Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Idaho skies Transcript for September 22nd, 23rd, and 24th.

RACHEL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for September 22nd, 23rd, and 24th. We’re your hosts, Rachel...

PAUL
...and Paul.

RACHEL
The Autumnal Equinox occurs on the 22nd.

PAUL
Specifically, it begins at 2:02 PM.

RACHEL
The Autumnal Equinox marks the exact time that the sun stands overhead the equator.

PAUL
On the day it crosses the equator going south, marks the first day of autumn in the Northern hemisphere.

RACHEL
If there were no atmosphere to bend or refract light, then the day would last exactly 12 hours long.

PAUL
Because of our atmosphere, sunrise occurs a few minutes earlier and sunset occurs a few minutes later

RACHEL
Since the first day of summer back in June, the days have been getting shorter.

PAUL
And this will continue until late December.

RACHEL
So enjoy the first day of fall with its longer nights, fresh apples, and pumpkins that it brings.

PAUL
Get your binoculars out and observe the western horizon shortly after sunset on the 22nd.

RACHEL
Because at around 8:15, stargazers will be able to see the three day old moon and Jupiter.

PAUL
Jupiter is approaching the sun, so you don’t have many more days to see the planet.

RACHEL
The moon will appear as a very thin crescent to the upper left of Jupiter.

PAUL
The crescent will be thin enough that very few craters will be visible through binoculars.

RACHEL
And the moon is too close to the well-lit horizon for Earthshine to be visible on the dark portion of the moon.

PAUL
However, over the next two or three days, stargazers will be able to observe Earthshine on the moon.

RACHEL
That’s Idaho Skies for the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th of September.

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.

Idaho Skies Transcript for September 20th and 21st.

PAUL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for September 20th and 21st. We’re your hosts, Paul...

RACHEL
...and Rachel.

PAUL
Venus and Regulus continue their celestial dance for the next few days.

RACHEL
Venus is the Morning Star, and very bright in the low east at 6:30 AM.

PAUL
Regulus is the heart of Leo the Lion and the constellation’s brightest star.

RACHEL
To see them, look in the low east at around 6:30 AM before the light of dawn gets too bright.

PAUL
Stargazers will see the pair change their positions relative to each other very dramatically every morning.

RACHEL
Venus is on its way to the other side of the solar system.

PAUL
That means its growing fainter and smaller.

RACHEL
And its phase is becoming closer to full every day.

PAUL
However, Venus is small enough that its phase is not usually observable except through a telescope.

RACHEL
If you have one, then aim it at Venus once the sky has brightened.

PAUL
This way the glare of Venus won’t overwhelm your eyes.

RACHEL
And the planet will appear as a tiny white globe.

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

RACHEL
It will have the shape of an incredibly thin crescent in the low west.

PAUL
If you have trouble finding it at 8:30, then look for Jupiter.

RACHEL
Jupiter is the bright star in the low west.

PAUL
And the moon will be just a little right of Jupiter.

RACHEL
Get your binoculars out, for this will be a cool sight.

PAUL
Because the moon will be 46 hours past new.

RACHEL
Since people don’t see the moon until its three days old, you’ll have bragging rights after seeing the moon this young.

PAUL
That’s Idaho Skies for the 20th and 21st of September.

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.

Idaho Skies Transcript for September 18th and 19th

RACHEL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for September 18th and 19th. We’re your hosts, Rachel...

PAUL
...and Paul.

RACHEL
A very thin crescent moon appears between three planets and a star on the morning of the 18th.

PAUL
This should be a really neat sight on account of the thinness of the moon.

RACHEL
Early-rising stargazers need to look in the low east at around 6:30 in the morning.

PAUL
Above the moon will be brilliant Venus.

RACHEL
And almost equally distant below the moon will be bright Mercury.

PAUL
Between the moon and Mercury will be much fainter Mars.

RACHEL
And between the moon and Venus will be the star Regulus.

PAUL
For the next few mornings, keep an eye on Venus and Regulus.

RACHEL
Since Regulus is a true star, its rises earlier each day and therefore appears higher above the horizon.

PAUL
Venus on the other hand, is traveling to the far side of the solar system, so it appears closer to the sun each morning.

RACHEL
Meaning it rises later and appears lower in the sky.

PAUL
Venus and Regulus will nearly cross paths on the 20th.

RACHEL
So stargazers can watch the two approach very close to each other for the next few days.

PAUL
Then swap their relative places in the sky and grow farther apart.

RACHEL
The change is dramatic and noticeable from one morning to the next.

PAUL
So spend a minute each morning observing this celestial dance.

RACHEL
It will be a nice way to start your day.

PAUL
That’s Idaho Skies for the 18th and 19th of September.

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.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Idaho Skies Transcript for September 15th, 16th, and 17th

PAUL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for September 15th, 16th, and 17th. We’re your hosts, Paul...

RACHEL
...and Rachel.

PAUL
Stargazers will have an easy opportunity to see the Beehive star cluster on the morning of the 16th.

RACHEL
The Beehive is one of the few star clusters known to ancient cultures like the Greeks.

PAUL
Of course, without a telescope, they only knew of it as a small fuzzy cloud, or nebula.

RACHEL
In our electrically illuminated world, it’s more difficult to find the Beehive star cluster.

PAUL
Unless of course something brighter points out its location.

RACHEL
This is what happens with the moon on the morning of the 16th.

PAUL
So get out your binoculars and aim them at the moon at around 5:00 AM.

RACHEL
Then shift your binoculars to move the moon to the right edge of your view.

PAUL
Nearly dead center will be a tight grouping of stars.

RACHEL
This is the Beehive star cluster and you could see as many as two dozen stars.

PAUL
Look for the moon before leaving for work on the 17th, and while it’s still dark.

RACHEL
Below the moon is a line of four stars pointing slightly towards the left.

PAUL
First below the moon is the Morning Star, or bright white Venus.

RACHEL
Lower still is slightly yellowish Regulus, the brightest star of the constellation of Leo the Lion.

PAUL
Then very close to the horizon are two stars right next to each other.

RACHEL
The brighter star is Mercury, and it will appear white in color.

PAUL
Just next to it is much fainted Mars.

RACHEL
And it will appear more yellowish-orange than white.

PAUL
But the tint of Mars will be subtle because it’s so faint.

RACHEL
That’s Idaho Skies for the 15th, 16th, and 17th of September.

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.

Idaho Skies Transcript for September 13th and 14th

RACHEL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for September 13th and 14th. We’re your hosts, Rachel...

PAUL
...and Paul.

RACHEL
Hey, the moon reaches its last quarter phase on the 13th.

PAUL
So astronomers divide the moon into fourths?

RACHEL
Not really. They only divide the moon’s path across the sky into fourths.

PAUL
Every time the moon travels 90 degrees across the sky, the moon enters a new quarter

RACHEL
And the moon’s appearance also takes on a new shape at each quarter.

PAUL
It all starts when the moon is it’s closest to the sun.

RACHEL
The moon is invisible at this time because of the sun’s glare.

PAUL
And because its sets at around the time of sunset.

RACHEL
Roughly, a week later, the moon will travel 90 degrees away from the sun.

PAUL
Sunlight is always illuminating half the moon’s surface.

RACHEL
But only half of that illuminated surface faces directly towards Earth at first quarter.

PAUL
That gives the first quarter moon its half circle shape.

RACHEL
Prior to first quarter, the moon had a crescent shape.

PAUL
That’s because sunlight illuminated most of the lunar farside, or the side we can’t see.

RACHEL
Some people get confused and think the moon’s crescent shape occurs when Earth casts a shadow on it.

PAUL
But it’s actually because we can only see a thin sliver of the moon’s illuminated surface.

RACHEL
As the moon works its away around it, the moon’s illuminated portion also works its way around the surface.

PAUL
Letting stargazers see more the moon in daylight.

RACHEL
And changing the moon from a thin crescent to a fully illuminated moon at full moon.

PAUL
That’s Idaho Skies for the 13th and 14th of September.

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.

Idaho Skies Transcript for September 11th and 12th

PAUL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for September 11th and 12th. We’re your hosts, Paul...

RACHEL
...and Rachel.

PAUL
Stargazers with binoculars are in for a visual treat on the morning of the 12th.

RACHEL
That’s when the moon passes though the very edge of the Hyades star cluster.

PAUL
The brightest star appearing in the Hyades is Aldebaran and it’s the brightest star in Taurus the Bull.

RACHEL
The moon passes over Aldebaran at 5:46 AM.

PAUL
This is called an occultation and Aldebaran will wink out in a fraction of a second.

RACHEL
So aim your binoculars at the moon at around 5:40 AM.

PAUL
Look for Aldebaran; it’s the star on the moon’s left.

RACHEL
Over the next six minutes, you’ll notice that the moon is creeping ever closer to Aldebaran.

PAUL
It will be a little more difficult to observe the reappearance of Aldebaran.

RACHEL
That’s because it occurs at 7:02 AM in bright dawn.

PAUL
It will be visible, but you definitely need to use your binoculars.

RACHEL
Also on morning of the 12th, Mercury reaches its greatest distance from the sun.

PAUL
So at around 6:30 AM, look in the east for Venus, the Morning Star.

RACHEL
Below it and slightly to the left is the next brightest star, Mercury.

PAUL
Then farther below Mercury is even fainter Mars.

RACHEL
These planets, the terrestrial planets are rocky worlds.

PAUL
And most of them have very little atmosphere.

RACHEL
The atmosphere these planets currently have, originated from within the planet via volcanic action.

PAUL
This means they have atmospheres of primarily nitrogen and carbon dioxide, and not hydrogen and helium.

RACHEL
That’s Idaho Skies for the 11th and 12th of September.

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, September 5, 2017

Idaho Skies Transcript for September 8th, 9th, and 10th

RACHEL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for September 8th, 9th, and 10th. We’re your hosts, Rachel...

PAUL
...and Paul.

RACHEL
The solar system’s largest ice giant planet is close to the moon on the 9th.

PAUL
You mean Uranus.

RACHEL
Yep. Did you know Uranus is just barely bright enough to see without optical aid?

PAUL
I did, but I also know it’s difficult to distinguish from all the faint stars in the sky.

RACHEL
That’s why the moon is so helpful to stargazers on the 9th.

PAUL
To see Uranus, drive to a dark location with a friend and your binoculars at around 11:00 PM.

RACHEL
Place the gibbous moon at the right edge of your binoculars, at the 4:00 position.

PAUL
Uranus is the star at the 10:00 position.

RACHEL
And it’s the third brightest star you’ll see in your binoculars.

PAUL
Early risers will see three planets close together in the low east at around 6:15 AM.

RACHEL
Venus or the Morning Star is the brightest one.

PAUL
Below and left of Venus is innermost Mercury.

RACHEL
Mercury is right next to the star, Regulus, but Regulus is the fainter of the two.

PAUL
And below and left of Mercury is even fainter Mars.

RACHEL
How about that, three planets within 14 degrees of each other?

PAUL
That’s close enough that can cover them up with your outstretched hand and thumb.

RACHEL
By the way, the planets aren’t close to each other.

PAUL
Mercury is between Earth and the sun.

RACHEL
Venus is on the other side of the solar system.

PAUL
And tiny Mars is way on the other side of the solar system.

RACHEL
That’s Idaho Skies for the 8th, 9th, and 10th of September.

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.