#102 – December 2020 Part 1


The Discussion: We discuss National Geographic’s The Right Stuff series on Disney+, get a little bit ranty about the use of jokey titles in research papers and read out a few of your emails.

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

  • An update to the Geysers on Jupiter’s moon Europa
  • Another asteroid flies scarily close to Earth
  • The latest developments in Muskworld
  • China’s ambitious chang’e-5 mission en-route to the moon

Main News story: The Hayabusa 2 mission and the imminent return of samples from asteroid Ryugu

The Sky Guide: This month we’re taking a look at the great winter constellation of Orion with a guide to its history, how to find it, a couple of deep sky objects and a round-up of the solar system views on offer in December.

Guide to the Electromagnetic Spectrum: In November we concluded our look at the electromagnetic spectrum. But as we now have a new method of detecting events beyond the electromagnetic spectrum, this month we explain gravitational wave astronomy.

 

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#101 – November 2020 Part 2


The Discussion: The ongoing saga of Jeni’s PhD thesis and a couple of listener emails.

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

  • More destruction to the giant Arecibo radio telescope
  • Keeping in touch with our intergalactic emissaries
  • More information from the Rosettta mission.
  • A new exoplanet characterising spacecraft gets the go ahead form ESA
  • NASA’s Mars sample return mission plans
  • China picks its Mars landing zone for February’s arrival
  • Lockheed propose a new space launch facility in Scotland

Main news story: Congratulations to OSIRIS-REx at asteroid Bennu.

The Electromagnetic Spectrum: The gamma ray end of the spectrum. How these telescopes were developed and became ever more powerful.

Christmas gift ideas: We replace the Q&A section this episode as the holidays are getting closer and we thought you might appreciate some suggestions for the young, new or amateur astronomer in your life.

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#101 – November 2020 Part 1


The Discussion: Beginning the show droning on about us for bit, we cover Jen presenting her latest paper at the dust conference (yes, there is such a thing) in Marseilles, and filming in the wilds of Wales at night for the BBC’s Weatherman Walking TV programme.

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

  • A return to the phosphine on Venus story for an update
  • Earth gets a litterbug mini-moon
  • Water abundance on The Moon
  • The nearest black hole to Earth might not be a black hole after all
  • Citizen science project finds the coolest stars of all in our galactic backyard

Main News story: Did humanity narrowly escape extinction in 1908?

The Sky Guide: This month we’re taking a look at the constellation of Cassiopeia with a guide to its history, how to find it, a couple of deep sky objects and a round-up of the solar system views on offer in November.

Guide to the Electromagnetic Spectrum: In November we conclude our look at the electromagnetic spectrum, what, it is, what is shows us and why it’s so important to astronomers. This month we explain the gamma-ray part of the spectrum and its relevance to astronomy.

Q&A: How do you tell the difference between a star that is nearer to the end of its lifecycle, and a younger star that is actually travelling away from us at a faster speed? From Tony Horton in Herefordshire, England.

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Venus Biosignatures Update Podcast Extra


As the exciting news of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus turns into a point of contention in the astronomy world, we caught up with the study’s lead scientist Professor Jane Greaves for the inside track. In this interview we discuss:

  • Getting time on a range of professional telescopes time for a risky hypothesis
  • How life could survive in the extreme environment of Venus’ highly acidic atmosphere
  • Floating graphite balloons in Venus’ atmosphere
  • Scientific challenges to this discovery being helpful rather than unwanted
  • Blinding NASA pilots in the name of science

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#100 – October 2020 Part 2


The Discussion: The publication of Jeni’s new research paper, a review of Netflix shows Challenger and Away (sublime and ridiculous).

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

  • ESA and JAXA’s future infrared space telescope cancelled
  • Mercury-bound Bepi-Colombo is passing Venus – with sensors…
  • Get ready for next month’s launch of China’s epic Chang’e 5 moon mission.
  • A change in crew for Boeing’s creed Starliner test flight to the ISS
  • NASA’s shiny new plan for Artemis and human exploration of the moon
  • A gallop through SpaceX’s achievements

Main news story: Astrophysicists scoop up Nobel Prizes again this year.

The Electromagnetic Spectrum: The ultraviolet and X-ray parts of the spectrum. How these telescopes were developed and became ever more powerful.

Q&A: If you had to choose just one mission or big science experiment to proceed in your remaining lifetimes, what would you choose and why? Victor Carroon, London, UK via email.

#100 – October 2020 Part 1

The Discussion: Helping us celebrate our 100th(ish) episode, we have a live(ish) audience to join in with us. Anna Lanteri from Gröningen University discusses a new Zooniverse citizen science project, called Space Fluff where you can soon classify dwarf galaxies. And Tom Bridgman from the Goddard Space Flight Centre tells us about NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio.

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

  • Astronomers find an exoplanet in another galaxy using x-rays
  • A group of underground liquid water reservoirs found on Mars
  • The first exoplanet observed around a white dwarf star
  • Asteroid Vesta litters other asteroids

Main News story: We are finally out of solar minimum and the sun will get more active again.

The Sky Guide: This month we’re taking a look at the constellation of Cetus with a guide to its history, how to find it, a couple of deep sky objects and a round-up of the solar system views on offer in October.

Guide to the Electromagnetic Spectrum: In this series we take a look at the electromagnetic spectrum, what, it is, what is shows us and why it’s so important to astronomers. This month we explain the x-ray part of the spectrum and its relevance to astronomy.

#99 – September 2020 Part 2

The Discussion: No time for discussions, we’ve important news to discuss!

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

  • Rocket Lab lowering the cost of small launches
  • SpaceX accelerating development of super heavy lift
  • Vera Rubin Telescope takes a step closer

Main news story: A new detection raises the distinct possibility of life in Venus’ upper atmosphere.

The Interview: Jeni talks to Dr Emily Drabek Maunder, a co-author on the paper that demonstrates phosphine in concentrations that we can only currently attribute to microbial life in the atmosphere of Venus.

#99 – September 2020 Part 1

The Discussion: This month Jeni’s latest paper has a journal reviewer prior to publishing, we take a look at the critical science of cow-cats and a listener brightens our day

 

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

  • Damage to the Arecibo observatory and the prognosis
  • Hubble Helps Uncover the Mystery of the Dimming of Betelgeuse
  • Mars’ water deluge during its habitable phase
  • The search for the missing matter in the Milky Way

Main News story: The US National Science Foundation report on the impact of satellite constellations on astronomical science.

 

The Sky Guide: This month we’re taking a look at the constellation of Cygnus with a guide to its history, how to find it, a couple of deep sky objects and a round-up of the solar system views on offer in August.

 

Guide to the Electromagnetic Spectrum: In this series we take a look at the electromagnetic spectrum, what, it is, what is shows us and why it’s so important to astronomers. This month we explain the ultraviolet part of the spectrum and its relevance to astronomy.

 

The Interview: A 5 minute preview of the hour chat with Fraser Cain of Universe Today and Astronomy Cast. This will be released in full as a podcast extra later this month.

 

#98 – August 2020 Part 2

The Discussion:

  • Jen on the radio discussing the Perseids
  • Starlink satellites flaring over our heads
  • TV shows From the Earth to the Moon and For All Mankind
  • Sputnik V
  • Jeni’s latest paper is submitted for journal review
  • Submit your experiences of how diversity is perceived in the amateur astronomy community at tinyurl.com/y28ebdu2

 

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

  • Protecting other worlds from our germs and bugs
  • Space Force’s Star Trek-esque logo
  • The Curiosity rover celebrates its 8th year on Mars
  • New Zealand’s Rocketlab pursue reusability
  • Skyrora begin rocket testing in Iceland
  • SpaceX’s Starship prototyping and testing continues

Main news story: America gets back to launching people into space

Q&A: Will the James Webb Space Telescope actually launch and will it still be worth launching? Lana Visser from Heerenveen in the Netherlands.