The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

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The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

Post #1by TERRIER » 09.06.2010, 14:57

I'm a regular viewer of the BBC's longest running TV show, The Sky at Night, which still remains a permanent fixture on the TV schedules, as it has done for the past 53 years. The first show I watched was a live special edition covering Giotto's encounter with Halley in 1986.
Shown on a monthly basis, it is (still !) presented by Sir Patrick Moore, who at 87 years old has overseen all bar one of the shows since it first came to our screens in April 1957. As enthusiastic as ever, he has no plans to retire for the forseeable future, although he did mention in a recent episode that he will probably miss the show featuring the UK's 2015 partial solar eclipse - I won't be betting on that though.

The first show featured comet Arend-Roland which is now thought to have been on it's only visit through our solar system.
Image
Sir Patrick presenting the show in 1959.

Apart from Sir Patrick, The Sky at Night is famous to many people in the UK for the use of 'At the Castle Gate' from the Pell?as et M?lisande Suite by Jean Sibelius, which has been used as it's theme tune for many years - most people know the presenter and theme tune even if they don't watch the show.

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Sky at Night latest edition June 2010, Sir Patrick is seen here wearing his familiar monacle. The show is now presented from his home due to him suffering from severe arthritis.

This month sees a special report about star birth and in particular features the Herschel Telescope with guests Professor Derek Ward-Thompson and Dr. Chris North.
Image
Here Chris North shows off a 1/10 scale model of the Herschel Telescope.

As usual, co-presenters Pete Lawrence and Paul Abel show us what to look for during this months night sky, including a search for comet R1 McNaught.
Image
Diagram explaining the location and direction of Comet McNaught in the nightsky thro' June.

The latest news featured another impact on Jupiter plus news of the missing band of dark clouds.
Image.
There's always news about the Cassini mission, :mrgreen: Michelle Dougherty and Carl Murray make regular appearances, while the 2 Mars rovers recieve regular coverage too - Steve Squyres was interviewed earlier in the year. There was a special Solar edition in April which featured the SDO mission.

Currently, the 20 minute epidodes are usually shown on the first Sunday of each month on BBC1 - at around midnight UK time, with an extended 30 minute version shown on BBC4 the following Tuesday 19:30 UK time. Both are repeated once, later in the week. Correct me if i'm wrong but it doesn't seem to be available at BBC iplayer :-( but I've no doubt there will be many clips on You-tube.
There is however, an archived list of episides/features including the theme tune (these can be played on Windows Media or Real player) which is kept at
http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/space/skyatnight/ and covers such diverse episodes as from December 2001 featuring the star of Bethlehem, right through to the LBT in August 2008.

Image
James Burke reporting during an historic night in July 1969 - wish I was old enough to have seen this live.

Information about the latest show can be found at the BBC webpage http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mk7h

Cheers,
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Re: The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

Post #2by bh » 14.06.2010, 16:28

I saw that live! I love the Sky at Night.
regards...bh.

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Re: The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

Post #3by t00fri » 14.06.2010, 16:55

Sorry if I am far less enthusiastic about Sir Patrick as an author of popular astronomy books.

Since I have lived in Cambridge/UK for >1 year and moreover visited "Oxbridge" Universities many times for giving talks or attending conferences, I followed Sir Patrick's annual output at Heffers'/Blackwell's for quite a long time. His production rate of new books was definitely far too high for any substantial new content. Throughout, his books had large overlaps in material and quite obviously were hacked together way too fast.

Fridger

PS: One book by Patrick Moore I own myself: "Astronomical Telescopes and Observatories for Amateurs (1973)". Very superficial stuff altogether... As a huge contrast, let me mention such fine books for amateurs, like "Visual Astronomy of the Deep Sky" by Roger N. Clark. What a difference in depth (and diligent editorial work) ...
Image

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Re: The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

Post #4by TERRIER » 20.06.2010, 06:08

bh wrote:I saw that live! I love the Sky at Night.

Is that the Apollo 11 mission, or the Giotto encounter, or both bh?

I've seen some of the BBC Apollo 11 coverage since - the screengrab of James Burke was taken from a night of programmes dedicated to spaceflight on BBC4. What I remember about the Giotto coverage was the huge sense of anticlimax, when the much awaited image of Halley's nucleus came through as a false colour splodge.

As for Sir Patrick, I must admit I don't own any of his books. He probably does put his name to too many light reference publications these days, but in the past his work on lunar observation was groundbreaking. There is however an alternative to his non-fiction work because he's written some sci-fi novels too - it could be quite interesting reading his ideas such as travelling to Mars, when written over half a century ago.

I might sign up for the Sky at Night newsletter which is written by Sir Patrick each month in conjunction with the TV programme. No e-mail here though, it's still delivered by post!
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Re: The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

Post #5by bh » 20.06.2010, 08:26

heh... The Apollo mission... I had models all over the place.
regards...bh.

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Re: The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

Post #6by TERRIER » 04.07.2010, 19:40

The latest edition airs tonight at 00:30 British Summer Time on BBC1.
A homage to the spaceshuttle, including a special feature on Atlantis' final visit to the ISS will be the main feature on the show.

More news on The Sky at Night newsletter which is actually a quarterly publication written by Sir Patrick Moore and is available at the beginning of January, April, July and October.
I'm going to check out the July 2010 edition, so I'll be sending a stamped self-addressed envelope to the Sky at Night production team requesting the newsletter.

If anyone else is interested, the address to send is:

The Sky At Night, BBC Birmingham, The Mailbox, Birmingham. B1 1RF
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Re: The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

Post #7by bh » 05.07.2010, 09:21

Tonight's programme is BBC Wales only... ?
regards...bh.

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Re: The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

Post #8by TERRIER » 06.07.2010, 13:29

bh wrote:Tonight's programme is BBC Wales only... ?

I missed Monday's early AM showing but I'll be watching the extended half hour version tonight at 19:30 BST on BBC4.

Next repeat on good ol' terrestrial TV is on Saturday 10th July at 12:40 BST on BBC2.
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Re: The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

Post #9by VikingTechJPL » 06.07.2010, 22:59

Terrier and bh,

Owing to your high praise of THE SKY AT NIGHT, I looked it up on BBC America, but found that it is not included in their current schedule. (Interestingly, Star Trek is on their schedule, even though it is also carried on many American channels. So it goes.)

I e-mailed BBC America, asking them to include it in a future lineup. If you know anyone in high places in the BBC, please tell them that "the colonies" would greatly appreciate THE SKY AT NIGHT being broadcast on this side of "the pond" too. :D

Many thanks.
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Re: The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

Post #10by TERRIER » 07.07.2010, 15:13

VikingTechJPL wrote:Terrier and bh,
If you know anyone in high places in the BBC, please tell them that "the colonies" would greatly appreciate THE SKY AT NIGHT being broadcast on this side of "the pond" too. :D Many thanks.
I was wondering if anyone outside Astra satellite range could get to see the show, so I'll try my best! The good news is that after watching last nights show they announced that Newsletter 118 can now be requested by e-mail as an alternative to the Royal Mail. I'll put in a link regarding your plea !

Image

As for last nights show, extremely interesting stuff but 30 minutes wasn't long enough. Most of the time was taken talking to Commander Ken Ham, and British born astronaut Piers Sellars who operated the Canadarm on the final Atlantis mission.

Image

There was as much said about the nearly completed ISS as there was on the space shuttle, but the point was made that the future seems very uncertain concerning manned US launches, so it looks like presenter Chris Lintott will be visiting Baikonur or Guiana more often in future!

Image
Atlantis docks with the ISS for the final time - A spectacular view of a mountain range (name was unstated)

Unfortunately there was only enough time for a short feature about the trials and tribulations of the Hayabusa mission, which finally returned a sample of asteroid Itakowa to Earth on 13th June.

Image
Hayabusa re-enters Earths atmosphere releasing the sample capsule - The capsule has landed!

So sadly there was no nightsky feature, or news on Cassini, so c'mon BBC, this show deserves to be longer if you're going to include special features.
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Re: The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

Post #11by VikingTechJPL » 07.07.2010, 17:06

Terrier wrote:
. . . the future seems very uncertain concerning manned US launches, . . .
This is truly a sad situation.

I grew up just south of Cape Canaveral/Kennedy and worked there for the JPL Deep Space unit for two summers while in college in the early 70's. In the 50's and '60's we watched many missile launches from our back yard, got passes to watch a few from Canaveral itself, and attended quite a few astronaut parades. Those were exciting—and very focused—times.

Hopefully CELESTIA can help restore the enthusiam of that "Golden Age."

-G

PS: Thanks for putting in a good word at the BBC. :D
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Re: The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

Post #12by TERRIER » 07.08.2010, 12:50

Great show this month and the 30 minute edition sees the newly discovered hypergiant star R136a1 as the main feature.
We also have news on the first 10 months of the Planck mission, a solar eclipse from Easter Island, images from the Rosetta mission flyby of asteroid Lutetia, Mercury Messanger's discovery of the relatively young region around Rachmaninoff crater, and news about the falling levels of liquid in Ontario Lacus on Titan.

Also the nightsky slot returned this month and featured the Perseid Meteor Shower which is due to peak on the night of 12/13th.
Shortly after this on the 14th August at around 2:40BST, if you own a 10inch telescope and focus in on Jupiter then you should see Europa pass across the great red spot.
Here's the view in Celestia :

cel://SyncOrbit/Sol:Earth/2010-08-14T01 ... rc=0&ver=3

Last viewing starts very shortly on BBC2 at 14:15 BST...

..but great news, the show has appeared on BBC iplayer, here's the link

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/s/?page=3


Next month....Jupiter :-)
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Re: The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

Post #13by John Van Vliet » 07.08.2010, 18:27

--- edit ---
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Re: The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

Post #14by TERRIER » 10.08.2010, 11:44

Cheers john,
I've just re-watched the show to make sure I hadn't confused British Summer Time with Universal or Greenwich Mean Time, but they definitely state BST.
On the Sky at Night they said to start viewing Jupiter at around 02:40 BST (01:40 UT), and here's their diagram showing an inverted Jupiter, with Europa passing over the Great red spot at 03:00 BST.

Image

My cel/url link was just to show Europa catch up and pass the great red spot by looking from my hometown location on the early morning of the 14th. I'd used the standard Celestia texture and orbits for Jupiter/Earth and hadn't accounted for the light time delay.

It would be nice to know if anyone does actually get to view the event and let us know the exact time.
Unfortunatetly it won't be me, I don't own a powerful enough telescope....and it will probably be too cloudy as well. :roll:
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Re: The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

Post #15by bh » 15.08.2010, 10:25

Only saw half of the last one 'Monster Star' then it was taken off iPlayer... grrr.
regards...bh.

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Re: The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

Post #16by TERRIER » 15.08.2010, 19:43

bh wrote:Only saw half of the last one 'Monster Star' then it was taken off iPlayer... grrr.

Blimey, they soon got rid of that. Unlike some certain other programmes I can think of. ....ie TOP GEAR.
I wouldn't mind, but you know Clarkson and Co will be repeated a million times a day on BBC3 and the DAVE channel within 6 months!

At least the Beeb kept the "Wonders of the Solar System" series on the iplayer for quite a while when it was on earlier in the year. It's gone now though....to DVD
!

Edit

Hey, I've just checked out the "Wonders of the Solar System" BBC page and found a very interesting link http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00qyxfb :D

"Celestia: Fly around the solar system, when you want, where you want"
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Re: The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

Post #17by bh » 15.08.2010, 20:12

yes... watched 'wonders...' found Mr Cox a little irritating.
regards...bh.

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Re: The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

Post #18by TERRIER » 15.08.2010, 20:18

bh wrote:yes... watched 'wonders...' found Mr Cox a little irritating.

Yes, I did too :lol:
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Re: The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

Post #19by TERRIER » 05.09.2010, 19:13

This months edition titled Events on Jupiter is showing tonight on BBC1 at 12:30 BST.
Sir Patrick, will be discussing the disappearance of the southern equitorial belt on Jupiter with guests John H Rogers and Leigh Fletcher.

Must admit I dusted off the old 'scope and took advantage of the fact we have no streetlighting at the moment, and took a peek at Jupiter on a couple of lovely clear evenings last Tuesday and Wednesday. Best views I've ever had of the planet. :D
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Re: The Sky at Night Appreciation Thread

Post #20by TERRIER » 22.09.2011, 12:09

Can't believe a year has gone by since my last post about The Sky at Night 8O

In the meantime we had the 700th anniversary programme.

Sir Patrick is still presenting the show, although his speech is becoming quite hard to understand now.

I'm also wondering if Lintott is going to be a regular presenter any more? I think he's been away in America throughout most of the last year. Gotta say that
Chris North has been a good deputy.

As long as we don't get Brian Cox then it'll be ok :lol:

Here's the latest news from the BBC website : http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mk7h
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