#87 – September 2019 Part 1


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 1


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?

#85 – July 2019 Part 1


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 1




Download Episode!

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 – May 2019 Part 1




Download Episode!

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 – April 2019 Part 1




Download Episode!

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 – March 2019 Part 1




Download Episode!

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 – February 2019 Part 1




Download Episode!

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 – January 2019 Part 1




Download Episode!

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 – December 2018 Part 1

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.