Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

March 8, 2014

New ‘Cosmos’ debuts on television tonight

Now that our clocks are on daylight saving time, today’s sunrise and sunset are coming about an hour later than yesterday. Yesterday’s sunrise was about 6:38 a.m.; today’s sunrise is about 7:36 a.m.

Early risers will find it easier to see the morning planets, especially the brilliant planet Venus in the east.

Yesterday’s sunset was about 6:15 p.m.; today’s sunset will be about 7:16 p.m. You will have to wait an additional hour to see the evening stars. The bright planet Jupiter can be seen high in the south by 8 p.m.

Below Jupiter is the brightest night star Sirius. You will notice Jupiter’s steady light in contrast to the twinkling of Sirius. The thickness of Jupiter’s light beam is about .01 degrees, allowing small telescope’s users to see its disk and cloud belts.

For stars such as Sirius, their light beam is about .00028 degrees wide (1 arc second) or about 40 times as narrow. A thinner light beam makes the night stars fluctuate more in their light as small pockets of air bend and twist the star’s narrow thread of light.

Above the Earth’s atmosphere, stars shine steadily, allowing views that are limited only by the optics of the telescope. The Hubble Space Telescope views objects to a resolution of 0.1 arc seconds. One tenth of an arc second resolution allows Hubble to resolve humans from its orbital height of 360 miles.

Some larger mirror telescopes on Earth can equal Hubble’s resolution using adaptive optics where mirror segments are manipulated to offset atmospheric currents. Plans are underway to build an Earth based telescope with a compound mirror that is 12 times wider than Hubble’s mirror.

 In 1980, Carl Sagan and public television station KCET in Los Angeles presented “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage” over public television stations across the United States. “Cosmos” was shown in 13 one hour episodes, a new episode each week. There was an accompanying book; eventually “Cosmos” was released on videotape and later on DVD format.

 The new Cosmos was conceived and written by Ann Druyan (Sagan’s widow) and astronomer Steven Soter. The narrator is astrophysicist Neil De Grasse Tyson, Director of New York City’s Planetarium in Central Park.

The production costs are higher than the original Cosmos. About three years ago, Peter Rice, head of Fox Broadcasting agreed to finance the new Cosmos production. So this evening at 9 p.m., the first episode of “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey” will premiere on Fox.

This episode and a documentary on the making of Episode 1,”Standing Up in the Milky Way” will be shown the following evening on the National Geographic Channel. This new Cosmos will be shown in 174 countries and in 47 languages.

 Here are the remaining episodes: II — “The Rivers of Life” on March 16/17, III — “When Knowledge Conquered Fear” on March 23/24, IV — “Hiding in the Night” on March 30/31, V — “A Sky Full of Ghosts” on April 6/7, VI — “Deeper, Deeper, Deeper Still” on April 13/14, VII — “The Clean Room” on April 20/21, VIII — “Sisters of the Sun” on April 27/28, IX — “The Electric Boy” on May 4/5, X — “The Lost Worlds of Planet Earth” on May 11/12, XI — “The Immortals” on May 18/19, XII — “The World Set Free” on May 25/26 and XIII — “Unafraid of the Dark” on June 1/2.

This new Cosmos will cover some features of the Universe not covered in the 1980 cosmos. These include dark matter, dark energy, and the existence of nearly 2,000 exoplanets orbiting other stars.

SKY SIGHTS AHEAD: The moon has just passed first quarter, appearing a little more than half full in the southern evening sky tonight. (The moon’s craters will be well seen through binoculars or telescopes tonight and tomorrow.)

Tomorrow evening, the moon will appear near the bright planet Jupiter. On March 16, the evening moon will be full, rising at sunset and hanging in the sky all night long.

Early risers (6:30 a.m. DST) this week can see brilliant Venus in the east, the planet Mercury much lower in the same part of the sky, the planet Saturn low in the south, and bright Mars low in the southwest near the bright star Spica.

Bob Doyle invites any readers comments and questions. E-mail him at rdoyle@frostburg.edu . He is available as a speaker on his column topics.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • No secrets No secrets

    The idea of fracturing for natural gas makes many people anxious about potential harmful effects. For that reason alone, it is incumbent on Maryland government to require full disclosure of chemicals used in the process.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Remember, we’re not immune to extinction

    I’d like to pose a theoretical scenario to Cal Thomas.

    If a medical specialist said, “Cal, you’ve got a serious physical problem. Do nothing and you’ll die soon. Follow my prescription, which involves certain life-style changes, and there’s a good probability you’ll live, even if your life may be a bit more constrained than now.”

    July 21, 2014

  • America has three branches of government for good reasons

    “Mikulski Calls for Continued Action to Protect Women's Health Following Dangerous Supreme Court Decision” is the heading you will find on Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s website.

    July 21, 2014

  • Tell legislators to do what is right for America’s vets

    Without our veterans and those who made the ultimate sacrifice, where would America be today? It is anyone’s guess, however certainly not the Freedom and Liberty we enjoy.

    July 18, 2014

  • Opposition and inclusion understood

    Those of you who have been here before know how I feel about the late great Len Bias, who I will remember foremost as Leonard Bias, the polite, spindly Bambi-eyed kid from Hyattsville’s Northwestern High School, who could throw a dunk through the floor, yet had the most beautiful jump shot I have ever seen.

    July 17, 2014

  • Move over Move over

    Have you noticed, in your travels, that the front end of a police cruiser usually protrudes a bit more than you would expect when the officer has it parked behind another vehicle on the side of the road?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Use local workers in building new Baltimore Pike travel stop

    As a delegate to the Maryland General Assembly representing Allegany County, and specifically the City of Cumberland, I welcome you to our community as you prepare to construct a Love’s Travel Stop at the above referenced location (on Baltimore Pike).

    July 17, 2014

  • Northern Garrett Rescue Squad raising funds, seeks members

    The Northern Garrett County Rescue Squad recently conducted several fund raising events to raise funds for new Lifepak 15’s, which are EKG monitors with AED / defibrillator.

    July 16, 2014

  • Maryland on target to meet 2025 bay restoration goals

    July 16, 2014

  • Further proof you should never bet on baseball

    Had you known in March that ...

    July 16, 2014