All right everyone we are delighted to welcome the host of PBS’s Stargazers, James Albury, to Starry Night 2017. [Applause] So if you didn’t already know Stargazers is an iconic backyard astronomy program made famous by Jack Horkheimer which airs on over 100 PBS stations around the world. James Albury spent a lot of time in the dark Leaning back and surrounded by stars, he juggles whether to fly to Neptune or Saturn. This is the life of a planetarium director and Albury is the man in charge at Santa Fe’s Kika Silva Pla Planetarium since October 2009 and with that said, James Albury So welcome to Starry Night 2017 and the title of my talk tonight is “Stargazer and How I recovered from the Trauma of 2017 Total Solar Eclipse.” So I was uh I was quite surprised at how popular the planetarium and I guess how in demand eclipse glasses became as we were getting closer and closer. So I’m going to talk a little bit about how we do this shows Stargazers and I’ll talk to you a little bit about my experience with the total solar eclipse. Okay so, as Chelsea Moustakas said Stargazers is the only nationally syndicated television series on naked eye astronomy that’s designed for the average person. So you don’t have to have a lot of degrees in astronomy or science in order to watch the show. We primarily focus on things you can see from a city and usually things between the mid-latitudes we don’t do things that are only seen at the extreme northern latitudes or extreme southern origins that way it covers the broad part of North America and Canada, although we do focus more on the eastern time zone because well that’s where we live. But we do keep into or take into account the Western times as well. The show – oh, by the way, I have there’s a quiz so not a big clue but I have some goodies. One of them, I have two of these, it is a copy of book with Jack Horkheimer in it called Stargazing with Jack Horkheimer, and it’s the episodes of the original Stargazers with Jack Horkheimer as the guide as a comic person And then I have a commemorative [inaudible] pin. Jack wears thousands on these, so I have a couple here So, anyway. So Jack started the show in November of 1976 when I was about nine years old and I remember watching him on TV because he was the director of our planetarium. So every once in a while we saw him on TV talking about what was going on and the first time I saw Jack on television my dad and I were watching him talk about the total lunar eclipse in 1975. I was eight, so we would go outside watch the eclipse and then come back inside and watch him talk more about the eclipses and so forth. So he did a lot to popularizing astronomy around the world and he was a mentor. So Dean that I began as co-hosts of Stargazers in October of 2011 because Jack sadly passed away in August of 2010 and I dedicated the show that we had in clips to Jack Horkheimer. How many of you even visited the planetarium at Santa Fe College, raise your hand. Okay. How many of you saw the Eclipse presentation that we did? In the last days leading up to the Eclipse we sold out all seven shows, which is three days and about 420 people came to the planetarium. We only have 60 seats, so yah. It was quite a busy time So he and I collected and recorded over 600 episodes if we count the five minute, plus the one with episodes and its a lot of fun. We just came back from recording the episodes for December and January. So we record the episodes two months in advance because the good thing about astronomy is most of it is predictable You can’t predict the weather but you can pretty much predict astronomy. The only thing that we have trouble with comets because we once we know a comet is coming it’s really tough to tell how bright it’s going to be, so it’s kind of adds a little bit of a surprise Same with the lunar eclipses We know a lunar eclipses is going to happen, we don’t know how dark it’s going to be because that is affected by the atmosphere and how much cloud cover there is on the Earths
terminator and that’s there for a day or night transitions so if all the places around the world are cloudy or there’s a lot of pollution in the atmosphere at sunset or sunrise in those locations the total eclipse will be darker so that adds a little more variety and spontaneity to it. So Dean flies in from Ohio and I drive down from Gainesville A lot of people as, well do you record separately? And no, it’s a lot easier for us to go to the same place When Jack originally did the show he had practical sets They actually had a physical set built. But in the mid-1980s they decided to use a green screen technology and one of the producer told me a funny story about that is that the green screen technology was not what they – is not as sophisticated was what they have today and they noticed that because chrome key wasn’t as sensitive the top of Jack’s head started to disappear because he’s bald So all of a sudden he started wearing toupees on the show and we didn’t know why he was doing that Only now that the show was national he’s… At work he was always, you know, Jack with a bald head But they told me later that the reason he wore a toupee was to keep his head from disappearing I told my dad that story and he said well, I have one of your mom’s wings you could wear that on the show. [laughter] It’s funny though because they put makeup on you and have to put makeup on the top of my head to keep it from shining and it looks a lot like Martian dust so I said we should get a face painter to paint Mariner Valley on back of my head. So the way that Dean and I split the episodes, because we’re Co-writers of the show, so I usually write me odd number weeks and Dean writes the even numbers of week, so that might be a question I’ll ask later. Do I write the odd ones? So remember that So here is this weeks episode of Stargazers, that you haven’t seen [Star Gazer’s music starts] This is five minutes Legends in the sky. Hey there Stargazers, I’m James Albury director of the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium Planetarium in Gainesville, Florida I’m Dean Regas, Astronomer for the the Cincinnati Observatory. We’re here to help you find your way around the sky tonight. The ancient stargazers had a lot of imagination James: When they look at the stars, they connected the dots and pictured people, animals, rivers, and even entire scenes Dean: And in the fall evening sky, if you have an ancient imagination you can see a king and a queen James: A princess and princess. Dean: Two monsters and James: A flying horse Dean: It’s gonna get crowded up there but we can walk you through it James: Okay we have our skys set up for 9:00 p.m. facing northeast. About half way up in the sky you’ll find five, familiar stars that look like a letter W Dean: This is the beautiful Queen Cassiopeia. Now stretch your imaginations a little and see if you can make out a queen of Ethiopia sitting on her throne. James: Sorry, I guess I don’t have that much imagination. But once you find her she is a central character of our story Dean: Legend has it the Cassiopeia bragged about her beauty way too much. In fact one day she said (now get this), she said I’m more beautiful than all the mermaids in the ocean. James: Yikes. That got Poseidon, the god of the sea super mad. He confronted Cassiopeia’s husband, King Cepheus whose five fainter stars are up and to the left of his wife The stars look like an upside-down house Dean: For insulting the gods, Cassiopeia had to give up or one and only daughter, the princess Andromeda, as a sacrifice Basically they had to chain Andromeda to a big rock in the ocean and let Poseidon’s pet sea monster eater her. James: You can find Andromeda to the right of Cassiopeia. Her stars look more like a skinny letter A Dean: A for Andromeda James: Exact Andromeda also housed the closest spiral galaxy to our Milky Way. It’s called the Andromeda galaxy because you can find it near her right hip star. Of course if you live in a light polluted area, you won’t be able to see this galaxy. However, if you’re out in the country you might see it looking like a little cloud barely visible to the naked eye Dean: With binoculars you, you can resolve a lot more of its cloudy nature and with a telescope you can see it as a long fuzzy blur. This is a galaxy with 1 trillion stars, that you can’t see with the naked eye. Space and scary big. James: Now before the sea monster makes his appearance we must introduce our hero, Perseus As the story goes, Perseus, that very morning, slew the wicked Gorgon Medusa. Dean: She’s
the one with snakes for hair and turns you to stone with just one look James: Looking at a reflection is his shield, Perseus chopped off her head, then put the head in a bag for safe keeping Dean: Later that afternoon, as he was flying through the air on his winged sandals, with the infamous bag at his side, Perseus happened to spy young maiden in distress James: Our princess Andromeda. Now we’re facing east at 10 p.m. and Perseus appears on scene. You can find him as a squiggling of stars below Andromeda feet Dean:The sea monster, a constellation Cetus, is just rising in the east-southeast. I think his stars look like a reclining chair. James: That doesn’t seem so scary. Dean: Anyway, Perseus yells man Andromeda, close your eyes, And he closes his eyes, reaches into the bag and pulls out the Medusa’s severed head, shows it to the sea monster who takes one look at it and poof turns to stone. James: Perseus Percy saves the day! Wow, what a starry story. A king, a queen, a prince and princess, two monsters and oops, we forgot the flying horse. Dean: Oh yeah, Pegasus was supposedly born from this epic battle. As Perseus held out Medusa’s head – now this is gross – some of her blood fell into the water and turn magically into Pegasus the flying horse. James: Oh come on that’s two weird. Dean: Agreed, but that’s the kind of imagination we’re dealing with when we learn about the constellations and when you Both: Keep looking up [Applause] [Closing music to the show Star Gazers] Okay, What your question was What’s the second beast? The second beast, was that, ah Pegusus? Oh yes that Pegusus, the flying horse. He’s not too much of a beast, he’s just a horse, but he’s got wings If you’ve seen the movie Clash of the Titans, though it’s not really a movie for little kids [laughter] it’s a scary movie Because the kraken was a little scary. When you get older, look for a movie that came out about 6-7 years ago called Clash of the Titans, it has that story in it. So, um… Let’s see So this is one of the reasons why I started [inaudible] because I use to work at planetarium in Miami and then So on the [inaudible] the planetarium I’ve been there since October of 2009, so I just celebrated my anniversary. It was dedicated on September 8 of 2006 and our mission is to enrich the learning experience and environment for Santa Fe College students and the community We see about 6-7 thousand school children a year and we also see close to 2000 of the general public, so we see about 8000 visitors annually. We have 60 seats but notice behind me we have the Kronos Optical Mechanical Projector, projects eight thousand stars on the ceiling, and the one just in front we nicknamed Gort, because it has an eyelid on it. If you’ve ever seen the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still looks like this helmet That’s a protective cover to protect the fish-eye lens from… younger people, well anyone touching it because if you’ve ever been in our planetarium our dome is a large dome we could put in that building and it’s lower, because it can’t, it can’t be any higher. So the spring line, as we call it is about six feet. So anyone over 6 foot tall would have to duck. So you notice behind me on the left, that little piece that’s missing, when we close the door that piece closes up, so but because it’s so low the projector has to be lowered and the fisheye lens which costs $15,000 is custom job for our planetarium it’s in touching and maneuvering distance. So I, when they installed this I said, do you guys have any cover that I can put over that. Well, we can give you an electronic one that you can program to close at the end of the show and open at the beginning of the show. I said, yah, that works It – It costs two thousand dollars. Is there anything at a planetarium that’s cheep Alright, so. One thing I noticed about working at the planetarium is I get to be the “Jack Horkheimer” of Gainesville because I noticed in – when I first started working at the planetarium a month later I got a call TV20 saying hey we heard there’s a meteor shower coming up we wanted to do an interview for you, of you for the news. And, oh wow now, yeah I guess they’re gonna call me whenever anything happens in the sky. So after I did my interview I called Jack on the phone, Jack was still alive at this point, it was one of the last times I had the opportunity to talk to him. I said,
Jack, I just had a Horkheimer moment. He said, I hope thats not gastrointestinal distress [laughter] I said, no. He said, well, enjoy it. Every once in a while you’ll get like 15 minutes of fame so just make sure you’re up to date on everything that happens in the sky Every once in a while people ask me questions about – like to two neutron stars that collided, and something else that happens, so I haven’t keep doing research periodic but with that said there was a total solar eclipse this year and every, there are over… In the International Planetarium Society there are over 2,000 planetariums around the world and a lot of us in the United States, I just came back from the Pleiades Conference – we had our first national planetary conference (so all seven regions) and I’m the president-elect for the southeastern region so technically I was vice president two years ago but anyway. We, all together we had 400 delegates in St. Louis Missouri for the, for our conference and we decided to have the conference in October instead of how we usually do it during the summer because all of us were preparing for this. Because we knew that we would be very busy during those last two weeks of August. That, the pictures over there I took that picture when I was driving to Kansas on the way to Denver, Colorado for my birthday, which I’ll talk about later. But this flyer is produced by our staff over at Santa Fe College because that’s how much of the Sun would be showing from Gainesville. Here in Gainesville we got over 90 percent of coverage. I’d never seen a partial eclipse that deep before. How many of you were here in Gainesville on that day? Okay, did you get to go outside and look at the sunlight under the trees? Yeah. You can also use as a colander I found out. If you have a colander or do your fingers like that to see the Crescent shapes. It’s really cool, so anyway that eclipse is the most well-documented eclipse in human history because it went over so many populated areas. It passed over 14 states, so over millions of people, millions and millions of people had the opportunity to experience eclipses. Mostly in partial stages, but a lot of us decided to hit the road and go to totality because I’ve been an astronomer for a long time, since I was eh, okay a professional astronomer for only like twelve or fifteen years, but I was a fan of astronomy since I was little and I graduated from University Florida with my degree in Astronomy that might because I wanted to direct a planetarium one day but I’ve never seen a total solar eclipse. I’d seen partials. I’d seen total lunars, I’ve seen [inaudible], I’ve seen meteor showers, comets. I saw Halley’s Comet when I was 18. Hopefully I’ll see to when I’m 91 when it comes back. But, it wasn’t that great. But anyway so, we were in preparation for – so We got lots of media attention and I had the opportunity of being a part of Ask A Scientist here at the Florida Museum of Natural History a few days before the Eclipse and we’ve dedicated three episodes of stargazers just to the Eclipse and I had the opportunity to do interviews you with WUFT, TV20, and my son is in first grade at Irby Elementary so I was his Show and Tell. You’ll see B- out there, I hope he’s still out there He said he’s going to be with my colleges over there. If you see a little person that looks like me wearing gray cap and red sweater vest that’s B-. So anyway, so I went to speak to his first grade class about the eclipse, and about the moon and why all of this is happened, and we thought we were prepared because in our planetary conferences for years, we knew this eclipses coming, we knew it was gonna hit, but you know only a few places were in totality so like the Sudekum Planetarium in Nashville, we knew, yah you guys gonna get it slammed. I love in Gainesville, I can stay home that day. Not It also happened to be first day of school at UF and Santa Fe College, like. [Stamps foot] See I’m thinking like, why didn’t Dr.. Dr Fuchs and Dr. Sasser, could have said, oh let’s just start school for the next day but no okay so, anyway, the bane of my existence. I got so many phone calls. I never realized that I would be this popular because I, during one of my interviews I made them the mistake saying, oh yeah, we, everyone who attends our Eclipse presentation will get a complimentary pair of Eclipse glasses for every person that attends. Then I noticed we do our online ticket sales through the vendini and I looked and, like, all the shows for the upcoming week had sold out Wow, so I added another show and within the day they all sold out, so the week before the Eclipse I added three shows on those… three shows on, yeah, three shows on Friday, three shows on Saturday, and two on Monday and all of them sold out before we even got to that part week and everyone in town, the museum here they ran out of the
eclipse glasses, all the stores that sold in eclipse glasses, they all ran out and I’m a board member for the Hysterium Foundation which is an educational foundation that helps to encourage STEM and particularly astronomy projects or and educational institutions. We purchased three thousand eclipse viewers and we distributed them to all the libraries in the Alachua County District So each one got three hundred shades and they ended up running out, so yeah, come like and Santa Fe College… not only did SEBA the Southeastern Planetarium Association, we had ten thousand and distributed among our Planetariums. I got three hundred and I got three hundred from Hysterium, and then Santa Fe College, we bought two thousand and we distributed them to our centers and we had set aside for the first day of school, but I had the majority of them and I was heading out… and well I kept getting phone calls saying, “Hi do you have any of those glasses.” And I would have people actually ambushed when I would leave my office. People would stand in front of the planetarium. So, yeah I had to put a sign on my door and that box of envelopes… What I had to do was for those last shows I had to ration them out, so since everyone bought their tickets in advance I looked at the patron manifest okay you have a family of nine I’ll give you guys five. You have a family two, I give you two, three I’ll give three and it was so… So I learned about supply and demand I just work in sales very briefly my work for health club and one of the things they taught us was an acronym called SUV scarcity urgency and value so this was an example of that scarcity, we don’t have any more eclipse glasses that in aren’t fake. Urgency the eclipse is on Monday, and Value, if you don’t use them you’ll go blind [Inaudible] So I skipped town, well actually told my coworker Dina, who you’ll meet at our table, she said she’d stay in town because when I was younger I looked up all the total solar eclipse in my lifetime and I remember that there was one was four days before my 50th birthday, so I told Kendra I want to celebrate my birthday in special ways. I want to go see a totality. So I talked about it with Dr. Sasser and they said, yeah you can go And we always expect a big crowd, but yeah. So I had my clip shades, I set them aside early, and then… That was the truck that we saw on the way, they are they were also going to the eclipse. I stopped off at the [inaudible] middle school [inaudible] I often would say that when total solar eclipse happen if you’re in the area you actually feel the temperature drop and you can hear animals and birds chirping and freaking out and people go to Walmart sacrifice goats [laughter] the parking lot. So I made to take a picture [inaudible] I stayed in a nice hotel because I didn’t booked my hotel rooms for probably two or three weeks before the Eclipse and all good hotels near Columbia South Carolina are all gone so I found a hotel in Aiken South Carolina which is right on the edge of shadow so that way I can drive up there not be a bumper traffic. And surprisingly the traffic wasn’t bad going into totality, but once the Eclipse was over everyone and their brother got on the road and tried to get out. I was like, ah… zombie apocalypses It took… I want to say eight hours to go home. And it way, it was- if any of you evacuated, you saw what Hurricane Irma did…I’m glad Irma didn’t coincide with this, I would have… horrible I wanted experience totality as much as I could, so I looked at the map and I found that the center line didn’t go exactly through Columbia South Carolina it went slightly south and it went right through a town called Lexington, South Carolina. I had a friend who I used to work out with He and his family moved to Lexington. So I sent him, eclipse shades it’s okay, but I said we’re gonna go to a Burger King off exit 51, area 51, exit 51, anyway I was on Interstate 20 and there were a couple other options, there was a Dollar General, there was a Mobil gas station, truck stops but the Burger King kind of- it was right there, if I get hunger I could go get a burger or something. And I set up my tent and that’s where I was sitting and relaxing We got there at 11 o’clock So, now of course, back in Gainesville – I’ll turn the light off so you can see
[inaudible] That’s the courtyard between the Planetarium and building G They said during the day we had close to two thousand people, off and on throughout the day during the eclipse and I… I kind of which I was here to experience it, so I’ll just clone myself, so I can be in two places at once Alright so, these was a lot of media day coverage, and I took pictures of the TV set at the hotel I noticed one thing – they misspelled safety They were probably typing real fast. And then, Baileys, its missing a [inaudible] I try not to be real nit-picky like Dr. Tyson Dr. Tyson is… ah – I had a change to meet Neil deGrasse Tyson, I’ll tell you that story later So anyway – So I did a live video stream and I’m not going to show it here, just because of time constraints, but if you’re on Facebook I archived upon the planetarium’s Facebook page and my Star Gazer’s fanpage and it’s also archived on the Star Gazer’s Facebook page itself. My reaction to the Eclipse I wouldn’t you didn’t expect it to be beautiful as it was… I mean… I- I wish I could play the video, but I think the video that I recorded is it’s an MOV and it doesn’t play right, properly, but if you go to our Facebook page you’ll see it there. and That’s my wife there she’s, uh, she’s – she had one of those visors things over her eyes and waving at the camera, so I wanted to give her a shout out I didn’t really want to have to do anything Star Gazer related. I just wanted to enjoy the eclipse, but it’s my job, so. Then [inaudible] I gonna turn off the light. This is a- A friend of mine who watch the Eclipse a couple miles away, he took a picture of it and pictures don’t do totality justice Many of you got a chance to experience totality. Yeah. The corona is really really… It’s a pure white. I’ve never seen anything that bright and it gets dark very, very quickly. What I may do is during our question answer time I may play the video , you all can… Well it’s not really exci- You’ll have a sound, and I might to turn the, the podium around so you can see it, but it’s about as bright as a full moon but the darkness is about as dark as it is about thirty minutes before sunrise and it’s ah I definitely wanted to see all the other eclipses I can I told Cantor that – there is an act- there’s actually a total solar eclipse on our wedding anniversary in 2021 and she’d said, oh where is it? I want to go it’s in Antarctica. [laughter] so… yah. So we’ll have hitch a ride with [inaudible] [from the audience] Yah, no traffic jams, nice hotels… James: Yah, I could hang out with some scientists All right so this is the video. I have two cameras. I have my cell phone camera doing a live video stream, but it automatically adjusted for brightness, so this one the iris do adjust. So it automatically it stays – at actually gets very dark, very quickly in the last, ah [inaudible] In recovery from the Eclipse mania, on our way back, I had to stop by a Krispy Kreme, because they had a special donut that day that had, well it was a chocolate glaze donut, so I went And… My wife and I drove to Colorado to celebrate by 50th birthday, which was August 25th And… we’re not young and when we were young – younger, in our 30s we used to take road trips together. It was easy. We’ll be in a car for twelve hours. We had to stop. Yeah. We were in the car 50 hours together. So we learned – total, going from Gainesville and back – so we got to spend a lot of quality time together. So I highly encourage if you and your significant others want to spend quality time, just plan a road trip halfway across the country. So, so I got to cross off up a whole bunch of things on my bucket list I saw total solar eclipse before I was 50. I – I celebrated my birthday at the top of Pikes Peak. We went up to the summit of Pikes Peak on my birthday and had a champagne toast, and then I visited the hospital where I was born, and I kissed Kandra on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol for my birthday The have a step that says, you’re one mile from sea level. So I always wanted to do that
Alright so, let me wrap this up So, Let’s do it again! Well, okay, on April 8th of 2024, there’s going to be a total solar eclipse, and it’s going to go from Southern Texas up through Maine and Vermont. So will get about 60% partial coverage. So this time, since they were quite popular I’m going to start getting the shades many years in advance. [laughter] I’ll put it in my budget My goal is to get for the planetarium and our surrounding community about 10 thousand shades So, I’ll order a couple thousand every year and I’ll distribute them to all the libraries and so forth, and that way people can get them. And… August 12, 2045 it’ll go right over Gainesville It’s gonna – we will have totality. I’ll be 77 years of, but hey… I love my job so much I’ll still be working Things to look up for in 2018. On January 31st we have what’s called a blue moon Now blue moon occurs when we have two full moons in the same calendar month But blue moons aren’t really blue. This particular blue moon is gonna turn red because the moon is gonna pass though the Earth’s shadow. Now, we live on East Coast, so unfortunately we get to see the beginning of the eclipse, but totality happens after the moon sets. So, if you are an eclipse chaser you really want to see a total lunar eclipse, and can’t wait until next year in 2019, because we’ll see one in 2019, Because the eclipses happen in six-month patterns. So there’s actually an eclipse every six months. Usually after a solar eclipse, two weeks before and after we have a lunar eclipse and sometimes it’s partial, sometimes it’s penumbral, or total. But we get two total lunar eclipse. We have three in a row we have on in January, on in July and another in January as well But anyway, not only is it going to an eclipse and it’s getting blue, the moon is at perigee at the same time, so it’s also a super moon. So we have a super blue blood moon. Yeah, a super blue blood… something like that And on July 27th the episode, the first episode of Star Gazers next year, I’ve been known for dancing whatever there’s a conjunction, I think there’s a conjunction. You’ll see – you’ll see me dancing a lot in that episode. Now they have July 27th as Mars in opposition. That means we’re at our closest to Mars that we ever are that year. So that Mars will be big and bright But, the moon is in conjunction with Mars. So there’s a conjunction that night, and the moon is full, and it’s going to be a lunar eclipse. But, you have to be in Western Africa, Western Europe, Eastern Asia to see it. So we’re on the daytime side of the Earth here in Gainesville, so we won’t get to see it, but if you’re traveling in July and you happen to be on that side of the world, look up So it’s going to be a red planet and a red moon Alright, so… That’s the end of my presentation [applause] I’ll ask a question to see anyone would like to win this, I have two Okay, so When did Star Gazers start? Who knows? [Inaudible] [Laugher] Ok, I’ll guess I’ll start Ok, What was the date when we started? [from audience] November, 1975 November, 75. Very close [from audience] November 4th, 1976 Ah, yes [applause] Stop by my table and I’ll autograph it So the next question is, When will the total solar eclipse happen over Gainesville? Yes? [from audience] It’ll be 2045, in August Very good By the way I have – if you happen to stop by the planetarium, I have more copies Okay another question for one pins. Hmm Where is my co-host Dean Regas. Where does he live?
Cincinnati, yes Now I’m going to ask these two a questions…. oh these three And stop by my table afterwards I’ll give you an autograph I have three of these so Which planet has the most [inaudible] Very good Which planet has [inaudible] They’re smart Okay, which planet is the only planet.. okay, which planet has the most craters? okay I’ll phrase it another way. Which planet has the shortest year? Okay which planet is closest to the Sun? Mars? It also begins with the letter M and ends with the letter Y There you go So I’m going to be over at the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium table So feel free stop by, and if you want an autograph it’s be worth maybe two dollars. [laughter] Thank you so much for your attention and I really enjoy what I do One of my friends, when she was hired at UF and I use to work at UF, she said if you find something you truly enjoy doing and you actually get paid to do it you won’t feel like you work a day job