WPBT2's Star Gazers

Episode #14-49 "This Week's Impact with an Ancient Asteroid And How To Watch It."
Air Dates December 8, 2014 - December 14, 2014



FIVE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT

JAMES: HEY THERE STAR GAZERS. I'M JAMES ALBURY, DIRECTOR OF THE KIKA SILVA PLA PLANETARIUM IN GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA.

DEAN: AND I'M DEAN REGAS, ASTRONOMER FOR THE CINCINNATI OBSERVATORY. WE'RE HERE TO HELP YOU GET THE BEST VIEW OF OUR PLANETS COLLISION WITH ASTEROID DEBRIS THIS WEEK.

DEAN: THIS WEEK OUR PLANET EARTH WILL INTERSECT WITH THE PATH OF AN ASTEROID NAMED 3200 PHAETHON AND WE'LL BE TREATED TO WHAT WILL BE A VERY GOOD ASTEROID SHOWER.

JAMES: NOW USUALLY THIS EVENT IS CALLED THE GEMINID METEOR SHOWER. AND AS MOST OF YOU REGULAR VIEWERS KNOW, A METEOR SHOWER OCCURS WHENEVER OUR EARTH RIDES DIRECTLY INTO A STREAM OF SPACE DEBRIS AND THE LITTLE PIECES OF DEBRIS SLAM INTO OUR EARTH'S UPPER ATMOSPHERE AND PRODUCE VISIBLE STREAKS OF LIGHT, BECAUSE USUALLY METEOR SHOWERS ARE REALLY NOTHING MORE THAN COMET LITTER SLAMMING INTO EARTH'S SHIELD OF AIR.

DEAN: YOU SEE, EVERY TIME A COMET PAYS A VISIT TO THE SUN IT SHEDS PART OF ITSELF IN ITS WAKE. AND EVENTUALLY, AS THE COMET MAKES A LOT OF TRIPS TO THE SUN THE ENTIRE ORBIT OF THE COMET GETS LITTERED WITH COMET DEBRIS. AND WHENEVER OUR EARTH CROSSES A WELL-LITTERED COMETARY ORBIT WE GET HIT WITH THE STUFF AND EXPERIENCE WHAT WE CALL A METEOR SHOWER.

JAMES: BACK IN 1983 IT WAS DISCOVERED VIA THE IRAS SATELLITE THAT THE OBJECT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE GEMINID METEOR SHOWER IS NOT AN ORDINARY COMET BUT AN ASTEROID OR PERHAPS BETTER NAMED A ROCK COMET. YOU SEE, ACCORDING TO THEORY, AFTER A COMET HAS MADE A LOT OF TRIPS TO THE SUN, ALL ITS SNOW AND ICE EVENTUALLY MELT AWAY, AND ONLY A SOLID CORE IS LEFT. AND WE THEN CALL THAT SOLID COMET CORE AN ASTEROID, SINCE IT'S NO LONGER CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A COMETARY DISPLAY.

DEAN: SO, PERHAPS WHAT WE'RE EXPERIENCING HERE IS DEBRIS FROM A COMET SO OLD AND WORN OUT THAT IT NO LONGER HAS THE STUFF TO PUT ON ALL THE SHOW AND WONDER OF A BRILLIANT COMET HEAD WITH A LONG TAIL OF GAS AND DUST, SUCH AS COMET HALE-BOPP. SO WHILE WE WILL NEVER, EVER AGAIN SEE A BRILLIANT COMET ASSOCIATED WITH THE GEMINID METEOR SHOWER WE WILL CONTINUE TO EXPERIENCE THE GEMINID METEOR SHOWER ITSELF WHICH IS ONE OF THE TWO BEST METEOR SHOWERS OF THE YEAR, THE AUGUST PERSEIDS USUALLY COMING IN AS NUMBER ONE.

JAMES: AND THIS YEAR THE NIGHT TO WATCH, IS SATURDAY NIGHT DECEMBER 13TH AFTER DARK RIGHT THROUGH TO SUNRISE, SUNDAY MORNING DECEMBER 14TH. BUT IT USUALLY PUTS ON A GOOD SHOW FOR SEVERAL NIGHTS BEFORE AND AFTER.

DEAN: NOW ALTHOUGH THE GEMINID METEORS SEEM TO ORIGINATE FROM THE CONSTELLATION GEMINI THEY APPEAR ALL OVER THE SKY. THEY ARE VERY BRIGHT AND SEEM SLOWER THAN MOST METEORS. AND TO WATCH THEM, GET COMFORTABLE IN A LAWN CHAIR OR SLEEPING BAG AND CONSTANTLY SCAN THE SKY BACK AND FORTH. BUT YOU MUST BE FAR AWAY FROM CITY LIGHTS AND HAVE A CLEAR DARK SKY TO CATCH THE FAINTEST OF METEORS.

JAMES: AROUND 10 P.M. JUPITER WILL APPEAR IN THE EASTERN SKY AND GIVE YOU SOMETHING ELSE TO LOOK AT WHILE YOU WAIT. AND WHILE WE'LL HAVE A LAST QUARTER MOON RISING AROUND MIDNIGHT IT SHOULDNT BE TOO MUCH OF A PROBLEM BECAUSE THE GEMINIDS ARE ONE OF THE FEW METEOR SHOWERS THAT PUT ON A GOOD SHOW BEFORE MIDNIGHT AS WELL AS AFTER. AND THEY'RE VERY BRIGHT.

DEAN: NOW, THE GEMINIDS HAVE BEEN GROWING STEADILY STRONGER EVER SINCE THEY FIRST APPEARED IN 1862, FROM 14 METEORS PER HOUR THE LAST HALF OF THE 19TH CENTURY, TO ABOUT 40 PER HOUR BY 1930. THEN THEY WENT UP TO 60 PER HOUR IN THE FIFTIES, 80 PER HOUR IN THE SEVENTIES AND UP TO 100 PER HOUR IN THE EIGHTIES.

JAMES: SINCE THEN THEY HAVE BECOME THE BEST, MOST RELIABLE METEOR SHOWER, SOMETIMES GIVING US OVER 130 PER HOUR.

DEAN: HOW MANY WILL YOU SEE? WELL IT ALL DEPENDS ON HOW CLEAR YOUR SKY IS, HOW FAR AWAY YOU ARE FROM CITY LIGHTS AND HOW LONG YOU LOOK UP.

JAMES: AS WE SAID EARLIER THE LAST QUARTER MOON WILL RISE AROUND MIDNIGHT AND ITS LIGHT MAY AFFECT HOW MANY GEMINIDS YOU MAY SEE BUT THE MOON IS WORTH WATCHING FOR ITS OWN SAKE.

DEAN: IN FACT ON THE MORNING OF DEC 19TH THE MOON WILL HAVE SHRUNK TO A SUPER-SKINNY WANING CRESCENT AND WILL BE JUST ABOVE SATURN IN THE EASTERN SKY AT DAWN.

JAMES; ON THE FOLLOWING MORNING THE 20TH IT WILL BE JUST BELOW SATURN.

DEAN: SO WATCH OUR EARTH IMPACT THE REMAINS OF AN ASTEROID THIS WEEKEND,

JAMES: BUT IT WILL BE SUCH A LOVELY IMPACT IF YOU REMEMBER TO

BOTH: KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

Episode #14-49 "This Week's Impact with an Ancient Asteroid And How To Watch It"
Air Dates December 8, 2014 - December 14, 2014



ONE MINUTE EPISODE SCRIPT

JAMES: ON SATURDAY NIGHT DEC. 13 THRU THE MORNING OF DEC. 14TH, LOOK FOR THE ANNUAL GEMINID METEOR/ASTEROID SHOWER.

DEAN: AND THIS YEAR THE MOON IS GOING TO HELP BY RISING LATE. LET'S SHOW YOU.

DEAN: FROM SUNSET SATURDAY THE 13TH TO DAWN SUNDAY THE 14TH WE'LL BE TREATED TO THE GEMINID METEOR SHOWER.

JAMES: YOU MAY SEE A FEW DOZEN SLOW, BRIGHT METEORS PER HOUR. FACE EAST AND YOU'LL SEE ORION AND THE TWO BRIGHTEST STARS OF GEMINI. THEY'LL SLOWLY RISE UNTIL AROUND 2 A.M. AND THEN SLOWLY DESCEND TOWARD THE WEST.

DEAN: UNLIKE ALL OTHER METEOR SHOWERS, WHICH OCCUR WHENEVER OUR EARTH RIDES INTO SPACE RIVERS OF COMET DEBRIS THE GEMINID SHOWER OCCURS EVERY DECEMBER WHEN WE RIDE INTO A RIVER OF ASTEROID DEBRIS.

JAMES: AND ON THE MORNINGS OF DEC. 19TH AND 20TH LOOK EAST BEFORE DAWN FOR A SUPER SKINNY CRESCENT MOON NEAR THE RINGED PLANET SATURN.

DEAN: SO HAPPY METEOR/ASTEROID SHOWER THIS WEEKEND AND

BOTH: KEEP LOOKING UP!

 

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