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Skywatch for the week of February 26, 2024

Skywatch Monday 2-26-2024.mp3


If you ever jumped into a black hole, you’d find that the hole’s gravity would pull on your feet a lot harder than your head, which would stretch your body out as thin as a piece of spaghetti, which of course is not a natural state for the human body to be in, so you would disintegrate, and eventually all of your atoms would spiral into the black hole - so stay out of black holes! The nearest known black hole in the sky this evening is V616 Monocerotis, in the faint constellation Monoceros the Unicorn, which is in the southeastern sky tonight just to the east of Orion the Hunter. It’s about 3,000 light years away, or 18,000 trillion miles. So even the nearest black hole is so far away that nobody is in any danger of falling in!

Skywatch Wednesday 2-28-2024.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. Final performances of “South for the Winter,” will be this Friday and Saturday at Indian River State College’s Hallstrom Planetarium. Call 772 462 4750 for tickets to the show.


Skywatch Thursday 2-29-2024.mp3

Thu Feb 29, 2024 LEAP YEAR DAY

February is a short month, only 28 days long. But every four years, another day is added to it, making it 29. Why? Well, the earth takes 365 and a quarter days to make one full orbit of the sun. We ignore that extra quarter day until we’ve saved up four of them, a whole extra day, and every fourth year we add that day to February. Okay, so now why is today called leap year day? Look at last year's calendar. January 1st, 2023, fell on a Sunday. In this year's calendar; January first was on a Monday. In a 365-day year, there are exactly 52 seven-day weeks, with one day remaining - so the calendar dates advance by that one extra day each year. But leap years have 366 days, which is 52 weeks and 2 days. Look at January 1st for next year. It falls not on Tuesday but on a Wednesday. So the date goes from Monday to Wednesday, effectively "leaping over" Tuesday.


Skywatch Friday 3-1-2024.mp3


This weekend the Hallstrom Planetarium is going to be very busy! We will have two sky shows tonight, Friday, at 7 or 8:30 pm that will let you see the stars from here in Florida, and also at the earth’s north pole, and also at the equator, and, toward the end of the show, we wind up in Antarctica to look at the aurora australis, the southern lights. The show is called “South for the Winter,” and it also plays tomorrow, Saturday, at 1 and 2:30 pm. Call 772 462 4750 for tickets. Also, tomorrow evening at 7, the Canta Libre Chamber Ensemble will perform live classical music under our dome, accompanied by stars and constellations overhead, as well as planets, moons, and rotating galaxies! Again, call 772 462 4750 to get tickets.

SkywatchTuesday 2-27-2024.mp3


Tonight, there will be a meeting of the Treasure Coast Astronomical Society at 7:30 p.m. It will be 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.