Skywatch for the week of May 9, 2022
Mon May 9, 2022 ANNIE CANNON’S OBAFGKM
100 years ago, on May 9th, 1922, astronomers adopted Annie Jump Cannon’s stellar classification system. Annie Cannon worked at the Harvard Observatory, where she sorted and catalogued stars by their spectra. When you look at the light of a star through a specialized prism, a spectroscope, you can see that there are thin gaps where the colors are missing. The spacing of these gaps can be matched up with those of heated gases in the lab, telling us what elements are present in those stars – kind of a cosmic bar code. Cannon sorted the stars, and after some adjustments, it resulted in a ranking of stars from hot to cool: O, B, A, F, G, K and M, which countless astronomy students have memorized by using this simple phrase – “Oh, Be A Fine Girl (or Guy,) Kiss Me!
Tue May 10, 2022 NEW PLANETARIUM SHOW: DAUGHTER OF THE STARS
This weekend, Indian River State College will present, “Daughter of the Stars,” which tells Native American Indian stories about the sky. In the current evening sky, the people of North America had their own names for the constellations: Orion the Hunter was called Long Sash by the Tewa Pueblo Indians of the American southwest. The bright stars of Gemini - Castor and Pollux, were his place of decision, which led to the long journey up into the sky country. The Praesepe star cluster in the constellation Cancer the Crab, was the headdress of Long Sash. And the bright star Arcturus in Boötes was a constellation all by itself, the hero Waupee of the Shawnee tribe. You can get tickets at the IRSC box office - call 772) 462-4750.
Wed May 11, 2022 GENERAL RELATIVITY DAY
On May 11th, 1916, Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity was announced. It supplemented his earlier work on "special relativity", which stated that light travels at the same speed, whether you are moving toward the source of the light, or away from it. With general relativity, Einstein suggested that space itself is curved, the amount of curvature depending on the gravity fields of massive objects like stars and galaxies. Planets don't follow orbits because the sun is pulling on them; rather, they revolve because the sun's mass makes a big dent in the fabric of space-time, and the planets travel like marbles rolling on the inside of a funnel. Our sun’s gravity field is so great that the positions of distant stars are shifted by it. It's all pretty deep.
Thu May 12, 2022 PLANETARIUM SHOW: DAUGHTER OF THE STARS
The bright star Arcturus which we see in the eastern evening sky was known to the Shawnee Indians as Waupee, or the White Hawk. One day Waupee saw, much to his surprise, a magical basket descend from the sky. In the basket were 12 sisters. When the basket reached earth, the heavenly sisters leaped out, and linking hands, began to dance in a circle. What happens next? Find out, when you visit Indian River State College’s Hallstrom Planetarium to see our new show, “Daughter of the Stars,” which tells this story and many other sky stories as told by Native American Indians. There are shows on Friday night and also Saturday afternoon. You can get tickets at the IRSC box office - call 772) 462-4750.
Fri May 13, 2022 TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE
The next few days are going to be very busy at the Hallstrom Planetarium. Tonight and tomorrow afternoon, there will be shows about Native American Indian sky stories and constellation patterns. And then on Sunday night there will be a total eclipse of the moon. Tickets are on sale at Indian River State College’s Box Office for “Daughter of the Stars,” our planetarium show. But the lunar eclipse on Sunday night is free. Just come out around 10 pm that night when the eclipse begins, and stick around for totality shortly before midnight. We’ll have telescopic views, thanks to the Treasure Coast Astronomical Society, and if it’s cloudy on Sunday night, we’ll hold the eclipse indoors, projecting the image on the planetarium’s dome.