#77 – November 2018 Part 1


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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 – October 2018 Part 1


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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 – September 2018 Part 1


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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.

Sky Guide August 2018




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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.

Sky Guide July 2018




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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.

Sky Guide June 2018




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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.

Sky Guide May 2018




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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.

Sky Guide April 2018




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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.

Sky Guide March 2018




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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.

Sky Guide February 2018




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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.