Welcome to The Deep science and technology column where we cover topics from the deep sea to deep space and beyond. Visit our website at www.thedeepradioshow.com
Greetings everyone! I’m about to let you in on one of the world’s best kept secrets. Here on Guam, in April and May there’s a half-hour period each evening when you can see something amazing. You don’t have to use any of that precious gas, and you don’t have to pay money to see it. All you have to do is go into your back yard and look up.
If you do and there aren’t too many clouds and streetlights you’ll be able to see eight of the ten brightest stars, fifteen of the twenty brightest stars, the largest and smallest constellations and the three most famous constellations ALL AT THE SAME TIME! This is possible only in the equatorial tropics and it’s probably the best kept sky-watching secret in the world. I call it The Magic Half Hour. This week The Magic Half Hour occurs between 9:30 and 10:00 p.m. Next week, it will occur between 9:00 and 9:30 p.m.
So . . . . how do I find all this starry wonder? Well, the first thing you need to do is watch a beautiful tropical sunset from your sky watching location. Tough assignment, huh? Watching the Sun disappear will tell you where west is.
Then go outside tonight around 9:45 p.m. and face where the Sun disappeared. If you have a clear view to the west, you’ll see a large connect-the-dots picture close to the ground. Many of you will recognize Orion the Hunter, the sky’s most famous constellation. Orion the Hunter is a rectangle of bright stars with three bright stars in a diagonal line in the middle of the rectangle. At this time of year, everyone can see him because he lies above Earth’s equator. That’s why he’s the most famous constellation.
Five of the eight bright stars are close to Orion and if you turn completely around and face east, you’ll see a long triangle of bright stars higher in the sky. The left star is Arcturus, the fourth brightest star and the top star of the two stars to the right isn’t a star. That’s the planet Saturn.
Then turn ninety degrees to your right and face south. See that bright kite-shaped group of four stars? That’s another one of those famous constellations; Crux the Southern Cross and you bet you can see the Southern Cross from Guam. Those two bright stars to the left of the Southern Cross are the remaining stars of the eight brightest stars you can see tonight.
So . . . did I go too fast? Why didn’t I talk about the Big Dipper? That’s the most famous constellation, right? Want to know how to find more bright stars? Have I got a deal for you!
It’s public show week in the Planetarium and our show is “The Magic Half Hour.” In it, we teach you exactly how to find all those bright stars and constellations. “The Magic Half Hour” will be presented this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 14, 15 and 16 April 2011 at 6:30 p.m. each night.
At 7:00 p.m. we’ll have “Quality Time with the Star Lady” where I attempt to answer your questions about the sky and all things space-related. But what we’re really doing is stalling for time until it gets dark enough that we can go outside and find all this stuff in the BIG Planetarium!
The UOG Planetarium is located on the second floor of the Science Building on the main UOG campus. The doors open at 6:00 p.m. and here’s the really good part: Planetarium shows are FREE!!!!! Join us this weekend and learn all about your personal sky! See you there!