING IT VERY HARD TO SEE.  SO YOU ONLY HAVE ABOUT 15-20 MINUTES OF OBSERVING TIME TO SEE MERCURY BEFORE THE RISING SUN WASHES IT OUT.

DEAN:  SO, LET'S RECAP.  ON THE NIGHT OF MONDAY, NOVEMBER 3RD, LOOK TO THE SOUTHWEST AND YOU'LL SEE THE RED PLANET MARS JUST ABOVE KAUS BOREALIS, THE STAR WHICH MARKS THE TOP OF THE TEAPOT IN SAGITTARIUS.

JAMES:  AND THEN, JUST BEFORE SUNRISE THE FOLLOWING MORNING, YOU'LL SEE THE MESSENGER OF THE GODS, THE PLANET MERCURY, PAYING A CLOSE ENCOUNTER TO THE BRIGHT BLUE STAR SPICA, AS THEY BOTH RISE IN THE EAST.

DEAN:  TWO GREAT PLANET-STAR SCOOCHIES FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE.

JAMES:  AND IT'S ALL THERE FOR YOU TO SEE, AS LONG AS YOU REMEMBER TO…

BOTH: KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

Episode #14-43 "Mercury and the Maiden Versus Mars and the Teapot"
Air Dates October 27, 2014 - November 2, 2014


ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT
JAMES:  WE HAVE TWO PLANET-STAR SCOOCHIES COMING UP NEXT WEEK ON THE NIGHT OF NOVEMBER 3RD AND THE MORNING OF NOVEMBER 4TH.

DEAN:  WONDERING WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT?  LET'S SHOW YOU!

DEAN:  OK, WE'VE GOT OUR SKIES SET TO MONDAY NIGHT, NOVEMBER 3RD, JUST AFTER SUNSET, FACING SOUTHWEST.  HERE YOU'LL SEE EIGHT BRIGHT STARS IN  THE CONSTELLATION SAGITTARIUS THAT MARK AN ASTERISM KNOWN AS THE TEAPOT.  KAUS BOREALIS IS THE STAR MARKING THE TOP OF THE TEAPOT. IF YOU LOOK CLOSELY ON THE NIGHT OF NOVEMBER 3RD, IT'LL HAVE A REDDISH COMPANION.  THAT BRIGHT LIGHT IS THE RED PLANET MARS.

JAMES:  THEN, LATER THAT NIGHT, ABOUT AN HOUR BEFORE SUNRISE ON THE MORNING OF TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4TH, FACING EAST, YOU'LL SEE THE PLANET MERCURY, JUST TO THE LEFT OF THE BRIGHT BLUE STAR SPICA.  IF YOU'VE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO SPOT MERCURY AND KNOW FOR CERTAIN THAT IT IS INDEED MERCURY, THIS IS A GOOD TIME TO TRY YOUR HAND AT FINDING IT.

BOTH: KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

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