Science and Astronomy | Science & U!

By | December 12, 2019


♪♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪♪>>>CAROL ANNE RIDDELL: I’m
Carol Anne Riddell and this is Science and U! coming to you from the
space shuttle pavilion at the Intrepid Museum. Today we’re exploring
outer space, the vast unknown beyond Earth. We begin with a lesson on
the what, when and how of our universe from the Big
Bang Theory to why some stars live fast and die
young.>>>DONNA HANOVER: I’m
Donna Hanover here at the scales of the universe at
the Rose Center of the American Museum of Natural
History. What’s out there beyond
the Earth is a subject that captures the
imaginations of people across the planet. Dr. Emily Rice from the
Department of astrophysics at the American Museum of
Natural History says that to understand space you
can start with the Big Bang.>>>EMILY RICE: So the idea
behind the Big Bang theory is that when the universe
started it was a very hot dense and small area and has
ever since then been expanding. The first evidence that we
got for the Big Bang theory was that the more
distant galaxies were all moving away from us very,
very rapidly and they were, the more distant a
galaxy is the more rapidly it’s moving away. And really the only way to
explain this or really the best way to explain this
is that the universe is expanding but there’s also
other evidence. One of the biggest pieces
of evidence is called the Cosmic Microwave
Background Radiation, as the universe expands and
cools there has to be a transition point where the
universe goes from being opaque to transparent. And when that transition
happens you get a lot of free flowing radiation. In order to have that
radiation we had to have started with a hot dense
universe. And so that goes into the
idea that the universe has since been expanding and
cooling off.>>>DONNA HANOVER: Dr. Rice
says we are actually all made up of starstuff.>>>EMILY RICE: The
universe started with just hydrogen, helium and a
tiny little bit of lithium and just the three lightest
elements in the periodic table. But we have so much more. You know we have this
whole periodic table of over 100 elements that
weren’t there at the beginning of the universe. And so what we’ve pieced
together is that these elements are actually
forged in stars as part of the solar lifecycle. You have elements being
fused from lighter elements to heavier
elements and then when a particularly massive star
explodes as a supernova we have even heavier elements
being made. The calcium in our bones,
the potassium and Banana, the iron in our blood had
to have come from these stars.>>>DONNA HANOVER: Stars
come in different sizes and temperatures.>>>EMILY RICE: A massive star
may be 10 times the mass of the sun or more is going to
live fast and die young, we say. It has a lot of fuel but
it burns do that fuel much more quickly because it’s
so much hotter. And so that star is going
to explode as a supernova.>>>DONNA HANOVER: Now our
sun is a star.>>>EMILY RICE: Yes.>>>DONNA HANOVER: Is it
anywhere near exploding?>>>EMILY RICE: No, there
is good news. So our sun is a star, it
won’t live forever. It’s lifetime for that mass of
a star is about 10 billion years and we’re about halfway
through that life cycle. And so the sun will live
on very much like it is now for about five billion
years.>>>DONNA HANOVER: Dr. Rice
says it can be challenging to measure distances in space,
within our galaxy scientists can measure distance using
the parallax effect.>>>EMILY RICE: You can kind of
test it out if you hold your finger at arm’s length and look
at it against a background object as you open
and close each eye your finger appears to shift
relative to the background. It’s not actually moving but
because you’re looking at it with it from a different vantage
point it appears to shift. And so the same thing
happens with nearby stars as the Earth orbits the
sun. And so we can take these
measurements watch how much the positions move
relative to the background stars and figure out how
far away those stars are.>>>DONNA HANOVER: To
measure velocity. Scientists can use the
Doppler effect.>>>EMILY RICE: We can
measure how quickly the object is moving away from
us or towards us. And we do that by taking
its spectrum, so we take light from the object we
spread it out as a function of wavelength,
they’re shifted to the red to longer wavelengths if
an object is moving away from us or they’re shifted
to shorter wavelengths we call it blue-shifted if an
object is moving towards us and based on the amount
of this shift we can measure its relative
velocity to us. We also use the Doppler
effect to look for planets because a planet as it
orbits a star is also going to induce a wobble
in that star. And so what we do is we
measure the wobble of the star, this regular back
and forth motion with the Doppler shift and that
tells us that a planet is orbiting with that same
period around that star.>>>DONNA HANOVER: Now what
do you and other astronomers think about
the travel we’ve been able to do, the pictures we’ve
been able to take, for example the flyby of Pluto
and landing the rover on Mars. How valuable are those
events?>>>EMILY RICE: These are
amazing the landing of the Curiosity Rover on Mars,
that was broadcast in Times Square, so many of
these things the entire world is watching. When we land on a comet or
when we fly by Pluto for the first time, it’s just
amazing to just be able to share this with everybody
on earth.>>>DONNA HANOVER: So we’re
getting some answers about what lies out there beyond the earth
but there’s much more to explore. I’m Donna Hanover for
Science and U!>>>CAREY HORWITZ: The most
prominent thing in the winter sky and the thing
everyone knows about is Orion. Orion is a great
constellation, first of all it looks good, second
it’s got a number of bright stars so it’s easy
to see. There are a number of open
star clusters in and around Orion and those are
fun, those are stars that travel together basically,
they’re gravitationally bound, many of them were
created at the same time and they move through the
galaxy together. We also have the Orion
Nebula as part of Orion and that’s one of the few
nebulae that are visible in a city sky. This is an area where new
stars are being formed all the time, so if you know
what’s going on there and you look and you see this
kind of cloudy gassy area in the middle of Orion and
you realize new stars and perhaps new planets and
maybe new civilizations are being formed there.>>>CAROL ANNE RIDDELL: If
you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to travel
in space and who hasn’t, our next story will give
you some fascinating answers. I was lucky enough to
interview astronaut Ron Garan on his voyages on
the far side of our planet. Astronaut Ron Garan has
logged some 71 million miles in orbit, an
extraordinary experience most of us can only dream
about. Can you describe what
weightlessness is like?>>>RON GARAN: It’s
euphoric, I mean it’s really, it’s not like
floating in a pool, it’s just wonderful feeling of
freedom where with a touch of a finger you can go
flying across the room and if you’re working on
something on the floor and you don’t want to bend
over you just flip upside down and turn the floor
into the ceiling and it’s just an amazing
experience.>>>CAROL ANNE RIDDELL:
Garan chronicles his space travel in his new book
“The Orbital Perspective, Lessons in Seeing the Big
Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles”. He covers everything from
the larger sense of purpose he felt upon
return to earth to the daily logistics of living
beyond our planet. And despite his NASA
pedigree Garan patiently answers the questions we
all wonder about. I’m so curious, what are
the questions that people ask you the most?>>>RON GARAN: The question
that I get asked the most is how do you go to the
bathroom in space.>>>CAROL ANNE RIDDELL: And
what’s the answer?>>>RON GARAN: Well the
short answer is anything we use gravity for here on
earth we use air currents on the space station.>>>CAROL ANNE RIDDELL: In
the book you talked about when you were first trying
to sleep you didn’t really know what to do with your
head. What was that all about?>>>RON GARAN: I’d say it
took me three to four weeks to learn how to
sleep, which unfortunately on my first mission was
only two weeks long so I never really figured it
out on my first mission. And yeah, when, where my
head would go as I relax I found uncomfortable.>>>CAROL ANNE RIDDELL:
Right.>>>RON GARAN: So you just
had to learn, I think part of it was your, the
muscles in your neck need to get used to that and
eventually they did. But once I did get used to
it, it was a wonderful sleep because you don’t
have all the pressure points of laying on a
mattress. So each of us have crew
quarters, little closet size rooms that we have
and we sleep in sleeping bags, so you are floating
inside your sleeping bag which is floating inside
your crew quarters.>>>CAROL ANNE RIDDELL:
Wow. We met with Garan at the
space shuttle pavilion of the Intrepid Sea, Air and
Space Museum where he showed us up close the
type of capsule he returned to earth in after
his second mission. So just explain to me
where you were.>>>RON GARAN: I was in that suit
right there, the right suit. So your knees are in your
chest, you’re wearing a space suit, you’ve got
your helmet on. As you’re entering through
the atmosphere the G’s really build up. You know you feel like
you’ve got an elephant sitting on your chest, you
know you’re struggling to or laboring to breath. The parachutes open, you
got thrown all over the place, you know this whole
time there’s fire going by the window as you’re you
know hurling on fire through the atmosphere.
It’s quite exciting.>>>CAROL ANNE RIDDELL:
It’s surprising because it’s not as big as I would
have thought.>>>RON GARAN: No, it’s like
three guys in the trunk of a car>>>CAROL ANNE RIDDELL: Now
retired as a NASA astronaut Ron Garan is
busy here on Earth as a global humanitarian and
social entrepreneur, focused on creating a more
sustainable planet. As he explains in his book
it’s a perspective he gained by seeing our world
from a distance.>>>RON GARAN: It really
gives you the sense that we’re all interconnected
when you see the planet as a whole, there’s also the
sobering contradiction between the beauty of our
planet on one hand and the unfortunate realities of life on
our planet on the other hand. Our planet, you realize
when you look at our beautiful planet that life
on our planet is not always as beautiful as it
looks through space. I think the one thing that
I’d want people to take away is that we are
incredibly powerful, each and every one of us is
incredibly powerful to affect real change in the
world.>>>CAROL ANNE RIDDELL: And
as Ron Garan realized when his space capsule returned
to Earth that change starts by redefining what
home means, for all of us.>>>RON GARAN: So my window
now is pointing at the ground when we finally
came to rest and looking out there and I saw a
rock, a flower and a blade of grass and I thought I’m
home and then immediately as I had that thought it
dawned on me that wow I’m home but I’m in
Kazakhstan. And so I think at that
moment I really did redefine what home was,
home was earth.>>>JOE DELFAUSSE: One very
special set of stars is called Albireo and it’s a
double star, the ancients thought it was one so they
gave it one name, but in fact when you look through
a telescope you can see there’s two stars and
what’s neat about it is that one is blue, very, very
hot, the other’s a red giant. And they think they go
around each other but they’re not sure, if they do
it’s like every 100,000 years.>>>CAROL ANNE RIDDELL:
Dark matter, it’s one of the great mysteries of
modern physics possibly all around us and yet
undetectable. Andrew Falzon has more on
this enigma of the cosmos.>>>ANDREW FALZON: One of
the most basic concepts in science is that everything
around us is called matter. But what you may not know
is that there is another more invisible side to matter
and that’s called dark matter.>>>MORDECAI-MARK MAC LOW:
We don’t know what’s in it. We don’t even know what it
is.>>>ANDREW FALZON: Dark
matter continues to elude scientists like Dr.
Mordecai-Mark Mac Low. While little is known
about this mysterious entity we do know that
there is a lot of it.>>>MORDECAI-MARK MAC LOW:
The measurements right now suggest that 80% of the
mass of the universe is this stuff, not ordinary
matter, not all the stuff that makes us up, atoms,
electrons protons. All that is only about 20%
of the matter.>>>ANDREW FALZON: As
scientists pointed their telescopes to the sky they
came to realize that the hazy little dots filled
their lenses were actually galaxies beyond our own. The more they observed the
more they measured and realized something was
missing.>>>MORDECAI-MARK MAC LOW:
By going out and measuring with telescopes and
detectors, essentially the velocities of galaxies and
seeing how fast they move and then comparing that to
the brightness of the light from those galaxies which shows
how massive they appear to be and showing that there
were huge discrepancies.>>>ANDREW FALZON: The
discrepancies were in how much mass was being
observed in a galaxy versus how much there
should be and since it didn’t seem that all of it
was there scientists originally called it
missing matter, though dark matter has never been
directly observed the Hayden Planetarium space
show Dark Universe helps its audience visualize
dark matter and its effects on the universe.>>>NARRATOR: Scientists
find the dark matter shown here in black was
essential to forming the large-scale structure of
today’s universe. This computer simulation
traces how cosmic structure evolved over
time. The bright knots contain
thousands of galaxies drawn together by the vast sheaths and
tendrils of dark matter.>>>MORDECAI-MARK MAC LOW:
There are two possibilities, either
there’s some unknown stuff, unknown particles
perhaps or there’s something we don’t
understand about gravity. Right now the smart money is on
it’s some kind of particle.>>>ANDREW FALZON:
Scientists develop theoretical models of these
particles and call them WIMPs, which stands for weakly
interacting massive particle. And while these particles
have yet to be discovered there is a chance we might
be able to produce them right here on Earth.>>>MORDECAI-MARK MAC LOW:
If it’s a particle it could be produced in the
large hadron collider and then we would know that
such a particle existed and then we can count up
how many of them there could be in the universe and
that could be your dark matter.>>>ANDREW FALZON: The
large hadron collider is a massive particle
accelerator located just outside of Geneva,
Switzerland. 17 miles of underground
tunnels allow for the collision of particles at
very high speeds. Researchers hope that WIMP
type particles may turn up as an aftermath of those
collisions. Also underground research
facilities like Cannabis Snow Lab are looking for
dark matter. Snow Lab is over a mile
below the surface to avoid interference from cosmic
radiation. While there’s no planned
end date for dark universe the sooner you come see it
the better because much like dark matter it may
soon disappear. I’m Andrew Falzon for
Science and U!>>>RORI BALDARI: Saturn is
definitely one of my favorite planets to see. The rings are just
beautiful and in the small telescopes that we use the
rings are very prominent, very clear and has a
really big wow factor and it’s really a lovely sight
to see.>>>CAROL ANNE RIDDELL: The
possibility of life on Mars has always captured
our collective imaginations, as Magalie
Laguerre-Wilkinson explains it now seems more
science than fiction.>>>MAGALIE LAGUERRE-WILKINSON:
For generations we’ve all been intrigued by
the mysteries of Mars. Recently NASA scientists
discovered something new on the red planet, conclusive
proof of liquid water. High-resolution cameras
aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
circling the planet since 2006 bring us
unprecedented views of strange dark narrow
streaks which NASA says clearly indicate flowing
waters.>>>JIM GREEN: Mars is not
the dry arid planet that we thought of in the past.>>>MAGALIE LAGUERRE-WILKINSON:
Billions of years ago scientists believe
Mars had enough water to fill numerous lakes and rivers
but this latest revelation is something brand new.>>>MICHAEL MEYER: There has been
no evidence for water until now.>>>MAGALIE LAGUERRE-WILKINSON:
The presence of a watery history of the
Martian surface is no secret. The Curiosity rover has
been rolling over Mars and probing below ground since
landing there in 2012. In October of that year
this tireless explorer found small amounts of
water bound within minerals that make up the
Martian soil. So far the exploration has
been a study of the planet by spacecraft and unmanned
vehicles. There are currently five
orbiters surveying Mars from above, including the
one that detected the water tracks that
Curiosity along with the rover Opportunity which
landed in 2004 have been drilling desolate
landscapes collecting samples, sniffing the
atmosphere and doing scientific analysis,
searching out environments where life may have once
thrived. The presence of even a
salty brine that flows in warmer Mauritian weather
fuels speculation that life up there is possible. And following the water is
a critical element in that search, tracking the news
along with the rest of us are scientists like Martin
Weiss, principal investigator at the New
York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows, Queens. What makes this so exciting,
why is this unprecedented.>>>DR. MARTIN WEISS: It’s
unprecedented because it’s the first indication we
have of the universe that there is liquid water and
two the association of liquid water with life. Basically we don’t know is
where this water is coming from, if the water’s
coming from the atmosphere and it’s just coalescing
on this then that changes the picture entirely, if
the water is coming from an underground source or
spring them that is far more important and
interesting to investigate. So this is not the end of
the story, it’s the beginning of a very long
story that’s going to take a long time to work out.>>>MAGALIE LAGUERRE-WILKINSON:
NASA’s stated aim is to have a human on Mars
by the year 2037 but there’s still a
lot to do before that chapter of our Martian
Chronicle can be written. I’m Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson
for Science and U!.>>>CAROL ANNE RIDDELL: But
if there is life beyond Earth on Mars or elsewhere
what does it look like. Odds are not what most of
us would imagine. Mike Gilliam has more.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: It’s a
question that’s been on the minds of men forever. Is there life beyond earth
and recent developments have only fueled the
desire for more knowledge. To get some answers we’ve
come to the Hubble exhibit at the Intrepid. It’s an exciting time for
space buffs and scientists who are looking for life
out there. The discovery of liquid
water on Mars has once again stoked the
imagination.>>>STUART McNIELL: This is
huge, to find this little bit of liquid water is very
interesting and a great reason for us to keep looking into Mars
and keep sending probes and eventually human
astronauts over there.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: Stuart McNiell
is an educator at the Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum
on Manhattan’s West Side. He says when we talk about
finding life beyond earth we may need to narrow our
expectations.>>>STUART McNIELL: What
NASA’s looking for mostly is going to be microbial
life which is what we expect to find maybe
buried deep beneath the surface of Mars or on some other
places in our solar system.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: Microbial
life would be the single cell organisms we may have
eventually evolved from according to McNiell.>>>STUART McNIELL: It
would mean that life is a process that happens
elsewhere. Right now as far as we
know we’re alone, so just the evidence of that
occurring on a planet such as Mars or another moon
like Enceladus or Europa would give us a lot of
hope that this can be occurring on similar
planets and moons in places elsewhere in our
galaxy or the universe.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: And that
could point us in the direction we want to
travel in to find life.>>>STUART McNIELL: If we
find a place that can support even just
microbial life that means that it could be a
stepping-stone for us perhaps going there
ourselves. For example the moons
Enceladus and Europa is widely believed that there
is a salt-water ocean underneath their surface. Here on earth anywhere we
find liquid water we find life. So if we know that there’s
liquid water on these moons it’s worth
investigating to check out. A place like Mars, it’s
very similar in fact estimates believe that at
one point there was a massive ocean in the northern
hemisphere of the planet. Now it’s not there anymore
but maybe we can find evidence that there was
life there or even tiny remaining microbial life. Places like Titan, it’s a
real oddity in that it has, it is a moon with a
very thick atmosphere and it contains elements and
chemicals that we recognize and the life
there would be completely different if there is life
there than anything we’ve ever seen before. So it’s really worth
investigating.>>>MIKE GILLIAM:
Scientists are investigating in a number
of different ways.>>>STUART McNIELL: There’s kind
of really three scales to it. Now we’ve got inside of
our solar system so that’s where we’re sending, we’re
sending probes and rovers to Mars, places like Mars. There’s a mission plan to
go to the moon Europa, orbit Jupiter and
investigate Europa. And these are being done
in very small tentative steps so that we can begin
to really understand what we’re looking for. Now the next step above
that would be identifying exoplanets that might be
able to harbor life. So satellites like Hubble
Space Telescope, the Kepler Observatory and
then future ones, there’s one launching in 2017 will
be called TESS, that one will be a much more
advanced version of the Kepler, it’s going to be
helping us find and identify and catalog these
planets and help us figure out more about their
atmospheres, if they’re within the habitable zone
and eventually if we get the science up to a really
great degree identify elements in a planet’s
atmosphere that can only occur if there is life
there.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: Other
methods are aimed at reaching even farther into
space.>>>STUART McNIELL: Such as
sending messages, coded messages out to star
clusters. That’ll take thousands and
thousands and thousands of years to yield anything at
all but that’s for that like galactic civilization
kind of stuff.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: They’re
also experimenting with magnetic fields and taking
terrain photographs.>>>STUART McNIELL: It’s
giving us giving us a better idea of really just
what’s there.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: And what
about the colonization of another planet or moon.>>>STUART McNIELL: Other
planets are pretty far off but if we’re looking for a
place for colonization probably our first bet
should be our moon. It’s nearby, we’ve been
there before and it only takes about three days
worth of travel as opposed to the months and months
and months that it would take to go to even Mars. That and we know a lot
about it.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: McNiell
isn’t quite ready to say definitively that there is
life beyond Earth. So where do you see this going
over the next 25 or 30 years.>>>STUART McNIELL: In the
next 25 to 30 years we’re going to see a massive
brand, massive amount of brand new satellites,
brand new space telescopes. We’re going ideally to
Mars, we’re eventually going to launch the James
Webb telescope into orbit around the Earth, actually
to the Lagrange point, it’s going to be a million
miles away. Getting us an incredible
vantage point of the universe around us. We’re going to be taking
pictures of other stars, hopefully identify
directly observing exoplanets and observing
more about galaxies, nebulae and learning more
about not just where we came from but where we’re
going.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: So the
search for life continues with the end results it’s
anyone’s guess. I’m Mike Gilliam for
Science and U!>>>CASEY HORWITZ: Yes, the
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York is
one of the oldest stargazing clubs in the
country. We currently have
somewhere between six and seven hundred members I
believe. And we’ve got, of which
there are a number of us who have scopes. We do a lot of outreach
such as what we’re doing tonight going to different
places around the city and just letting the people
look at the heavens.>>>CAROL ANNE RIDDELL: The
Northern Lights are one of nature’s most spectacular
light shows, rare and special displays that have
Star watchers across the world gazing upwards. Ari Goldberg tells us
what’s behind the phenomenon.>>>ARI GOLDBERG: In this
observatory at the College of Staten Island. Professor
Irving Robbins they able to show off the starscape to a
city population that might not often get to see it. And to teach students
about wonders in the night sky like the Aurora
Borealis, the northern lights.>>>PROF. IRVING ROBBINS: My
first experience with Aurora I just laid there for hours
watching the sky fluctuate and move around, change
colors. It was, I was literally, I
hate to say it was like getting stoned but on the
heavens.>>>ARI GOLDBERG: While the
mechanisms that produce this light show are quite
complex and not even entirely understood yet,
in fairly simple terms the aurora borealis is the
result of the interplay among three things, energy
from the sun, the Earth’s magnetic field and the
earth atmosphere.>>>PROF. IRVING ROBBINS: The
sun is a boiling Koja, the outside surface of the sun
is a blazing temperature, 11000 degrees Fahrenheit, as you
move out actually gets hotter. So what’s happening is the
sun is boiling away in a sense and is throwing its
guts out into space we call it that solar wind.>>>ARI GOLDBERG: This
solar wind is the charged particles of ripped apart
atoms, hydrogen protons and electrons and alpha
particles shot out toward us.>>>PROF. IRVING ROBBINS: We
have a shield that’s sitting there, like a shield
sitting there like this, as the wind hits it
diverts the particles. What is that shield, it’s
the magnetism created in the core of the earth. If you go and google the
core of the earth it turns out there’s two parts. There’s a very, very solid
iron core basically and then it’s so hot down
there that there’s another section that’s all molten. That molten is molten
metal, metal’s a very good conductor and what that
means there’s a current and they’re generating
magnetism but it gets exaggerated because the
Earth spins at a pretty rapid rate and that spin
adds more strength to that field and result is we get surrounded
with a magnetic field.>>>ARI GOLDBERG: So we’d
play with these little metal bars, these little
metal magnet bars in school, we’d sprinkle iron
shavings on it and we’d see the lines of the
magnetic field, that’s sort of what Earth is
like.>>>PROF. IRVING ROBBINS: Pretty
overall yes, it’s a nice way to visualize the
creation of the field. So now you have this
magnetic field because charge particles interact
with a magnetic field it get’s deflected away. That’s the shield effect.>>>ARI GOLDBERG: How
important is this shield, if we didn’t have the
shield is that a problem?>>>PROF. IRVING ROBBINS: If we
did not have a magnetic field we wouldn’t be talking.
We’d probably be dead.>>>ARI GOLDBERG: This
shield protects us from the otherwise devastating
particles of the sun. But just like that school
magnetic bar the field isn’t a perfect sphere. Some particles are able to
get in at the poles and some get channeled along
the field lines as well. And that is why the
Northern Lights or the Southern Lights are
centered on the magnetic poles where the particles
get close enough to hit the atoms of our
atmosphere.>>>PROF. IRVING ROBBINS: But
they get through and they hit the atmosphere. Now
you’ve got fireworks. What’s the fireworks, when
you now have atoms, when atoms get energized they
release light. So what happens is when
that stuff hits an atom, atoms get excited, we call
that an excited state. Atoms nice and happy, its content,
it’s not bothering anybody. Boom, energy hits it,
electron tries to get away, atom says no, no you’re
not getting away, pulls it back. All right. And that process it had
higher energy it loses the energy it becomes a photon
of light.>>>ARI GOLDBERG: And all
those colors of the northern lights that all
depends on which atoms in our air are being excited
by the sun particles, each atom has its own unique
signature.>>>PROF. IRVING ROBBINS: Oxygen
gives us the green color sometimes red depending on
circumstances. Nitrogen in the atmosphere give us some
blue maybe some violets.>>>ARI GOLDBERG: It’s not
common but we can see the aurora farther south every
once in a while. When the sun spews out a
massive wave of energy in the form of a solar flare
a coronal mass ejection, more than just the
constant solar wind.>>>PROF. IRVING ROBBINS: The
velocities of these particles are so insane. Typically let’s say slow
particles 200 miles a second, that’s how fast
these things are moving, that’s the slow ones. Faster ones are moving 10
times faster, gets through our shield and you can
have aurora’s down here in New York and we’ve had
aurora down here in New York, even down the
equator at times.>>>ARI GOLDBERG: In fact
as recently as November 2015 high solar activity
meant that parts of New York State were able to
catch a glimpse. It may not happen often
and we may not even understand all of it when it does,
that’s no reason not to look up.>>>PROF. IRVING ROBBINS: In this
field of astrophysics or astronomy when things are
far away and you have a little data everybody’s
happy. But when you’re right on
top of something and but we have so much
information that we’re confused, that makes it fun for those
people in this field.>>>ARI GOLDBERG: Of course
living this far south it’s very rare we’d get to see
the northern lights from here. However if you get out of
the Manhattan lights for a night and come down to the
observatory at the College of Staten Island you’ll
see there’s no shortage of beauty in the night sky
even in New York City. For Science and U!
I’m Ari Goldberg.>>>CAROL ANNE RIDDELL:
That’s our show for today. Next month we are talking
technology. We’ll see you then. I’m Carol Anne Riddell. Thanks for joining us for
Science and U! ♪♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪♪

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