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Skywatch for the week of April 25, 2022

Skywatch Monday 4-25-2022.mp3


Go outside tomorrow morning before sunrise, and you can find a very pretty gathering of the moon and some planets. The moon is an old crescent, not too far above the eastern horizon toward the end of the night. Down below it you should find a brilliant star, which is actually the planet Venus. Down below and to the left of Venus is another bright star - not as bright as Venus, but still pretty bright – and that’s Jupiter. Now go back to the moon, and there’s another planet, Mars, appearing as a slightly red-tinged star just above the moon. And if you draw a line from Jupiter, up to Venus, up to Mars, and keep going west, you’ll find one more planet, Saturn, about the same brightness as Mars, but with a yellow tint.

Skywatch Tuesday 4-26-2022.mp3


On April 26, 1920, a debate took place between two astronomers - Heber (Heeber) Curtis and Harlow Shapley – about galaxies. Shapley was right when he said that our Milky Way galaxy was bigger than people thought, and that we were not at its center, but a little over halfway out. Curtis was right when he said that there were many other galaxies in our Universe – hundreds of billions, it turns out. Science is at its best when healthy debate is practiced, and if you’re interested in this kind of healthy dialogue about telescopes and astronomy, you should come to Tuesday’s meeting – that’s tonight - of the Treasure Coast Astronomical Society, which will be held at 7:30 pm at the Science Center on Indian River State College’s Fort Pierce campus.

Skywatch Wednesday 4-27-2022.mp3


On April 26th, 1803, there was a great bombardment of meteorites in France, which was so spectacular, it convinced astronomers that these rocks had come from outer space. When a rock is out in space, before it hits the atmosphere, it’s known as a meteoroid. When it does enter our atmosphere, it’s called a meteor, or more commonly, a shooting or falling star. Most meteors are just tiny bits of dust that burn up. Their heat lights up the air around them, causing those brief flashes of light that you see. If a larger rock, something as large as a bowling ball, say, comes through, there's a good chance it won't burn up completely, but strike the ground, and become a meteorite, a rock from outer space. That’s what they got back in 1803.

Skywatch Thursday 4-28-2022.mp3

Thu Apr 28, 2022 COUNT THE STARS

One of the most enjoyable things you can do is to go out on a clear dark night and count the stars in the sky. And it's a wonderful activity for family too. Protect yourself against mosquitoes and other nocturnal hazards. Find a place that's away from streetlights or house lights, which can ruin your view. Take along a flashlight so you can see where you're going, and make sure it's okay for you to be where you are. Take along a jacket for warmth, and one of those lounge chairs that lean all the way back. When the stars shine out in clear skies, look for subtle colors of red, blue, white and yellow. Notice the different brightnesses. Connect the stars together into patterns for your own personal constellations. Then count the stars!

Skywatch Friday 4-29-2022.mp3

Fri Apr 29, 2022 SUN IN ARIES

As the earth revolves, the sun slowly drifts against the background of stars. The sun has now entered the constellation Aries, the Ram, which places it directly between us and the stars which make up Aries. So you can’t see Aries now, because the bright sun blocks our view of this part of space. If today’s your birthday, you may have been told that you’re a Taurus, meaning the sun was in Taurus when you were born. But the sun isn’t in Taurus, it’s in Aries, and will be for the next several weeks. When astrology was in its heyday thousands of years ago, the sun would have been in Taurus, but because of a slow wobble in the earth’s rotational axis, all the zodiacal signs have been offset by one constellation, turning bulls into sheep, sheep into fish, and so on.