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Skywatch for the week of January 27, 2024

Skywatch Monday 1-29-2024.mp3

Mon Jan 29, 2024 HEVELIUS

The Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius was born on January 28, 1611. His family owned a brewery in Danzig, and he used his fortune to build an observatory and study the heavens. Hevelius made the first moon atlas, and named many lunar features, such as the Ocean of Storms, the Sea of Rain, the Sea of Tranquility – all in Latin, of course – Mare Imbrium, Mare Tranquilitatis, and so on. He also took the names of various mountain ranges on earth, such as the Alps, the Appenines, and the Caucasus, and applied them to the mountain-like walls of lunar craters. And Hevelius made up many new constellation patterns that we recognize today, such as Lynx the Bobcat, Vulpecula the Fox, Scutum the Shield, Lacerta the Lizard, Leo Minor the Little Lion and the hunting dogs called Canes Venatici.


SkywatchTuesday 1-30-2024.mp3


There will be a meeting of the Treasure Coast Astronomical Society this evening at 7:30 p.m. It will be in room N117 at the Science Center on the main Fort Pierce campus of Indian River State College. Many of the Treasure Coast Astronomical Society members own at least one telescope, but if all you have is a pair of binoculars, or even just an interest in the sky and astronomy, then this is the club for you. Each meeting features astronomy lessons and highlights different constellations. The Society also helps out at planetarium shows by letting visitors look through their telescopes to see such cosmic wonders as the moon, the planets and the stars. So once again, the meeting is at 7:30 this evening at the IRSC Science Center in Fort Pierce.

Skywatch Wednesday 1-31-2024.mp3


One of the best things that a planetarium can do is to show you how the stars and constellations would look from different latitudes. Here on Florida’s Treasure Coast we’re a little less than 30 degrees above the earth’s equator. But what happens to star positions when you travel north or south? The constellation of Orion the Hunter is prominent in our southern sky this evening: but at the earth’s north pole, he’s down on the horizon, and you can’t see his lower half. While below the equator, Orion stands on his head! In our new sky show, we’ll take you south to see the constellations of the southern hemisphere. “South for the Winter,” opens this Friday at Indian River State College’s Hallstrom Planetarium. Tickets are on sale at the IRSC box office - call 772 462 4750.

Skywatch Thursday 2-8-2024.mp3

Thu Feb 1, 2024 CANDLEMASS DAY

Tomorrow is Candlemass Day, celebrating the presentation of Jesus in the temple and Mary's purification, as observed in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. This is also the midpoint of the winter, called a cross-quarter day, and, there’s an old saying, “If Candlemass be fair and bright, Come Winter, have another flight; if Candlemass brings clouds and rain, Go, Winter and come not again.” So oddly, sunny weather is bad, but cloudy weather is a good harbinger. From this comes our observance of Groundhog's Day. Folklore says, if a groundhog casts a shadow today, we get six more weeks of winter. Which of course is untrue, because winter does not officially end until March 19, at 11:06 pm Eastern Daylight Savings Time, when the sun's rays fall most directly on the earth's equator. Anything else you hear is just a lot of groundhogwash.

Skywatch Friday 2-9-2024.mp3


The first time I traveled to South America, I used the planetarium to learn how to find the different stars and constellations that can be seen at that latitude. Alpha Centauri, the nearest star to us after the sun, was tops on my list, along with the star pattern called the Southern Cross and the Magellanic Clouds too. I was amazed to see that the stars were right where the planetarium showed them – most excellent! Now you can visit the Hallstrom Planetarium tonight and see those southern hemisphere stars too! “South for the Winter” is our new show, and it runs tonight and tomorrow afternoon. And if skies are clear tonight, the Treasure Coast Astronomical Society will have their telescopes aimed at the planet Jupiter. Call 772 462 4750 for tickets.