Posted By: three_sixty In Response To: it came upon a midnight clear (discipleofthenile)
Date: Wednesday, 27 December 2006, at 5:22 p.m.
In Response To: it came upon a midnight clear (discipleofthenile)
"Episode # 06-52 / 1516th Show
To Be Aired : Monday 12/25/2006 through Sunday 12/31/2006
"Celebrate New Year's Eve Again With
The New Year's Eve Star"
Horkheimer: Greetings, greetings fellow star gazers. Every year I encourage you to celebrate New Year's Eve the cosmic way because if you happen to go outside at the stroke of midnight every New Year's Eve you will see something very special which I like to call the New Year's Eve star. Let me show you.
O.K. We've got our skies set up for 8 p.m. your local time this Sunday December 31st New Year's Eve facing due south. And first like all good astronomers let's draw an imaginary line from the due south horizon straight up to the zenith point overhead and then down the other side of the sky to the horizon due north. This line is called the meridian and it divides the eastern half of the sky from the western half. Now as our Earth slowly and endlessly rotates from west to east we are treated nightly to the grandest optical illusion in nature that of watching the stars appear to rise in the east, slowly travel across the sky all night long and eventually set in the west. And if you watch the stars every single night you will eventually deduce that the highest point any star reaches above the horizon in its nightly journey is when it is on the meridian.
Now this is very important to telescope users because the higher a sky object is above the horizon the better its telescopic image will be. So several years ago when I was researching which planets would be high up off the horizon for viewing that New Year's Eve I stumbled across something which to me was and still is an amazing coincidence, something which I had never read about in any astronomy book. That coincidence is that no matter where you happen to be on New Year's Eve, Sirius the brightest star we can see will slowly climb up the southeastern sky hour after hour and at midnight will reach its highest point almost on the meridian. Think of it, the brightest star visible from our planet reaches its highest point above the horizon at midnight every New Year's Eve.
How wonderful, how poetic. Almost like a cosmic reminder that this most brilliant of stellar lights is welcoming in and shining on the New Year giving us all hope for a bright new beginning. And even better if you happen to miss it on New Year's Eve because it's too cold or cloudy out, don't fret because Sirius will be in almost the same spot at midnight each night for the first week of the New Year. And think about this as you gaze up at Sirius this New Year's Eve. While our Sun is a million mile wide, relatively cool, yellow star Sirius is a much hotter almost twice as wide white star. And it's very close cosmically speaking, only 8 1/2 light years away which means that when we look at Sirius this New Year's Eve we will actually be seeing the light that left it 8 1/2 years ago in June of 1998. So step outside at midnight this Sunday night and make your New Year's Eve bright with cosmic light. Happy New Year and keep looking up!"
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