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Skywatch for the week of April 8, 2024

Skywatch Monday 4-8-2024.mp3


There will be a total solar eclipse today, Monday, April 8th. But from here on Florida’s Treasure Coast it will only be seen as a partial. The moon’s shadow, when it falls upon the earth, is only a couple of hundred miles wide, and the path of totality runs from Mexico through Texas, Ohio, western and northern New York state, northern Maine and New Brunswick. Indian River State College’s Hallstrom Planetarium will be open to let folks safely view the partial eclipse that we will see from here. The eclipse begins today at 1:48 pm, and reaches a maximum a little after 3 pm. The Treasure Coast Astronomical Society and our IRSC astronomy club students will be on hand to provide safe, guided views of the eclipse, beginning at 1:30 pm. We’ll set up our equipment on the south lawn of the Planetarium. This is a free event, no tickets or reservations are needed.


Skywatch Tuesday 4-9-2024.mp3


What happens if you fall into a black hole? Well, it would be bad: if you jumped in, your feet would be pulled with a lot more force than your head. You would be stretched out as thin as a piece of spaghetti, which of course is not a natural state for the human body to be in, and you would disintegrate, your atoms eventually spiraling into the black hole. Are you likely to fall into a black hole? The nearest black hole we know of in this evening’s sky is just to the east of Orion the Hunter, in the southwest this evening, in a constellation known as Monoceros the Unicorn. It is here where we find V616 Monocerotis. This black hole is 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 4-10-2024.mp3

Wed Apr 10, 2024 NAME THAT PLANET 2

Let’s play “name that planet.” I’ll name some of their features, and you try to identify it. The first planet has craters named for Cleopatra, Amelia Earhart, and Sacajawea, plus two continents - Ishtar and Aphrodite. The planet is Venus, and its features are named after love goddesses or famous women. Now try, Tombaugh, Norgay Mountains, Tartarus, Balrog and Cthulhu. That would be Pluto. How about the plains of Utopia and Chryse, or the Hellas basin, the Tharsis bulge, the Mariner Valley or Mount Olympus? That’s Mars. Where do you find the Caloris basin, or craters named Bach, Velazquez, Cervantes, Chopin, Tolkien, Shakespeare or Mozart? Artists, musicians and writers’ names can be found on Mercury.


Skywatch Thursday 4-11-2024.mp3


Can you identify the seventeenth largest constellation? It is bordered on the north by Auriga and Perseus, on the south by Eridanus, on the west by Aries, and on the east by Orion. The Crab nebula is here, and the Hyades star cluster, and also the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, nearby the crescent moon tonight, while the planet Jupiter now shines along its western border. The red giant Aldebaran is its brightest star. One of the oldest star patterns, in mythology this animal is often seen as a representation of Zeus, who carried the princess Europa across the sea to Crete; or as the seventh labor of Hercules. Can you name this star figure, the second constellation of the zodiac? The answer is Taurus the Bull, now visible in the western evening sky.


Skywatch Friday 4-12-2024.mp3


Tonight the waxing crescent moon appears above the head of the constellation of Orion the Hunter. In mythology, Orion loved Artemis, the goddess of the moon and of the hunt. Now Artemis had a brother, Apollo, the sun god, and he didn’t like Orion – not good enough for his sister, he decided. One day Apollo found his sister and pointed to Orion, swimming in the ocean, so far out that he appeared as just a little dark speck. He bet Artemis she couldn’t hit such a small target. And so she shot the far-off target with an arrow, not realizing it was Orion’s head. But Orion was a hero, so he was given immortality as a constellation of the night. Once a month the moon travels through this part of the sky, and to the storytellers this was a time when Artemis could visit with her old hunting companion.