This Week in Space

Jan 5th 2024

This Week in Space 92

The Saga of the Seven Sisters

Hosted by Rod Pyle, Tariq Malik

Navigating the Night Sky With Astronomer Steve Fentress

New episodes posted every Friday.
Guests: Steve Fentress
Category: News

Spend some time in a dark location and you'll see the night sky in all its glory. If you pick a night with no moon, the effect triples. Steve Fentress, recently retired director of the Strasenburgh Planetarium in New York, is our guide to the night sky this week. He'll enlighten us about the lore of the Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters, one of the more remarkable constellations in the sky, as well as a general tour of other notable constellations and their stories across the ages. And... he's even got a planetarium joke! Join us for this surprisingly entertaining look at the great above from a veteran storyteller.


  • Vulcan rocket with ULA’s new BE4 engine set for debut flight, launching NASA’s CLPS moon landing mission with Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander
  • Controversy over human remains onboard Astrobotic lander; Navajo Nation protests not being consulted
  • Juno spacecraft makes close flyby of Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io, capturing stunning images 

Main Topic: The Night Sky

  • Steve’s approach to appreciating the night sky focuses on visualization using basic math rather than just facts
  • Overview of cultural interpretations of constellations and astronomical objects across ancient Chinese, Aboriginal Australian, and Pacific Islander cultures
  • The 88 modern constellations officially recognized today trace back to ancient Near East, Greek, and 16th-century European traditions
  • The Pleiades star cluster - one of the most prominent and universally viewed groups of stars
  • Its seasonal visibility and blue color make it a prime target for binoculars
  • Appearance ranges from 6 main stars to a sparkling cluster depending on conditions
  • Known as the “Seven Sisters” across cultures; stories explaining its changing appearance
  • Popular meteor showers, including the Perseids, Leonids, and Geminids
  • How meteor showers coincide with Earth's intersecting dust trails left behind by comets
  • Upcoming highlights: 2024 Perseids and peak viewing times

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