Monday, March 30, 2015

Transcript for Mar 29 to April 4

RACHEL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for the first week of April. We’re your hosts, Rachel...

PAUL
...and Paul.

RACHEL
The moon and Jupiter form a compact triangle with the Beehive star cluster on March 29th.

PAUL
Therefore, if you didn’t get a chance to find this beautiful star earlier this month, here’s your next chance.

RACHEL
The moon, Jupiter, and the Beehive will nearly fit together within your binoculars.

PAUL
You can’t miss the Beehive; it will be the tight grouping of stars located in the upper right edge of your binoculars.

RACHEL
The bright star beneath the moon on the evening of the 4th is the 15th brightest star in the sky.

PAUL
The reason Spica appears as the 15th brightest star is that it’s ten times more massive than the sun.

RACHEL
Its extra mass increase its fusion rate to furious levels.

PAUL
And that makes Spica shine over 12,000 brighter than the sun.

RACHEL
Unfortunately, candles that burn bright like Spica also live fast.

PAUL
One day Spica will end its life in a supernovae explosion.

RACHEL
So if you think Spica’s bright now, then wait another few million years when it dies.

PAUL
Millions of years is very short in stellar years.

RACHEL
Closer to Earth, Idaho gets to see a total lunar eclipse on the 4th.

PAUL
You’ll need to go outside after 2:30 AM to see the beginning of the eclipse.

RACHEL
The eclipse reaches it maximum extend across the moon by the time morning twilight begins at 5:00AM.

PAUL
Fortunately, the 4th is a Saturday morning.

RACHEL
So you won’t have to miss out on sleep prior to going to work.

PAUL
You can expect the moon to turn red during the eclipse.

RACHEL
How red depends on the clarity of Earth’s overall atmosphere.

PAUL
This means the moon could range from bright light orange...

RACHEL
...to a dull, dark red.

PAUL
Try taking a picture of the eclipsed moon.

RACHEL
A camera with an optical magnification of six power will be sufficient.

PAUL
Just be sure to place your camera on a tripod for stability.

RACHEL
That way it won’t shake around during the exposure.

PAUL
Which you should experiment with.

RACHEL
Try exposures all the ways up to a second or two long.

PAUL
That’s Idaho Skies for the first week of April. Next week is an auspicious time to observe the planets.

RACHEL
Be sure to follow us on Twitter at Idaho Skies for this week’s event reminders and sky maps.
For Idaho Skies this is Rachel...

PAUL
...and Paul.

RACHEL
Dark skies and bright stars.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Transcript for March 22 - 28

PAUL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for the last week of March. We’re your hosts, Paul...

RACHEL
...and Rachel.

PAUL
The moon passes close to Venus on the 22nd.

RACHEL
Look for this attractive pairing of the crescent moon and brilliant Venus.

PAUL
You’ll also see Earthshine through your binoculars.

RACHEL
That old moon really knows how to pose.

PAUL
On the 24th, it’s immersed in the Hyades star cluster.

RACHEL
The view should be quite nice through binoculars, with the thin crescent moon surrounded by a multitude of stars.

PAUL
It may not seem that way, but the Hyades star cluster spans an area much larger than the moon.

RACHEL
This will really be apparent when you see them together on the 24th.

PAUL
Since the moon is still a crescent, it should be easy to photograph it and the Hyades through a camera using its optical zoom.

RACHEL
A magnification as little as six power should be enough.

PAUL
Be sure to use a tripod for the camera since you’ll need an exposure several seconds long.

RACHEL
Orion the Hunter is arguably the most recognized constellation after the Big Dipper.

PAUL
Although the Big Dipper is only part of the constellation of Ursa Major the Big Bear.

RACHEL
You’ll find Orion just below the moon on the night of the 25th.

PAUL
If you have binoculars, then direct your attention to Orion’s belt.

RACHEL
His belt is the line of three stars crossing in the middle of the constellation.

PAUL
Hanging down from the middle star is a shorter line of stars that form his sword.

RACHEL
This is really where you should pointing your binoculars or small telescope.

PAUL
You’ll see a bright cloud in the middle of Orion’s sword called the great Orion Nebula.

RACHEL
This is a large cloud of glowing gas and dust in the process of giving birth to thousands of stars.

PAUL
In binoculars, it appears as a white cloud.

RACHEL
In a small telescope, the cloud is sprinkled with a few stars.

PAUL
In a larger telescope, the cloud turns light green from glowing oxygen gas.

RACHEL
Even though its hydrogen gas emits more light than oxygen, our eyes are more sensitive to the green light of oxygen than the red light of hydrogen.

PAUL
So the Orion nebula never appears red to our eyes.

RACHEL
The moon is located at the feet of Gemini the Twins on the 26th.

PAUL
In really dark skies, you might notice a faint and fuzzy spot located above the moon and on the other side of Gemini’s left foot.

RACHEL
This is the star cluster M-35.

PAUL
To see the cluster, aim your binoculars at the moon and scan straight up along the moon’s terminator.

RACHEL
You’ll soon run into the M-35 star cluster.

PAUL
In binoculars, it appears like a fuzzy cloud.

RACHEL
However, you should notice several stars immersed in the cloud if viewed from dark skies.

PAUL
The moon and Jupiter forms a compact triangle with the Beehive star cluster on the 29th.

RACHEL
Therefore, if you didn’t get a chance to see this beautiful star cluster on the 2nd, here’s your next chance.

PAUL
The three of them will just about fit within your binoculars at the same time.

RACHEL
And the Beehive will occupy the upper right edge.

PAUL
That’s Idaho Skies for the last week of March. Join us next month for the space and astronomy events for Idaho.

RACHEL
Be sure to read our blog for additional information. It’s at idahoskies.blogspot.com.

For Idaho Skies this is Rachel...

PAUL
...and Paul.

RACHEL
Dark skies and bright stars.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Transcript for March 15th to 21st

RACHEL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for the third week of March. We’re your hosts, Rachel...

PAUL
...and Paul.

RACHEL
The moon is new on the 20th.

PAUL
That means beginning the morning of the 16th you should start looking for Earthshine as you drive to work.

RACHEL
Earthshine is that faint illumination on the dark portion of the moon from sunlight reflected off of Earth.

PAUL
Earthshine can be so bright that through binoculars, that you can make out the lunar seas on the dark portion of the moon.

RACHEL
What a sight an astronaut would see standing on the moon during Earthshine.

PAUL
Earth would be four times larger than the moon appears to us.

RACHEL
And it would be about 16 times brighter.

PAUL
An astronaut would see blue oceans...

RACHEL
...white clouds and polar caps.

PAUL
Even some land masses would be visible.

RACHEL
Hey, spring begins on the 20th at 3:45 PM.

PAUL
That’s when the sun passes right over Earth’s equator.

RACHEL
For the last six months, the sun has been located overhead for locations south of the equator.

PAUL
Now it’s our turn for longer days, shorter nights, and warmer weather.

RACHEL
However, please remember that Earth’s distance from the sun has nothing to do with the seasons.

PAUL
In fact, Earth’s actually closer to the sun on January 4th when Idaho is very cold.

RACHEL
The seasons result from the tilt of Earth’s axis of rotation relative to the plane of its orbit around the sun.

PAUL
During the winter, the Northern hemisphere points away from the sun.

RACHEL
This creates shorter days and longer nights.

PAUL
And the sun crosses the sky at a lower altitude above the horizon.

RACHEL
The combinations of low sun angle and fewer daylight hours makes the Northern hemisphere get very cold.

PAUL
The moon reappears in the evening low in the western sky on the 21st.

RACHEL
Point you binoculars at Mars, the most noticeable star to the lower right of Venus.

PAUL
You’ll see that Mars is keeping close quarters with the moon.

RACHEL
And be sure to look for Earthshine on the left side of the moon.

PAUL
That’s Idaho Skies for the third week of March. It’s star cluster week next week.

RACHEL
Be sure to follow us on Twitter at Idaho Skies for this week’s event reminders and sky maps.
For Idaho Skies this is Rachel...

PAUL
...and Paul.

RACHEL
Dark skies and bright stars.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Transcript for March 8 - 14

PAUL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for the second week of March. We’re your hosts, Paul...

RACHEL
 ...and Rachel.

PAUL
The moon’s next to a lonely star on the 8th.

RACHEL
The star is the brightest star of one of the largest constellations.

PAUL
Unfortunately, Virgo the Maiden consists of dim stars, so the constellation isn’t visible in town.

RACHEL
The star is named Spica and it represents a stalk of wheat in Virgo’s hand.

PAUL
Spica is a white-hot star because it’s four times hotter than the sun.

RACHEL
And it would appear even brighter if we could see its ultraviolet radiation.

PAUL
Spica resides very close to the elliptic, or the path that the moon and planets follow around the sky.

RACHEL So occasionally, the moon passes right over it. PAUL When the moon does pass over a star, the star winks out instantly.

RACHEL
The rate of the star’s disappearance indicates that the moon has no measurable atmosphere.

PAUL
If the moon did have an atmosphere, even a thin one, stars would fade out more slowly as the atmosphere refracted their starlight away from Earth.

RACHEL
A widely spaced double star appears to the moon’s lower left on the 10th.

PAUL
Zubenelgenubi is the star’s name and it means the Scorpion’s Southern Claw in Arabic.

RACHEL
Unlike many double stars, people with good eyesight can split Zubenelgenubi into two stars.

PAUL
Most double stars require a telescope for people to resolve.

 RACHEL
And some are so close that even a telescope isn’t good enough.

PAUL
One way we know these stars are double is that sometimes one of the stars passes in front of the other.

RACHEL
This creates a stellar eclipse that periodically decreases the brightness of the star.

PAUL Do you remember that Venus and Uranus were really close to each other last week?

RACHEL
Well, Mars and Uranus get their turn on the 10th. PAUL Point your binoculars at Mars between 8:00 and 8:30 PM.

RACHEL
Mars will be the second brightest star in the low west.

PAUL
Be sure you don’t confuse Mars for Venus, which is brighter and a little higher in the sky.

RACHEL
Once you’ve got Mars in your binoculars, look for the star just above the upper left of Mars.

PAUL
That will be Uranus.

RACHEL
If you can afford a little time to star gaze at 5:00 AM on the 14th, then aim your binoculars on the last quarter moon.

PAUL
It’s located in the constellation of Sagittarius the Archer.

RACHEL
And smack dab in the middle of the Milky Way.

PAUL
Therefore, scattered all around the moon are star clusters and nebulae.

RACHEL
Most will appear as small fuzzy clouds in your binoculars.

PAUL
However, some of the star clusters will also show a sprinkling of stars.

RACHEL
That’s Idaho Skies for the second week of March. Next week we’ll talk about Earthshine from the moon’s perspective.

PAUL
Be sure to read our blog for additional information. It’s at idahoskies.blogspot.com. For Idaho Skies this is Paul...

RACHEL
 ...and Rachel.

PAUL
Dark skies and bright stars.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Transcript for March 1 - 7

RACHEL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for the first week of March. We’re your hosts, Rachel...

PAUL
...and Paul.

RACHEL
Hey, do you want to find Jupiter?

PAUL
Then look no farther than the moon because it approaches Jupiter on the night of the 2nd.

RACHEL
But Jupiter’s not the only astronomical treat near the moon.

PAUL
In dark skies, you will notice a small fuzzy cloud twice as far away for the moon as Jupiter.

RACHEL
But slightly more to the right than Jupiter.

PAUL
The ancients only knew of it as a small cloud or nebula.

RACHEL
It wasn’t until Galileo turned a telescope heavenward, that we learned the true nature of this astronomical cloud.

PAUL
That’s because Galileo discovered that it was actually a cluster of stars.

RACHEL
So get your binoculars out and discover the Beehive star cluster just like Galileo did.

PAUL
The brightest star in the west this month is Venus.

RACHEL
If you aim your binoculars at Venus around 8:30 PM on the 3rd, you’ll be able to see two more
planets.

PAUL
To find them, place Venus a bit above the center of your binocular’s field of view.

RACHEL
To the lower right of Venus you’ll see the second brightest star in the low west, Mars.

PAUL
After that, direct your attention to a much fainter star that’s just above Venus.

RACHEL
That’s Uranus, the 7th planet of our solar system.

PAUL
All three planets are located on the other side of the solar system.

RACHEL
Mars is about twice the distance away from Earth as is Venus.

PAUL
...and Uranus is 15 times farther away.

RACHEL
That distance is the major reason why giant Uranus appears so faint.

PAUL
Overhead on the 3rd, you’ll find the moon close to the brightest star of Leo the Lion.

RACHEL
The star’s name is Regulus, which means little king.

PAUL
It’s an appropriate name for the brightest star of a constellation representing the king of beasts.

RACHEL
Did you know that Regulus is related to royalty?

PAUL
Yep, it’s one of the four Royal Stars of ancient Persia.

RACHEL
These four bright stars are more or less spaced equally around the sky.

PAUL
And each is associated with a particular equinox or solstice.

RACHEL
The three other royal stars are Aldebaran in Taurus the Bull...

PAUL
...Fomalhaut in Pisces Austrinus, the Southern Fish...

RACHEL
...and Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion.

PAUL
On the 6th, the moon passes the second brightest star in Leo the Lion.

RACHEL
The star is called Denebola, which means tail of the lion.

PAUL
The moon and Denebola form a flat triangle with a large star cluster called Melotte-111.

RACHEL
This star cluster fills binoculars with stars and forms a large portion of the constellation of Coma Berenices.

PAUL
Hey, that’s the Hair of Berenice, the queen of Alexandria Egypt.

RACHEL
That’s right. Originally, the Hair of Berenice was the tuft at the end of Leo’s tail.

PAUL
But that was changed in 240 BC by an astronomer of King Ptolemy the 3rd of Alexandria.

RACHEL
In your binoculars, this cluster appears large and spread out.

PAUL
That’s Idaho Skies for the first week of March. Next week we’ll tell you how observing the moon pass in front of a star tells astronomers that the moon has no atmosphere. 

RACHEL
Be sure to follow us on Twitter at Idaho Skies for this week’s event reminders and sky maps.
For Idaho Skies this is Rachel...

PAUL
...and Paul.

RACHEL
Dark skies and bright stars.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Transcript for Febraury 22 to 28

PAUL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for the last week of February. We’re your hosts, Paul...

RACHEL
...and Rachel.

PAUL
The moon passes close to the Pleiades and Hyades star clusters on the 24th.

RACHEL
These are the two largest and brightest star clusters in the Northern hemisphere.

PAUL
Both clusters and the moon will form an attractive target for your binoculars.

RACHEL
The moon is an excellent target for your telescope.

PAUL
However, extended objects like the Hyades and Pleiades don’t appear anywhere as nice through most telescopes.

RACHEL
That’s because most telescopes have too narrow of a field of view.

PAUL
And their field of view gets more restrictive as their magnification increases.

RACHEL
Wide angle telescopes like rich field telescopes or spotting scopes are designed to provide large fields of view.

PAUL
However, they do this by sacrificing their magnification.

RACHEL
But that’s alright; there are many things in the night sky that are better at low power.

PAUL
The moon just clips the edge of the Hyades star cluster on the 25th.

RACHEL
This will be a perfect sight for your binoculars.

PAUL
Astronomer Kenneth Edgeworth was born 135 years ago on the 26th.

RACHEL
He should be more famous since he predicted a region of comets surrounded the outer reaches of the solar system.

PAUL
We often hear this belt of "comets in waiting" called the Kuiper Belt.

RACHEL
Some people call this region the Kuiper-Edgeworth Belt because Kuiper and Edgeworth made predictions on its existence.

PAUL
However, a careful reading of their arguments reveals that these astronomers didn’t actually predict what astronomers began discovering in 1992.

RACHEL
That’s because when they made their prediction, astronomers believed that Pluto was an Earth-sized object.

PAUL
And as a result, its gravity scattered all the comets in the belt out of the solar system.

RACHEL
However, there are two other astronomers who did make accurate predictions.

PAUL
They’re astronomers Fred Whipple of the United States and Julio Fernandez of Uruguay.

RACHEL
They understood that Pluto couldn’t affect this belt very strongly and that icy bodies still orbit the sun.

PAUL
Pluto is one of the largest Kuiper Belt objects and that there are millions more out there.

RACHEL
However, the largest one that astronomers have discovered doesn’t reside in the Kuiper Belt.

PAUL
What?

RACHEL
Yep, it’s now the largest satellite of Neptune.

PAUL
Oh, you mean Triton.

RACHEL
That’s right. It orbits Neptune in the opposite direction that Neptune spins on its axis.

PAUL
And that’s a dead giveaway that it escaped from the Kuiper Belt and was captured by Neptune.

RACHEL
That’s Idaho Skies for the last week of February. Join us next month for the space and astronomy events for Idaho.

PAUL
Be sure to follow us on Twitter at Idaho Skies for this week’s event reminders and sky maps.

For Idaho Skies this is Paul...

RACHEL
...and Rachel.

PAUL
Dark skies and bright stars.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Transcript for Febuary 15th to 21st

RACHEL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for the third week of February. We’re your hosts, Rachel...

PAUL
...and Paul.

RACHEL
The moon is new on the 17th.

PAUL
So you should look for Earthshine on the mornings of the 15th and 16th.

RACHEL
And again on the 19th and 20th.

PAUL
Earthshine is sunlight reflected off of the Earth and onto the moon.

RACHEL
Through your binoculars, you’ll see that earthshine faintly illuminates some of the lunar maria on the moon’s dark side.

PAUL
Over 100 years ago, some astronomers hypothesized that a planet existed beyond Neptune, the most distant planet known at the time.

RACHEL
They did because they believed Neptune was not traveling around the sun in a proper orbit.

PAUL
However, it turns out these hypothesizes where based on poor positional data, Neptune actually was traveling around the sun as it should.

RACHEL
One observatory looking for this unknown planet, which they called Planet X, was the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.

PAUL
They hired Clyde Tombaugh, a Kansas farm boy to photograph regions of the sky at night and then scan the photographic plates during the day.

RACHEL
He was literally looking for a needle in a haystack.

PAUL
That needle was a single faint star that appeared to shift its position relative to millions of fixed stars.

RACHEL
This was very time consuming and Tombaugh required intense concentration and dedication.

PAUL
However it paid off, Tombaugh succeeded in detecting Planet X 85 years ago on the 18th.

RACHEL
His discovery was eventually named Pluto, the Roman god of the underworld.

PAUL
Tombaugh’s planet was tiny, only 1,400 miles across or about 60% the size of the moon.

RACHEL
On average, Pluto is 4.5 billion miles away from the sun or over 45 times farther from the sun that Earth.

PAUL
At that distance, the sun’s gravity is so weak that it takes Pluto 247 years to orbit the sun and its surface temperature is -380 degrees Fahrenheit.

RACHEL
For over 60 years, Pluto was listed as one of the nine planets of the solar system.

PAUL
Late last century, some astronomers argued that Pluto shouldn’t be classified as a planet at all.

RACHEL
Pluto they believed was part of an undiscovered disk of small icy bodies surrounding the outer edge of the solar system.

PAUL
This belt was apparently the home of many of the comets that graced our skies.

RACHEL
It took until 1992, but eventually astronomers began discovering some of these millions of icy bodies.

PAUL
As a result, Pluto got an official demotion.

RACHEL
However, get ready for more news about Pluto and its place in the solar system.

PAUL
That’s because this tiny world will be in the headlines on July 14th.

RACHEL
On that day, the New Horizons spacecraft will visit Pluto during its flyby mission.

PAUL
Much closer to home, look for the young crescent moon on the evening of the 20th.

RACHEL
That evening however, you might first notice much brighter Venus.

PAUL
Just above Venus will be the planet Mars and our moon.

RACHEL
Since the moon will be an incredibly thin crescent, earthshine should be very easy to see once the sky gets dark.

PAUL
If you have a camera, you might want to try taking a few photographs.

RACHEL
That’s Idaho Skies for the third week of February. Many of the comets we see reside inside a belt surrounding the outer edge of the solar system and that’s our topic next week. 

PAUL
Be sure to follow us on Twitter at Idaho Skies for this week’s event reminders and sky maps.

For Idaho Skies this is Paul...

RACHEL
...and Rachel.

RACHEL
Dark skies and bright stars.