Monday, June 11, 2018

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


PAUL

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

 

RACHEL

…and Rachel.

 

PAUL

The night of the 16th is going to be an interesting one for stargazers.

 

RACHEL

That’s because there are two astronomical events in close proximity that night.

 

PAUL

And both of them are perfect for your binoculars.

 

RACHEL

The action starts at around 10:00 PM, or as soon as the skies get dark.

 

PAUL

So start by looking in the low west for the four day old crescent moon.

 

RACHEL

Which will be located to the upper left of brilliant Venus.

 

PAUL

Scan the moon with your binoculars and you’ll see foreshortened craters along its brightly illuminated edge.

 

RACHEL

Now swing your binoculars back to Venus.

 

PAUL

But stop when you get half way there.

 

RACHEL

You’ll see the Beehive star cluster neatly positioned between the moon and Venus.

 

PAUL

The Beehive is packed with about 20 stars that you can see through binoculars.

 

RACHEL

Now that you can locate the Beehive, watch it for several days as Venus is approaching.

 

PAUL

Our next target is Regulus on the evening of the 17th.

 

RACHEL

Regulus is the brightest star of Leo the Lion and it appears to the moon’s left.

 

PAUL

The star’s name means Little King in Latin…

 

RACHEL

…because the star represents the heart of Leo.

 

PAUL

And the ancients considered lions to represent nobility.

 

RACHEL

So don’t miss seeing this royal star on the evening of the 17th.
 

PAUL

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

 

RACHEL

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @IdahoSkies 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 June 13th and 14th


RACHEL

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

 

PAUL

…and Paul.
 

RACHEL

Hey, where’s the moon?

 

PAUL

Well, the moon is new on the morning of the 13th.

 

RACHEL

Oh, so it’s far too close to the sun for stargazers to see for the next several days?

 

PAUL

That’s right. In fact, this month the sun will pass a little below the sun.

 

RACHEL

Meaning both the sun and moon will be located in the constellation Taurus the Bull.

 

PAUL

Until about a month ago, we could see Taurus in the low west at sunset.

 

RACHEL

And now, Earth’s motion around the sun makes the sun appear in the Taurus.

 

PAUL

But remember, this is just an appearance.

 

RACHEL

Because the stars are dozens or even hundreds of light years away.

 

PAUL

And the sun is just eight light minutes away.

 

RACHEL

The sun can only appear projected in 13 of the 88 recognized constellations.

 

PAUL

Twelve of those thirteen constellations equate to the signs of the Zodiac.

 

RACHEL

And the thirteenth constellation is named Ophiuchus the Snake Bearer.

 

PAUL

It’s the large house-shaped constellation sitting above Scorpius the Scorpion.

 

RACHEL

Astrologers didn’t draw the boundary for Ophiuchus to include the sun’s path.

 

PAUL

So it’s not considered a Zodiacal sign.

 

RACHEL

But astronomers standardized the borders of the constellations in 1930.

 

PAUL

And the boundaries they drew for Ophiuchus does include the sun’s path.

 

RACHEL

Meaning a 20th century version of the Zodiac would include a sign called Ophiuchus.

 

PAUL

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

 

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.

Idaho Skies Transcript for June 11th and 12th


PAUL

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

 

RACHEL

…and Rachel.
 

PAUL

At the end of World War II, the US and its allies made a rush to capture German technology.

 

RACHEL

This included the V-2 missile, the first rocket to reach outer space.

 

PAUL

Americans sent their captured missiles to the White Sands Missile Test Range in New Mexico.

 

RACHEL

Americans, along with German engineers and technicians prepared many of the V-2s for launch.

 

PAUL

The tests gave American soldiers the missile-handling experience that they badly needed.

 

RACHEL

However, not all of the missiles were used for military testing.

 

PAUL

That’s right. Many of them were reserved for scientific research.

 

RACHEL

Example experiments included launching Geiger counters to measure cosmic radiation.

 

PAUL

And spectrometers to measure solar radiation not visible from Earth’s surface.

 

RACHEL

In addition, primates were launched inside some V-2 missiles to test the effects of spaceflight on animals.

 

PAUL

There were four primates launched on the V-2 missiles and all of them were named Albert.

 

RACHEL

They were three Rhesus monkeys and one a long-tailed macaque.

 

PAUL

The first one, Albert I was launched 70 years ago on the 11th.

 

RACHEL

Sadly, spaceflight technology wasn’t very advanced in the 1940s.

 

PAUL

And all four primates died from either suffocation, rocket explosions, or parachute malfunctions.

 

RACHEL

It wasn’t until May of 1959 that the United States successfully recovered primates after their space flights.

  

PAUL

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

 

RACHEL

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @IdahoSkies 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 June 8th, 9th, and 10th


RACHEL

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

 

PAUL

…and Paul.

 

RACHEL

Stargazers who are outside before the break of dawn should be on the lookout for the moon.

 

PAUL

Because on the 8th, 9th, and 10th the moon’s dark portion will be dressed in a faint illumination.

 

RACHEL

Its sunlight reflected from the larger and brighter Earth.

 

PAUL

Some of the ancient Greeks thought that earthshine was sunlight shining through the moon.

 

RACHEL

In other words, they though the moon might be transparent to some extent.

 

PAUL

It wasn’t until the 16th century that the cause of earthshine was correctly explained.

 

RACHEL

In 1510, Leonardo da Vinci wrote that the cause of earthshine was sunlight reflecting off Earth’s oceans.

 

PAUL

He was correct that earthshine from the reflection of sunlight, but not from Earth’s oceans.

 

RACHEL

From space in fact, the oceans are quite dark.

 

PAUL

It’s caused by the reflection of sunlight from the much brighter clouds in our atmosphere.

 

RACHEL

Da Vinci’s explanation is why some people refer to earthshine by its other name, the Da Vinci Glow.

 

PAUL

Still, others call earthshine the moon’s ashen glow.

 

RACHEL

Finally, stargazers should keep their eyes on the western horizon for Venus this week.

 

PAUL

That’s because it’s forming a line with two other stars in Gemini the Twins, Castor and Pollux.

 

RACHEL

The alignment will be at its best on the 10th.

 

PAUL

So look for this trio shortly after 11 PM when it finally gets dark

 

RACHEL

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

 

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 June 6th and 7th


PAUL

Welcome to Idaho Skies for June 6th and 7th. We’re your hosts, Paul…

 

RACHEL

…and Rachel.

 
PAUL

Stargazers will find the moon at last quarter on the morning of the 6th.

 

RACHEL

This is one of the two half-full phases that the moon can have.

 

PAUL

And it’s the one phase people hardly see since it’s most visible after midnight.

 

RACHEL

The largest single feature on this half of the moon is the Ocean of Storms.

 

PAUL

This is the moon’s largest mare, or lunar sea of basalt.

 

RACHEL

Its 1,600 miles from north to south, or just a bit taller than the US.

 

PAUL

Like the other lunar maria, it probably formed after the impact of one or more gigantic meteors.

 

RACHEL

Although some scientists think that other processes are needed on account the mare’s noncircular shape.

 

PAUL

Two easy to see features inside the Ocean of Storms are Copernicus and Kepler.

 

RACHEL

These are two bright craters surrounded with ejecta blankets and rays.

 

PAUL

Astronomers believe them to be relatively young because their blankets and rays are so bright.

 

RACHEL

Being bright means that radiation and micrometeorite impacts haven’t had enough time to darken them.    

 

PAUL

But “young” on the moon is relative.

 

RACHEL

Young, bright craters are classified as Copernican in age.

 

PAUL

And this is a period in the lunar time scale that began around 1.1 billion years ago.

 

RACHEL

And rock samples returned by the Apollo 12 astronauts indicate Copernicus is likely 800 million years old.

 

PAUL

Eight-hundred million years ago, there was multicellular life in Earth’s oceans…

 

RACHEL

…but no animals swimming in the oceans nor crawling on the land.

 

PAUL

That’s Idaho Skies for the 6th and 7th of June.

 

RACHEL

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @IdahoSkies 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 June 4th and 5th

RACHEL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for June 4th and 5th. We’re your hosts, Rachel…


PAUL
…and Paul.


RACHEL
English astronomer John Couch Adams was born 200 years ago on the 5th.


PAUL
Adams? Where have I heard that name before?


RACHEL
We mentioned him last year and how he nearly discovered Neptune.


PAUL
You see, astronomers published an updated table of planetary positions back in 1821.


RACHEL
And quickly discovered that Uranus didn’t play by the rules of the table.


PAUL
So some astronomers assumed there must be an undiscovered planet in the depths of the solar system.


RACHEL
French astronomer Le Verrier and Adams both thought they could use mathematics to discover the location of this planet.


PAUL
And in fact they did. But Adams was not very clear in communicating his findings.


RACHEL
And that’s why French astronomers were first to discover Neptune in 1846  


PAUL
Something similar is playing out today.


RACHEL
Astronomers like Mike Brown have discovered an unexpected tilt shared between several distant Trans-Neptunian objects, or TBOs.


PAUL
The gravity of the eight known planets can’t account for this tilt.


RACHEL
So Brown argues that this is the gravitational sign of a ninth planet in the far reaches of the solar system.


PAUL
Initially, Brown predicted that the planet needed to be ten times more massive than Earth.


RACHEL
But more recent calculations indicate that a planet with the mass of Mars is enough.


PAUL
At the mass of Mars, this ninth planet would be gigantic among the TBOs.


RACHEL
But please, don’t confuse this ninth planet with the Planet Ten of the doomsayers.


PAUL
This possible ninth planet is based on math and astronomy.


RACHEL
And not conspiracy theories like Planet Ten.


PAUL
That’s Idaho Skies for the 4th and 5th of June.


RACHEL
Be sure to read our blog at idahoskies.blogspot.com for additional information.
For Idaho Skies this is Rachel…


PAUL
…and Paul.


RACHEL
Dark skies and bright stars.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Idaho Skies Transcript for June 1st, 2nd, and 3rd

PAUL
Welcome to Idaho Skies for June 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. We’re your hosts, Paul…

RACHEL
…and Rachel.

PAUL
Whoa, there’s a bright reddish-orange star just below the moon on the 3rd.

RACHEL
That’s Mars, the fourth rock from the sun.

PAUL
Mars is about half the diameter of Earth.

RACHEL
Sadly though, it has an atmosphere less than 1% as dense as ours.

PAUL
Which means it is nearly impossible for even single-celled organisms to live on its surface.

RACHEL
However, beneath the Martian surface is ice that might contain some liquid water.

PAUL
That means our best chances to find life on Mars is to either look for fossils of past life on the surface…

RACHEL
…or to drill into its surface and search for refuges of life.

PAUL
Did you know that astronomers Wilson and Penzias discovered strange radio interference back on June 1st 1965?

RACHEL
Try as they might, they couldn’t find the source of this noise in their radio or its antenna.

PAUL
Soon after, they realized that the radio noise was coming from space itself.

RACHEL
They had discovered the residual heat left over from the origin of the universe.

PAUL
Only in 1965, it had cooled to microwaves because of the expansion of the universe.

RACHEL
But 13.7 billion years ago, the universe was so hot that even atoms couldn’t exist.

PAUL
The emission of microwaves means the universe currently has a temperature of only 2.7 kelvins.

RACHEL
Or 2.7 degrees Celsius above absolute zero.

PAUL
Your old analog television set can see some of this cosmic background radiation.

RACHEL
It appears as some of the static a television displays when tuned to a blank channel.

PAUL
Finally, happy birthday Mt. Palomar!

RACHEL
The observatory celebrates its 80th birthday on June 3rd.

PAUL
That’s Idaho Skies for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of June.

RACHEL
Be sure to follow us on Twitter @IdahoSkies for this week’s event reminders and sky maps.

For Idaho Skies this is Rachel…

PAUL
…and Paul.

RACHEL
Dark skies and bright stars.