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Strange Universe

  • Starting next week, the nearest star to the Moon will be the bluest of them all, which is Virgo’s brightest star, Spica. Hear why Spica, one of the brightest objects in the constellation of Virgo, is one of the 20 brightest stars in the night sky.
  • It’s time to have some serious sky-fun. This coming Tuesday and Wednesday evening, the nearest celestial bodies will perform some tight gymnastics for our enjoyment. You don’t even need unpolluted country skies — city streets will work for this one.
  • The universe’s four forces are identical everywhere. So, any physical truth that applies to our galaxy must be identical everywhere else and throughout all of time. In the 1930s, future Nobel-winner Paul Dirac wondered whether time has always passed the same way and whether light’s speed is truly a constant. But despite such doubts, the cosmos certainly appears to be the same always and everywhere. This week we’ll explore where the universe is heading.
  • For several years now, increasing data are pointing to the universe very possibly being infinite in size and inventory. Space that never ends, containing limitless galaxies, stars planets and energy. This would be a huge change from our longstanding model of a finite, but unbounded cosmos, meaning there's no physical boundary anywhere and yet the universe contains a specific amount of material and energy.
  • On Feb. 5, the full moon will hang high in the sky. Tune in as we explore the spheres of the universe; the sun, the moon and the stars. Their divine shape dazzled ancient cultures – a belief we still preserve in customs today.
  • This week we’ll study seven basic facts about the universe like how Aristarchus, 18 centuries before Copernicus, declared the earth orbits around the sun.
  • Our current, bright sun makes winters more moderate than they’d otherwise be. In the southern hemisphere, enjoying summer right now, the added boost of having this 7% greater Sun intensity should theoretically make seasons more extreme than ours, with hotter highs and colder lows. It doesn’t happen only because they have far more ocean acreage, and water moderates temperatures so that our planet’s two hemispheres, remarkably, balance out.
  • We’ll take a peek at what we can expect in the sky in 2023. Tune in to hear why 2023 is the decade’s finest year for meteors.
  • Dec. 26 around 5 p.m. you’ll see a lovely, low crescent Moon meeting a moderately bright star in the southwest, which is the planet Saturn. Then Dec. 29 look high up to see the half Moon floating right next to the night’s most brilliant star, which is the planet Jupiter. They’ll be out until midnight, with an eye-catching loveliness that has no controversy at all.
  • The public is obsessed with planets beyond our solar system. One team announced finding a planet orbiting the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, with the putative planet orbiting Alpha’s companion, the much smaller and dimmer star known as Proxima. Its nearness at only 4.2 light-years has generated excited talk about sending a space probe.