Summer Skies

Mammatus cloud over CitiField in New York, June 26, 2009. Courtesy beau-dog
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About This Episode

Have you ever wondered why the sky is blue? We have too, and so we’re giving you the long-awaited answer, along with more exploration into the mysterious celestial sphere up above. It’s above our heads every day, conveying its lightest and darkest moments, giving hints about the universe around us, and allowing us to learn by looking up…but are we really looking? In this episode of StarTalk, host Neil deGrasse Tyson is joined by co-host and comedian Lynne Koplitz to ponder the many questions, stories, legends, and phenomena of the sky. But first, we just can’t talk about the sky without “Bill Nye the Sky Guy.” We hear a little from Bill about Jupiter’s opposition to the Sun during summer, and the importance of stargazing, as he encourages us to make some time for the sky in our lives. Next on the horizon, Neil and Lynne dig through ancient legends of the night sky, as they invite us to imagine the sky as “Cave TV” before we had the real thing. Neil educates us on the meaning of the word “Planet” in ancient Greek, and Lynne discovers a mistake that may have been the reason all of her wishes on stars haven’t come true. You’ll also hear why marrying an astronomer means you’ll always know where they are at night…like a bartender. The second half of the show gets even more fascinating when “Astronomer Extraordinaire” and News 12 Meteorologist Joe Rao takes a seat. Joe, the ultimate sky expert, answers questions even Neil can’t answer concerning the sky during eclipses, hurricanes, rainbows, shooting stars, the brightest skies of summer, the white skies of winter, and everything in between. Joe also debunks the assumption that you must look away or even stay inside during a total eclipse, while highlighting that the moment of total eclipse is actually the only point when it is safe to look. He tells us about the Great American Eclipse on August 21st, 2017 (In fact, Joe was also our guest on “Cosmic Queries: The Great American Eclipse” the week before it happened!) And before we end, there’s revelation in the air (and a little precipitation) when we unearth the “Creepy Cloud”, A.K.A the Mammatus Cloud, one that was seen over CitiField (shown above) after a heavy thunderstorm that lit up the sky. Feeling enlightened? There’s more where that came from. Listen now for all of the “SkyTalk” you could ever wish for on a star.

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Summer Skies.

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