Sky Watch LIVE 2013!

4th February 2013

After the (blisteringly cold) success of last year, The Science Show are once again venturing out of the comforts of the studio and broadcasting LIVE from the observatory on the roof of the physics building.

Jupiter and its Moons: Will our telescope match this kind of power?

Join us on our adventure through space as the team and this weeks special guest Jamie Ownsworth explain to you why stars appear as different colours in the sky, what a supernova is, and how to find different constellations.

If the weather plays ball as it is this morning we may even get some snaps of the night sky such as Jupiter’s moons, our just our own moon if we are feeling uninspired.

Will we get some pictures? Will the weather (and our guest) behave? Or will we possibly suffer an embarrassing power cut like the Super Bowl did last night?

There’s only one way to find out. tune in tonight at 6pm, only on urn1350.net

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The Broadcast Begins!

So we are here, live at the telescopes at the University of Nottingham. We are all set up and ready to go!

The Telescope

It’s already raining. But fingers crossed that the skies will clear up later on tonight!

Jamie Ownsworth

This is our guest, Jamie Ownsworth. He is a third year astrophysics PhD student who studies galaxy evolution and star formation in the Universe. He also helps run the Inflativerse, which is an INFLATABLE PLANETARIUM (how cool?) that visits schools in the local area and inspires people to study physics and astronomy.

So, what do we see when we look up into the night sky?

Well, firstly, we need to get to somewhere where light pollution doesn’t affect your observations. The UK is particularly bad for this as there are a lot of cities in the country. Telescopes are mostly placed on mountains or high places so they are away from this light pollution.

But what can we see tonight? Firstly, one of the constellations we can see is Taurus. Taurus is an ancient constellation. We have records from cave paintings that are tens of thousands of years old of Taurus. The tail of the bull is known as the Seven Sisters. (You can only see six of these with the naked eye – you can see all seven with a good pair of binoculars on a clear night.) Jupiter is also in the constellation of Taurus at the moment too – it’s one of the brightest thing in the sky at the moment.

Taurus

Orion

Orion is one of the most recognisable constellations in the sky. It comes from a legend who said that the hunter, Orion, fought with a scorpion for many many weeks. The gods were watching this battle, and said that both Orion and the scorpion should be remembered in the sky forever – hence Scorpio and Orion!

Of course, if you mention constellations and legends to astronomers… expect stoney stares!

What makes a star a particular colour?

Stars of different colour

Colour is an indicator of temperature. But contrary to what we know from our everyday lives, blue stars are the hottest, and red stars are cooler. In Orion, there are lots of examples of these stars.

EMMA THE BLOGGER’S FACT: Did you know that we can’t see these colours with the naked eye? If you look up at the sky, they all look white. The reason for this is that the stars are SO FAINT that they don’t activate the colour detection cells in your eye; only the black and white detectors. But when you look through a telescope, you can see the different colours.

How can you tell the difference between stars and planets?

Well, stars twinkle. Planets do not. Why is this? Well, stars are so far away, they are effectively a ‘point source’ – this is because they are so far away, we cannot tell that they are spherical. Therefore the atmosphere gets in the way and it looks like they are twinkling!

What’s coming up in the sky in the next year or so?

Well, on the 18th of February, Mercury (the closest planet to the Sun) is at it’s furthest point from the Sun. Usually, it is too close to see, but as it’s far away on the 18th of Feb, you’ll be able to see it with the naked eye.

We have a comet close by us at the moment, it’s currently very bright in the Southern hemisphere, but it will swing around to the Northern hemisphere in mid-March, so take a look out for that!

Hope you learned a lot! Here are our two hosts and our guest at the telescope. Looking very happy considering how cold it is outside!

At the telescopes