#96 – June 2020 Part 2

The Discussion:

  • Struggling to get the media excited about astronomy
  • How history will record the clusterf**k that is 2020
  • Skyrora looking to join the smallsat launch market
  • SpaceX’ Teletubby costumes

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

  • Starship prototype goes Kablooey
  • Britain returns to rocketry
  • Goodbye to Japan’s ISS resupply spacecraft
  • The European Space Agency look to ‘natural resources’ for moonbases
  • Virgin Orbit attempt to slash the cost of launching to Low Earth Orbit
  • NASA chooses 3 commercial consortia to develop lunar landers

Main news story: American commercial crewed launches have finally arrived

Q&A: Will the Lunar Gateway be visible from Earth? From Alex Bell @BLT_Astro on Twitter.

The Electromagnetic Spectrum: The near and mid-infrared part of the spectrum. How it became so important for astronomy and by whom.

#96 – June 2020 Part 1

The Discussion:

  • The wonderful generosity of amateur astronomers
  • trying to get the name Pair Instability Supernova changed to your suggestions
  • Jen’s talk for Café Scientific, which you can watch here
  • Jeni talking about SpaceX’ historic crewed flight with the BBC
  • History 101 and looking forward to Space Force on Netflix
  • What beginners should and shouldn’t do to get started in stargazing

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

  • The first galaxies seemed to form in about half the time we originally thought
  • Finding the nearest stellar mass black hole to Earth
  • How normal or unusual is our sun?
  • A star orbiting a black hole like Mercury does to the sun
  • More gravitational waves from a black hole merger

Main News story: Capturing a huge exoplanet – or a low mass star – forming in Auriga.

The Sky Guide: This month we’re taking a look at the constellation of Serpens 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 June.

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 near infrared part of the spectrum and its relevance to astronomy.

Q&A: Is there life on Mars? From our good friend Dave in Australia.

#95 – May 2020 Part 2

The Discussion: Ralph channels his inner Churchill, while Jen goes on about Tiger King and her upcoming Cafe Scientifique talk. And we hear from listener Mark Grundy about the Welsh Room in the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburg.

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

  • China’s mission to Mars and the patch that suggests further ambitions
  • Musings on Starlink visibility and what is being done to help astronomers.
  • Commercial Crew Launch 27th May
  • News about disaster and success at SpaceX with Starship

Main news story: NASAs proposals for how Artemis Moon missions will work and go much further than Apollo

The Electromagnetic Spectrum: The Far IR and Sub millimeter part of the spectrum. How it became so important for astronomy and by whom.

Q&A: A brief return for the Hat of woo dispelling the 5G coronavirus conspiracy From @LynchSeanP  on Twitter.

#95 – May 2020 Part 1

The Discussion: The live recording of our monthly astronomy show to provide a bit of extra entertainment and interactivity while people are cooped up at home sitting out the coronavirus.

We discuss a burgeoning love-hate relationship with Starlink, Jeni being the BBC’s go to person for Starlink and meteor showers, and Apollo 13 filling up Twitter timelines and giving us a bit of a respite from coronavirus

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

  • A round up of astronomy-based April fools gags found in research papers
  • Hubble marks its 30th birthday
  • Fomalhaut b might not be a planet after all
  • Centaurs might well be asteroids from other star systems
  • And Pluto looks to have had a ‘hot start’

Main News story: Earth 2.0 found in old ignored data.

The Sky Guide: This month we’re taking a look at the constellation of Ursa Major 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 May.

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 sub-millimetre and far infrared part of the spectrum and its relevance to astronomy.

Q&A: How do scientists work out the trajectories for putting satellites in orbit around other bodies, or on trajectories that take them past numerous objects? From our good friend Kevin Morgan in the UK.

Live Lockdown Q&A Show

This show is a response to the many requests we get to do an episode dedicated to answering listeners’ space & astronomy questions. Producer John thought lockdown would be the perfect time to do it, when we can try and help ease the stress, boredom and isolation.

The Guests: We invited some of our friends from the astronomy world to answer your questions too:

  • University of Oxford Professor of Astronomy, Creator of the Zooniverse and BBC’s The Sky at Night Presenter, Chris Lintott. We asked him:
    • Are there ways for an amateur astrophotographer to get involved in contributing to actual science? From David Schlaudt
    • Square Kilometre Array or JWST. Which is going to generate the most exciting science? And if each one could answer just 1 question about the Universe, what would you like it to be?  From Mark De Vrij
  • Director of Public Engagement for Cardiff University’s Gravity Exploration Institute, Dr Chris North. We asked him:
    • Why are astronomers so sure that Oumuamua and Borisov are from outside the Solar System? From Derry North (Chris’ Dad!)
    • Square Kilometre Array or JWST. Which is going to generate the most exciting science? And if each one could answer just 1 question about the Universe, what would you like it to be?  From Mark De Vrij
  • Senior Astronomer and Institute Fellow at the SETI Institute, Seth Shostak. We asked him:
    • What’s currently big in the world of extraterrestrial hunting?
    • What happens when we discover possibly habitable planets? From @WrathfulTumbles
    • Square Kilometre Array or JWST. Which is going to generate the most exciting science? And if each one could answer just 1 question about the Universe, what would you like it to be?  From Mark De Vri
  • US Spaceflight researcher and chronicler, Gavin Price. We asked for:
    • An overview of the Apollo 13 mission that was limping back to Earth 50 years ago today
    • The key Apollo 13 decisions and preparations that were underway at this point – a day before splashdown
    • A discussion about, and nod to the BBC World Service podcast 13 Minutes to the Moon. From Peter Ellinger

 Other listener inspired topics discussed by the podcast crew:

  • What astronomy equipment do we use?
  • Are the current clear skies a product of fewer airplanes and lower pollution?
  • What would happen if a small stellar-mass black hole collided with a much more massive star? Could the star ever ‘win’? From Glenn Diekmann in California
  • You talk about the ELT in April part 1. But how on God’s green Earth do you keep a mirror like that clean? From @SeamasterGMT
  • A discussion on the ‘Ashen light of Venus’ inspired by @Blixbuller

#94 – April 2020 Part 2

Don’t forget to join us for our live shows on 16th and 27th April at https://www.youtube.com/user/AwesomeAstroPod/videos

(midday PST, 3pm EST, 8pm UK, 9pm Central Europe)

The Discussion: Jen fangirling on The British Interplanetary Society and acing the Soyuz ISS docking simulator at the Student Space Conference; a ramble about Wales; the TV show For All Mankind, our live Q&A show, our poor etiquette and listener shout-outs.

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

  • The impact of coronavirus on current and future NASA missions
  • Some research showing the impact of satellite constellations on astronomy
  • The UK’s space spiders to explore the moon’s lava craters
  • Lockheed Martin developing helicopters to catch spent rocket boosters

Main news story: Is Europe’s ExoMars Rover on borrowed time?

The Electromagnetic Spectrum: The microwave part of the spectrum. How it became so important for astronomy and by whom.

Q&A: Where’s the Tesla Roadster? From @TJRobinson on Twitter.

#94 – April 2020 Part 1

We’re hosting a live Q&A on Thurs 16th April. Go to awesomeastronomy.com to see how to watch & get involved!

The Discussion:

  • Jeni’s sent the final proofs off for her research paper which is now on archive at https://arxiv.org/abs/2003.01727 and will soon be in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
  • Sadly, we have to say goodbye to Apollo 15 command module pilot Al Worden.
  • The Cradle of Aviation Museum cancel their Apollo 13 anniversary event, but you can relive Apollo 13 (recreating the launch from 11th April) as if you were in mission control with https://apolloinrealtime.org/13/.
  • A shout out to Galaxy Zoo at a time when there are fewer thing more productive you could be doing with your time than adding to science and human knowledge: https://www.zooniverse.org/projects.
  • A round up of listeners’ reviews and comments.
  • A couple of Awesome Astronomy live-stream shows at 8pm on Thursday 16th and Monday 27th Because, let’s face it, you’re not going to be busy!

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

  • The European Southern Observatory’s new behemoth telescope takes a step closer
  • An exoplanet found to be raining iron
  • 139 new minor planets found in our own outer solar system
  • Observing material at the event horizon around our supermassive black hole
  • Could life actually be viable on planets around red dwarf stars after all?
  • An update on the recent dimming of Betelgeuse

Main News story: A full discussion on the impact of social distancing and economic depression on professional astronomy.

The Sky Guide: This month we’re taking a look at the constellation of Leo 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 April.

A 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 microwave part of the spectrum and its relevance to astronomy.

Q&A: Do you think C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) is going to be bright enough to be spotted with the naked eye? From our good friend Raffael de Palma in Italy

#93 – March 2020 Part 2


(Warning: please skip this episode if you’re offended by occasional Tesla-based puerile humour)

The Discussion: Balancing the argument between love and hate of SpaceX and drawing a line under the argument over when the current decade starts and what constitutes a decade.

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

  • SpaceX is cleared for a crewed launch in April
  • Further problems for Boeing
  • Christina Koch takes the female spaceflight record.
  • The dullest space news story ever (involving biscuits/cookies)
  • A Japanese mission to return samples from Phobos!
  • ESA’s launch & deployment of the Solar Orbiter.

Main news story: The import of NASA’s 2021 FY Budget.

The Electromagnetic Spectrum: The radio part of the spectrum. How it became so important for astronomy and by whom.

Q&A: What do you think was the greatest astronomical/scientific advancement that came about due to a dubious past, and do you think it was worth it? By email from Alan Beech in the UK.