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Skywatch for the week of February 12, 2024

Skywatch Monday 2-12-2024.mp3


Can you identify the 14th largest constellation? It is bordered on the north by Pegasus, Andromeda, Triangulum and Aries the Ram; on the south by Aquarius the Water Carrier and Cetus the Whale; on the west by Pegasus and Aquarius again; and on the east by Triangulum, Aries and Cetus again. There are no bright stars in it, but tonight the waxing crescent moon can be found within its borders, while the planet Jupiter appears nearby in the constellation Aries. This mythological figure is said to represent the goddess Venus and her son Cupid, who transformed themselves in order to swim away from a dangerous dragon. Can you name this star figure, the twelfth constellation of the zodiac? And of course the answer is Pisces, the Fish, well-placed in the southwestern sky after sunset.


SkywatchTuesday 2-13-2024.mp3

Tue Feb 13, 2024 CELESTIAL LOVE

As Valentine’s Day approaches, we can turn to the starry night sky and reflect on some of the world’s greatest love stories. Well-placed in the south after sunset is the constellation Orion the Hunter, who in his youth pursued the Princess Merope - one of the stars in the Pleiades star cluster overhead. But in the end he loved Artemis, the goddess of the hunt and of the moon, which even now appears to the west of Orion, drifting slowly in his direction over the next several nights. Immediately to the west of Orion is Taurus, which in mythology represents the king of the gods, Zeus, who turned himself into a bull to carry the lady Europa on his back across the ocean to Crete. And as Valentine’s Day begins tomorrow, the planet Venus, the goddess of love, appears as a brilliant morning star above the eastern horizon at dawn.


Skywatch Wednesday 2-14-2024.mp3


You can find the waxing moon this evening well placed in the western sky after sunset. Nearby it tonight there is a bright, star-like object – the planet Jupiter. The moon will appear as a fat crescent and Jupiter can be found slightly above and to the right of it. Both are within the borders of the constellation Aries the Ram. Conjunctions like this are fairly common: once a month, the moon in its orbit of the earth makes a complete circuit of the sky. So the moon and Jupiter will appear together again on March 13th. But even though it’s not rare, when you see the crescent moon next to a bright planet like Jupiter, it’s always very pretty! The closeness of the two is an illusion of course: the moon is currently about 227,000 miles away from us, while Jupiter is hundreds of millions of miles out!


Skywatch Thursday 2-15-2024.mp3


The astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei was born on February 15 in the year 1564. Galileo did not invent the telescope, but when he heard of its invention, he built his own, and like other astronomers of the 17th century, Galileo aimed his telescope at the sky and made some amazing discoveries. He saw the moon’s mountains and craters, which suggested that it was another world in space. He discovered the four largest moons of Jupiter, named the Galilean satellites in his honor. Using safe projection methods, he observed the sun and saw dark spots on its face – sunspots. He saw that the planet Venus went through phases like the moon, which showed that it orbited the sun and not the earth. And he saw the myriad stars of the Milky Way - more stars than could be seen by the unaided eye alone.


Skywatch Friday 2-16-2024.mp3

Fri Feb 16, 2024 ASTRONOMY DAY

The Treasure Coast Astronomical Society will host Astronomy Day at Indian River State College tomorrow, February 17th, from 3 pm until 9 pm, at the Planetarium and Science Center. There will be meteorite displays, telescope clinics, safe, filtered guided views of the sun, weather permitting, plus kids activities like cosmic cornhole – and much more. Bring your telescope to the telescope clinic and the Treasure Coast Astronomical Society will show you how to make it work! And when it gets dark that evening, we hope to provide telescopic views of the moon, as well as the planet Jupiter. This astronomy day event is free, no tickets are necessary. Just dress warm, bring a lounge chair for viewing the sky and come on out to the Hallstrom Planetarium and the IRSC Science Center at 30th Street and Virginia Avenue on the Fort Pierce campus.