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Skywatch

Skywatch for the week of October 18, 2021

Skywatch 10-18-2021.mp3

Mon Oct 18, 2021 PLANETARIUM SHOW: SATURN, JEWEL OF THE HEAVENS

A new show opens this Friday at the Hallstrom Planetarium. It’s called, “Saturn, Jewel of the Heavens,” and it highlights the remarkable discoveries made about the ringed planet. We fly above the planet, we sail below its rings, we pass its moons and even land on its largest one, Titan, the only other world we know of with a nitrogen atmosphere like earth’s – except that nitrogen is so cold that it also forms slush lakes that flow across Titan’s surface. One moon, Mimas, has an impact crater that makes it look a lot like the Death Star from Star Wars. Another moon, Hyperion, looks like an overbaked potato. Some very strange and exotic sights await those who come to this show. And, if skies are clear on Friday night, the Treasure Coast Astronomical Society will be on hand to provide guided views of Saturn in the real sky, weather permitting. Join us this weekend - call the IRSC Box office at 462-4750 for tickets.

Skywatch 10-19-2021.mp3

Tue Oct 19, 2021 CHANDRASEKHAR AND BLACK HOLES

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, born on October 19th, 1910, was the astronomer who figured out just how massive a star had to be in order to turn into a black hole. If a star is one and a half to almost two and a half times more massive than our sun, when it dies, it explodes and becomes a supernova. But if a star has over 2.4 times the sun’s mass, the final gravitational collapse is so powerful that the star doesn’t blow up – it blows in to become a black hole! The imploding star shrinks down to a singularity, a point of ridiculously high density. We can’t see black holes directly, but we know that they are out there, because as their gravity pulls matter in, accretion discs form, just outside the event horizon (the boundary where in order to escape the black hole, you have to go faster than the speed of light – an impossibility.) X-rays and other radiation are made by the collision of this in-falling matter; the escaping radiation reveals the presence of these “jaws” of outer space.

Skywatch 10-20-2021.mp3

Wed Oct 20, 2021 FULL OCTOBER MOON

The moon is full tonight. October’s full moon is often called the Hunter’s Moon, because hunters in colonial America found its light useful when pursuing their dinner in the dark. This is also the Sioux Indians’ Moon of Falling Leaves; the Big Wind Moon of the Zuni tribes; or the Cheyenne’s Moon When the Water Begins to Freeze on the edge of the Stream - must be getting cold up north. The Ponca Indians, in observance of the time when food is harvested for the winter, call this the Moon When They Store Food in Caches, while the Kiowa simply call it the Ten Colds Moon, a harbinger of the freezing weather that follows. October’s full moon was also called the blood moon in medieval England, a reference to the reddish coloring often displayed by the rising full moon of October. And there’s a meteor shower going on right now called the Orionids; but since the full moon is out all night long, making it hard to see the fainter meteors, I guess we should also call this the “can’t see the meteor shower” moon.

Skywatch 10-21-2021.mp3

Thu Oct 21, 2021 BEN FRANKLIN’S HURRICANE

In colonial America, Benjamin Franklin was hoping to observe a lunar eclipse on the evening of October 21, 1743. Anticipation soon turned to dismay however, as an hour before the eclipse was to begin, clouds and rain blew in from the northeast, and treated his hometown of Philadelphia to a most violent thunderstorm. He was all the more surprised therefore, when his brother in Boston told him that they had also had a storm, but it happened after the eclipse, which he got to see. But the storm had come from the direction of Boston. How did it hit Philadelphia first? Franklin reasoned that this must have been some special kind of storm. He gathered together weather reports and found that the storm had moved up the Atlantic seaboard, moving counter to the local surface winds. And so Ben Franklin was the first person to discover the cyclonic nature of a hurricane, and thus turned an astronomical defeat into a meteorological windfall!

Skywatch 10-22-2021.mp3

Fri Oct 22, 2021 PLANETARIUM SHOW: SATURN, JEWEL OF THE HEAVENS

A new show opens this Friday at the Hallstrom Planetarium. It’s called, “Saturn, Jewel of the Heavens,” and it highlights the remarkable discoveries made about the ringed planet. We fly above the planet, we sail below its rings, we pass its moons and even land on its largest one, Titan, the only other world we know of with a nitrogen atmosphere like earth’s – except that nitrogen is so cold that it also forms slush lakes that flow across Titan’s surface. One moon, Mimas, has an impact crater that makes it look a lot like the Death Star from Star Wars. Another moon, Hyperion, looks like an overbaked potato. Some very strange and exotic sights await those who come to this show. And, if skies are clear tonight, the Treasure Coast Astronomical Society will be on hand to provide guided views of Saturn in the real sky, weather permitting. Join us this weekend - call the IRSC Box office at 462-4750 for tickets.