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Skywatch for the week of November 27, 2023

Skywatch Monday 11-27-2023.mp3


On November 26, 1783, John Michell proposed the existence of black holes, suggesting that there might be super-dense stars with powerful gravitational fields that could keep light from leaving them. This idea was ahead of its time, coming as it did shortly after the American Revolution. But he was right, and in the past several decades we have found evidence for these cosmic dead ends in space. There is a black hole above us tonight. Vega, Altair and Deneb, three bright stars that form the Summer Triangle are in the west sky this evening. We think there's a black hole in the middle of the triangle – it’s called Cygnus X-1. We can't see it directly; these things are literally out-of-sight, but something’s there, because an incredible amount of x-rays pour out of this region, made by the black hole's gravity.




On November 28th, 1660, the Royal Society was founded. It was made up of scientists and physicians, including Isaac Newton, who wrote the laws of motion and gravity; Edmond Halley, who successfully predicted the return of the comet that bears his name; and Christopher Wren, who rebuilt London after the great fire of 1666. The Royal Society is active and strong today, with thousands of members from around the world. Now if you’re not part of this society, there’s another group you can join – it’s the Treasure Coast Astronomical Society. Its members carry on the great tradition of science and discovery, and they meet tonight at Indian River State College’s Science Center on the Fort Pierce campus. The meeting is open to the public, and it begins this evening at 7:30 pm.


Skywatch Wednesday11-29-2023.mp3

Wed Nov 29, 2023 STAR OF WONDER

This weekend, Indian River State College’s Hallstrom Planetarium will present “Star of Wonder,” an astronomer’s search for the Nativity star. At this time of the year, planetariums around the world have provided lectures on this topic - a tradition that began in 1938, when it was first featured at the Hayden Planetarium in New York - a great old tradition. Our program will take the planetarium projector back over two thousand years of time to recreate the skies above Judea in search of any interesting sky phenomena occurring so long ago. There will be two shows on Friday night and two more on Saturday afternoon – call the IRSC box office at 772 462-4750 to get tickets for “Star of Wonder”.

Skywatch Thursday 11-30-2023.mp3

Thu Nov 30, 2023 WHY BUY A TELESCOPE?

You can spend lots of money buying a telescope and then be unhappy with the results. Before you buy one, ask yourself: what do you expect the telescope to do? Most small telescope views fall far short of the incredible images that we get from great observatories or space telescopes. So why buy a telescope? Well one of the principle joys of the telescope is the excitement of finding these objects in the sky, and knowing that they really are out there. A good starter telescope is a Newtonian reflector with a 6-inch mirror on a Dobsonian mount, which uses big one and a quarter inch eyepieces. Such a scope should cost between 200 – 400 dollars. Begin your research on the internet, or e-mail me at for advice.


Skywatch Friday 12-1-2023.mp3

Fri Dec 1, 2023 STAR OF WONDER 2

Tonight and tomorrow afternoon, Indian River State College’s Hallstrom Planetarium will feature its holiday program "Star of Wonder". In this presentation we use the planetarium to show you what the skies looked like from Judea over two thousand years ago, to see if we can discover the Nativity star, referred to in the gospel of Saint Matthew. We’ll look at sky phenomena such as comets, meteors and planets. And if skies are clear tonight, the Treasure Coast Astronomical Society will set up their telescopes after the shows so that we can view two planets – Jupiter and Saturn - on the south lawn of the Planetarium. To get tickets for “Star of Wonder,” call the IRSC Box office at 772-462-4750, between 11 am and 3 pm today.