Ralph, Paul & Jeni

AWESOME ASTRONOMY

AWESOME ASTRONOMY

Description

Awesome Astronomy explores the frontiers of science, space and our evolving understanding of the universe. Join Ralph, Paul & Jeni for informative and fun astronomy programmes dedicated to space and astronomy news and occasional podcast extras covering hot topics and special interviews in the world of science and astronomy.

Episodes

#90 - December 2019 Part 1

Dec 1, 2019 58:44

Description:

The Discussion: A look at the BBC’s new Martian invasion documentary, The War of the Worlds; the recent transit of Mercury; Celestron’s new phone adapter; Jen’s upcoming talks in Wales, an update on Jen’s research paper, a new research project and a debate over the start and end of a decade. Then we take a look at a couple of listeners’ emails.

 

The News: Rounding up the astronomy news this month we have:

Water vapour geysers on Europa Ultima Thule loses its Nazi moniker Locating the stellar remnant from the closest supernova to Earth Are Axions dark matter particles? (no) And a round up of spaceflight news from NASA, ESA, India, New Zealand & UK

 

The Sky Guide: Covering the solar system and deep sky objects on offer to amateur astronomers in December:

Jen: A round up of the planets available to northern hemisphere observers in December, and a look at the Pleiades in Taurus. Paul: The best meteor shower of the year and naked eye visible open cluster Messier 35.

 

The Debate: A look back at the debates and votes over the past year with your result for The Best Space Mission of All Time.

 

#89 - November 2019 Part 2

Nov 14, 2019 49:40

Description:

The Discussion: Ralph’s been in Washington – which, of course, means a visit to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, we say goodbye to Russian cosmonaut, Alexi Leonov, and take a look at listeners’ emails.

The News: Rounding up the space exploration news this month we have:

James Webb Space Telescope inches ever closer The USAF’s autonomous space plane sets a new record SpaceX are back on the right path with its crew capsule NASA are sending a viper to the moon and an orbiter to Pluto Plans are revealed about Scotland’s new spaceport. Project Artemis technologies being funded by NASA The findings and recommendations of NASA’s Planetary Protection Review

Main news story: NASA’s new moonsuit is revealed.

The Debate: Now that we’ve whittled down the contenders for the greatest space mission of all time (the last fifty years anyway), it’s your time to crown the winner!.

#89 - November 2019 Part 1

Nov 1, 2019 01:05:49

Description:

The Discussion: Before we start the show proper, we discuss Jeni’s encounter with Nobel Laureate Kip Thorne, her new research paper undergoing a painfully slow peer review and we take a look at Chris Lintott’s book, The Crowd and the Cosmos: Adventures in the Zooniverse. Then it’s over to the listeners for a few emails suggesting cooler names for the phenomenon of the Pair Instability Supernova.

 

The News: Rounding up the astronomy news this month we have:

An enigmatic radio burst opens up a new method of probing the universe Hubble takes a look at interstellar comet Hygiea becomes the latest candidate to be recategorized as a dwarf planet Spiral galaxies give more clues to discredit the MOND theory of dark matter Venus going pop and perhaps a 2 billion window of habitability More confusion over the age of Saturn’s rings

The big news story: perhaps heavier elements in the Universe are not only forged in supernovae, but also from neutron star mergers.

 

The Sky Guide: Covering the solar system and deep sky objects on offer to amateur astronomers in November:

Paul: A round up of the planets available to northern hemisphere observers in November, a tour of the comets currently in our skies and Vest at opposition. In the deep sky, Paul recommends a few overlooked objects in Cetus and Sculptor. Jen: The upcoming Transit of Mercury on 11/12th November. Ralph: 3 lunar/planetary conjunctions and a couple of meteor showers. Then further afield, the Orion Nebula

 Main Object: The innermost planet, Mercury

 

Q&A: What actually is the solar wind? From our good friend Andrew Osborne.

#88 - October 2019 Part 2

Oct 15, 2019 53:56

Description:

The Discussion: As a reward for good behavior, we’ve dispensed with wittering on about us and gone straight into the news.

 

The News: Rounding up the space exploration news this month we have:

The last of the Delta IV mediums India’s Vikram lunar lander failure ESA move a satellite to avoid crashing with a SpaceX satellite NASA award funding for a Lunar Gateway pathfinding cubesat Australia & Japan commit to supporting NASA’s moonshot, Project Artemis NASA place orders for the first of possibly 12 Orion moon capsules.

Main news stories: A roundup of Elon Musk’s Herculean benevolent/malevolent efforts to get giant phalluses on Mars.

 

The Debate: Court is in session for the fifth and final round of advocacy to get a winner from your top ten historic space missions. This month Judge Damien presides over arguments between the International Space Station and the Pioneer missions.

 

Q&A: With the news of a near collision between a SpaceX and an ESA satellite, does that mean more satellite collisions in the future? From our good friend Noah Kraus in Bremen Germany.

#88 - October 2019 Part 1

Sep 30, 2019 01:12:50

Description:

The Discussion: A look back at our 50th anniversary of the moon landings-themed dark sky star party, AstroCamp, and some wonderful suggestions as an alternative name for a ‘pair instability supernova’.

The News: Rounding up the astronomy news this month we have:

Discovery of an exoplanet stripped of its atmosphere Understanding more about the features you can observe in Jupiter’s storms Gaia tells us more about the evolution of open clusters Chandra probes black hole clusters Planet 9 (groan…) could be a tiny black hole (it couldn’t) Amateur astronomer discovery of an interstellar comet Understanding the evolution of globular clusters NASA’s Insight lander suggests weird magnetic chirping at midnight on Mars

The main news story discussion: Water vapour in the atmosphere of an exoplanet in its habitable zone - leading to discussions on the importance of science journalism and the search for Earth 2.0

The Sky Guide: Covering the solar system and deep sky objects on offer to amateur astronomers in October:

Paul: A round up of the planets available to northern hemisphere observers in October and a tour of the comets currently in our skies. In the deep sky, we recommend a look at globular cluster Messier 2 and the NGC7009 planetary nebula in Aquarius.

Ralph: 3 lunar/planetary conjunctions and a glut of meteor showers. Then further afield, the Andromeda and Triangulum galaxies.

Main Object: Messier 44, The Beehive Cluster

Q&A: Advice on upgrading telescopes for our good friend Jeremy Hanson in Wisconsin, USA.

 

Also this month, a close friend of Jen’s, Chris Duffield, got ill and died in China aged 27. The foreign office have told his family that the ballpark figure for getting him home will be between £15,000-£20,000. If you’d like to help repatriate the friend’s body, please do consider giving a donation to the gofundme account at tiny.cc/lpvgdz. Thank you.

#87 - September 2019 Part 2

Sep 15, 2019 52:01

Description:

The Discussion: Nuking hurricanes and the lessons of Chernobyl.

 

The News: Rounding up the space exploration news this month we have:

A new adaptor on the ISS making two emergency exits Russia sends a gunslinging robot into space (no, really!) ESA’s ExoMars mission is in hot water again NASA’s Europa Clipper on track to meet its mid-2020s launch window The companies being funded to develop tech for NASA’s moonshot Ramping up of commercial assistance to Project Artemis

Main news stories: A NASA astronaut accused of a crime in space, issues of jurisdiction and what happens to sock dust in space.

 

The Debate: Court is in session for the fourth round of advocacy to get winner from your top ten historic space missions. This month we pit Mars against the Outer Limits as Spirit & Opportunity take on the Voyagers.

 

#87 - September 2019 Part 1

Sep 1, 2019 01:07:28

Description:

The Discussion: A good old British whinge about the weather and looking forward to our biannual dark sky star party, AstoCamp.

 

The News: Rounding up the astronomy news this month we have:

An experiment in an underground lab in London to understand dark energy Eight new repeating fast radio burst source Help us come up with a cooler name than a pair-instability supernova The late accretion phase of the formation of the solar system The discovery of interstellar radioactive iron in the Antarctica Spitzer reveals surprising exoplanetary details. A new exoplanet discovery of three rocky worlds in the same system Using oceanography to suggest greater exoplanet biodiversity

The main news story discussion: The latest big Juno discovery at Jupiter.

 

The Sky Guide: Covering the solar system and deep sky objects on offer to amateur astronomers in September:

Jen: A tour of the planets on offer and the zodiacal light

Ralph: Jupiter Saturn and two meteor showers in September. Then further afield, a double star, an open cluster and a dark Nebula in Cepheus.

Main Object: Messier 27, The Dumbbell Nebula

 

Q&A: How can Titan have such a thick atmosphere with such a low gravity? From Alastair Frith in the UK

 

#86 - August 2019 Part 2

Aug 14, 2019 56:19

Description:

The Discussion: Following on from last month’s 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, we take a look at the recent movies and documentaries & social media: High Life, 8 Days to the Moon and Back, Apollo 50th, ApolloinRealTime.org. The ongoing inspiration of Apollo, the build-up of Project Artemis, saying farewell to Flight Director Chris Kraft and Mandla Maseko, and an email from our good friend Lee Stevens.  

 

The News: Rounding up the space exploration news this month we have:

Japan’s Hyabusa 2 mission to return asteroid samples to Earth Toyota and JAXA prototype a pressurized lunar rover for launch in 2029 India launch Chandrayaan 2 to the lunar south pole ESA propose a comet interceptor for 2028 A formation of satellites to study the heliosphere NASA’s Orion capsule completes its abort tests

Main news stories: NASA select 12 new lunar technology investigations.

 

The Debate: Court is in session for the third round of advocacy to get winner from your top ten historic space missions. This month we have an epic battle of space telescopes as Kepler goes toe to toe with Hubble.

Q&A: Why did NASA choose to send a drone to Titan rather than a submarine to Enceladus? Suki Woods in Norway

#86 - August 2019 Part 1

Aug 1, 2019 51:12

Description:

The Discussion: Space education at science fairs, sweating in space suits, the public attitude towards space exploration while there are so many relevant shows on TV. A correction from a listener and a lesson in Dutch.

 

The News: Rounding up the astronomy news this month we have:

A young stellar system showing us moons being formed around exoplanets Pinpointing a Fast Radio Burst to understand what it actually is An update on the Hubble Constant Neptune-like exoplanets How do stars merge in a stable manner? A planetary nebula formed from a star in that missing 3-8 solar masses.

The main news story discussion: Protest in Hawaii over the Thirty Metre Telescope.

 

The Sky Guide: Covering the solar system and deep sky objects on offer to amateur astronomers in August:

 

Paul: A tour of the planets on offer, the Perseid meteor show, peculiar galaxy NGC7727 and globular cluster NGC6760, both in Aquila.

 

Jen: How to find Neptune and what to look for. The further afield, the Albireo, Epsilon Lyrae and Izar double stars.

 

Main Object: Caldwell 4, The Iris Nebula

 

Q&A: Could multiple space telescopes use optical interferometry to cheaply outperform the vast expensive ground-based telescopes?

The Hubble Tuning Fork and Citizen Science

Jul 19, 2019 16:51

Description:

In this podcast extra episode we talk to Karen Masters, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Haverford College, Pennsylvania about The Hubble Tuning Fork and Galaxy classification. But it’s not only about that canonised galaxy classification system; it’s also about how citizen science, astronomy done by absolutely anybody from their homes, can and do change the accepted wisdom and advance science.

#85 - July 2019 Part 2

Jul 9, 2019 01:10:03

Description:

The Discussion: An Apollo-fact filled episode to commemorate the 50th anniversary of humanity venturing onto the surface of another body. Paul works on an Oscar performance; we congratulate Jess Wade on receiving a BEM award and we take a look at the latest movie to lionise the efforts of Apollo 11.

The News: Rounding up the space exploration news this month we have:

NASA plan to open up the International Space Station to commercial uses & ownership NASA fund two concepts to explore moon craters and asteroids ESA’s Trace Gas Orbiter kills the excitement over methane on Mars. NASA’s Dragonfly mission to Titan A solar sail gets tested in space A look at the return to the moon blueprint

Main news stories: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 with Krispy Kreme, Apolloinrealtime.org, @Pilliarscreatio, the best of the Apollo history books, movies and a few fun facts.

The Debate: Court is in session for the second round of advocacy to get winner from your top ten historic space missions. On the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, what else would be doing battle, other than Apollo missions? So it’s the heavyweights: Apollo 8 vs Apollo 11. Only one will survive!

Moon Hoaxes: This is a particularly active time for moon hoax conspiracy theorists so we thought we’d give you some ammunition for the next time someone tells you the flag was waving in the wind or the shadows should all be parallel…

#85 - July 2019 Part 1

Jul 1, 2019 01:02:43

Description:

The Discussion: Paul pulls a drowning child out of a river and we discuss the BBC’s current astronomy-themed TV programme, The Planets. A drunken and sarcastic Jen is a good Jen and a rather pleasant surprise from listener Lee Stevens

 

The News: Rounding up the astronomy news this month we have:

Taking Spitzer out “like a dog on the moor with a shotgun” The International Astronomical Union launches a competition to name an exoplanet in each of the countries it operates, at nameexoworlds.iau.org The chances of exoplanet habitability may be lower than thought. Two exoplanet discoveries with very good habitability potential NASA announces two more heliospheric missions, PUNCH & TRACERS The Mars Curiosity Rover says, ‘No, there are methane spikes on Mars’.

 

The Sky Guide: Covering the solar system and deep sky objects on offer to amateur astronomers in July:

 

Paul: The King of Planets, Jupiter, on offer all month and a partial lunar eclipse on the night of 16th July. For the deep sky, M10 & M12 globular clusters in Ophiuchus.

 

Ralph: Asteroid 18 Melpomene at opposition on 3rd July. On the 9th of July we have the Ring World, Saturn, at opposition and the Southern Delta Aquariids peak on 28/29th July. For the deep sky, beautiful binary targets Epsilon Lyrae and Albireo.

 

Main Object: The Earth’s Moon.

#84 - June 2019 Part 2

Jun 14, 2019 49:56

Description:

Download Episode!

The Discussion: The privations of a PhD student, listeners’ comments sparking a couple of corrections from the last episode, another bout of potaytoes/potartoes and we hear that new revelations about space mirrors cult sci-fi.

The News: Rounding up the space exploration news this month we have:

Damage to cartilage from microgravity The big debate in space exploration appears to be ‘is Daniella Westbrook the ideal astronaut experiment’? ESA’s Trace Gas Orbiter kills the excitement over methane on Mars. NASA asks for an additional $1.6Bn for getting astronauts to Mars by 2024 NASA will be sending a woman to the moon in the Project Artemis crew A look at the return to the moon blueprint

Main news story: The Lunar Gateway, an orbiting platform around the moon.

The Debate: Court is in session for the first round of advocacy for to find the winner in your top ten historic space missions. Which will make it through and which will consigned to the dustbin of history – Cassini Huygens or New Horizons?

Q&A: At 6 million kelvin, is the plasma around the M87 supermassive black hole still a plasma? Andy Burns from the UK

#84 - June 2019 Part 1

May 30, 2019 59:10

Description:

The Discussion: Pint of Science in Cardiff targets canines, Ralph makes a schoolboy error while in Florida and we all eagerly await the publication of a research paper by Jen.

The News: Rounding up the astronomy news this month we have:

More disturbing news about the climate on Earth-analogue, Venus TESS discovers a planetary system around a visual binary star in Fornax. The Andromeda & Triangulum galaxies are hiding quasars New research shows the mechanism by how Pluto could harbour oceans A better understanding of past ice ages on Mars More ridiculous ways to not find dark matter The race to analyse meteorites at Arizona State University.

Main news story: Mr Musk’s Splendiferous Starlink.

The Sky Guide: Covering the solar system and deep sky objects on offer to amateur astronomers in June:

Jen: Mars and Mercury as the stand-out objects in the lighter summer skies of June and a good opportunity to look out for noctilucent clouds at dawn and dusk.

Ralph: A round up of the other bright planets on offer in June and a certain satellite constellation now observable…

Main Object: the Eagle Nebula in the constellation Serpens.

#83 Part 2 May 2019

May 15, 2019 01:14:45

Description:

The Discussion: Your last chance to get tickets to join Jen’s at Pint of Science on 20-22nd May in Cardiff, a couple of corrections for the last episode, listeners’ comments about our Moon 2024 musings and a listener’s email takes us into classic 50s sci-fi territory.

 

The News: Rounding up the space exploration news this month we have:

NASA’s new robot assistants and ‘Astrobees’ on the International Space Station Portugal launches its national space agency in the Azores and plans an environmentally friendly rocket Arianespace are to launch 42 satellites on a single rocket NASA Administrator misses his April deadline to provide financial figures for a retirn to the moon in 2024 :-( Space Force will likely cost $1.5Bn more each year than originally thought India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission will launch to the moon in September this year

Main news stories: Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has been developing a giant lunar landing in secret, while Elon Musk’s SpaceX have a setback to their human spaceflight plans

 

The Debate: A reminder that you can influence the Best Space Mission Ever debate season, starting next month. What do you think is the best current or historical space mission and why? We’ll shortlist the ten most popular and begin advocating to reach a winner.

 

Q&A: Could a device, with a magnetic field, be placed at the L1 Lagrange Point between the Sun and Mars to help to thicken the atmosphere? And could a device be placed at Earth’s L1 Lagrange point counteract the effect of global warming?

#83 Part 1 May 2019

May 1, 2019 01:06:30

Description:

U: Recording from the Mars/Earth-analogue biome cottage at the AstroCamp starparty in the Welsh Brecon Beacons, we start off by discussing stargazing during a hurricane(!) and get ready for Jeni’s Pint of Science events this month.

 

The News: Rounding up the astronomy news this month we have:

The rate of the universe’s expansion is 9% greater than we thought? Greater understanding about the lakes of methane on Saturn’s moon Titan. LIGO gets its jiggy on; giving us gravitational wave detections EVERY week! The value of occultations to modern astronomy A possible discovery of an exocomet! And a round up of some of the best astronomy April Fool’s gags from last month, including how winter would come on a Game of Thrones type world.

Main news story: 1) The first ever image of a black hole

 

The Sky Guide: Covering the solar system and deep sky objects on offer to amateur astronomers in May:

An unwelcome dearth of solar system objects with Jupiter, Mars and Saturn low on the horizon, but dwarf planet Ceres is at opposition and we also have a few nice conjunctions to enjoy in May. Messier 5 and Palomar 5 globular clusters in Serpens and Messier 57, and the Ring Nebula, and the Double Double in Lyra.

 

Main Object: the much-overlooked Northern Star, Polaris.

#82 Part 2 April 2019

Apr 15, 2019 01:05:36

Description:

The Discussion: Hear Jen’s talk at Pint of Science on 20-22nd May in Cardiff, less than salubrious travel arrangements for science talks, a listener’s email from the Australian Tourist Board and keep sending us your suggestion for the best historic space mission.

 

The News: Rounding up the space exploration news this month we have:

India creates a new constellation in the sky A new NASA asteroid mission in the planning Plumes of material ejecting from asteroid Bennu ESA’s next exoplanet space telescope is ‘go’. Awaiting Beresheet’s impact on the moon A permanent monument to humanity long after we’ve gone as a species

Main news story: NASA accelerate their human moon landing plans.

 

The Debate: Will commercial providers be the future of space flight endeavours or will the real leaps still continue to be made by huge government institutions like NASA, ESA, JAXA etc. Ralph & Paul do battle. Jen will be the judge!

#82 Part 1 April 2019

Mar 31, 2019 01:23:03

Description:

The Discussion: A bumper episode beginning with the April stargazing extravaganza run by the Awesome Astronomy team on 27th - 30th April, a reminder to email us with your best space missions of the last 62 years, a stroll down Rocketry Lane, come along to hear Jeni talk at A Pint of Science on 20-22nd May at Beelzebub's in Cardiff, and listeners’ emails (including how you amateurs can participate in occultation observation science).

 

The News: Rounding up the astronomy news this month we have:

Did Jupiter’s orbit move 2½ billion miles closer to Earth in the early solar system? An Ice Age and extinction event 12,800 years ago was likely caused by a meteor impact. A vast meteor over the Bering Sea LIGO gets an upgrade for better gravitational wave discoveries Looking for carbon monoxide in the atmospheres of exoplanets Using globular clusters to measure the size & mass of the Milky Way

Main news story: 1) The 1st direct observation of exoplanets using optical interferometry

 

The Sky Guide: Covering the solar system and deep sky objects on offer to amateur astronomers in April:

A galactic conjunction on 8th/9th and the Lyrid meteor shower peaking on 22nd April.

Must observe galaxies in Leo and the jewels of Ursa Major and Canes Venatici.

 

Main Deep Sky Object: Messier 13, The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules.

 

The Interview: Jeni talks to Dr Sarah Ragan, a lecturer at Cardiff University’s School of Physics and Astronomy about how to become a professional astronomer, do stars care what conditions they form in and the upcoming Pint of Science talks.

#81 Part 2 March 2019

Mar 14, 2019 01:09:05

Description:

The Discussion: Professor Michelle Dougherty talking Enceladus at the annual Schrodinger lecture, the proficiency (or otherwise) of making science accessible to the layman and emails about inspiring anyone to do the job they want.

 

The News: Rounding up the space exploration news this month we have:

Have SpaceX paved the way for the US to return to human spaceflight? The Japanese Hyabusa spacecraft begins exploring asteroid Ryugu The first Israeli lunar lander makes its way to the moon Virgin Galactic take a long awaited return to commercial spaceflight tests NASA’s science experiments for the moon on their commercial landers Ultima Thule actually resembles a bag of Revels.

Main news story: New Horizons at Ultima Thule

 

The Debate: We want you to influence the next few debates. We want you to email us with what you think is the greatest space mission of all time (crewed or robotic). We’ll compile a Top Ten and advocate for your choices, court-style, on the coming shows.

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look at something we discussed in a recent show, commercialization of space:

Isn’t commercial branding at NASA already here and wouldn’t increased spacecraft branding diminish the science?? Andy Burns, UK.

#81 Part 1 March 2019

Mar 1, 2019 01:01:32

Description:

The Discussion: A worthless victory for the Welsh, Earthling slave John on the BBC’s Sky at Night, Jen’s preparations for A Pint of Science, imaging the sun with a beer can and emails about timestamping & sibilance.

 

The News: Rounding up the astronomy news this month we have:

Modelling of the meteor strikes on the moon during the eclipse Does the moon get bombarded by a meteor shower every 19 years? The brightest gravitationally lensed object ever seen Conditions closer to habitable seen around a white dwarf star Did the Apollo astronauts even leave the Earth’s atmosphere

Main news story: 1) Due to modern data processing techniques Hubble discovers a new moon around Neptune.

 

The Sky Guide: Covering the solar system and deep sky objects on offer to amateur astronomers in March.

Ralph: The Galilean Moons, magnitude 8 asteroid Pallas and Messier 67 in Cancer

Jeni: a quadruple planetary Conjunction, Mars and the vernal equinox.

Paul: Mercury visible at the beginning of the month at sunset and the galaxies in Ursa Major.

 

Main Deep Sky Object: Messier 44, The Beehive Cluster.

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look at the bewildering array of theories for one of the greatest spectacles in the night sky:

Will we get any advance warning of Betelgeuse going supernova? Peter Coates, UK.

#80 Part 2 February 2019

Feb 14, 2019 01:06:10

Description:

The Discussion: The film Moon, boring lectures & seminars, the age before mobile telephony, AweAst live shows & drinks with listeners, and listeners’ suggestions for NASA spacecraft branding.

The News: Rounding up the space exploration news this month we have:

Growing plants on another world SpaceX launch satellites on reusable rockets How to paint a Mars rover A less than rose-tinted look at SpaceX’ current predicament Scotland’s spaceport’s fight with nature The beginning of the next space arms race

Main news story: New Horizons at Ultima Thule

The Debate: Ralph poses his own question for Jen & Paul to do battle: what spacecraft would you like to see commissioned if money were no object?

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look at SpaceX’ next big push:

What’s going on at SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility in Texas?? Gavin Price, UK.

#80 Part 2 February 2019

Jan 31, 2019 01:00:54

Description:

The Discussion: Jeni’s off to La Palma to gather data on dust & gas in the Crab Nebula, did a meteor or two strike the moon during the January eclipse? And what do Europeans think (or know) about the European Space Agency?

 

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

More research suggesting there are no seasonal water flows on Mars Modelling the stellar wind at Barnard’s Star Can interstellar objects survive the journey? The unusual planetary system EPIC24924646 Lunar craters show Earth had a brief impact lull 650-300 million years ago The youthful nature of Saturn’s rings More research suggesting there may be no Planet 9 The Russian company planning to put billboards in space

Main news story: CERN’s plans for the monster successor to the Large Hadron Collider and what the hell that has to do with astronomy

 

The Sky Guide: Covering the solar system and deep sky objects on offer to amateur astronomers in February.

Paul: Mercury at greatest eastern elongation, a conjunction of Uranus and Mars.

Ralph: Asteroid 532 Herculina at opposition and a brand new(ly discovered) comet to view in telescopes

Jen: Venus and Jupiter on show in the early morning and a conjunction of Saturn and Venus

Main Deep Sky Object: Messier 1, the Crab Nebula

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look at the bewildering array of theories for one of the greatest spectacles in the night sky:

How did Saturn’s rings form? Scott Jorgensen, Michigan.

#79 Part 2 January 2019

Jan 14, 2019 01:04:57

Description:

The Discussion: As 2019 marches forth we discuss a wasted year of practical astronomy due to bad weather, a comet in our skies to enjoy and Jeni begins her first paper on gas masses in redshift galaxies.

The News: Rounding up the space exploration news this month we have:

An update on the mysterious hole in the space station SpaceX edges closer to ferrying humans to space Virgin Galactic test pilot gains his astronaut wings Voyager 2 joins Voyager 1 outside the solar system New Horizons exploring the outer solar system An update on NASA’s plans for human space exploration.

Main news story: Chinese exploration of the far side of the moon.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look at how to get a 450 ton space ship out of orbit:

How will the International Space Station be decommissioned? Andy Burns, UK.

The Debate: Lt Col Dave from Florida suggests a debate on which option is better for astronomy: space or Earth based telescopes? Paul & Ralph do battle.

#79 Part 1 January 2019

Jan 1, 2019 01:03:12

Description:

The Discussion: Festive cheer, academic hiatuses, magnificent cheeses, a surfeit of meat, space themed presents and listeners’ emails.

 

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

The Milky Way gives birth to around 7 stars per year Watching a star being born from a nearby massive star A new way to map the dark matter in our universe Where’s the methane on Mars? Saturn’s rings are more short lived than we thought The discovery of another outer solar system object

Main news story: 1) The ALMA telescope helps to understand how solar systems form and why newly forming planets don’t spiral into their host star. 2) The International Astronomical Union has its 100th anniversary in 2019 and there will be a series of events (probably near you) to celebrate a century of astronomy.

 

The Sky Guide: Covering the solar system and deep sky objects on offer to amateur astronomers in the first month of the New Year.

Ralph: The Quadrantids peak on 3rd/4th January, a total lunar eclipse on 21st January, and Comet 46P Wirtanen still in our skies.

Jeni: Mars and Uranus in Pisces, a glimpse of Neptune in Aquarius, Venus blazing away before dawn, and Jupiter in Ophiuchus.

Paul: The Christmas Tree Cluster, Snowflake Cluster, Cone Nebula and the Fox Fur Nebula in Monoceros.

Main Deep Sky Object: M45, the Pleiades Cluster.

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look USAF’s rocket funding decision:

Could you explain light year, parsec, universal galactic unit and warp one, and how they relate to one another? Steve Parry, Wales.

#78 Part 2 December 2018

Dec 14, 2018 01:02:28

Description:

The Discussion: As it’s the holiday season, we get all Christmassy and take a brief detour from space into seasonal songs, the unseemly side of glam rock and Bavarian burn hazards. Ralph reviews the Mars inspired TV show, The First, and we run through some listeners’ emails.

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

Farewell Kepler Farewell Dawn Apollo 2 gets a step closer NASA send a new mission to Mars Where is SpaceX’s Starman now? The International Space Station turns 20 years old.

Main news story: NASA’s Mars 2020 rover now has a landing site.

The Interview: Physicist and Associate editor at Nature, Dr Dave Abergel joins us in the studio to discuss crystals, graphene, peer review, magnetic monopoles and dark matter.

Physics of Christmas Q&A: We take our regular seasonal look at the issues that aren’t important enough to care much about any other time of year. This year we ask Why is Rudolph’s nose red?

Christmas: and as it's Christmas, we have our usual yearly outtakes for your enjoyment/displeasure.

#78 Part 1 December 2018

Dec 1, 2018 57:26

Description:

The Discussion: Arthur Eddington, the Caldwell catalogue and a round-up of emails to the show.

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

Waiting for a Gamma Ray Burst Watching the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole feeding Finding a massive meteorite under 1km of ice in Greenland The discovery that the Milky Way has another satellite galaxy The Hyades is bigger than we thought – much bigger! Silica dust from supernovae discovered

Main news story: The discovery of an exoplanet around Barnard’s Star just 6 light year away.

The Sky Guide: Covering the solar system and deep sky objects on offer to amateur astronomers in December:

Ralph: Mars & Neptune conjunction, The Geminds meteor shower & Comet 46P Wirtanen at perihelion

Paul: Venus, Uranus, Mercury & Jupiter

Jeni: The Hyades in Taurus

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look USAF’s rocket funding decision:

What makes a galaxy? When is it a galaxy rather than just a cluster of stars? Wullie Mitchell, Scotland.

#77 Part 2 November 2018

Nov 15, 2018 01:02:43

Description:

The Discussion: Jeni talking exoplanets and aliens at Cardiff Museum and we take a no spoiler look at the Neil Armstrong biopic, First Man.

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

Commercial spaceflight update New Zealand’s Rocket Lab build a new launch site in the US The winners & losers in USAF’s launcher funding competition China’s Long March 5 rocket failure induces delays The death of the Kepler space telescope Russian Soyuz failures risk human access to space Hubble dead? Don’t believe the hype OSIRIS-Rex begins its final manoeuvres to land on an asteroid

Main news story: Europe and Japan’s Bepicolumbo mission to Mercury.

The Interview: Jeni interviews Bethan James, astronomer & astrophysicist currently working as an ESA/AURA Astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) on the Hubble instrument team.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look USAF’s rocket funding decision:

Why wasn’t SpaceX funded in the latest US military space funding round while Blue Origin was? Mark De Vrij, UK.

Podcast Extra: Libby Jackson - A Galaxy of Her Own

Nov 7, 2018 49:44

Description:

In this podcast extra episode we're talking to Libby Jackson, physicist and engineer, who's the Manager of Human Spaceflight and Microgravity at the UK Space Agency and was a European ISS flight controller and the spokesperson for Tim Peake’s spaceflight.

• Being weightless

• The value of space research to everyday life

• Following your dreams

• Her new book: A Galaxy of Her Own

• Forgotten heroines of the world’s space programmes

#77 Part 1 November 2018

Nov 1, 2018 59:11

Description:

The Discussion: Jeni’s tells us about her gig at the Cardiff Book Talk and an upcoming talk at Usk Astronomical Society, Paul had a hairy moment giving a talk on the Herschels only to find their descendants in the room and we run through listeners’ emails

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

Low metallicity stars seem to harbour the rocky exoplanets A possible satellite galaxy to Mirach’s Ghost may have been discovered by amateur kit Aliens may not be green but purple A plume-like cloud of water ice over Mars A review of the Galileo data shows no signs of cryovolcanic plumes on Europa The slowest rotating pulsar found Magnetism around Cygnus A supermassive black hole gives us some clues Has the first exomoon been discovered?

Sky Guide: Taking a look at the astronomical objects above our heads this month that you can enjoy with a small telescope or binoculars.

Paul: Saturn, Mars, Uranus, Neptune & a risky greatest elongation of Mercury on 6th November. And Comets 46P Wirtanen and 38P Stephan-Oterma may well provide some distractions too.

Ralph: Northern Taurids meteor shower peaks on 12th November and the Leonids peak on the 17th.

Jen: Mirach’s Ghost in Andromeda and two galactic members of the Local Group NGC147 & NGC185.

And we finish off with a spotlight on Venus which will be its brightest all year at the end of the month.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look at accepted wisdom vs the evidence:

Did a collision with the Earth create the moon? Is it fact or still a hypothesis? Andrew Osborn in London.

#76 Part 2 October 2018

Oct 15, 2018 54:23

Description:

The Discussion: It’s almost Halloween and Jeni’s getting the knives out. Paul’s been recording astronomy voiceovers for the Discovery Channel, Jeni’s got the Cardiff BookTalk coming up and Ralph’s excited by the return of Doctor Who.

The News: Rounding up the space exploration news this month we have:

ESA tell us that radiation is too dangerous for a Mars voyage The new Nobel Prizes are announced It might be all over for both Kepler and Hubble The Case of the ISS Leak detective story Israel’s SpaceIL has an upcoming moonshot NASA are about to announce their plans for human space exploration Japan’s Hayabusa 2 impresses us all

 

Black History Month: To honour Black History Month, the crew take a look at the non white, middle-aged males that have pioneered and excelled in making our world what it is today in the fields of astronomy and space science.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look at the fate of our sun:

When the sun explodes into a supernovae how far will the ejected material go as a planetary nebulae? Also will any of the planets make it or will they all be shattered into oblivion? Tyler W in the US via email.

#76 Part 1 October 2018

Sep 30, 2018 59:05

Description:

The Discussion: Paul has snubbed the show to do astronomy on TV so we’re keeping our spirits up with tales of AstroCamp and the inspirational Libby Jackson from the UK Space Agency. Jeni updates us with the progress of her PhD and invites you all along to her Q&A session at Cardiff Book Talk on 22nd October, before Ralph runs through listeners’ emails

The News: With 3 minutes to round up the astronomy news stories you might have missed, we overshoot the time constraints by about 70%:

Jeni:

JAXA and NASA are exploring asteroids Jupiter’s magnetic field gives us yet more surprises Saturn’s hexagonal Jetstream appears to be hovering More ‘research’ trying to get Pluto reclassified… again.

Ralph:

Hubble & BUFFALO image of gravitationally lensing galaxy cluster An unusual ring of black holes (or neutron stars) in a distant galaxy The galactic wind in the early universe The 3rd Magellanic Cloud.

The big news story:

TESS finds its first exoplanet, amidst a little astro-controversy.

The Sky Guide: Jeni and Ralph take you through their picks of the night sky in October:

Ralph covers our solar system:

October 8th gives us the peak of the Draconids meteor shower October 21st gives us the peak of the Orionids meteor shower.

Jeni takes a look into the deep sky:

Messier 33, the Triangulum Galaxy Messier 34, open cluster in Perseus Imaging target, the Heart Nebula in Cassiopeia.

The main event:

Uranus reaches opposition on 23rd October and we run through some Uranus factoids and tell you what to expect from the ice giant.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we look at distance metrics:

Which point in other galaxies do astronomers measure galactic distances to, the galactic core or the edge? From Steve Brown in Yorkshire

#75 Part 2 September 2018

Sep 15, 2018 01:05:46

Description:

The Discussion: Lt Col Dave from Florida gives us his more informed take on Space Force.

The News: In the new revamped show format we have 3 minutes to round up the astronomy news stories you might have missed:

Jeni:

An incredible Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter image of Aristarchus Crater New life in the Kepler spacecraft

Ralph:

ESA’s Aeolus weather data spacecraft launches NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft enters its science phase China’s Chang’e 4 lander headed for the far side of the moon

The big news story:

The Parker Solar Probe on its way to ‘touch the sun’

The Debate: In this section the team debate a pressing question or issue in astronomy or space flight and in this inaugural debate, Ralph takes on Jeni to make arguments for what should be the next big human spaceflight destination: Moon or Mars? 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look at powering rovers on Mars:

Will ExoMars be able to survive dust storms? From Mike in Florida

Podcast Extra: AstroCamp Autumn 2018

Sep 3, 2018 13:57

Description:

In this podcast extra episode, we go a step further than just talking about astronomy and look forward to a long weekend of practical astronomy.

 

This episode discusses the value of star parties and whets your apetite for Awesome Astronomy’s AstroCamp event in the Welsh Brecon Beacons International Dark Sky Reserve.

 

Come share the eyepiece with us, enjoy a talk from the UK Space Agency's Libby Jackson and win some astronomy prizes!

#75 Part 1 September 2018

Sep 1, 2018 59:27

Description:

The Discussion: Jeni returns after getting the flu, Paul’s science shows were a wash out at Camp Bestival and Ralph gets a great email about a telescope library service.

The News: In the new revamped show format we have 3 minutes to round up the astronomy news stories you might have missed:

Jeni:

New Gaia data shows us the distance and shape of familiar objects like never before India’s Chandrayaan-1 finds water ice in the moon’s north and south pole craters The Andromeda Galaxy’s dwarf companion was canibalised by a galactic collision

Ralph:

An ultra-hot 4,000ºC exoplanet An ultra compact dwarf galaxy with a huge supermassive black hole Astronomy favourite Albireo isn’t a binary star after all

The big news story:

New Horizons spacecraft confirms Voyager data on the Heliosphere

The Skyguide:

Jeni runs through some top facts about the planet Neptune Paul tells you where to find it and what you can expect to see Ralph runs through the autumn equinox, the constellations Cygnus & Lyra and visiting comet 21P Giacobini Zinner Paul finished with this month’s moon phases

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look at astronomical time travel:

I’m still trying to get my head around if bigger telescopes looking at the same thing as my 6 inch reflector are seeing it at a different time or in just more detail. Take the Whirlpool Galaxy for example, can it be seen at different stages in its existence? From Peter Coates in the UK.

 

Episode 75 Part 2 on space exploration comes out in the middle of the month.

Podcast Extra: Chewin' the fat with a Nobel Laureate

Aug 16, 2018 01:12:34

Description:

In this podcast extra episode, Jeni teams up with our good friend Dr Chris North from the Pythagoras Trousers podcast to speak to Caltech’s Linde Professor of Physics and Nobel Laureate Barry Barish. In this interview we discuss:

The early days of experimental particle physics Building the advances in technologies for today’s experiments and detectors The fear of failure creating resistance to building LIGO Wanting to collect direct detections of signals from the Big Bang The first detection of gravitational waves The pomp, circumstance & minutiae of a Nobel Prize award Post Nobel science influence Advice for people wanting a career in STEM

Awesome Astronomy #74 - August 2018

Jul 31, 2018 56:58

Description:

The Discussion: Jeni cares so little for our listeners that she didn’t even bother to show up this month (except for the interview section) and with no discipline Paul’s defacing valuable space artefacts and the emails to the show take a plunge south.

The News: The news section gets a revamp with a quick round up of the space exploration and astronomy news, covering:

The United Kingdom’s new spaceports Japan’s Hayabusa 2 mission to return asteroid samples New optics on ESO's Very Large Telescope 10 more moons discovered on Jupiter and volcanoes on Io The latest data from ESA’s Planck mission A rare extra solar neutrino discovery

The Interview: Jeni talks to Josh Borrow from Durham University’s Institute of Computational Cosmology about their simulations of the universe using supercomputers - and how you can make and control your own universe (yes, for reals!) at galaxymakers.org

The Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look at the eventual fate of the dying star Betelgeuse:

When Betelgeuse goes kabloom, what’s the best estimate of what will be left, neutron star, pulsar, magnetar or black hole? From Martin Bradshaw in Accrington UK,

 

Awesome Astronomy's August Sky Guide

Jul 27, 2018 06:44

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in August.

With no Jeni this month, Ralph & Paul pick their highlights for this month’s skies; starting with the solar system objects on offer to observers and imagers:

Mars just past opposition as impressive as last month A round up of the other planets on view The Perseid Meteor Shower peaking on 12/13th August

Next up, we take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Open clusters Messier 11 & Messier 26 in Scutum Globular cluster NGC6712 & planetary nebula IC1295 in Scutum Peculiar galaxy NGC7727 in Aquarius

And we finish this sky guide with August’s moon phases.

Podcast Extra: Space Force

Jul 20, 2018 20:26

Description:

In this podcast extra episode, there was only one thing playing on all our minds - Space Force. What is it? Why is it? What will it look like? Just like us, I’m sure you’ll be none the wiser after this in-depth look into:

President Trump’s plan to create the US Space Force The lesser known Welsh Force The International Space Treaty A few diversions into the future of aircraft technology

Awesome Astronomy #73 - July 2018

Jul 1, 2018 01:18:05

Description:

The Discussion: Jeni tells us about her more recent astronomy conferences in Eastbourne and Copenhagen. Paul gives us a round up of his astronomy outreach with interesting facts from and a rooftop star party. And Awesome Astronomy gets in deeper than intended with the Alan Bennet/Thora Hird gag that far outstayed its welcome.

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

AMI in the Sky with Diamonds! Farewell Apollo 12 moonwalker, Alan Bean An old mystery about our moon is solved Has the Mars Opportunity rover bitten the dust?

The Interview: This month Jeni speaks to Dr Tana Joseph about the MeerKAT telescope and how outreach is impacting science in South Africa.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look at solar physics:

Will the Parker Solar Probe really touch the surface of the sun and what science will it do? Mark De Vriij in Poland

Sky Guide July 2018

Jun 28, 2018 08:04

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in July.

With no Jen this month (she’s off sciencing), it’s just Paul & Ralph’s highlights for this month’s skies; starting with the solar system objects on offer to observers and imagers:

Mars at its most favourable opposition since 2003 Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto A super-long lunar eclipse

Next up, we take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year.

Ralph – Messier 16, The Eagle Nebula Paul -  NGC 6822, Barnard’s Irregular

And we finish this sky guide with July’s moon phases.

Podcast Extra: Galaxies, Work Placement Opportunities & Diversity in Science.

Jun 10, 2018 16:12

Description:

In this podcast extra episode, released during Pride month, we return to this April’s European Week of Astronomy and Space Science where we spoke to Dr Ashley Spindler to find out more about:

galaxy evolution, the evolution of galaxy structures and star formation from the MaNGA project using Sloan Digital Sky Survey data South East Physics Network placement opportunities for post graduate students the challenges and obstacles that still exist for the LGBT community in the workplace and education efforts to make science environments more open and welcoming to all people.

 

Ashley can also be found at @Ashley_Nova_ on Twitter.

Awesome Astronomy #72 - June 2018

May 31, 2018 01:20:01

Description:

The Discussion: Jeni’s talking science conferences while Paul’s doing impressions from his Who’s Who of Yorkshire legends. Ralph runs through this month’s pick of listeners tweets & emails with a focus on exoplanets and a big congrats to listener Dustin Ruoff

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

The earliest stars formed earlier than we thought! NASA’s latest wow-piece is a helicopter on Mars The first interstellar immigrant settles in our solar system

The Interview: This month we have two short interviews - something for the adults, something for the kids: Astronomy on Tap and International Astronomical Youth Camp.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look climate change (don’t groan!):

What do you think the general (or astronomy/space) science community's approach to the problem of climate change should be?  Are you optimistic? Alan Travelbea in Vancouver, Canada.

 

Sky Guide June 2018

May 28, 2018 11:06

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in June.

Ralph, Paul & Jen pick their highlights for this month’s skies; starting with the solar system objects on offer to observers and imagers:

Asteroid Vesta at opposition Saturn An overview of Venus, Jupiter and Mars Comet 21P - Giacobini–Zinner in Cygnus

Next up, we take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year.

Ralph - The Double Double, Epsilon Lyrae, in Lyra Paul -  Globular Clusters available to view in Ophiuchus Jen – Colourful binary star Albireo in Cygnus

And we finish this sky guide with June’s moon phases.

Podcast Extra: Farewell Alan Bean

May 27, 2018 55:07

Description:

This podcast extra is a re-release of our full length interview with the 4th man to walk on the moon aboard the Apollo 12 mission in 1969.

Alan Bean was not only a fighter pilot, Navy test pilot, astronaut, moonwalker, space station commander and artist, but he was also a very considerate, genuine and self-effacing gentleman. We are hugely saddened by the loss of such a lovely man but heartened that he passed away peacefully surrounded by his family.

In this interview, recorded in October 2015 we discussed:

journeying to the moon on a Saturn V rocket your rocket getting struck by lightening the mission's colourful commander (Pete Conrad)  what the moon looked and felt like underfoot the science conducted on the surface of the moon the future of human spaceflight and the Martian Olympics

Farewell Alan Bean. You leave us with only four humans that have memories of walking on the moon but a rich legacy of technological and scientific accomplishments.

 

Podcast Extra: The Life & Legacy of Stephen Hawking

May 12, 2018 21:13

Description:

In this podcast extra episode, we take a look back at the extraordinary life and work of Stephen Hawking who died on 14th March 2018, leaving a legacy rich with cosmology insights, humour, altruism, science education and a changed landscape in astronomy.

Awesome Astronomy #71 - May 2018

May 1, 2018 01:07:58

Description:

The Discussion: Jeni, Paul & Ralph survived the wilds of the Brecon Beacon’s AstroCamp festival of astronomy, Jeni gathers a whole heap of astronomy interviews from the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science, and we read out a couple of emails requesting advice on amateur astronomy mounts, berating us for our April Fools’ Twitter gag and asking for more content relevant to the southern hemisphere.

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

A galaxy containing no dark matter NASA launches its new exoplanet hunting satellite An exoplanet spotted using amateur astronomy equipment

The Interview: This month Jeni caught up with Dr Jane Greaves & Dr Phil Cigan from Cardiff University to talk about their work finding phosphorus in the Crab Nebula – and why phosphorus is so important to life.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look at atmospheres & the habitability of exoplanets:

I thought red-dwarf stars were typically much more volatile than our g-type star and, as a result, planets in a red-dwarf system would typically be bombarded by solar storms and radiation stripping away their atmospheres and making them unlikely spots for life as we know it to be found. So how is it possible to have atmospheres around rocky planets in the Trappist 1 system? Dave Schlaudt in Michigan, USA

Sky Guide May 2018

Apr 27, 2018 09:20

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in May.

Ralph, Paul & Jen pick their highlights for this month’s skies; starting with the solar system objects on offer to observers and imagers:

The ever-brightening Mars Jupiter at opposition on 9th May Venus in the evening sky The Lyrid meteor shower

Next up, we take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year.

Ralph – The plethora of summer objects in Sagittarius Paul – Globular Cluster, Messier 5, in Serpens Jen  - M57, The Ring Nebula, in Lyra

And we finish this sky guide with May’s moon phases.

Podcast Extra: AstroCamp Spring 2018

Apr 7, 2018 13:48

Description:

Welcome to AstroCamp!

In this podcast extra episode, we welcome you to the practical astronomy arm of the Awesome Astronomy empire, as we take a run through what people can expect at our AstroCamp star party in the Brecon Beacons International Dark Sky Reserve on the extended weekend of 14-17th April 2018.

We also take a look at the social and educational aspects of star parties and round everything off with some of our favourite solar system and deep sky objects visible this spring to observe for yourself.

If you haven't booked a place yet and would like to come, head over to www.astrocamp.org.uk  We're taking bookings all the way up to the 13th April 2018.

See you under the stars!

Awesome Astronomy #70 - April 2018

Apr 1, 2018 01:27:25

Description:

The Discussion: The Beast from the East makes practical astronomy difficult and we take a look at listeners’ emails that accuse us of imperialism, suggest we throw away some solar filters, provide an alternative look at solar system creation and reveal their own astronomy outreach experiences.

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

China’s space station is about to fall out the sky Genetic sequencing looks at an alien find Did a year in space alter Mark Kelly’s DNA? More delays to the James Webb Space Telescope A new European Space Agency telescope gets the green light

Famous Astronomer: This month we give you a primer on an upcoming podcast extra on the life of recently departed Stephen Hawking.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look answering difficult questions:

I live in a part of the World with very strong religious beliefs and often get asked sensitive questions relating to faith and astronomy. I’d be interested to hear your take on this and what “polite” stock replies you give. Stefan Zietara, undisclosed location in the Middle East.

Sky Guide April 2018

Mar 27, 2018 15:48

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in December.

Ralph, Paul & Jen pick their highlights for this month’s skies; starting with the solar system objects on offer to observers and imagers:

The features visible on Mars Jupiter visible in the morning sky Venus in the evening sky The Lyrid meteor shower

Next up, we take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year.

Ralph – The Beehive and King Cobra open clusters in Cancer Jen  - M82, The Cigar Galaxy, and M81, a starburst galaxy in Ursa Major Paul – A tour of the Virgo cluster of galaxies and Markarian’s Chain

And we finish this sky guide with April’s moon phases.

Podcast Extra: Why do we believe in conspiracy theories?

Mar 10, 2018 32:51

Description:

An extended Hat of Woo if you like, but for this podcast extra episode we dip our hands back into the festering corners of Paul’s hat to take a look at the root causes and the psychology of belief in conspiracy theories.

Not why are they wrong but why do humans believe in conspiracy theories at all?

Do we shoot ourselves in the foot through our educational policies and methods of teaching?

Are we just hardwired to believe in falsehoods, whether more elaborate or more simple than the truth?

Awesome Astronomy #69 - March 2018

Mar 1, 2018 01:37:47

Description:

The Discussion: Jeni and her Welsh brethren suffered an Earthquake and Ralph takes a look through listeners emails which prompts a discussion about the range of educational outreach that AweAst listeners undertake.

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

A new and pointless star ‘graces’ our night sky We wave goodbye to the concept of the Late Heavy Bombardment Astronomers publish results on the oldest supernova detection

Astronomy Concept: We delve into the wide array of visual observation and astrophography filters in response to John Lonergan’s request.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look at the nature of black holes:

1) I heard in the reporting that the black hole had a physical spin.  Does that support the idea that a black hole cannot be a singularity/point since it has a physical spin?

2) The merging black holes lost multiple solar masses in the merging process.  If the mass loss wasn't from outside the event horizons, then what was that huge mass loss mechanism when supposedly "nothing can escape from a black hole"?

3) Can gravitational waves eventually be used by astronomers to probe the interior of a black hole?"   Lt Col Dave from Florida USA

Sky Guide March 2018

Feb 26, 2018 12:13

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in March.

Ralph, Paul & Jen pick their highlights for this month’s skies; starting with the solar system objects on offer to observers and imagers:

Prepare for this year’s Mars opposition as it increases in brightness Jupiter at 21 degrees in the pre-dawn sky Bright Venus, Mercury and the moon in conjunction on 18th March Comet 2016 R2 PANSTARRS in Perseus A lunar conjunction with the Hyades Cluster and occultation of Aldebaran.

Next up, we take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Ralph – Messier 81 & 82, Bode’s Galaxy & The Cigar Galaxy in Ursa Major Jen  - Messier 3, globular cluster in Canes Venatici Paul – The Leo 1  group of Galaxies in the constellation Leo

And we finish this sky guide with March’s moon phases.

Podcast Extra: SpaceX and the Future of Spaceflight

Feb 14, 2018 01:42:01

Description:

This Awesome Astronomy episode is inspired by last week’s incredible SpaceX launch and listeners’ requests to talk a bit more about SpaceX and the advances in commercial spaceflight. In this Podcast Extra, we’re joined by spaceflight aficionado Gavin Price (@pilliarscreatio) to discuss:

The inaugural Falcon Heavy launch and what it achieved Was the launch awesome or all hype? How good is the Falcon Heavy really? Will Falcon Heavy or Elon’s next ambitious rocket make NASA’s rocket redundant? How about other organisations? (ULA/Arianne/Blue origin etc) Where do the commercial companies leave the likes of Soyuz? (TsSKB-Progress) Where do we see access to space in ten, fifteen, twenty years time? Will Elon make good on his plan to colonize Mars?

Awesome Astronomy #68 - February 2018

Feb 2, 2018 01:10:08

Description:

The Discussion: Friend of the show and lecturer at Jeni’s Cardiff University, Dr Ed Gomez is launching a Kickstarter project to create and distribute a children’s comic book to encourage children to take an interest and career in science. Jeni tells us about Ada’s Adventures in Science, which you can give your support to at http://kck.st/2DI43hg. Paul suffers the adverse effects of being travelling science salesman and Ralph reads out some listeners’ emails - including one interesting email that suggests ‘Kim Jen Un’ may be getting into peoples’ heads.

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

An update from Cassini on the strange orbits of Saturn’s moon Janus and Epimetheus and a look at a research paper shedding light on the ring they create around the gas giant. We mourn the loss of yet another Apollo astronaut as we say goodbye to John Young with a look back at his NASA career. Recent analysis of Martian meteorites and current Martian atmospheric constituents tempers our optimism that Mars had a long history of habitability.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look at the end of our galaxy as we know it:

In 2 million years or so, when we merge with Andromeda, would you notice anything much different from Earth? Or just another Milky Way type structure in the night sky, assuming we merge at an angle? Sean Mulcahy from Yorkshire, UK via Twitter (@sfgmulcahy)

Sky Guide February 2018

Jan 27, 2018 10:10

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in February.

Ralph, Paul & Jen pick their highlights for this month’s skies; starting with the solar system objects on offer to observers and imagers:

Track Mars’ passage through Scorpius & Ophiuchus Jupiter in Libra gives us a shadow transit and a look at its Great Red spot Dwarf Planet Ceres at opposition on 1st February & Comet Heinze in Pegasus

 

Next up, we take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Ralph – Open clusters Messier 67 and the Beehive Cluster in Cancer Jen - Messier 101, the Pinwheel Galaxy, in Ursa Major Paul – NCG 40, the Bow Tie nebula, in Cepheus

 

And we finish this sky guide with February’s moon phases.

Podcast Extra: The Last Jedi & Blade Runner 2049

Jan 10, 2018 01:25:24

Description:

In this podcast extra episode, we're joined again by The Essex Space Agency's Phil St Pier as we take another sideways diversion into science fiction movies as we cast a critical eye over the recent big sci-fi blockbusters:

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Blade Runner 2049

This episode is dedicated to Matt & Ali's arrival of their daughter Evangeline Rosa Kingsnorth.

Awesome Astronomy #67 - January 2018

Jan 2, 2018 01:09:09

Description:

The Discussion: Paul avoids the big freeze with astronomy cheats, Ralph reads out the latest good and bad reviews, while Jeni becomes a ‘Who’s Who’ question at Cardiff University!

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

Voyager 1 shows it still has the skills and prolongs its own life An update on the extrasolar asteroid that just buzzed our solar system Physicists observe a reversal of the arrow of time in laboratory experiments The European Southern Observatory image convective cells on another star NASA reveals its next two major planetary exploration missions

Science Concept: This month we return to astronomy-related concepts as we delve back into the quantum world for a primer on the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and why you cannot know both the position and velocity of a particle.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look at the upcoming astronomical highlights:

What is the one thing in the world of astronomy that each of you is looking forward to in 2018? Steve Brown from Yorkshire via Twitter (@sjb_astro)

Sky Guide January 2018

Dec 31, 2017 10:12

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in January!

Ralph, Paul & Jen pick their highlights for this month’s skies; starting with the solar system objects on offer to observers and imagers:

The Red Planet Mars, makes a welcome return to our skies The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks on the night of 3rd/4th January Dwarf planet Ceres is at opposition on 31st January in Cancer Mercury is at greatest wester elongation on 2nd January And comet C/2017 T1 Heinze reaches mag 7-9 on 6th January

Next up, we take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Ralph – Messier 42, the Great Nebula in Orion Jen – NGC 2244 and the Rosette Nebula in Monoceros. Paul – NCG 2903, Barred Spiral Galaxy in Leo

And we finish this sky guide with January’s moon phases.

2017 Xmas Panto

Dec 25, 2017 39:52

Description:

There’s trouble in paradise as Christmas evening in the Cydonia bunker turns ugly. Alcohol may be the culprit. But equally, the blame may lie with suffering a whole day of pretending to like one another and f***ing Christmas songs!

 

So, while tensions rise and arguments flare, Ralph, Paul and Jen run through the memorable space and astronomy events of 2017 and look forward to the treats in store for 2018.

 

Then there’s the small matter of John’s annual outtake reel specifically designed to embarrass the hosts and push the bounds of decency as far as politeness will allow!

 

Main music courtesy of Star Salzman

Additional free music archive tracks:

Silent Night by Hyson

Christmas on Mars (Dance Mix) by Spinningmerkaba

Podcast Extra: Eyepieces

Dec 12, 2017 26:21

Description:

In this podcast extra we begin a series, suggested by listener Sean Smith, of explaining the considerations involved in choosing practical astronomy equipment. This first in the series discusses one of the most important items in your amateur astronomy tool kit: Eyepieces.

 

This discussion takes in:

Why eyepieces are important The differences between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ eyepieces Choosing the right price point Our suggestions for good quality cheap and expensive eyepieces

 

Don't forget our end of year review and Newtonmass panotmime will be available to download on Christmas Day.

Awesome Astronomy #66 - December 2017

Dec 2, 2017 01:06:37

Description:

The Discussion: Jeni gets her name in lights – well, bold print, as she contributes (what else but graphs) to a published research paper and Ralph takes a look at Ben Cacase’s very own new asterism in the heart of Auriga and reads a defiant message from Michelle of ‘ze resistonce’.

 

The News: It’s a very rocky month as we round up the following space and astronomy news stories:

Earth’s moon had an atmosphere thicker than Mars’ for more than 70 million years Observations suggest Proxima Centauri has a Kuiper Belt and maybe a Oort Cloud A sci-fi like asteroid from another star system is now passing through the inner solar system

 

Hat of Woo/Astronomy Concept mash-up: This month Paul’s festering Hat of Woo is a little less fetid as we discuss a plausible but untested concept that has just a faint whiff of woo about it. This month we look at The Nemesis ‘Theory’ which suggests the sun has a brown dwarf companion which causes periodic extinction events – and, of course, we’re long overdue an extinction and NASA are covering it all up!!!

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we’re tackling a question about meteor showers and how we calculate their orbits:

 

I was wondering if all known meteor showers are definitely associated with a comet? Also, how do astronomers determine the orbit of a comet using just a few locations on the sky? Ben Cacase, Manhattan, New York via email

Sky Guide December 2017

Nov 28, 2017 09:36

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in December.

 

Ralph, Paul & Jen pick their highlights for this month’s skies; starting with the solar system objects on offer to observers and imagers:

The Geminid meteor showers peaking on 13/14th December Uranus sitting in the constellation Pisces Mars & Jupiter lunar conjunctions

 

Next up, we take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year.

Ralph – A binary star, a planetary nebula and 4 open clusters in Gemini Jen  - The Pleiades open cluster in Taurus Paul – The Crab Nebula supernova remnant also in Taurus

 

And we finish this sky guide with December’s moon phases.

Podcast Extra: Neutron Star Merger

Nov 17, 2017 47:46

Description:

In this podcast extra episode Jeni discusses the recent detection of two colliding neutron stars and their observation in both gravitational waves and all areas of the electromagnetic spectrum.

 

Jeni chats with Dr Edward Gomez, Education Director at the Las Cumbres Observatory and Cardiff University’s Gravitational Physics Research Group Leader, Professor Patrick Sutton about the historic observations, what we can learn from these events, the future of gravitational wave astronomy and how this new window into the universe can help us improve some of the fundamentals of our knowledge of space and time.

 

We also put listeners’ questions on these subjects from Raoul Van Eindhoven, @FuzzySemi and @calcomega to Patrick.

Awesome Astronomy #65 - November 2017

Nov 1, 2017 01:42:53

Description:

The Discussion: Britain shows that it won’t just roll over and let America take the lead in intimidating academic freedom and Jen recounts her gravitational waves research conference in Brighton in October.

 

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

Astronomers make the 1st observation of a neutron star collision Astronomers discover a missing chunk of the universe 3D videos of aurora that you can see at http://www.iap.fr/aurora3d/

 

The Interview: This month Cardiff University’s Professor Mark Hannam tells us more about the recent observation of colliding neutron stars and this window into a new realm of astronomy.

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we’re tackling a question about the Drake Equation:

“It strikes me that the Drake equation sets the probability of life at either (1) pretty close to zero - in which case surely we’d be worth a visit. OR (2) very numerous - in which case there’s every chance alien life might be driving past on their annual holiday. Or somewhere in between!

I think I’m saying that, yes overall I agree with the saying “seeing is believing”, but at the same time I don’t taking not seeing as proof of non existence. I’ve never seen a Polar Bear (you don’t in Leeds) but I’m pretty sure they are out there.”

John Levett in Leeds, UK

 

Sky Guide November 2017

Oct 28, 2017 09:12

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in November.

Ralph, Paul & Jen pick their highlights for this month’s skies; starting with the solar system objects on offer to observers and imagers:

A last look at Saturn for 2017 in the early evening sky A very impressive Jupiter/Venus conjunction on the 13th of November The Taurid meteor showers peaking on the 5th and 21st November and the Leonids on the 18th November Comet 2017 O1 ASASSN1 for binocular and telescope observers

 

Next up, we take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Ralph – Messier 42, the Orion Nebula in the constellation Orion Jen  - Messier 13, The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules Paul – NCG 404, Mirach’s Ghost in the constellation Andromeda

 

And we finish this sky guide with November’s moon phases.

Podcast extra: Hubble Constant & Research Papers

Oct 17, 2017 13:32

Description:

In this podcast extra, we discuss the changing value of the Hubble Constant since 2000 – or put more simply, our narrowing down of how quickly the universe is expanding. This discussion takes in:

The history of the Hubble Constant Edwin Hubble’s dreadful scatter plot Further attempts to narrow down the universe’s expansion rate Why research papers are awesome and accessible to everyone

Awesome Astronomy #64 - October 2017

Oct 1, 2017 01:15:14

Description:

The Discussion: You’d be forgiven for thinking we recorded this episode drunk – but we assure you, we weren’t. And you’ll have to forgive us for our crappy audio and shameless national stereotyping!

But in this show, recorded from our dark sky star party in the Welsh Brecon Beacons, we discuss the event, Jeni’s talk on exoplanet research and we take a look at listeners’ emails.

 

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

A fresh look at the age and high metallicity of an observable star cluster Australia takes the plunge and announces the creation of its own space agency Research giving hints of water on planets in the TRAPPIST 1 system

 

Hat of Woo: Paul’s festering Hat of Woo gets another airing as we take a look at the end of the world on 23rd September as planet Nibiru collides with Earth (or the beginning of The Rapture, if the world doesn’t end). Assuming you’re reading this or listening to the podcast, the world clearly didn’t end!

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we’re tackling a question about the consequences of discovering life on another planet to planetary exploration:

“Let’s say the next Mars rover that is tweaked to find life on Mars finds some microbial life what impact would that have on the whole Mars exploration plans? I cannot imagine that one can send a crew of astronauts to Mars' surface and avoid contamination. If Mars is declared some sort of reserve shouldn't we then shelve all these plans? Clemens Unger, Melbourne Australia

Sky Guide October 2017

Sep 30, 2017 09:26

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in October.

Jeni, Paul & Ralph pick their highlights for this month’s skies; starting with the solar system objects on offer to observers and imagers:

Blue/green ice giant Uranus The Orionids meteor shower brings us the debris from Comet Halley Saturn, recently liberated from the perpetual gaze of Cassini A not-to-be-missed conjunction of Venus and Mars on 5th October. Finally, a couple of comets that may be visible

Next up, we take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Paul – Spiral Galaxy NGC772 in Aries. Jeni – Brocchi’s Cluster or The Coathanger Cluster in Vulpecula Ralph – The Triangulum Galaxy in Triangulum

And we finish this sky guide with October’s moon phases.

Podcast Extra: AstroCamp Autumn 2017

Sep 18, 2017 23:24

Description:

In this podcast extra episode for the dark sky star party held by the Podcast Crew, we discuss:

Fighting light pollution by getting local authorities to dim & turn off street lights The value of star parties to boosting your practical astronomy knowledge What to expect at the Autumn 2017 AstroCamp A round up of Ralph, Damien & Paul’s seasonal astronomy targets

Awesome Astronomy #63 - September 2017

Sep 1, 2017 01:24:16

Description:

The Discussion: Jeni’s back and the band is back together to discuss watching this year’s Perseid meteor shower and coverage of the Great American Eclipse

 

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

The shortlisted explorer and missions of opportunity being considered by NASA Jellyfish galaxies feeding supermassive black holes Goodbye to the Cassini Saturn explorer

 

‘The Other Section’: This month we keep Paul’s festering Hat of Woo out of sight and take a long look at the Voyager spacecraft on the 40th anniversary of this programme, which revealed the solar system unlike any other space mission.

 

Sky Guide September 2017

Aug 28, 2017 10:09

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in September.What to look out, and up, for in September.


Ralph, Paul & Jeni pick their highlights for this month’s skies; starting with the solar system objects on offer to observers and imagers:

• Saturn and its ring system in the evening

• Mercury at greatest western elongation in 12th September

• Neptune at opposition on 5th September in Aquarius. 

Next up, we take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

• Ralph – The Saturn Nebula in Aquarius

• Jeni – The Andromeda Galaxy and its satellites

• Paul – NCG 7479 barred spiral Seyfert galaxy.

And we finish this sky guide with September’s moon phases.

Podcast extra: Full Length Interview with Apollo 16's Charlie Duke

Aug 15, 2017 25:45

Description:

In this podcast extra episode we present our full length interview with test pilot, astronaut and lunar module pilot on Apollo 16, General Charlie Duke.

 

Drawing on this unique set of experiences, we asked Charlie:

- What surprised you or what weren't you expecting to see on the moon?

- How did having a rover change the way you could explore the moon?

- How much fun was the lunar rover?

- Which was most exciting, being capcom on the 1st moon landing or walking on the moon on Apollo 16?

- Is the proposed 2032 launch window for a human Mars mission achievable?

- Did you see any colour other than grey on the moon?

- Are there any features on Earth you can see from the moon?

- Were you able to see any star fields during the Apollo 16 mission?


Then we turned the interview over to listeners' questions:

- @BrewsterNorth asked, what do you think of the commercial plans for lunar exploration?

- Gavin Price (@pillarscreatio) asked, how important is the moon as a staging post for  Mars? 

- David Blanchflower (@Davidbflower) asked, would you return to the moon now? 

- @Openmind asked, did your attitude towards humanity and our planet change for having gone to the moon?

- And the now regular Cornwell Question (from @samcornwell): What's the most expensive thing you've ever broken? 

Awesome Astronomy #62 - August 2017

Aug 1, 2017 01:29:59

Description:

The Discussion: Jeni’s bizarrely decided that a holiday is preferable to being locked in a bunker with two megalomaniacal Martians, so you’re left with an exhausted Paul and a jetlagged Ralph this month. What could go wrong? We discuss outreach at science festivals and a happy resolution to the light pollution issue in the Brecon Beacons dark sky reserve.

 

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

The new Doctor is upsetting some people (get over it!) The hunt Planet 9 takes another turn Have astronomers discovered the smallest possible star? A deep dive on the Great American Eclipse on August 21st And an update on the gravitational wave data debate

 

Astronomy You’ve Probably Never Heard Of: This month we give Paul’s festering Hat of Woo and airing as we kick start another occasional feature looking into the science progress in areas (or astronomers) you’ve probably never heard of. This month we look at cosmology and the expanding universe from the perspective of the much-overshadowed astronomy giant, Vesto Slipher.

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we’re tackling a question about the effects of using a centrifuge to simulate gravity in space:

“Let’s say we build a spaceship which contains a massive wheel which rotates to generate 1G. If you are standing on the inside of the outer wall of the wheel, you will be rotating at the same speed as the wheel and therefore feel the 1G. (Like you see in 2001 – A space Odyssey). So the artificial gravity is only created by the rotation and centrifugal force and not by the distortion of space time due to a massive body.

Now what will happen when I jump? When I jump up, I am no longer connected to floor of the wheel. What happens to me? As I understand it, I should start to float inside the wheel, like they do in the ISS. The reason is that the centrifugal force generated by rotating wheel no longer applies to me as I am longer connected.

If this is the case, then you better never run inside the wheel (running means you will have both feet of the ground between steps) and most likely need to wear Velcro shoes to ensure you stay connect to the floor of the wheel.

Am I missing something as a lot of proposed interplanetary spaceships include some sort of wheel to generate artificial gravity? Your humble listener and collector of your podcast posters.

Raoul (@QuidneIT on Twitter) in Oxfordshire

Sky Guide August 2017

Jul 29, 2017 06:59

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in August.

Ralph & Paul pick their highlights for this month’s skies; starting with the solar system objects on offer to observers and imagers:

Dwarf Planet Ceres for small telescopes in the constellation Gemini Saturn in the evening, Venus at dawn and Uranus high up in Pisces The long anticipated total solar eclipse for observers in the United States The Perseid meteor shower peaking on the night of 12/13th August.

Next up, we take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Ralph – Globular Cluster Messier 56 between Lyra & Cygnus Paul – Peculiar Galaxy NGC7727 in Aquarius.

And we finish this sky guide with August’s moon phases.

Jeni’s South Africa Research Podcast Extra

Jul 18, 2017 20:53

Description:

In this podcast extra, Jeni recalls her most recent research trip at the Japanese Infrared Survey Facility (IRSF) situated outside Sutherland in South Africa. This research trip continues Jeni’s endeavours to collect exoplanet transit data.

In this episode we cover:

The IRSF observatory The life of a research astronomer The heartbeat of professional astronomy equipment Future research for Jen

Awesome Astronomy #61 - July 2017

Jul 1, 2017 01:09:54

Description:

The Discussion: Combating light pollution for the AstroCamp in the Welsh Brecon Beacons and fighting to help the National Park retain its International Dark Sky Reserve status. Then we turn our attention to politics in space science and listeners’ views on politics in podcasts.

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

Another gravitational wave detection and what we’re learning from it The European Space Agency’s latest mission approvals NASA’s last exoplanet data dump from the Kepler mission China’s experiment observing long distance quantum entanglement Britain’s ambitious space ambitions and Europe freezing out the UK Has the origin of the Wow Signal finally been solved? How common are the ingredients for life in the universe?

The Hat of Woo: This month we look at EM drives and NASA’s cover up hiding the warp drive they’ve developed at their super-secret Eagleworks and aren’t using but they definitely, definitely have it. Honestly.

 

Sky Guide July 2017

Jun 28, 2017 08:40

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in July.

July is here and the summer solstice is just behind us, meaning we’re on the glide slope to every lengthening nights. So the team’s here to pick their highlights for this month’s skies; starting with the planets on offer to observers and imagers:

Ralph – Saturn shows off its moons and favourably tilted rings Jeni – Mercury is low in the sky but nicely placed to observe this July Paul – Comets C/2015 er61 Panstarrs and C/2015 V2 Johnson

Next up, we take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Ralph – The Eagle Nebula in the constellation Serpens Jeni -  Colourful binary star Albireo in Cygnus Paul – Messier 8, The Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius

And we finish this sky guide with July’s moon phases.

Gravitational Waves Update Podcast Extra

Jun 11, 2017 54:26

Description:

 

The Interview: On the discovery of only humanity’s third black hole merger by the incredible Laser Interferometry Gravitational wave Observatory (LIGO), Jeni’s speaks with Professor Patrick Sutton, Head of Cardiff University’s Gravitational Physics Group and member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration who develops new strategies to detect gravitational wave bursts and creates techniques for locating these sources on the sky for modelling and simulations.

In this interview Jeni asks Patrick about:

The latest gravitational wave detection What we can know about these events and the objects that created them The strength and weakness of these signals

The Announcement: For a physics deep dive into the analysis, the data and the modelling of the new black hole merger detected by LIGO this month, LIGO Governing Council member Professor Sathyaprakash (Sathya to his friends) delivers the first lecture on this discovery.

Return to the Interview: In this segment we return to Professor Patrick Sutton who tells Jen about:

The possibilities for future gravitational wave detections The most expensive thing he’s ever broken And… personal grooming tips??

Awesome Astronomy #60 - June 2017

Jun 2, 2017 01:11:22

Description:

The Discussion: Jeni’s returns from her South African research using the Infrared Survey Facility telescope, Paul calls time on the Principia Mission and we go through a couple of readers emails to discuss Caroline Herschel, the Woomera Test Range and Australian space funding. 

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

Is there any evidence for other universes in the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation? An update on Tabby's Star (It's NOT an alien megastructure). Are we already creating our own defence against Coronal Mass Ejections by chance?  A run through NASA's 2018 budget proposal

The Interview: This month we speak to former test pilot and astronaut - and one of only 6 remaining people to have walked on the moon - General Charlie Duke.

Practical Astronomy: The Hat of Woo takes a rest this month as we introduce an occasional look into areas of interest to the practical amateur astronomer with topics requested by you. This month we take a look at an essential piece of kit suggested by Sean Smith from Dublin: eyepieces.

Sky Guide June 2017

May 28, 2017 09:15

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in June.

Jeni returns from astronomy research in South Africa so the gang’s back together to pick their highlights for this month’s skies; starting with the planets on offer to observers and imagers:

Ralph – Saturn reaches opposition this month and coincides with a nearby meteor shower Jeni – Jupiter in prime viewing conditions with some lovely Galilean transits Paul – We still have comet C/2015 V2 Johnson in the skies for a nice alternative distraction

Next up, we take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Ralph – The Double Double binary Alpha Lyrae Jeni -  The Whirlpool Galaxy Messier 51 Paul – Globular Clusters Messiers 10 & 12 in Ophiuchus

And we finish this sky guide with June’s moon phases.

Podcast Extra: Data & Discoveries from ESA's Gaia Mission

May 12, 2017 07:17

Description:

This podcast extra episode comes from this year's Big Bang Fair and Jeni & Paul grabbed an interview with a Gaia mission data scientist to talk data and the efforts taken in  the less-glamorous, but absolutely critical, background to provide us with the discoveries and refinements we crave from the European Space Agency's latest space-based astrometry mission.

So while Paul and Jeni were there as the Sirius Space Agency explaining the science behind a mission into space on the Star Stage, they spoke to a post-doctoral researcher at Cambridge University's Data Processing Centre for the Gaia Mission.

In this interview we bring you:

the timelines to data capture, recovery, capture and analysis the rapid pulication of results from Gaia data a surprising discovery about the Milky Way's satellite galaxies - the Magellanic Clouds a new star cluster found hiding behind a star

Awesome Astronomy #59 - May 2017

May 1, 2017 51:48

Description:

The Discussion: Jeni’s missing this month as she collects transiting exoplanet data in South Africa using the SIRIUS camera on the Japanese 1.4 metre Infrared Survey Facility telescope.

So Paul & Ralph take the helm and record from the AstroCamp starparty in the Welsh Brecon Beacons, discussing light pollution, the wonder of starparties and take a look at the countries which only have a solitary Awesome Astronomy downloader.

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

Astronomers use gravitational lensing to calculate intergalactic distances The Event Horizon Telescope gathers its data for an image of our supermassive black hole Space X demonstrates the first relaunch of previously used rocket Cassini begins its swan song in glorious style

The Interview: This month we speak to Dr Dave Abergel at the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics to discuss the merit (or otherwise) of the recent creation of a substance with negative mass. 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look at radio telescopes:

I‘d like to know how a radio telescope comes up with an image Samuel Wertz, Pennsylvania, USA.

Sky Guide May 2017

Apr 27, 2017 06:17

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in May.

Jeni's abandoned us this month in favour of research-grade instrumentation so only Paul and Ralph pick their highlights for this month’s skies; starting with the planets on offer to observers and imagers:

The planets Jupiter in the evening and Saturn in the morning Three meteor showers peaking this month A pair of comets to observe with amateur telescopes or binoculars

Next up, we take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Ralph – The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules Paul – The Globular Cluster Messier 5 in the constellation Serpens

And we finish this sky guide with May's moon phases.

Podcast Extra: AstroCamp Spring 2017

Apr 18, 2017 23:02

Description:

A teaser for the weekend stargazing under the über dark skies of the Brecon Beacons International Dark Sky Reserve at this spring’s AstroCamp.

We’ll take you through the events and activities which turn beginners into experts and fill up the eyepiece of those who are already experts – and, of course, whet your appetite for this friendliest of starparties!

Whether you’re joining us in the Welsh village of Cwmdu on the weekend of 22-25th April or not, we’ve included a seasonal sky guide of our favourite night sky objects to dazzle and amaze you visually or astrophotographically:

Ralph

The Leo Triplet of galaxies The Needle Galaxy in Come Berenices The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules

Paul

Spiral Galaxy, Messier 94 in Canes Venatici Double star Cor Caroli in Canes Venatici Globular Cluster M3 in Canes Venatici The Coma Star Cluster in Coma Berenices Messier 53 Globular Cluster in Coma Berenices

Damien

The King of Planets, Jupiter 2 rare AstroCamp comets in Hercules, Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak and C/2015 V2 Johnson As if comets weren’t enough we also have the naked-eye Lyrid meteor shower

John

The Whirlpool Galaxy in Canes Venatici Markarian’s Chain of galaxies between Leo and Virgo The Veil Nebula supernova remnants in Cygnus The Blackeye Galaxy in Coma Berenices

Awesome Astronomy #58 - April 2017

Apr 2, 2017 01:27:15

Description:

The Discussion: Paul and Jen packed out the Star Stage at this year’s Big Bang Fair in Birmingham as Sirius Astronomy ran experiments to explain how rockets and space suits work and how space capsules protect astronauts from the heat of re-entry. Jen updates us on her astronomy research trip to South Africa next month and Ralph reviews the latest space-based sci-fi thriller, Life.

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

A schoolboy who spotted an error in NASA data Are the Van Allen radiation belts weaker than always thought? Was Earth’s atmosphere like Titan’s 2.4 billion years ago? Using the sun as a gravitational lens NASA’s heading for Mars & evidence of an ancient Mars tsunami

The Interview: This month we have a couple of interviews with the children taking part in science challenges at the Big Bang Fair and clips of Paul & Jen creating fire hazards and projectiles around an undefended audience…

Hat of Woo: Following your comments by email and online, we’re bringing back the vile and rancid Hat of Woo this month. And we’re back with a festering sore of a conspiracy theory in the form of Immanuel Velikovsky’s laws of physics defying Worlds in Collision ‘theory’.

 

Sky Guide April 2017

Mar 29, 2017 11:05

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in April.

Our highlights of this month’s skies with the planets on offer to observers and imagers:

A pair of comets to observe with amateur telescopes or binoculars The planets Mercury and Jupiter in the evening The Lyrid meteor shower

Next up, we each take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Ralph – Pinwheel Galaxy in Ursa Major Paul – The Black Eye Galaxy in Coma Berenices Jen – The Ring Nebula in Lyra

And we finish this sky guide with April's moon phases.

Podcast Extra: A Star System Full of Earths

Mar 13, 2017 37:59

Description:

Following a recent NASA press conference – a regular event that fills us with dread as we anticipate an anticlimax – this time NASA really get us excited with the announcement of seven rocky Earth sized planets around a star 40 light years away. Three of these planets are in that star system’s habitable zone.

Luckily our own resident exoplanet researcher, Jeni, is on hand to take us through the hunt and explain the science! In this podcast extra we discuss:

The NASA announcement The international collaboration that made this discovery How exoplanets are discovered The significance of the find What this star system looks like Could life exist on any of these worlds? What the environmental conditions could be like so close to their parent star

(image credit: NASA)

Awesome Astronomy #57 - March 2017

Mar 1, 2017 01:19:47

Description:

The Discussion: Jeni’s been teaching the teachers of Wales how to include astronomy in their classroom exercises as part of the school curriculum. Ralph takes us on a historical tour of the King’s Observatory in Richmond which was the original Prime Meridian before it found its home in Greenwich. While Paul and Jen have a date this month at the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham.

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

Hubble spies a comet breaking up around a distant white dwarf star A very special exoplanet discovery The Event Horizon Telescope takes aim Isolated extremophiles on Earth help with our search for alien life Is NASA accelerating its manned spaceflight programme?

The Interview: This month we welcome back the European Space Agency’s project scientist on the Rosetta mission to Comet Churyumov Gerasimenko, Matt Taylor, to discuss the end of the mission, the data gathered, the discovery of Philae and what’s next for ESA.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we’re tackling a question about the Allais Effect which claims to have observed strange happenings during eclipses:

I need help understanding something called the Allais Effect.  This is a phenomenon that supposedly causes pendulums to get funky during solar eclipses Matt Minter, Chicago, Illinois.

Sky Guide March 2017

Feb 28, 2017 10:27

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in March.

Our highlights of this month’s skies with the planets on offer to observers and imagers:

The moon, Mercury and Mars close together on the 29th The King of Planets returns to our skies 4 comets to observe with amateur telescopes or the naked eye

Next up, we each take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Jen – The Owl Nebula in Ursa Major Paul – The Virgo Supercluster and Markarian’s Chain of galaxies Ralph – Messier 67 and the Beehive Cluster in Cancer

Podcast Extra: Farewell Gene Cernan

Feb 14, 2017 10:28

Description:

This podcast extra takes a look back at the extraordinary life of navy aviator, test pilot and astronaut Gene Cernan who tragically died last month at the age of 82.

In this memoriam we discuss:

Gene's stellar career Pioneering rendezvous and spacewalking techniques on Gemini 9A The final test run for a moon landing on Apollo 10 Commanding the last ever moon landing mission on Apollo 17 The last footprints on the moon

Awesome Astronomy #56 -February 2017

Feb 2, 2017 56:58

Description:

The Discussion: Paul continues his herculean travels around the UK promoting the European Space Agency and teaching people about the science of spaceflight. Ralph’s waxing lyrical about a waxing moon and Venus, while Jen has a big announcement regarding her PhD research.

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

Another asteroid hits the news as NASA look elsewhere for future missions ESO’s ALMA array turns its attention to the Sun Making refinements on the age of the Moon A new star to look out for in the sky in 2022

Hat of Woo: With the hat now empty and the world still full of loons, we reach out to you to tell us what you’d like to see replace this segment of the show.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look at a listener’s submitted graph and explain the Roche Sphere:

Can you please explain why the Hill Sphere of Neptune is greater than that of Jupiter? Gavin Price, @Pillarscreatio, Wales.

Sky Guide February 2017

Jan 29, 2017 10:51

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in February.

Our highlights of this month’s skies with the planets on offer to observers and imagers:

A last chance look at Mercury in the morning sky Mars a few degrees from Venus Jupiter in Virgo Saturn in the early morning sky

Next up is the return of a couple of comets to our observing tick list:

Comet 45P at its best on the 11th February in Hercules Comet 2P Encke returns to our skies in the constellation Pisces

Then we each take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Ralph – the Rosette Nebula and open cluster NGC2244 in the constellation Monoceros Paul – open cluster M93 in Pupis Jeni – supernova remnant, Messier 1 – the Crab Nebula - in Taurus

And we finish this sky guide with February’s moon phases, a conjunction with the Hyades Cluster on the 5th and a penumbral eclipse on 10th/11th February.

Podcast Extra: NASA's Lunar Space Station Plans

Jan 18, 2017 25:17

Description:

This podcast extra takes a look at the proposals from Boeing and Lockheed Martin to develop a lunar space station for NASA.

In this discussion we cover:

NASA’s current plans for deep space exploration Lunar and Martian exploration What exploration can be done from orbit Human vs robotic exploration

The likelihood of contaminating other worlds with Earth organisms

Awesome Astronomy #55 - January 2017

Jan 2, 2017 01:12:26

Description:

The Discussion: As we welcome in the New Year Paul’s been mixing science with art, Jeni’s professional astronomy looks to be taking her to South Africa or Mexico and we read out some of our listeners’ emails

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

The death of John Glenn – a true pioneer and legend ESO’s Very Large Telescopes glimpses something from nothing And we take a look at NASA latest release list of its spin-out technologies

Hat of Woo: In our latest and final Hat of Woo we put Astrology under the magnifying glass.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we’re tackling a question about a recent news story covered in a previous episode:

The number of bodies in the Solar System featuring subsurface oceans seems to increase with every planetary mission sent out there. Many of these are bodies of water of great depth, with Europa and Ganymede possibly having oceans 100km deep. Given that the deepest part of our own ocean is a 'mere' 11km deep and barely studied, what kind of conditions could future explores expect at such depths? Would the enormous pressure at a depth of 100km cause the water to act differently and what implications would this have for life in these oceans? Steve Brown, Yorkshire, England.

Sky Guide January 2017

Dec 29, 2016 06:45

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in January.

Our highlights of this month’s skies with the planets on offer to observers and imagers:

Venus at greatest eastern elongation Mars a few degrees from Venus Jupiter in Virgo Saturn & Mercury in the morning sky

Next up is the other solar system wonders of note in January:

The Quadrantids meteor shower peaking on 3-4th January with a ZHR of around 40 The largest asteroid, Vesta, at opposition passing through Cancer into Gemini

Then we each take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Jen – M33, spiral galaxy in the constellation Triangulum Paul – NGC 2903, barred spiral galaxy in Leo Ralph – Messier 35, open cluster in Gemini

And we finish this sky guide with January’s moon phases.

2016 Xmas Panto

Dec 25, 2016 33:13

Description:

Awesome Astronomy’s 2016 Christmas Panto. Think: HG Wells’ War of the Worlds meets Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. 

The Eve of the War: Plans for our latest invasion of Earth are discussed over a nice, friendly and relaxed Christmas dinner.

In London: A rousing and inspiring speech to the defeated peoples of Earth. 

The Earth Under the Martians: Jeni’s excited about her new taser and we all have a jolly Christmas wager. 

The Days of Imprisonment: Another speech to the assembled and compliant Earthling slaves.

Dead London: John begins the human resistance with the release across all frequencies of the 2016 outtakes.

The Wreckage: Jeni sees out Christmas Day with a few science and astronomy themed factoids.

We don’t do Awesome Astronomy for money or to advertise, we just do it for fun and education. As long as we still enjoy creating it and you enjoy listening to it, we’ll keep on going. So if you want any changes, have any comments or suggestions, email us at theshow@awesomeastronomy.com

Merry Christmas everyone and our very best wishes for 2017.

Awesome Astronomy #54 - December 2016

Dec 1, 2016 01:27:38

Description:

The Discussion: This month we take a look at the recent supermoon and what it takes to make the moon ‘super’; Jeni goes teaching kids about space and hones her exoplanet hunting skills; while Paul’s been hosting events with British astronaut Tim Peake.

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

An update on Blue Origin’s spaceflight ambitions More on Shiaparelli and Exomars part 1 A NASA Director’s worries about science in a Trump administration An Ocean like the Dead Sea under Pluto’s ice sheets The roundest object in space Could dark energy actually be an emergent property of entropy? The dinosaur-killing asteroid may have turned planet Earth inside out

The Hat of Woo: Delving into the rank and putrid world of conspiracy theories to debunk the nonsense that lies within. This month Paul pulls Project Pegasus out of his fetid hat where a young President Obama was part of a team of juveniles used in the 1980s to teleport to Mars and into the past. No, really!

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we go back to Tycho Brahe:

What is a plain regular (non-super) nova? Doug, @DesRon94, Detroit Michigan

Sky Guide December 2016

Nov 27, 2016 07:55

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in December.

Our highlights of this month’s skies with the planet on offer to observers and imagers:

Venus shining brilliantly in the evening sky Mercury at greatest elongation on 11th December Jupiter returns to our late night skies

Next up is the meteor showers and December brings us the greatest of them all:

The Geminids peaking on the night of 13/14th December

Then we each take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Jeni – IC 1396 - The Elephant Trunk Nebula in Cepheus Paul – M78 – a reflection nebula in Orion Ralph – NGC 246 the Skull Nebula in Cetus

 And we finish this sky guide with December’s moon phases.

Podcast Extra: Your Need to Know Guide to Buying a Telescope

Nov 16, 2016 21:12

Description:

Perhaps the most frequently asked question to the show (and apologies to Terry Dunlin who asked this question about 2 years ago!) is what you need to consider when buying a telescope or what makes the right telescope for you.

So, in this podcast extra, we pool our collective brainpower to bring you a 20 minute discussion of telescope types, apertures, portability and capabilities to help you get the perfect telescope for you.

If you’re thinking of buying your first telescope – or thinking of getting one as a gift for someone this Christmas – then this will give you all the considerations for that purchase.

We recommend The Tring Astronomy Centre (www.tringastro.co.uk), but the most important thing is to buy from a dedicated astronomy retailer rather than the internet or ordinary high street stores. A dedicated astronomy retailer will be able to advise you from a position of knowledge and provide the aftercare you need.

Awesome Astronomy #53 - November 2016

Nov 2, 2016 01:31:38

Description:

The Discussion: In a month when the European Space Agency succeeded and failed in the first part of their Exomars saga, we go through the glory and the debris of Mars exploration, hanging out with astronauts Tim Peake and Tim Kopra, conducting exoplanet research, provide some advice about studying astrophysics and explain why the effects of dark matter aren’t witnessed in our own solar system. 

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

Exomars, round one Another look at the Viking mission data that may have discovered Martian life Hubble discovers that the universe contains 10 times more galaxies than thought A philosophical discussion about the chances of life existing elsewhere Venus was habitable when life began to flourish on Earth Elon Musk’s plans for colonising the solar system The ethics of colonising other planets An update of NASA’s Juno mission at Jupiter And the latest taikonauts and astronauts. 

The Hat of Woo: Paul’s Hat of Woo is the repository for all festering and rancid conspiracy theories that have no basis in truth and yet persist in any dark and stinking corner of the internet.

This month we pull one of the biggies out of the putrid hat: Evil aliens and a reptilian rival for the title of overlord.

The Interview: This month we return to writer, broadcaster and researcher Dr Chris North from Cardiff University to answer a listener’s question on Chris’ interview in last month’s episode.

Dr North mentioned that we can see Gravitational Waves to discover all sorts of information from these waves, such as size, distance & velocity, which I can understand (through Amplitude and frequency and rate of change of the signal), but how is it also possible to infer things like the spin and spin rate from the wave signal? (ignoring the question of how does a black hole spin if it has mass but no matter as Dr North mentions, and how do events happen inside a black hole since as you get closer to the event horizon doesn't time appear to us to slow down to us as an outside observer?) Mark de Vrij in Poland.

Sky Guide November 2016

Oct 28, 2016 08:27

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in November.

Our highlights of this month’s skies with the planet on offers to observers and imagers:

A last chance to enjoy views of Mars for 2016 The return of the King of Planets: Jupiter A Saturn and Venus conjunction

And we each take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Ralph – Colourful binary star Almaak in Andromeda Jeni – The magnificent constellation of Orion and the Orion Nebula Paul – NGC 404, Mirach’s Ghost in Andromeda

And we finish this sky guide with November’s moon phases.

Nick Howes on Life & Death in Space

Oct 15, 2016 01:13:43

Description:

This podcast extra features the talk given by Nick Howes at Spring 2015's AstroCamp about life and death in space.

 

Nick takes us on a fascinating tour of our universe and explains:

- Dangerous phenomena in the galaxy

- Martian meteorites

- The places in the solar system where life may exist

- Exploring comets

- The marvel of the Rosetta spacecraft

- How comets are discovered and named

- The Oort Cloud - home to a trillion comets

- The potential for asteroid impacts

- Comet Shoemaker Levy striking Jupiter

- How can we prevent asteroid strikes?

- Look for new objects in your sky images and online

 

Why we should be concerned about Earth impactors and what we, the public, can do to mitigate this inevitable disaster scenario.

Awesome Astronomy #52 - October 2016

Oct 1, 2016 01:20:47

Description:

The Discussion: If you enjoy our attention to scripting, our professional quality audio and our stringent editing, then you’re bang out of luck! This show comes from our AstroCamp stargazing event in Wales and we’re making it up as we go along.

This month we take you through the delights of dark sky stargazing among friends, Jeni becomes a paid scientist and we get the reactions of the gang as we reveal signed movie poster mock ups that we’re emailing to listeners. 

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

Gravity Spy – hunt for gravitational waves in this new citizen science project More details on NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission The first data from ESA’s Gaia spacecraft wows us all

The Interview: This month we welcome back writer, broadcaster and researcher Dr Chris North from Cardiff University to discuss Gravitational Waves: what this means for the future of professional astronomy and what we can expect from this new field of astronomy in the future.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we’re tackling a question about exoplanet detections with a back of the envelope calculation – and Jeni’s making Ralph do the maths. It’s fair to say, he’s not happy about it:

A big hello from your Antipodean fan from Melbourne to all Martian superior beings in the UK (or something like that)... Whilst listening to your eagerly awaited last instalment of the show I was intrigued by Jeni's (who I believe has been to Australia...) exoplanet research. I am familiar with the concept of observing transits and teasing the dip of brightness out of the data flood. So far so good. That means that we, Earth and Mars of course have to be in the same plane in order to be able to get an observable transit. Is there any data or knowledge if there is a general orientation of planetary systems in relation to us or the galactic plane? Meaning if we know that can we extrapolate somehow how many planets are really out there as we obviously can only observe a fraction of the existing systems? Bit hard to explain but with your superior minds I am sure you will get the idea... :)? Clem Unger, Melbourne, Australia.

Sky Guide October 2016

Sep 28, 2016 10:02

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in October.

Our highlights of this month’s skies with the planet on offer to observers and imagers:

Venus & Saturn in the late evening with a nice conjunction of the pair. Uranus as it reaches opposition on the 16th

Next up is the meteor showers and October brings us:

The Draconids peaking on 7th October The Orionids peaking on 20th/21st October

Then we each take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Ralph – Algol, the Demon Star & The Double Cluster in Perseus Paul – The Auriga open clusters: M36, M37 & M38 Jeni – and the Owl Cluster in Cassiopeia

And we finish this sky guide with October’s moon phases.

Podcast Extra: AstroCamp Autumn 2016

Sep 20, 2016 16:29

Description:

In this month’s AstroCamp podcast extra episode:

 

The Discussion: An introduction to star parties and enjoying practical astronomy under pristine dark skies away from the city. As the podcast crew run the AstroCamp star party, which many listeners attend, in the Brecon Beacon’s international dark sky reserve twice a year, we take you through the events, tutorials and workshops we run to help you hone your stargazing skills and win astronomy prizes from the Tring Astronomy Centre.

 

The Sky guides: In readiness for 3 nights of stargazing in the Welsh valleys, Ralph, Paul and Damien choose objects to look out for this time of year. If you’re not coming to AstroCamp, these are still great night sky treats to try and locate wherever you are in the northern hemisphere.

 

Ralph’s top choices take in the Owl Cluster, The Double Cluster and the vast North America Nebula. Damien takes a look at the solar system objects available a little closer to home this month as he runs through the asteroids, dwarf planets and meteor showers on offer to AstroCampers And Paul finishes out autumnal round up with Herschel’s Garnet Star, the original Cepheid Variable and the magnificent galaxy cluster Stephan’s Quintet.

Awesome Astronomy #51 - September 2016

Sep 1, 2016 58:04

Description:

The Discussion: Jeni’s astronomy research yields its first results in the hunt for exoplanet phase variation and we revisit our Star Wars podcast extras with a listener’s book review.

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

An ‘Earthlike planet detected by ESO around our nearest stellar neighbour The upcoming launch of OSIRIS Rex to sample an asteroid That bump in the data at CERN turns out to be a false hope That alien megastructure story just won’t foxtrot oscar The Cassini spacecraft spots methane filled canyons on Saturn’s moon Titan A meteorite lands in Yorkshire garden. Real or fake?

Woobusters: Continuing our quest to debunk the myths and conspiracy theories that persist in every dark corner of the news and the internet. This month’s topic, picked at random from Paul’s festering Hat of Woo: Area 51 – the remote and secret installation in the Nevada desert where sanity gets dissected and reason is left to die.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we get a question that probes certainty in science and how high certainty discoveries can still turn out to be wrong:

Why when the Bicep two team found the evidence for primordial gravitational waves did they claim it was a five sigma result, and later wasn't it shown the result was not accurate? I thought a five sigma had a 1 in 350million chance of being wrong! There has to be something I don't understand about the sigma scale or the Bicep results? Rodney Cuthbertson.

Sky Guide September 2016

Aug 27, 2016 11:34

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in September.

Our highlights of this month’s skies with the planet on offer to observers and imagers:

Mercury & Venus in the late evening or early morning Mars & Saturn – with a nice conjunction with the Moon and star Antares Neptune & Uranus on offer in Aquarius & Pisces

The largest asteroid, Vesta, will be passing through the constellation Gemini into Cancer this month and asteroid 2 Pallas can still be found in the constellation Equuelus.

Next up is the meteor showers and, following the magnificent Persieds last month, September has:

The Alpha Aurigids peaking on 1st September the Epsilon Persieds peaking on 9th September

Then we each take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Ralph – The Owl Custer in Cassiopeia Paul – globular cluster, Messier 2 in Aquarius Jeni – The Andromeda Galaxy in the constellation Andromeda

And we finish this sky guide with September’s moon phases.

Happy hunting and clear skies!

Podcast Extra: Dr Helen Sharman the Full Interview

Aug 13, 2016 38:57

Description:

This podcast extra is our full length interview with Dr Helen Sharman, Britain's First astronaut and the first woman to visit the Russian Mir Space Station in 1991.

In this interview we discuss:

Tim Peake Access to space during a time of no UK funding The skills needed to be an astronaut Training for spaceflight at Star City in Russia The collapse of the Soviet Union just before launch Speaking with Mikhail Gorbachev from the Mir Space Station Comparing Mir to a camping trip! Acclimatising to spaceflight in the Soyuz capsule Science conducted by Helen on Mir The UK's reticence to funs human spaceflight NASA's plans for missions beyond Low Earth Orbit Post-Brexit uncertainty over science and collaboration Promoting space

Awesome Astronomy #50 - August 2016

Aug 1, 2016 01:07:35

Description:

The Discussion: We’re cheering Jeni’s graduation with a first class masters in astrophysics and looking at the PhD options she has as she chases the dream of becoming Dr Millard! Paul & Ralph make preparations for September’s dark sky AstroCamp stargazing event and educate Jeni on computers from the 80s.

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

A new dwarf planet is discovered in our solar system The doomed Hitachi spacecraft reveals streams of intergalactic plasma A new moon around Earth discovered Detective work reveals what caused the moon’s Imbrium Basin Tatooine gets outshone by a planet with three stars The first observation of a snowline in a forming solar system

Woobusters: Continuing our quest to debunk the myths and conspiracy theories that persist in every dark corner of the news and the internet. This month’s topic, picked at random from Paul’s festering Hat of Woo: Chemtrails – those quite normal jet exhaust trails that some people think are spraying mind control agents

The Interview: For the interview this month we visit Dr Helen Sharman from Imperial College London, who because Britain’s first astronaut in 1991:

Tim Peake’s slight embarrassment at often being called Britain’s 1st astronaut An unconventional route to space Training to be an astronaut at Russia’s Star City The Mir space station compared to the International Space Station Excitement for the future of human spaceflight Uncertainty over space and science funding in the Brexit era.

The full interview with Helen will be available as a podcast extra later in the month

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we get a question that follows the theme of our introduction and looks directly at the point Helen Sharman raised in this month’s interview:

What does Brexit mean for the UKs involvement in things like ESA and ESO? Andrew Burns, United Kingdom

 

Sky Guide August 2016

Jul 28, 2016 10:51

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in August.

 

Our highlights of this month’s skies with the planet on offer to observers and imagers:

Jupiter takes a bow as it departs until December Mars & Saturn – with a long conjunction at the end of August Mercury & Venus make their way out of the glare of the Sun Neptune & Uranus on offer in Aquarius & Pisces


Next up is the meteor showers and, due to the long daylight hours and dearth of cometary debris in this part of Earth’s orbit this time of year, we only have one shower of note in August:

The magnificent Perseids peaking on 11th/12th August


The 2nd asteroid to be discovered in the asteroid belt, 2 Pallas, reaches opposition on 22nd August reaching magnitude 8.7 and can be found in the constellation Equuelus.

 

Then we each take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Jeni – The Milky Way: Naked eye enjoyment of our home galaxy Paul – The Cygnus Loop/The Veil Nebulae Ralph – Albireo – the most colourful binary star in the sky


And we finish this sky guide with August’s moon phases.

Podcast Extra: Alan Bean, 4th Man on the Moon

Jul 15, 2016 55:07

Description:

This podcast extra is our full length interview with the 4th man to walk on the moon aboard the Apollo 12 mission in 1969.

In this interview we discuss:

journeying to the moon on a Saturn V rocket getting your rocket struck by lightening the mission's colourful commander (Pete Conrad)  what the moon looked and felt like underfoot the science conducted on the surface of the moon the future of human spaceflight The Martian Olympics!

Awesome Astronomy #49 - July 2016

Jul 2, 2016 59:42

Description:

The Discussion: Earthling slave John got married! The new fashion of requesting telescopes at weddings, a good time of year for solar astronomy, the scores are in for the results of Jeni’s master’s degree, Jeni gets a sciencey summer job and we make a joking (but no less genuine) appeal for astronomy equipment to review in future shows. 

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

NASA inflate Bigelow Aerospace’s inflatable habitat on the ISS Progress on NASA’s attempts to send humans beyond low Earth orbit Analysis of ALMA data hints at planetary formation beginning earlier than thought An update on the origins of the elusive Planet 9 The Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft gets ready to orbit the gas giant Arizona astronomers find 65 young galaxies – the oldest galaxy cluster yet discovered

Woobusters: Continuing our quest to debunk the myths and conspiracy theories that persist in every dark corner of the news and the internet. This month’s topic, picked at random from Paul’s Big Hat of Woo, is moon landing hoaxers – the mother of all space-related conspiracy theories!

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we get a question about our own observing and imaging of the skies:

How do you think the name of Planet 9 will be chosen if it’s eventually discovered – is it too late to start a campaign for Planet McPlanetface? Gavin Mills from Canberra, Australia

Sky Guide July 2016

Jun 28, 2016 08:30

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in July.

Our highlights of this month’s skies with the planet on offer to observers and imagers:

Mars Saturn A Venus conjunction

And a few tips on how to take images of the solar system’s largest bodies with a webcam, planetary imaging camera or DSLR.

Next up is the meteor showers and, due to the long daylight hours and dearth of cometary debris in this part of Earth’s orbit this time of year, we only have one shower of note in July:

Delta Aquariids peaking 28th/29th July

Then we each take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Jeni – NGC6826: The Blinking Star Nebula Ralph – Epsilon Lyrae: The Double Double Paul – M22, a globular Cluster in Sagittarius.

And we finish this sky guide with July’s moon phases and planetary conjunctions.

Podcast Extra: Marvellous Mercury!

Jun 12, 2016 01:23:00

Description:

In this Awesome Astronomy podcast extra episode we bring you the key speakers from this spring’s AstroCamp in the Brecon Beacon dark sky reserve. As the transit of Mercury was the main feature of this spring’s camp, we were delighted to welcome (and now to share with you) speakers with detailed knowledge of planetary transits:

Dr Rebekah Higgitt lectures history at the University of Kent and former curator at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. Rebekah tells us about the science goals of observing transits, foreign wars, treacherous seas and national rivalries that conspired to prevent observations and the successes and mishaps that befell many astronomers keen to use this method to measure the size of the solar system. London astronomer and professional gemmologist, Eric Emms, hosts many public solar and lunar observing events (the next of which will be in London’s Regent’s Park on June 23rd) and steers Central London’s Astronomical Society as a committee member of the Baker Street Irregular astronomers.
Eric takes us on a voyage to Mercury to show us why this is far from the dull dry world that many may think.

Awesome Astronomy #48 - June 2016

Jun 1, 2016 59:52

Description:

The Discussion: Exam season is well underway for Jeni, Paul & Ralph ran the AstroCamp dark sky star party in Wales and the jet stream causes frustration for sky watchers in the UK. But the big event last month was the transit of the planet Mercury with a full day of observing this phenomenon for many parts of the world.

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

A possible new particle that threatens the foundation of physics discovered at CERN Is the life-hunting Exomars 2 ever going to get off the ground? 1,284 exoplanets discovered: 550 are rocky, 100 are earth sized, with 9 in their habitable zones The May 2016 transit of Mercury and witnessing the black drop effect DIY carbon nanotubes among 56 patents released by NASA and space elevators SpaceX make Paul look silly (again)

Woobusters: Continuing our quest to debunk the myths and conspiracy theories that persist in every dark corner of the news and the internet. This month’s topic, picked at random from Paul’s Big Hat of Woo, is Flat Earth (heaven help us!)

The Interview: For the interview this month we welcome the University of Oxford’s Professor Daniela Bortoletto who helped build the Large Hadron Collider and researches the findings of the world’s largest atom smasher. We take the opportunity to discuss:

What is the Higgs boson and why it’s so important Why was the Higgs so hard to discover Daniela’s construction of LHC sensors & detectors The possible detection of a new particle that breaks the Standard Model Is the Standard Model broke or is this new particle a false discovery How much certainty is needed for a new discovery at CERN

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we get a question about our own observing and imaging of the skies:

Loved the astrophotography verses visual conversation. Maybe you could talk about what astronomy set up you use and what you prefer, ie telescope type? @CosmicBeach from Norwich, United Kingdom

Sky Guide June 2016

May 28, 2016 19:12

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in June.

Our tour of the highlights of this month’s skies begins with the planets on offer to observers and imagers:

Jupiter Mars Saturn

Next up is the meteor showers and we have quite a few daytime showers that can be spotted in the pre-dawn sky as well as some more usual showers in June:

Arietids Zeta Perseids June Lyrids June Bootids

Then we each take a deep sky pick from our list of favourites for this time of year:

Ralph - M13 The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules Paul - M8 The Lagoon Nebula Jeni - M57 The Ring Nebula

And we finish this sky guide with June’s moon phases and planetary conjunctions.

Podcast Extra: AstroCamp Spring 2016

May 4, 2016 17:26

Description:

Welcome to this AstroCamp podcast extra episode to tell you what you can expect from the weekend's festivities and listen to on the way to Cwmdu:

The Discussion: An introduction to star parties and enjoying practical astronomy under pristine dark skies away from the city.

As the podcast crew run the AstroCamp star party, which many listeners attend, in the Brecon Beacon’s international dark sky reserve twice a year, we take you through the events, tutorials and workshops we run to help you hone your stargazing skills and win astronomy prizes from the Tring Astronomy Centre. As the focus of this AstroCamp is the Transit of Mercury, we will also have two talks on the celestial event, from the University of Kent's Dr Rebekah Higgitt and solar astronomer Eric Emms.

The Sky guides: In readiness for 3 nights of stargazing in the Welsh valleys, Ralph, Paul and John choose objects to look out for this time of year. If you’re not coming to AstroCamp, these are still great night sky treats to try and locate wherever you are in the northern hemisphere.

-       Ralph’s top choices are for beginner astrophotographers, armed only with a DSLR camera and a telescope, and focuses on the Leo Triplet

-       Paul takes five deep sky galaxy treats for visual astronomers in May and throughout spring. The prime pick is a tricky tricky double galaxy to test your skills and help develop your averted vision.

-       John takes a look at the solar system objects available a little closer to home this month as he runs through the best of the planetary offerings and whets our appetites for the coming transit of Mercury on 9th May.

So welcome to AstroCamp and we'll see you very soon!

Awesome Astronomy #47 - May 2016

May 2, 2016 48:06

Description:

In this month's show:

 

The Discussion

Revision season as Jeni finishes her masters in astrophysics and preparations for AstroCamp in the Welsh Brecon Beacons.

 

The News

SpaceX make Paul look a right fool Stephen Hawking backs an attempt to send spaceships to Alpha Centauri More insight in to gravitational waves A new galaxy is discovered orbiting the Milky Way Narrowing down the whereabouts of Planet Nine

 

Paul's Big Hat of Woo

This month we look at planetary alignments and all those crazy notions that tsunamis or weightlessness might occur if the planets are in certain alignments, or something.

 

Q&A

Our question this month comes from Clemens Unger in Melbourne, Australia who helpfully suggested:


If you’re looking for a topic to chat about in the show, how about the recent well publicised case of image theft in the Astro imaging community? A chap used a Damien Peach image and presented it as his own. But, as it’s a small world, Damien saw it by chance. There seems to be so much pressure on these days to show better and better images and that seems to overtake the fun of astronomy a bit for some and peer pressure is getting to some.

Sky Guide May 2016

Apr 30, 2016 18:44

Description:

 What to look out, and up, for in March.

We start a new look (listen?) sky guide this month.

We begin the show with a discussion around the highlights to observe this May:

The Transit of Mercury on 9th May International Astronomy Day on 14th May Mars at opposition on 22nd May Three meteor shower peaks, Eta Aquariids (6th), Eta Lyrids (8th) & Camelopardalids (24th)

Next we each suggest and help you find a deep sky favourite to observe in May:

Ralph – M51 The Whirlpool Galaxy Jeni – M27 The Dumbbell Nebula Paul – M3 Globular cluster in Canes Venatici

 Finally we round up the moon phases and a couple of nice planetary and lunar conjunctions.

Awesome Astronomy Podcast Extra: CERN

Apr 15, 2016 01:00:13

Description:

During a visit to Geneva in September 2016, the Awesome Astronomy team stopped looking out into the universe for a while to delve into the impossibly tiny world of subatomic particles and fundamental forces that fuels the heartbeat of the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

Dr Steven Goldfarb, an experimental particle physicist from the University of Michigan, led a tour of the ATLAS Control Room, a few metres above the largest and most advanced engineering experiment the world has ever seen – the Large Hadron Collider. Then we sat down to enjoy a light lunch and discuss the ground-breaking work, detections and knowledge building that only CERN can accomplish.

Naturally, we also delve into the big issues in astronomy today – such as dark matter, the matter/antimatter imbalance and extra dimensions, all of which are being explored by CERN.

So, for anyone who's excited by the frontiers of physics or puzzled by what CERN is or does, we've recorded a special podcast extra to shed some light on the impossibly complex and tantalisingly exciting world of particle physics, right on the very cutting edge.

This podcast extra should explain in simple terms:

What are the Large Hadron Collider and CERN The International collaboration required The significance of the Higgs Boson Why gravity causes us so many problems The frontiers of our understanding of the universe The search for unified fundamental forces, extra dimensions and exotic new matter

 

With special thanks to CERN and Dr Steve Goldfarb

Awesome Astronomy #46 - April 2016

Apr 1, 2016 01:10:43

Description:

The Discussion: This month Jeni has a PhD offer that’s getting us all excited, Paul’s been clocking up the miles to teach science and astronomy to schools and Ralph’s just excited because he’s got a new telescope.

Mat & Phil from Project Helium Tears join us again on the day they launched their 2nd Star Wars themed balloon to the edge of space. 

The News: We start the news with last month’s total solar eclipse seen from parts of Asia before explaining the research that suggests an ancient cataclysm caused Mars crust & mantle to shift. Then we discuss the launch of ESA’s Exomars part 1. And we finish with a round-up of the news from NASA’s Insight mission, the 1st analysis of the atmosphere of a super earth exoplanet atmosphere and the latest SpaceX attempt to bring down the cost of commercial spaceflight.

The Interview: For the interview this month we welcome Apollo 12 lunar module pilot and Skylab 2 commander Alan Bean. We discuss:

44 years of humans staying in Low Earth Orbit Nearly missing out on walking on the moon due to lightning Saving the Apollo 12 mission The colourful crew of Apollo 12 Finding organic matter in lunar orbit Competing with smarter astronauts – and not being Clint Eastwood! A moonwalker’s impressions of the moon The feeling of the moon’s surface underfoot

And the full hour long interview with Alan Bean will be released in May 2016.

Woobusters: Continuing our quest to debunk the myths and conspiracy theories that persist in every dark corner of the news and the internet. This month’s topic, picked at random from the Big Hat of Woo, is The Dead Cosmonauts conspiracy.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we tackle:

When will the Theory of General Relativity become Law? Brad Bell from Texas, United States

 

Sky Guide April 2016

Mar 29, 2016 08:36

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in April 2016!

For the beginners this month Ralph takes a look at the Leo Lion who leaps across the sky all April. Leo hosts some nice colour contrasting binary stars (one with a gas giant planet of its own) and some galaxies to hunt down.

Next Jeni rounds up the planets that are visible in December: Jupiter Mars and Mercury at one of its most favourable viewing opportunities. The moon makes a not-to-be-missed passage through the Hyades Cluster on 10th April. And we round off with the Lyrid meteor shower and a last gasp chance of comet Catalina.

As spring is galaxy season, for the deep sky challenge Paul slews a scope through Virgo in a hunt for entire galaxies that can be seen with amateur telescopes. While the constellation of Virgo is quite indistinct it harbours a wealth of elliptical and spiral galaxies, culminating with the unique treat, Markarian’s Chain. 

Awesome Astronomy #45 - March 2016

Mar 2, 2016 01:12:11

Description:

The Discussion: We bid a sad farewell to Apollo pioneer Edgar Mitchell who spent 33 hours on the lunar surface in 1971 on the Apollo 14 mission, celebrate the detection of gravitational waves and Paul regales us with his tales of clear skies for some long awaited eyepiece time. 

The News: This month the news is dominated by the death of Apollo 14’s Edgar Mitchell. We bring you the highs of collecting moon rocks and the lows of a retirement spent promoting pseudoscience. We follow this up with more information on the detection by LIGO of the last confirmed prediction of Einstein’s General Relativity, gravitational waves, and what this means for the future of astronomy. And we finish off with the observation by the European Southern Observatory of a flying saucer shaped forming planetary system. 

Woobusters: This month we don the tin foil hat of woo to debunk the Nibiru conspiracy theory. The planet predicted to crash into Earth and destroy all life without a shred of evidence to its name! 

The Interview: We welcome Canadian Soyuz, Shuttle and Space Station astronaut Chris Hadfield into the chair this month to discuss:

The best and worst things about being in space The most difficult thing to adjust to in space What is it about test pilots that lends itself to becoming an astronaut What was the best aircraft to fly Is the space station a distraction from deep space missions What’s the next space destination after the Space Station What will Chris Hadfield do in retirement Do you wish you’d been a musician As a positive person, how do you face the bad things in life

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity.

If nothing can escape from a black hole, not even light, why in the news today is there talk of ‘jets’ of energy being released by one? And, if nothing can travel faster than light, how can the universe be expanding in excess of this speed and still be accelerating? Jason Paul Smith via Facebook

Sky Guide March 2016

Feb 28, 2016 09:57

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in March.

 

For the beginners this month we take a look at perhaps the most recognisable constellation of them all: Ursa Major, the Great Bear. In the Great Bear we go hunting for the easiest binary star in the sky and a host of big bright galaxies.

 

Next Jeni rounds up the planets that are visible in December: Mars, Jupiter & ever more brief views of Saturn, before taking a look at this month’s moon phases – with a few conjunctions with Mars Saturn & bright star Antares.

 

Finally we take the ultimate tour of easy and more difficult galaxies as we explore the rich bounty of the constellation Leo the Lion.

Awesome Astronomy Podcast Extra: Gravitational Waves

Feb 14, 2016 38:36

Description:

For anyone who's still a little fuzzy or confused by the enormity of the recent detection of gravitational waves by the LIGO facility, we've recorded a special podcast extra to shed some light on the impossibly complex world of General Relativity, interferometry detectors and gravitational waves themselves.

This podcast extra should explain in simple terms:
- What gravitational waves are
- Why they're so important
- How they were detected
- What this means for the future of physics & astronomy

With special thanks to LIGO, the National Science Foundation and Cardiff University's School of Physics and Astronomy.

Awesome Astronomy #44 - February 2016

Feb 1, 2016 01:12:45

Description:

The Discussion: As we lament the passing of some great people we remember how lucky we are to live in an age of great discovery. We discuss British astronaut Tim Peake’s spacewalk with American Tim Kopra outside the International Space Station and take a look back at the annual festival of TV astronomy StargazingLIVE.

The News: There’s a packed news section in this month’s show as we discuss:

Have astronomers discovered another planet in our solar system? LIGO’s possible detection of gravitational waves Does an irregular star host evidence for alien life? A possible explanation for the ‘Wow signal’ The most powerful supernova ever detected Poor Philae gives up the ghost Attempting to photograph a black hole

The Interview: This month Jen bags herself an astronaut. While celebrating the launch of Tim Peake, Jen grabs an interview with Spanish/ESA astronaut Pedro Duque: a veteran of two space missions having flown the Shuttle, Soyuz and the International Space Station.

WooBusters: With a long back catalogue to call upon to understand objects and concepts in astronomy, Paul calls it a day on his 5 Minute Concept. In its place comes WooBusters! Send in your suggestions for conspiracy theories, bonkers ideas and general pseudoscientific nonsense and we’ll add them to Paul’s Big Hat of Woo.

This month we kick off WooBusters with a debunking of alien abductions.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity.

If Mars’ gravity is too weak to hold onto its atmosphere, how did it ever get one? Andrew Osbourne from the UK via email

 

Sky Guide February 2016

Jan 29, 2016 08:36

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in February.

For the beginners this month we take a look at the constellation of Auriga the Charioteer with a trio of open clusters from the Messier catalogue and finishing off with the Flaming Star that originated in Orion’s Belt.

Next Jeni rounds up the planets that are visible in December: Jupiter, Mars & Saturn, before taking a look at this month’s moon phases – with a couple of conjunctions with Venus & Mercury and the occultation of star Xi 1 Ceti.

Finally we go deep into the universe with an open cluster, a beautiful multiple star system and the vast Rosette Nebula in the constellation Monoceros the Unicorn.

Awesome Astronomy #43 - January 2016

Jan 1, 2016 01:07:50

Description:

The Discussion:
In our first invasion of 2016 we discuss Paul’s work promoting British astronaut Tim Peake’s stay on the International Space Station and his visit to Parliament; Jen’s ongoing work in General Relativity and black holes; and John tells us about his trip to visit the Sutherland Astronomical Society in Perth, Australia.

The News:
This month we return to NASA’s Dawn spacecraft at Ceres where we might just have the answer to those intriguing white spots on the dwarf planet. Then we discuss the findings that put to bed the puzzle about why gas giant exoplanets don’t seem to have the right amount of water in their atmospheres. And we finish January’s news with a wandering Kuiper Belt object snapped by NASA’s New Horizon’s spacecraft.

The 5 Minute Concept:
We conclude our series of back to basics 5 Minute Concepts with a look at the last essential items in the amateur astronomers toolkit – eyepieces. Whay are they, whey do we need them, how to get the most from them and how to get the balance between cheap stock eyepieces and expensive behemoths.

The Interview:
This month we continue to honour 100 years of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity as Jen talks to Professor Mark Hannam, Dr Patrick Sutton and Dr Stephen Fairhurst from Cardiff University’s School of Physics and Astronomy.

Q&A:
Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity:

How will the decision in Hawaii to stop the construction of the Thirty Metre Telescope affect progress in commissioning bigger & bigger Earth-based scopes? Eric Emms from London, England via Twitter

Sky Guide January 2016

Dec 31, 2015 09:04

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in January.

For the beginners and young astronomers this month we take a look at the magnificent winter constellation of Orion with the belt and sword bordered by four magnificent stars. We take a look at a (cosmologically) near term supernova hopeful, a five star multiple star system, and the finest nebula of them all in small telescopes or binoculars.

Next we round up the planets that are visible in January: Jupiter rising early to show us some lovely transits of its moons, with Mars Saturn and Venus providing breathtaking views for the night owls. Saturn and Venus give us a rare close conjunction too in January.

Next we take a look at the phases of the moon this month and prepare for a conjunction with gas giant planet Jupiter and an occultation with bright star Aldebaran in Taurus.

The Quadrantids provide us with a nice meteor shower early in January which can often give us more meteors per hour than any other meteor shower.

Comet C2013 US10 Catalina continues to reveal itself to northern hemisphere observers and passes some deep sky objects to add to the excitement.

Finally, we end on our deep sky challenge in the constellation of Gemini with a planetary nebula and open clusters to tease out – including the topical Jedi Knight cluster.

Awesome Astronomy - 2015 End of Year Show

Dec 25, 2015 41:14

Description:

**This pantomime episode contains some mild bad language and puerile humour**

Join us for our yearly round up of our favourite stories & events from 2015 and discuss the most exciting space missions and astronomy events coming up in 2016.

This festive season we welcome you back to our secretive Cydonia bunker - the scene of each Earth invasion attempt - as we share a brandy on the moon and give you a glimpse of the lives of our Earthling slaves at Yuletide.

As tradition now dictates, we round off the show with the best gaffes and outtakes from 2015.

So, happy holiday season, thank you for downloading as listening to us in 2015 and we look forward to spending 2016 with you too.

Ralph. Paul, Jen, John & Damien

Awesome Astronomy #42 - December 2015

Dec 1, 2015 01:25:07

Description:

The Discussion: In this Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy contrived episode we look back over the movie The Martian, meeting Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, we gloss over the Bayesian statistics in Jen’s data analysis work and hear about a mathematics-based nightmare that’s been keeping Jen awake but should have mathematicians rolling in the aisles!

 

The News: This month we revisit that alien megastructure around a distant star with an unusual light curve and reveal what alien signatures SETI have discovered. We take a look at the possible future of cheap access to space as British Aerospace buy a stake in the SABRE engine designed to power spaceplanes of the future, and we finish off with the truly incredible measurements of Mars atmosphere conducted by NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft to reveal how much atmosphere Mars is losing on an annual basis.

The Interview: This month we wrap the whole show around our interview with Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot Al Worden recorded at this year’s Cosmiccon. We discuss:

Anecdotes from test pilot school in England Tales of the Harrier and Concorde test pilots Practical jokes Riding a Saturn V rocket Finding organic matter in lunar orbit Views from 1.5 miles above the mountains of the moon The history of the moon and the Apollo 15 landing site, Hadley Rille The bliss of being alone in lunar orbit The views of space from the far and dark portions behind the moon The vastness of the universe Al Worden's view on UFOs, ancient aliens, numerology and the bible How to explore further out in space The stupidity of the design of NASA's next generation spacecraft

The 5 Minute Concept: We continue our series of back to basics 5 Minute Concepts as Paul takes a look at perhaps the most important piece of hardware in amateur astronomy – no, not the telescope itself, but the mount. As we ask AZ or EQ?

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month Jen honours the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s General Relativity with a beginner’s crash course, a bit of mythbusting and answers:

What’s inside a black hole? John Barrie from Swansea, Wales via email

Sky Guide December 2015

Nov 28, 2015 07:43

Description:

For the beginners this month we take a look at the constellation of Gemini with bright star Castor providing a nice easy double star to split with a telescope. We move over to the feet of the Gemini twins to scan for some nice open clusters, including Messier 35, before hunting down the beautiful Eskimo planetary nebula. Finally, we go looking for a star known to have a planet of its own.

Next we round up the planets that are visible in December: Jupiter, Venus & Mars are still around for observers after midnight and we have the possibility of a naked eye visible comet in the early hours of the morning in early December as C2013 US10 Catalina raises northern hemisphere hopes.

We have the Geminid meteor shower peaking on the night of the 12/14th December – which always puts on a great show and then we take you on a tour of the often overlooked deep sky objects in our winter skies around the constellations of Orion, Lepus and Eridanus.

Podcast extra - Jeni Millard on faint galaxy structures

Nov 15, 2015 52:27

Description:

During this spring’s AstroCamp event, hosted by the Awesome Astronomy podcast team, our new presenter, Jeni Millard, gave another of her inspiring talks.

 

We were treated to a history of the much neglected Aboriginal dark sky folklore as we got tour of some of the most interesting objects in the southern hemisphere’s sky.

 

Then we head off into the world of professional astronomy at the Australian Astronomical Observatory as we find out how Jen helped with the science that will enable the Huntsman Eye to investigate faint structures of galaxies using arrays of off-the-shelf Canon camera lenses and sensors.

Awesome Astronomy #41 - November 2015

Nov 1, 2015 01:19:40

Description:

The Discussion: We welcome astrophysicist Jeni Millard from Cardiff University onto the show as our new co-presenter! We discuss the astronomy lessons, tuition and events we’ve been involved with over the past month and name drop about an Apollo moonwalker we might have interviewed…

The News: This month we take a look at NASA’s completed image collection of the Pluto system from the New Horizons spacecraft; ‘Water on Mars’ get the very first Awesome Astronomy award for Needing Another Sensational Announcement (the acronym is entirely coincidental); we take a look at Brian May’s handling of the estate of dearly cherished Patrick Moore; we despair at the media’s handling of ‘that’ news story about an alien megastucture that isn’t around a star with an unusual light curve; and finish up with the European and Russian coalition to explore habitability on the moon for human colonization.

The 5 Minute Concept: We continue our back-to-basics 5 Minute Concepts season with a discussion prompted by many listener questions about the value and use of filters for astronomical observation.

The Interview: This month we bring you our interview with Dr Kathy Thornton, recorded at Cosmiccon. Kathy is a veteran of four Space Shuttle missions and earns our eternal gratitude for fixing the Hubble Space Telescope after launch and giving it back its sight.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month Ralph & Paul answer:

One thing you might want to look at is the increasing number of remotely accessible telescopes for the "ordinary" amateur. Not sure if I get the same satisfaction from a remote image compared to spending some nights in my dome and freezing my ears off to get a good image. Would like to get your take on this... Clem Unger from Mornington Australia, via email

 

Sky Guide November 2015

Oct 29, 2015 07:33

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in November.

 

This month we tour a few simple objects that you can show to a child and spark their interest in the night skies.

 

In our beginners’ guide, Ursa Major shows us now to find true north and points out a few galaxies to observe in a small telescope. Then we take a look at the moon, showing us some lovely phases in the middle of the month and finish with two dates on which the moon will help you find the outer most planets, Uranus & Neptune.

 

Next we round up all the planets visible in October, with a stunning conjunction of Venus, Mars & Jupiter in the early hours. The Northern Taurids and the Leonids provide us with two meteor showers in November while we hold our breath for a naked-eye visible comet at month’s end.

 

We round off the show with our deep sky challenge and encourage you to take a look at the clusters in the constellation of Auriga.

 

Podcast Extra: Project Helium Tears Debrief

Oct 19, 2015 39:00

Description:

Matt Kingsnorth from the Project Helium Tears debriefs us on his balloon launch to the edge of space, capturing images of the Earth, taking Awesome Astronomy listeners’ names onboard and filming a Star Wars X-Wing fighter against the black of space in May 2015.

Quite by surprise, the onboard cameras even managed to capture images of the moon and a meteor streaking through the atmosphere below!

The video (which you can see at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7ub0mFVDV0) went viral with more than 400,000 views.

Please help Project Helium Tears achieve Objective 3 by tweeting:

#HeyJJ Can @MattKingsnorth & @TurboBungle come to the Force Awakens VIP Première @Bad_Robot? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7ub0mFVDV0

Awesome Astronomy #40 -October 2015

Oct 1, 2015 01:17:42

Description:

The Discussion: Coming live from The AstroCamp in the Brecon Beacons international dark sky reserve, we talk about the benefits of getting out to truly dark skies and observing with people who have a range of astronomy skills.

The News: We welcome astrophysicist Jeni Millard to discuss this month’s astronomy news. And after rebuking NASA last month for the paucity of New Horizons data releases, we’re more content this month and bring you the latest from the Pluto flyby. We take a look at the European Space Agency’s latest video from Philae as it descended to the surface of comet Churyumov Gerasimenko. And we bring you more news about the increasingly habitable conditions on Saturn’s moon Enceladus.  

The Interview: This month we wrap the whole show around our interview with Skylab 3 and STS-3 astronaut, Jack Lousma. Jack tells us about taking that ominous call during Apollo 13 ‘Houston, we’ve had a problem’; how they solved each life-threatening issue in sequence to get the astronauts back alive; missing out on flying Apollo 20 to the moon; and taking one of the first space shuttles out for a test drive.

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month Ralph & Paul take a walk around AstroCamp to let listeners give their top tips for taking their first steps in practical amateur astronomy.

Sky Guide October 2015

Sep 28, 2015 08:26

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in October.

This month we take a look at the constellation of Perseus the Hero for the beginners guide – we begin with the Alpha Persei Cluster around bright star Mirfak, swing by Algol, the Demon Star, and finish up with the Double Cluster – arguably the finest cluster (or clusters) in the Northern Hemisphere.

Next we round up the planets that are visible in October: Uranus & Neptune are still hanging on while Mars, Jupiter and Venus combine to make some stunning planetary conjunctions most of the month. We bring you the month’s moon phases and two meteor showers – the Draconids and the Orionids.  

Then, for our deep sky challenge, we take a look at one of the finest globular clusters in the northern hemisphere, a galaxy that’s thought to be a mirror image of our own Milky Way, a grouping of five galaxies and the brightest galaxy of them all, Andromeda, as we tour the adjacent constellations of Andromeda & Pegasus.

Podcast Extra: AstroCamp Autumn 2015

Sep 11, 2015 23:54

Description:

The Discussion: An introduction to star parties and enjoying practical astronomy under pristine dark skies away from the city.

 

As the podcast crew run the AstroCamp star party, which many listeners attend, in the Brecon Beacon’s international dark sky reserve twice a year, we take you through the events, tutorials and workshops we run to help you hone your stargazing skills and win astronomy prizes from the Tring Astronomy Centre.

·       The Sky guides: In readiness for 3 nights of stargazing in the Welsh valleys, Ralph, Paul and John list five objects to look out for this time of year. If you’re not coming to AstroCamp, these are still great night sky treats to try and locate wherever you are in the northern hemisphere.

-      Ralph lists his three top choices for beginner astrophotographers, armed only with a DSLR camera and a telescope, and two night sky photographic opportunities for those with just a DSLR.

-      Paul runs through five deep sky treats for visual astronomers in September and throughout autumn. There’s also a couple of tricky ones to test your skills and help develop your averted vision.

 

-      John runs through the night sky objects available a little closer to home this month as he runs through the best of the solar system objects – planets, comets and safe solar observing.

Awesome Astronomy #39 - September 2015

Sep 1, 2015 58:52

Description:

The Discussion: A dismissal of paranoid woo-pedalling, following what seems be an upsurge in space-based pseudoscience this month, and we introduce you to the first in our series of astronaut interviews recorded at Cosmiccon.

 

The News: This month we get a little disappointed at the lack of news from the New Horizons team after the initial press releases of NASA’s Pluto flyby. We take a look at the nearest confirmed rocky exoplanet to Earth, at 21 light years away, and ask ‘could we send a probe there within the span of a human lifetime?’ New evidence from many of the world’s most productive telescopes that shows the steady heat death of the universe. And a happy story to end on as NASA are offering the public the opportunity to send their names to Mars encoded on a microchip on the Insight Mars Lander next year.

 

The 5 Minute Concept: We follow up on last month’s first back-to-basics 5 Minute Concepts with an introduction to what you can expect to realistically achieve with amateur telescopes – and Paul gives you his own ‘patent pending’ formula to help you decide if you’re likely to resolve that faint fuzzy.

 

The Interview: This month we wrap the whole show around our interview with 4 time Shuttle astronaut, Dr Don Thomas. Veteran of 4 Space Shuttle missions (STS-65, STS-70, STS-83, STS-94), Don tells us about how he never gave up in his pursuit to become an astronaut, the incredible views from space (including Mount Everest, meteors and Comet Hale Bopp!), what’s in the Lake Eerie water that Ohio produces to many astronauts, flying through the Challenger & Columbia disasters, the future direction of NASA to the moon, asteroids and Mars and hanging out with Neil Armstrong in the run up to a launch.

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month Ralph & Paul answer:

 

·       This blew my mind! With a small telescope you can track some binary stars orbiting each other over the years. If I was going to watch a double star year to year looking for movement, what would be my best bet?Andrew Burns, from Reading, England & Randy Anokye from Kumasi, Ghana via the Facebook Group

Sky Guide September 2015

Aug 28, 2015 09:50

Description:

This month we take a look at the constellation of Queen Cassiopeia for the beginners guide. We have:

The beautiful Owl Cluster; NGC 7788 or Caroline’s Rose, discovered by Caroline Herschel NGC 185, a dwarf elliptical galaxy discovered by Caroline’s brother, William Herschel.

Next we round up the planets, solar sytem events and deep sky treats that are visible in August:

Uranus, Neptune, Saturn & Mercury. We look at the month’s two lunar treats: a series of conjunctions between the moon and bright star Aldebaran A perfect lunar eclipse for many listeners on the 28th September. Comet Churyumov Gerasimenko will be visible this month near the Beehive Cluster in Cancer (sadly we won’t see ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft orbiting it!) Our deep sky challenge delves into the constellatinos of Sagitta the Arrow and Vulpecula the Fox for a tour of clusters and a planetary nebula.

 

Awesome Astronomy #38 - August 2015

Aug 1, 2015 01:36:31

Description:

A longer episode this month as we have so much to discuss and cram into the show!

 

The Discussion: Upcoming full-length interviews with 4-time Shuttle astronauts Kathy Thornton & Don Thomas, Skylab 3 & STS-3 astronaut Jack Lousma and Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden. Dragging Sokol spacesuits around the UK for educational endeavours, promoting astronomy with the UK Space Agency at the Harwell campus and enjoying Nelly Ben Hayoun’s asteroid movie, Disaster Playground, at the British Film Institute.

 

The News: This month we take a look at NASA’s historic close up of the outer most classical planet as the New Horizon’s spacecraft flies by the Pluto system. CERN’s discovery of a new particle using the Large Hadron Collider – the Pentaquark. The possibility that those mysterious white spots on dwarf planet Ceres are creating a localised atmosphere. A Neptune-sized exoplanet orbiting so close to its parent star that its atmosphere is being blown away like a comet’s tail and Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft continues to attempt re-contact with the functioning Philae comet lander.

 

The 5 Minute Concept: We kick off a series of back-to-basics 5 Minute Concepts for practical astronomers with a look at what those numbers on your telescope mean. This is a tour of aperture, focal length and focal ratio.

 

The Interview: This month we welcome back Dr Joe Liske for the final time to tell us about the future of the European Southern Observatory and their exoplanet hunting, dark energy characterising European Extremely Large Telescope.

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month Ralph & Paul answer:

·       What's excited you more: Rosetta or New Horizons? For me, the latter.Eric Emms, London UK, via Twitter

Sci-fi Wars: Matt Kingsnorth & Phil St Pier join us again to go through the listeners’ results in our Sci-Fi Wars series. You voted for your Top Ten Sci-fi TV Series, books and movies. We present the results!

Sky Guide August 2015

Jul 30, 2015 08:13

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in August. 

This month we take a look at the constellation of Cepheus the King for the beginners guide – we have the first galactic tape measure: the original Cepheid Variable, a red supergiant star: Hershel’s Garnet Star and the Elephant’s Trunk Nebula.

Next we round up the planets that are visible in August: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus & Neptune. We look at the month’s moon phases and enjoy a supermoon (or perigee-syzergy) on the 29th. August treats us to the best meteor shower of the year – the Perseids – falling on the 12th August with no moon to dampen the show. We also look forward to rare comet conjunction occurs in August with Rosetta’s Comet 67/P and comet 141/P sharing the same field of view in telescopes. For our deep sky challenge we look at the constellation of Aquarius for a tour of globular clusters and planetary nebulae.

 

Awesome Astronomy #37 - July 2015

Jul 2, 2015 54:36

Description:

The Discussion: This month’s Awesome Astronomy comes from the magnificent Cosmic Con event at the Manchester Airport Hilton. While looking forward to speaking with the stars of Meteorite Men and four astronauts, Paul recalls a fun June letting the public try on a genuine Russian Sokol suit at a multitude of astronomy outreach events, while Ralph’s been experimenting with ways to take deep sky images in heavily light polluted skies.

The Walkaround: No news, 5 minute concept or Q&A this month but you won’t be disappointed as we tour Cosmic Con. The plethora of fascinating meteorites brought by Geoff Notkin and Steve Arnold from the Meteorite Men and space rocks from the British and Irish Meteorite Society gives Paul an opportunity to explain what a treasure trove of science and history meteorites are. Ralph’s in seventh heaven perusing The Space Collective’s NASA memorabilia – a signed Buzz Aldrin action man anyone?

The Interviews:  A whole host of interviews this month as we talk to astronauts, space agency workers, meteorite enthusiasts & organisations hoping to save humanity from extinction.

Jane MacArthur – STEM ambassador and PhD student of Martian meteorites and comet samples, explaining the variety of space rocks and what they can tell us about the early solar system.

Martin Goff – member of the British and Irish Meteorite Society, talking about incidents of impacts from Chelyabinsk to the unfortunate Cow Killer meteorite

Andrea Boyd - European Space Agency’s Astronaut Centre, exploring ESA’s new astronaut intake, British astronaut Tim Peake, life on orbit and an offer to try the joy that is Italian designed space food!

Cristina Stanilescu – Project presenter for the Emergency Asteroid Defence Project, telling us about ways to prevent city obliterating asteroids from hitting Earth before they get here. 

Don Thomas – Space Shuttle veteran of STS-65, STS-70, STS-83 & STS-94 revealing his experiences of riding rockets and the woodpecker that delayed a launch!

Kathryn Thornton – Space Shuttle veteran of STS-33, STS 49, STS-61 & STS-73, telling us about fixing the Hubble Space Telescope and the possible rosy future for Hubble.

Jack Lousma – Veteran of Skylab 3 & STS-3, reliving tales of America’s first space station and test flying the space shuttle.

Al Worden – Veteran of Apollo 15, one of only 24 people to orbit the moon, tells us about how to get to the moon & back and flying in perpetual freefall.

So, a huge thanks to Richard and Yolande, the organisers of Cosmic Con for inviting us to record from their wonderful astronomy-laden event. We hope you enjoyed the atmosphere even if you couldn’t make it this year. And we hope to see you there next year.

Sci-Fi Wars episode 4 - Movies

Jun 27, 2015 45:43

Description:

Matt & Phil from Project Helium Tears return to the bunker for this final episode in the Sci-fi Wars series to appeal for your votes for the best movie. 

We've let catured Earthling slave Damien out of the dungeon to add his favourite too.

This is the last in a four part podcast extra series to discover the best sci-fi TV series, book and film over the next three days.

Your votes count at www.awesomeastronomy.com/scifiwars

Sci-Fi Wars episode 3 - Books

Jun 26, 2015 29:24

Description:

Matt & Phil from Project Helium Tears & captured Earthling slave Damien join us in the bunker in this 3rd episode in the Sci-fi Wars series to appeal for your votes for the best book.

This is the third in a four part podcast extra series to discover the best sci-fi TV series, book and film over the next three days.

Your votes count at www.awesomeastronomy.com/scifiwars

Sci-Fi Wars episode 2- TV Shows

Jun 25, 2015 39:37

Description:

Matt & Phil from Project Helium Tears join us in the bunker in this 2nd episode in the Sci-fi Wars series to appeal for your votes for the best TV series. 

We've let catured Earthling slave Damien out of the dungeon too to add his favourite too.

This is the second in a four part podcast extra series to discover the best sci-fi TV series, book and film over the next three days.

Your votes count at www.awesomeastronomy.com/scifiwars

Sci-Fi Wars episode 1

Jun 24, 2015 20:47

Description:

Matt & Phil from Project Helium Tears join us in the bunker to kick off this Sci-fi Wars series by discussing what makes a sci-fi. 

We've let catured Earthling slave Damien out of the dungeon too to add more perspective.

This is the first in a four part podcast extra series to discover the best sci-fi TV series, book and film over the next four days. Your votes count at www.awesomeastronomy.com!

Awesome Astronomy #36 - June 2015

Jun 2, 2015 01:19:39

Description:

The Discussion: A cloudy but fun-filled AstroCamp dominates the discussions this month with glimpses of the planets and a hurried Messier Marathon in between gaps between the clouds. Nick Howes’ talk inspires reflections on the threat of asteroids and comets and how amateur astrophotographers can contribute to science.

 

The News: This month we take a look at NASA’s new draft 2015 Technologies Roadmap and discuss the advances in robotics, space propulsion, power transfer and nanotechnology that NASA hope to seed. Next up is some research from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory that suggests the discolouration on Europa’s surface might be irradiated salt from the moon’s subsurface ocean. Finally, we take a look at the discovery, using ESO’s VLT,  that globular clusters in the Centaurus A galaxy are far heavier than they should be – perhaps harbouring vast amounts of dark matter.

 

The 5 Minute Concept: Just a hundred years after Newton’s notion of Universal Gravitation, John Mitchell proposed an idea so futuristic that it was barely even noticed until Einstein showed the universe has space-time geometry. Then, in 1972, the predictions of Newton, Einstein and Mitchell were revealed as the mind-bending reality of black holes.

 

The Interview: This month we welcome back Dr Joe Liske from the European Southern Observatory to talk about the New Technologies Telescope that tested new ways to build ever larger telescopes and paved the way for the monster observatories we see today.

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month Ralph & Paul answer:

 

·         If there is life elsewhere in the solar system, where do you think it is most likely to be?Louisa Martin, Brisbane Australia, via email

Sky Guide June 2015

May 29, 2015 08:02

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in June. 

This month we take a look at the constellation of Lyra the harp for the beginners guide – we have one of amateur astronomy’s favourite nebulas, M57 the Ring Nebula, hanging between the stars Sheliak & Sulafat like a suspended smoke ring and the Double Double stars – Epsilon Lyrae.

Next we round up the planets that are visible in June: Venus, Jupiter in the evening & Saturn later on. Comet Lovejoy continues to put on a show for those with small telescopes and Comet Kopff tempt those with larger aperture telescopes. and the Lyrids in the low eastern morning sky.

For our deep sky challenge we look at the constellation of Scutum the shield. We tour the Wild Duck and M26 open clusters, globular cluster NGC6712 and finish off with planetary nebula IC 1295.

 

The May 2015 AstroCamp Special

May 7, 2015 21:12

Description:

A podcast extra episode to get you in the mood for the biannual dark sky weekend run by the podcast crew. We have renowned comet and asteroid hunter Nick Howes joining us to talk about the nature and history of comets and we'll be giving away loads of astronomy prizes in our astronomy quizzes. And of course, 3 nights of enjoying the wonders of truly dark skies in the Welsh Breacon Beacons' International Dark Sky Reserve.

If you're not coming to AstroCamp in May 2015, there's still a sky guide in this episode to give you stargazing inspiration wherever you are.

Awesome Astronomy #35 - May 2015

May 2, 2015 01:06:53

Description:

The Discussion: Paul savours a quiet month of teaching astronomy and enjoys sketching Markarian’s Chain of galaxies, while Ralph gets into a few debates following an article publication and gets back to imaging the planet Venus. All in a month when the Project Helium Tears balloon took listeners’ names to the edge of space!

 

The News: This month we take a look at the discovery of complex organics in a new star system 455 light years away, a new study of the movement of dark matter during galactic collisions, a gas cloud passing the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole turns out to be a star – lucky not to get destroyed, SpaceX suffer another setback, Russia announce bold moon ambitions, Dwarf Planet Ceres gives us a few more answers but also some questions and we take a look at the new Star Wars movie trailer.

 

The 5 Minute Concept: Returning to our sceptical roots, Paul digs out the tin foil hat and takes leave of his senses as he delves into the barking world of the moon hoaxer and dispels the myths.

 

The Interview: This month we relive the Project Helium Tears space launch as slave John tagged along with Matt Kingsnorth and Phil St Pier – mission controllers to the edge of space for £1,200. The we bring them into the studio to talk about the mission, lighting up social media, appearing on TV and going viral with ‘Objective 2’.

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month Ralph & Paul answer:

·         Constellations are based on arbitrary positions relative to Earth. So how far would you have to travel before they appear to move?Alex Speed, Bedfordshire UK, via Twitter

 

·         When I die, if I was to get fired from a cannon into outer space, would my body decompose? Darren Knight, Cambridgeshire UK via Twitter

 

 

 

 

Sky Guide May 2015

Apr 29, 2015 08:29

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in May.

 

This month we take a look at the constellation Ursa Major for the beginners guide – we’ll point you in the direction of an unaided eye binary star and a few of the brightest galaxies in the entire northern hemisphere sky.

 

Next we round up the planets that are visible in May: Mercury (early in the month), Venus, Jupiter & Saturn later on. We take a look at Comet Lovejoy as it’s still visible in small telescopes, and the Lyrids in the low eastern morning sky. For our deep sky challenge we take you on a tour of Hercules’ magnificent globular clusters and a couple of overlooked galaxies.

Awesome Astronomy #34 - April 2015

Apr 2, 2015 01:15:31

Description:

The Discussion: Paul’s been busy with Sirius Astronomy, promoting space and astronomy education at The Big Bang event and schools across the UK, meeting NASA astronaut Michael Fowle and ESA astronaut Jean Francois Clervoy. Ralph’s been arranging astronomy events for London’s Baker Street Irregular Astronomers. Both are excited about the upcoming CosmicCon event in July and they speak with Phil St Pier from the Project Helium Tears team to reveal the winners of their space competition.

 

The News: This month we take a look at what’s in store for NASA’s Dawn spacecraft now that it’s made it safely into orbit around dwarf planet Ceres, a quick few thoughts on NASA’s New Horizon’s craft as it approaches the Pluto system, Saturn’s moon Enceladus and Jupiter’s moon Ganymede throw us some tantalising clues about their watery interiors and further potential for life, and we round off with news about a huge ocean that covered 20% of Mars’ entire surface.

 

The 5 Minute Concept: As we enter the Hubble Space Telescope’s 25th anniversary in space, Paul takes a look at this astronomy wonder that nearly didn’t even make it to the launch pad.

 

The Interview: Paul catches up with Richard Garner, the organiser of CosmicCon, to find out about the astronauts, TV presenters and astronomers we can expect to meet when we get there.

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month Ralph & Paul answer:

 

·         Are there any colourful celestial objects that can be seen through a small scope?Matt Kingsnorth Essex UK, via Facebook

Sky Guide April 2015

Mar 29, 2015 07:47

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in April.

This month we look in the direction of Leo the Lion for the beginners guide – taking a look at the bright binary stars and a very special grouping of entire galaxies to observe in our spring skies.

Next we round up the planets that are visible in March 2015: Jupiter, Venus, Saturn and the return of Mercury. April brings us some nice lunar conjunctions and a well timed Lyrid meteor shower. And for our deep sky challenge we take you on a galaxy tour of Virgo and Coma Berenices.

Podcast Extra: The State of US & European Science Education

Mar 15, 2015 05:41

Description:

In this podcast extra Paul & Ralph went off topic from astronomy to discuss the health (or otherwise) of science in the US and Europe.

Via a circuititous route, they take a look at research outputs, educational outreach and perceptions of science, and finish off with a game of Top Trumps in which you don't want to playing against an opponent who holds the Newton card.

Awesome Astronomy #33 - March 2015

Mar 1, 2015 50:09

Description:

The Discussion: A final check-in with the Helium Tears team before they release their camera laden balloon to the edge of space and a free Awesome Astronomy competition to let you get involved in this adventure.

 

The News: This month we take a look at a star that zipped through our solar system during human history, get excited about the Dawn spacecraft’s close up views of dwarf planet Ceres, bid a sad farewell to Leonard Nimoy and look forward to this month’s solar eclipse.

 

The 5 Minute Concept: This month Paul takes a look at the most recognisable and unmissable object in the night sky: the moon. But how much do we actually know about our nearest celestial neighbour? Until the 1950s, actually, barely anything.

 

The Interview: Dr Joe Liske from the European Southern Observatory returns to the show for this series of interviews telling us about ESO’s groundbreaking telescopes. This time it’s the turn of the revolutionary Very Large Telescope.

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month Ralph & Paul answer: 

·        What’s the closest solar system to ours and could we ever explore it? Hedley Johnson in Des Moine, Iowa via email

 

·        What’s the oldest surviving space probe still transmitting data to Earth?David Blanchflower in Newcastle Upon Tyne via Twitter (@DavidBFlower)

Sky Guide March 2015

Feb 27, 2015 09:52

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in March.

 

This month we look in the direction of Cancer the Crab for the beginners guide – taking a look at open clusters Messier 67, The Beehive Cluster and the planet Jupiter beaming down from up on high.

 

Next we round up the planets that are visible in March 2015, say goodbye to Comet Lovejoy, take a look at this month’s eclipse, explore the phases of the moon and finish off by rounding up the galaxies and globular clusters for telescope observers in Canes Venatici.

Podcast Extra: SpaceX v Skylon

Feb 9, 2015 16:32

Description:

The full length discussion between Ralph & Paul about the merits of rockets against spaceplanes - the risks, costs and current availability of technology.

With Elon Musk's SpaceX committed to landing expendable rocket parts and Reaction Engines' Sabre Rocket being backed by ESA and the UK Space Agency, is the future of spaceflight along NASA's disposable rocketry lines, SpaceX's resusable rockets or Skylon spaceplanes?

Awesome Astronomy #32 - February 2015

Feb 2, 2015 58:26

Description:

The Discussion: Enjoying views of Comet Lovejoy, engaging in astronomy outreach at schools, looking forward to the Spring AstroCamp in the Welsh Brecon Beacons dark sky reserve and catching up with the Project Helium Tears high altitude balloon team.

 

The Competition

Thanks to the Project Helium Tears team, we’re offering you the opportunity to see your name in space! Just tweet or email us and we’ll pick a winner (or winners) to have their name on the side of the spacecraft and have it photographed with the curvature of the Earth and the blackness of space in the background! Use the hashtag #TakeMeToSpace

 

The News: A full-to-bursting round up of the news over the last month, starting with the phoenix-like Kepler Space Telescope and the latest ‘Earth-like’ exoplanet and the possibility of life on Mars getting more likely following Curiosity’s detection of methane on the Red Planet. Next up is NASA’s options for an asteroid redirect mission, SpaceX’s attempt to land spent rocket stages and we finish with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter finding a Beagle on Mars.

 

The 5 Minute Concept: This month Paul puts a few myths to rest as he explores the facts about the asteroid belt between Mars & Jupiter.

 

The Interview: Ralph catches up with the European Space Agency’s Project Scientist for the Rosetta mission, Dr Matt Taylor, to get the latest on Rosetta and Philae results and find out what we can expect next from these intrepid comet explorers

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month Ralph & Paul answer:

·         How many active satellites are there in orbit? Elizabeth Chamberlain in Worcester via email

 

·         What’s the difference between a comet, asteroid and a meteor? Christine L in Derbyshire via Twitter (@ChrispyDoDa)

Sky Guide February 2015

Jan 29, 2015 09:37

Description:

We start with the big bold northern hemisphere constellation of Orion. The swollen supergiant Betelgeuse, 5 stars in one in Sigma Orionis, and the magnificent Orion Nebula stellar nursery in our beginner's guide.

 

Next up, we have a four body conjunction of Venus, Mars, Uranus & the moon, while Jupiter continues to dominate overhead, reaching opposition on 6th February. There are a good few stars occulted by the moon this month, while Comet Lovejoy continues to delight binocular and telescope observers. Then we round up the best of the deep sky offerings for the month in the constellation Ursa Major.

Podcast Extra: Europe's Coming of Age

Jan 23, 2015 06:24

Description:

In this podcast extra we go off piste and digress from a discussion about the successes of the Rosetta mission.

We ask whether the fantastic comet mission of 2014/2015 marks a turning point in ESA's exploration and marks Europe's coming of age as a space agency?

 

Two instances of bad language.

Awesome Astronomy #31 - January 2015

Jan 1, 2015 45:53

Description:

The Discussion: Christmas in Cydonia and teaching science to children through astronomy education.

 

The News: Kicking off 2015 we round off the events that concluded 2014: the successful test flight of NASA’s Orion capsule; NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory pieces together the clues that tell us how Mount Sharp (the mountain Mars Curiosity is exploring) was formed; and science findings from ESA’s Rosetta and Philae spacecraft that suggest water was not delivered to Earth by comets like 67P Churyumov Gerasimenko.

 

The 5 Minute Concept: This month Paul delves into the fundamental nature of our universe. We take a look at the Cosmological Principle, which tells us that the universe and the forces within it are the same wherever we look, and explore huge structures that put strain on this accepted model of cosmology.

 

The Interview: Ralph & Paul speak with the creators of the ‘Essex Space Agency’, Matt Kingsnorth and Phil St Pier who are building a high altitude balloon with cameras to photograph the Earth’s curved horizon from the edge of space in their Helium Tears project.

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month Ralph & Paul answer:

·         Are there Van Allen Belts & Aurora on other planets? Any photos from satellites orbiting other planets in our solar system? Mariecor Agravante in San Diego via twitter

·         Why was the moon so large the other night?Ian Cheale in Cambridgeshire via the Facebook Group

 

 

Sky Guide January 2015

Dec 28, 2014 10:22

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in January.

We start with three Messier open clusters in Auriga and a tougher nebula in our beginner’s guide.

Next up Mercury rises high in our Northern Hemisphere skies, Jupiter dominates the night sky and Saturn, Venus, Uranus & Neptune can be found with the right timing. We bring you the phases and libration events of the moon, the Quadrantid meteor shower and a new comet to take a look for. Then we round up the best of the deep sky offerings for the month in the winter constellations of Cancer & Lynx.

Awesome Astronomy - 2014 End of Year Show

Dec 25, 2014 44:46

Description:

**This pantomime episode contains some mild bad language and puerile humour**

Join us for a round up of our favourite stories & events from 2014 and discuss the most exciting space missions and astronomy events in 2015.

For this festive season we welcome you back to our secretive Cydonia bunker - the scene of each Earth invasion attempt - as we pull a few crackers over Christmas dinner and inflict some pain on the Earthling slaves.

Naturally, no end of year Awesome Astronomy show would be complete without the habitual gaffes and outtakes from 2014.

So, happy holiday season, thank you for downloading as listening to us in 2014 and we look forward to spending 2015 with you too.

Ralph. Paul, Damien & John

Awesome Astronomy #30 - December 2014

Dec 1, 2014 49:55

Description:

The Discussion: The historical landing of the Philae probe on Comet 67P, lunar imaging and astronomy outreach in the UK.

 

The News: In the news we relive the events around the comet landing and the latest science findings from Churyumov Gerasimenko, the upcoming first test flight of America’s new manned space capsule Orion and the tragic accident aboard Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Two, resulting in the death of one of the crewmembers

 

The 5 Minute Concept: Fresh on the heels of the European Space Agency’s latest successful mission, Paul turns his attentions this months to the beacon of knowledge, space exploration and engineering that rose from the ashes of Europe’s darkest days: ESA.

 

The Interview: Ralph speaks with NASA’s Orion Project Manager, Paul Marshall, about the upcoming test flight and the future of manned American space exploration.

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month Ralph & Paul answer: 

·         How far away is Voyager from the Oort Cloud and how many years will it be before it gets there? Lee Garner via Twitter

·         I'm bored of reading sniffy comments about the cost of Rosetta. Can u do a piece next podcast about the benefits vs low budget?Alex Speed via Twitter

 

 

Sky Guide December 2014

Nov 30, 2014 11:29

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in December.

 

We start with the broad constellation of Gemini and an easy binary star, a planetary nebula and a group of star clusters for astronomy beginners to find, before emabarking on a spot of exogazing! 

 

Next up is the return of resplendent Jupiter and Venus to our skies. We bring you the phases and conjunctions of the moon and the Geminid meteor shower in December. Then we round up the best of the deep sky offerings for the month in the winter constellations of Orion, Eridanus & Lepus.

Podcast Extra: Jeni Millard, Galaxies & Dark Matter

Nov 11, 2014 35:15

Description:

From the Autumn AstroCamp 2014, Cardiff University astrophysics student, Jeni Millard, presents our latest understanding of the structure, formation, and future of our neighbouring galaxies and the evidence for and against dark matter.

Awesome Astronomy #29 - November 2014

Nov 1, 2014 01:05:17

Description:

The Discussion: Enjoying light pollution-free skies in the Ionian Sea and soaking up the atmosphere at the North West Astronomy Festival.

 

The News: In the news we have more findings about the interior and evolution of our moon from the GRAIL and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter missions; Russian and Chinese lunar ambitions ratchet up a notch; the ExoMars mission narrows down its possible 2018 landing sites; sampling the atmospheres of Neptune-sized exoplanets; Comet Siding Spring brushes past Mars; Lockheed Martin claim to have made a breakthrough in fusion reactors; more doubt on the gravitational waves detection by the BICEP2 team and dark matter particles streaming from the sun.

 

The 5 Minute Concept: In a solar maximum year when we have tons of solar activity that we can enjoy in the form of visible details on the sun and auroral activity that’s even reached as far south as central latitudes recently, this month Paul explains sunspots.

 

The Interview: Live interviews recorded from the North West Astronomy Festival from Jodrell Bank’s Professor Philippa Browning, Astrophotographer of the Year 2011’s Damian Peach, BBC Sky at Night presenter Professor Chris Lintott, writer and comedian Helen Keen and the host of the NWAF Andrew Davies.

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month Ralph & Paul answer: 

·         I know the moon doesn’t spin and that we cannot see the rear of it from Earth, but I wondered if we can ever see a little more of the right or left side (like at different times of the day or year or location on earth)? Ollie Broad from Thailand via Twitter

·         In your opinions should we send manned mission back to the moon or should we head straight to Mars? Lee Garner from the UK via Twitter

Sky Guide November 2014

Oct 28, 2014 10:17

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in November.

We start with the welcome return of the winter constellation of Taurus in our beginners’ and young observers’ challenge.

Next up is the planets, the phases and conjunctions of the moon and the Leonid meteor shower to enjoy this month.

We then round up the best of the deep sky offerings for the month with the open clusters and binary stars in the constellation Auriga.

Awesome Astronomy #28 - October 2014

Oct 1, 2014 01:08:38

Description:

The Discussion: Enjoying dark skies at the National Trust, Paul’s astronomy outreach endeavours with Sirius Astronomy and predictions for the upcoming AstroCamp.

 

The Tour: In this special episode, Ralph and Paul bring record from the Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey in Guildford. We tour this world leading centre of excellence for low cost satellite design and innovation and explain the sights and work being conducted in the Ground Station and laboratories from where 30 satellites have already been launched and many more are currently in design.

 

The News: In the news we have the latest on the European Space Agency’s ambitious Rosetta spacecraft as it circularises its orbit around Comet Churyumov Gerasimenko; Japan’s Hayabusa2 mission to return pristine asteroid samples; watching asteroids colliding 1,000 light years away and yet another reminder of the asteroid lottery we’re playing.

 

The 5 Minute Concept: Recording from the UK centre of satellite design and construction, what else should Paul be talking about this month, but the physics and history of satellites.

 

The Interview: This month the seat is filled by the Surrey Space Centre’s Head of the Planetary Environments Group, Professor Craig Underwood as we discuss satellite innovation, the UK space industry and the future of space exploration.

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month Ralph & Paul answer:

·         I understand Jupiter has no solid mass inside, so how come it’s classed as a planet and stays planet shaped? Mike Joy from Wales via Facebook

 

·         Can you guys successfully explain the proton-proton chain in under 20 seconds?? Vicky Dews, @Woozydewsy via Twitter

Sky Guide October 2014

Sep 27, 2014 10:49

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in October.

We start with the constellation of Perseus in our beginners’ and young observers’ challenge.

Next up is planets, the phases and conjunctions of the moon and the meteor showers to enjoy this month.

We then round up the best of the deep sky offerings for the month with the globular clusters and galaxies in the constellations Andromeda & Pegasus.

The September 2014 AstroCamp Special

Sep 18, 2014 16:11

Description:

A podcast extra episode to get you in the mood for the biannual dark sky weekend run by the podcast crew. We have BBC's The Sky at Night's Chris North joining us again to give a talk on the Herschel Space Observatory and Cardiff Uni's Jeni Millard explaining galaxies and dark matter. And of course, 3 nights of enjoying the wonders of truly dark skies.

 

If you're not coming to AstroCamp in April 2014, there's still a sky guide in this episode to give you stargazing inspiration wherever you are.

Awesome Astronomy #27 - September 2014

Sep 1, 2014 58:34

Description:

The Discussion: Sirius Astronomy and The Knowledge Observatory’s educational outreach and preparation for our dark sky observing weekend in Wales: AstroCamp.

 

The News: In the news we have the latest on the European Space Agency’s ambitious Rosetta spacecraft as it settles into it’s science program at Comet Churyumov Gerasimenko; details of the science payload for NASA’s ‘Curiosity 2’ Mars rover; revealing images of the Pluto system from the New Horizons spacecraft; China’s lunar orbit & spacecraft return mission and turbulent happenings on Uranus (sorry).

 

The 5 Minute Concept: Distant radio sources that reveal unknown monsters from the past, unleashing hell from afar. In this month’s 5MC, Paul takes us billions of light years away from home to explain one of the brightest and most energetic objects in the universe. Quasars.

 

The Interview: This month we return to the most exciting current space mission. In an attempt to understand the life of comets and unlock the secrets of the birth of the solar system, Ralph speaks to the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission Project Scientist, Matt Taylor.

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month Ralph & Paul answer:

 

·         Why does Venus rotate retrograde? Dave Bood from Scarborough, UK & Beatriz Caicedo, Guatemala

 

·         With the idea that all that is the universe originated in a speck with the big bang, and that the universe is expanding, how is it that things such as galaxies collide? Kurt Green, Chicago Illinois via email

 

 

·         How much would my 20 stone (280lbs) wife weigh on each of the planets in the solar system? Darren Knight

Sky Guide September 2014

Aug 29, 2014 09:14

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in September. We start with the constellation of Cassiopeia in our beginners’ and young observers’ challenge. Next up is planets, the phases and conjunctions of the moon to enjoy this month. We then round up the best of the deep sky offerings for the month with the large clusters and a nice easy nebula in the constellation Sagitta & Vulpecula.

Awesome Astronomy #26 - August 2014

Aug 1, 2014 45:45

Description:

The Discussion: Enjoying the delights of July’s skies, writing articles for Astronomy magazine, STEM education and Paul becomes a European Space Agency ambassador.

 

The News: In the news we have the Rosetta spacecraft’s approach to the almost unpronounceable comet Churyumov Gerasimenko – revealed to be a binary comet, and the Very Large Telscope in Chile takes a 2.5 year study of a supernova to crack the riddle of how dust is created and survives the extreme temperatures of its birth.

 

The 5 Minute Concept: In this month’s 5MC, Paul looks at the summer phenomenon of noctilucent clouds and asks ‘why is there no record of them before 1885’?

 

The Interview: We welcome back the General Secretary of the International Astronomical Union, Professor Thierry Montmerle to tells us about the International Year of Light, the IAU’s new look communications strategy and their new project to allow the public to name exoplanets and their host stars.

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month Ralph & Paul answer:

 

·         Oolaaa Martian overlords. Where in your opinions does the solar system truly end. Thanks, your faithful servant Lee? Lee Garner from Norwich, UK

 

·         What’s a Vampire Star? @TweetsByLou via Twitter

 

 

And we finish with the winners of last month’s competition to win three DVD copies of the new film Gagarin – First in Space, and a copy of the book Yuri Gagarin – The First Spaceman.

Sky Guide August 2014

Jul 29, 2014 09:58

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in August. We start with the constellation of Cepheus in our beginners’ and young observers’ challenge. Next up is planets and the standout phases of the moon to enjoy this August. We then round up the best of the deep sky offerings for the month with a galaxy, two globular clusters and a couple of planetary nebulas in the constellation Aquarius.

Awesome Astronomy #25 - July 2014

Jul 1, 2014 52:48

Description:

The Discussion: Looking back over Sirius Astronomy outreach events in June, a bit of a rant over peer-review and science by press conference and our own pathetic attempts to get awarded a Nobel Prize or two.

 

The News: Modelling of Pluto’s moon Charon ahead of the flyby of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft next year, aerobraking an orbiter through Venus’ upper atmosphere and radio imaging a Near Earth Asteroid.

 

The 5 Minute Concept: How comets are far from the traditional portents of doom and may well be the harbingers of life.

 

The Interview: Beginning a regular series of interviews with Dr Joe Liske about each of the key facilities in the European Southern Observatory’s arsenal, starting with the 3.6 meter telescope.

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month Ralph & Paul answer:

 

·         Hey you mad martians, I have a question for the podcast. When we look at other galaxies we can clearly see the glowing bulge at their centres. Why is it when we look up at the milky way we don’t see one. Thanks for all your efforts? Lee Garner from Norwich, UK via Facebook

 

·         Should the BICEP2 team have made their announcement pre-peer review? Mark Cullen (@Mokwepa) from the Buckinghamshire, UK via Twitter

 

 

And we finish with a competition to win a DVD copy of the new film Gagarin – First in Space

Sky Guide July 2014

Jun 27, 2014 09:13

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in July.

We start with the beautiful summer constellation of Cygnus in our beginners’ and young observers’ guide.

Next up is Mercury, Venus, Mars & Saturn and some lovely lunar conjunctions to enjoy this Month.

The Delta Aquariid meteor shower makes an announcement before we round up the best of July’s deep sky offerings in the constellation Ophiuchus.

Awesome Astronomy #24 - June 2014

Jun 1, 2014 01:00:32

Description:

This month we're outside recording under red light as we bag the latest meteor shower to grace planet Earth - the Camelopardalids.

We start with reminisces about our April AstroCamp star party, radio detection of meteors and the engineering & imaging prowess of our captured Earthing slaves John & Damien.

In the news we discusses the new discovery of Earth 2.0(ish), the sad shrinkage of Jupiter's Great Red Spot and Ralph gets a little bit ranty about NASA research into the melting of ice sheets.

Paul shows us that size IS everything in his 5 Minute Concept as he takes us on a tour of the sun and then whisks us away to some nuclear monsters - our sun's bigger stellar brothers.

Instead of an interview this month, we have higlights of Dr Chris Lintott's talk at AstroCamp where he covers Life, The Universe & Everthing in a shade over 13 minutes - and still manages to include a question from the audience (all hail Chris Lintott!)

Ralph answers a listener's question on fleas, the Earth, the sun and UY Scuti (trust us... it'll all make sense).

And we finish with a return to the Camelopardalid meteor shower and more discussion on how best to observe, understand and measure meteors.

Sky Guide June 2014

May 27, 2014 07:25

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in June.

We start with the constellation of Lyra in our beginners' and young observers' guide, and end it with a few deep sky challenges for you to hunt down.

Next up is the moon and a couple of planetary conjunctions to enjoy, with Mars, Saturn & Jupiter feature in the planetary round up for Northern Hemisphere observers.

We then take our pick of the best of the deep sky offerings for June with a tour of Hercules’ globular clusters, galaxies and a planetary nebula.

Awesome Astronomy #23 - May 2014

May 1, 2014 01:02:47

Description:

The Discussion: Astronomy in the late 18th Century and the increased sense of hope we, as amateur astronomers, get from the work of early astronomical observations.

 

The Field Report: This month we record from the Herschel Museum of Astronomy in Bath, England and take a tour of the Georgian townhouse to investigate the many objects, telescopes and handwritten observations of William and Carline Herschel.

 

The News: In the news, we have more exciting inferences about the watery composition of Saturn’s moon Enceladus; a new moon forming in the outer rings of Saturn and a round up of the current tally in exoplanetology.

 

The 5 Minute Concept: In the 5 Minute Concept, Paul sits in the very spot where William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus and explains the Herschels’ contribution to astronomy.

 

The Interview: This month, Paul speaks with the curator of the Herschel Museum of Astronomy, Debbie James, about the life and works of the Herschels, the museum and Georgian life.

 

Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month Ralph & Paul answer:

 

·         Why does the planet Uranus spin on its side? Thea Hutchinson from London, UK via email

 

·         How did Caroline Herschel record her observations? Eric Emms @EmmsStarGaze in London, UK via Twitter & email

 

 

Sky Guide May 2014

Apr 28, 2014 10:18

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in May.

We start with the constellation of Hercules in our beginner’s and young observer’s guide.

Next up is the moon and our round up of the craters and interesting lunar features you can explore with a small telescope.

Halley's Comet brings us the peak of the Eta Aquarids on the night of 5th/6th May while Comet LINEAR has the potential to deliver a meteor storm on the night of 23rd/24th May. 

 

Mars, Saturn & Jupiter feature in the planetary round up for Northern Hemisphere observers this month and we finish off by galaxy hunting around the Virgo Cluster.

Awesome Astronomy AstroCamp Special

Apr 24, 2014 16:58

Description:

A podcast extra episode to get you in the mood for the biannual dark sky weekend run by the podcast crew. We have the BBC's Sky at Night team joining us again to show off the wonders of truly dark skies.

If you're not coming to AstroCamp in April 2014, there's still a sky guide in this episode to give you stargazing inspiration wherever you are.

Awesome Astronomy #22 - Apr 2014

Apr 1, 2014 01:18:10

Description:

This month we talk National Astronomy Week and have an audio report from the outreach we conducted.

In the news, we have a discussion with Jeni Millard and Sebastian Khan from Cardiff University about the discovery of gravitational waves; we discuss the auroral display that lit up Europe and the ensuing scandals caused by the Daily Mail; we have a possible way of detecting dark matter and a theory that dark matter may have killed the dinosaurs; a new minor planet emerges beyond the orbit of Pluto and a yet another minor planet is found to have its own ring system.

In the 5 Minute Concept, Paul poetically explains the history and science behind that false dawn that plagued observers for centuries, the zodiacal light.

We interview Dr Chris North, Astrophysicist at Cardiff University and presenter of the BBC's Sky at Night programme, about the detection of gravitational waves and what it means for wider cosmology.

And in Q&A, we answer listeners' questions on Transient Lunar Phenomena and what happens on the boundary of a black hole.

Sky Guide April 2014

Mar 30, 2014 12:32

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in April.

We start with the constellation of Ursa Major in our beginner’s and young observer’s guide.

Next up is the moon and our round up of the craters and interesting lunar features you can explore with a small telescope.

Mars, Venus, Saturn & Jupiter feature in the planetary round up for Northern Hemisphere observers this month and we finish off with some suggestions around the constellation Boötes.

Awesome Astronomy #21 - Mar 2014

Mar 1, 2014 01:03:04

Description:

This month we talk science outreach in Wiltshire and have an audio report on the aurora from Iceland

In the news, we have a supernova for amateur observers in a ‘nearby’ galaxy and Europe’s Herschel Observatory finding water plumes on dwarf planet Ceres. China’s Chang’e-3 moon mission finds itself in trouble (in more ways than one!) and the European Space Agency gives the green light to the exoplanet and star characterising PLATO mission. 

In the 5 Minute Concept, Paul poetically explains the history and science behind one of astronomy’s greatest ever discoveries, as he unwraps the concept of redshift.

We interview Carole Mundell, Professor of Extragalactic Astronomy at Liverpool John Moore’s University, about the most violent explosions in the universe and promoting equality in science & astronomy.

And in Q&A, we answer listeners' questions on the likelihood of fatalities from the M82 supernova and why the sun doesn't just float away.

Sky Guide March 2014

Feb 27, 2014 10:06

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in March.

We start with the constellation of Leo in our beginner’s and young observer’s guide, and end it with a few deep sky challenges for the more advanced amateurs to hunt down.

Next up is the moon and our round up of the craters and interesting lunar features you can explore with a small telescope.

While Jupiter, Mars and Saturn feature in the planetary round up for Northern Hemisphere observers this month.

Awesome Astronomy #20 - Feb 2014

Feb 1, 2014 01:02:38

Description:

This month, our captured Earthling Damien brings us a stargazing report from Pakistan.

News includes a new planet hunting instrument in Chile, a best-yet candidate for a naked-eye visible supernova, the progress of commercial space-flight and public access to space, China's Chang'e-3 rover's discoveries and ESA's Rosetta and Gaia missions.

In his 5 Minute Concept, Paul explains our solar systems ring of icy debris - the Kuiper Belt - and the need for a good publicist!

We have lots of goodies to give away to one listener in our European Southern Observatory competition and Ralph interviews Dr Joe Liske, from ESO, about the world's biggest telescopes and finding ET in our lifetime.

And in listeners' Q&A we answer questions about ice on Mercury and the expansion of the universe.

Sky Guide Feb 2014

Feb 1, 2014 10:29

Description:

What to look out, and up, for in February 2014.

We start with a new feature the beginner’s - or young observer’s - guide, and a tour of the constellation Orion.

Next up is our round up of the planets available this month to northern hemisphere observers, interesting lunar features and meteor showers.

And we finish off with the best stars and deep sky objects on offer in the constellations Monoceros and Cancer.

Awesome Astronomy #19 - Jan 2014

Jan 1, 2014 01:01:08

Description:

Happy New Year!

The sky guide has Jupiter at its very best, Venus, Saturn & Mars on offer along with the deep sky objects in Orion and Canis Major.

The news has a Comet ISON saga round-up, China's Chang'e-3 moon lander, Jupiter's moon Europa spewing water into space & new exoplanet updates.

In the 5MC, Paul explains the mystery and awe of Pulsating Stars - Pulsars.

Ralph interviews astrophysicist & The Sky at Night host, Dr Chris Lintott.

And the Q&A has questions on Martian meteor showers and the difference between open and globular clusters.

Awesome Astronomy - 2013 End of Year Special

Dec 25, 2013 25:34

Description:

This pantomime of an episode contains some mild bad language and puerile humour.

Join us for a round up of the best astronomy news from 2013, a look forward to the highlights in 2014 and a glimpse inside the normally secretive Cydonia Base at Christmas time.

Naturally, no end of year Awesome Astronomy show would be complete without the habitual gaffes and outtakes.

Happy Holidays, thank you for downloading and listening to us in 2013 and best wishes for 2014.

Awesome Astronomy #18 - Dec 2013

Dec 1, 2013 01:02:20

Description:

We have the planets, meteors showers and moon phases to look out for in December and a look at the deep sky objects in the constellations, Taurus & Gemini.

In the news we have Comet ISON at perihelion, a guide to comets, the Indian Mars Orbiter Mission and NASA’s MAVEN both setting sail for Mars and a bizarre asteroid that thinks it’s a comet.

In the 5MC, Paul explains the mysterious and awe-inspiring majesty of a familiar object in the night sky – The Orion Nebula. Perfect to listen to as you observe it!

We open up our Christmas competition to win a year’s subscription to Astronomy Now magazine and the European Southern Observatory’s 2014 calendar.

We have two interviews this month – Dr Gareth Williams, who officially calculated Comet ISON’s trajectory, tells us all about the comet; and Dr Gerhard Schwehm, ESA Project Scientist on the Giotto and Rosetta comet-chasing spacecraft missions.

Finally, we answer listeners’ questions about the evidence for ancient alien visitors and the visibility of merging inactive black holes.

Awesome Astronomy #17 - Nov 2013

Nov 1, 2013 01:05:00

Description:

This month we have the planets, meteor showers and moon phases to look out for in November and a look at the deep sky objects in the Cetus, Pisces & Sculptor constellations.

In the news we have the sad death of Scott Carpenter, the US government shutdown, water in Martian rocks, the completion of ESO’s ALMA  array & ESA's upcoming GAIA mission.

In the 5MC, Paul reveals all we know about dark energy: a cosmological constant, a qualtum vacuum energy or quintessence (you decide).

We interview Pauline Gagnon from CERN about the Higgs and how we find dark matter, supersymmetry and extra dimensions; and we round off with listeners' questions on rogue planets, the Earth's gravity & observing.

Episode 16 - October 2013

Oct 1, 2013 59:42

Description:

Highlights of September's skies at the AstroCamp star party with the BBC TV cameras. The Sky at Night team joinined us for some observing in Wales.

A penumbral lunar eclipse, a round up of the planets visible in the northern hemisphere this month, a couple of meteor showers to get you outside, and the deep sky treats in Perseus, Camelopardalis and Auriga in our October sky guide.

News that Voyager 1 is in interstellar space, NASA's latest mission to explore the thin lunar atmosphere and moon's dust and some research to get us hopeful for a fine display from Comet ISON later this year.

The violent but universe enriching 'Death of Stars' is explained in Paul's 5 Minute Concept.

An interview on the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, astronomy research funding cuts and the Planck and Herschel space telescopes in this month's interview with researcher, writer and broadcaster Dr Chris North.

And in Q&A we answer listeners' questions on brown dwarfs and Saturn's rings.

Episode 15 - September 2013

Sep 1, 2013 48:28

Description:

A daytime lunar occultation and a favourable libration of the moon, the ice giants and a round-up of all the planets on view and the deep sky treats in Cassiopeia and Andromeda in our September sky guide.

A bright nova in Delphini, declassification of Area 51 plans, an update on Kepler, Juno and the Mars Science Laboratory, Voyager 1 leaving the solar system (maybe!), and new science from ESO's ALMA array.

Nuceosynthesis and the life of stars explained in Paul's 5 Minute Concept.

An interview on solar dynamics and the upcoming solar maximum with Dr Todd Hoeksema of Stanford University's Wilcox Solar Observatory.

And in Q&A we answer listeners' questions on the moon's atmosphere and Han Solo's Kessel Run.

Episode 14 - August 2013

Aug 1, 2013 59:10

Description:

The wonderful upcoming Perseid meteor shower, planetary & lunar spectacles and the deep sky objects on offer in the Summer Triangle & Ophiuchus in our August sky guide. The new names for Pluto’s 4th & 5th moons, a new moon disocered around Neptune, the discovery of mysterious extragalactic radio emissions and a photo of home from the Cassini spacecraft. Cepheid Variable stars explained in Paul's 5 Minute Concept and we draw a winner for a pair of magnificent astronomy binoculars. An interview with Professor Thierry Montmerle of the International Astronomical Union on astronomy education & outreach, naming conventions and buying celestial objects. And in Q&A we answer questions from listeners on the effect of the moon on bringing Kate Middleton to labour, the likelihood of Betelgeuse going supernova in our lifetimes & supermassive black holes.

Episode 13 - The Hobnob Infiltration

Jul 1, 2013 57:42

Description:

Your July sky guide & a competition to *win a pair of binoculars!* News on the Goldilocks Zone, 3 new interesting exoplanets, a busy time on Low Earth Orbit, Curiosity & radiation risks for Mars-bound astronauts and black holes in the Andromeda Galaxy. Paul’s 5 Minute Concept to explain an astronomy theory or idea in simple terms. An interview with the ESA ExoMars Project Scientist and Ralph & Paul get overrun with a listener's cookie-craze in Q&A.

Episode 12

Jun 7, 2013 59:19

Description:

Bringing you your sky guide for June, a salute to ISS Commander Chris Hadfield and news on Kepler. Paul tells us all about ET in his Five Minute Concept, Ralph interviews astronomy communicator Mark Thompson and Q&A includes questions on lunar impacts, the end of the universe and the five best astronomy objects to observe!

Episode 11

May 1, 2013 52:10

Description:

Awesome Astronomy gets a new cohost - welcome Paul!

Episode 10

Feb 22, 2013 01:15:03

Description:

The Northern Lights, more exoplanets, a chat with the PanSTARRS team, and Tom & Ralph get angry about DA14 coverage

Episode 9

Jan 19, 2013 01:04:30

Description:

A (very) large quasar group, 2013 Solar System highlights, Dawn's dance with Vesta and a very astrobiological interview

2012 End of Year Special

Jan 1, 2013 25:16

Description:

A special message from Tom & Ralph, complete with 2012's finest cock-ups!

Episode 8 (It's Christmas!!!)

Dec 13, 2012 55:16

Description:

Holiday cheer, best of Jupiter, checking in with Fermilab, Voyager's top 10 hits and much, much more! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Episode 7

Nov 23, 2012 01:08:29

Description:

Water on Mars, an amazing new comet and the black heart of Orion

Episode 6

Oct 2, 2012 01:00:59

Description:

The latest from Mars, October's skies, solar-scopes, supermassive black holes and how to fly a spacecraft

Episode 5

Sep 1, 2012 52:36

Description:

The Curiosity Episode! A focus on Mars, some sad news, and quick flight to cool off with the Ice Giants

Episode 4

Aug 1, 2012 57:09

Description:

A 'Higgs-like' boson, Curious about Mars, August skies and a chat with a UK Astro-Communication Legend

Episode 3

Jul 1, 2012 01:06:13

Description:

The last transit of Venus, July's night sky and the hunt for ETI with Seth Shostak

Episode 2

May 24, 2012 55:52

Description:

With apologies to Uranus, the asteroid lottery, June's night sky and a very JUICEy interview.

Episode 1

Apr 24, 2012 58:32

Description:

A crash course in Solar System exploration, May's night sky and an interview with none other than the legendary Sir Patrick Moore. Awesome Astronomy is go for launch!