#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 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.

#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 1


The Discussion: Paul’s favourite bit of the coronavirus, the Cradle of Aviation Museum’s upcoming Apollo 13 anniversary event, a @CunningCosmos space art exhibition and a talk from Jen in Bromsgrove for British Space Week, from the sublime to the ridiculous with the passing of Katherine Johnson and Mad Mike Hughes, and listeners’ emails.

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

  • Finding the remnants of the progenitor star after a Type 2b supernova
  • Solving the puzzle of giant planets orbiting low mass stars
  • More clues to Mercury’s oversized iron core
  • A galaxy that has stopped producing stars after a period of prolific star birth
  • Mars seems to be more active than we thought
  • Debate over Mars’ very long formation history

Main News story: ESO images of Betelgeuse and the more recent evidence for why the star’s dimmed so impressively.

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

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 radio part of the spectrum and its relevance to astronomy.

#92 – February 2020 Part 1


The Discussion: Ralph visits and records from The Cradle of Aviation Museum in Long Island, New York, we enjoyed some great skies with good weather in the UK, Betelgeuse still hasn’t gone pop – though we’re still watching, and NASA have an open day that you can attend.

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

  • An evidence based look at Starlink
  • Tracking molecules from birth to arrival in our solar system
  • An enigmatic Type 1a supernova
  • An interesting 14 millisecond gravitational wave detection
  • Goodbye Spitzer Space telescope

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

A Guide to the Electromagnetic Spectrum: In this series we’ll 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 start with a quick and simple explanation.

#91 – January 2020 Part 1


The Discussion: As we begin the new decade we struggle to find a consensus on whether it actually is a new decade. We discuss the busy Xmas period and thank any listeners who helped Dartmoor Skies reach their funding target for a new telescope. Then we take a look at a few listeners’ emails and tweets.

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

  • An old galaxy containing as much dust as one third the amount of its stars
  • Mapping the magnetic fields around the Whale Galaxy
  • An interstellar comet makes its way back out of the solar system
  • A burst of supernovae in the Milky Way’s not-to-distant past
  • Is Betelgeuse about to go supernova?

The Sky Guide: Shaking up the format of the sky guide, we’re taking a look at the constellation of Monoceros with a guide to its history, how to find it, a couple of deep sky objects and a round up of the solar system objects on offer in January.

Q&A: If there are no plate tectonics on the moon, how did the lunar mountain regions form? from @gkt_wales on Twitter

#90 – December 2019 Part 1


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 1


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 1


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 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