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

From the Cradle to the Stars


This is the history of flight told from the perspective of the amateurs and hobbyists who allowed humankind to slip the surly bonds of Earth and set out towards the stars.

To tell this story Ralph journeyed to the Cradle of Aviation museum in Garden City, New York, to get a tour of the early flight and exhibits from the museum’s curator and speak with an engineer who worked on the lunar modules before they flew.

Our thanks in making this episode goes to the wonderful people at https://www.cradleofaviation.org/.

The 2019 Xmas Special


A pantomime look back at the biggest and most exciting news and events from 2019; a look forward to the best astronomy and space exploration events of 2020; the science of Santa’s deliveries and the traditional outtakes.

The Hubble Tuning Fork and Citizen Science


In this podcast extra episode we talk to Karen Masters, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Haverford College, Pennsylvania about The Hubble Tuning Fork and Galaxy classification. But it’s not only about that canonised galaxy classification system; it’s also about how citizen science, astronomy done by absolutely anybody from their homes, can and do change the accepted wisdom and advance science.

Extra: Libby Jackson – A Galaxy of Her Own




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In this podcast extra episode we’re talking to Libby Jackson, physicist and engineer, who’s the Manager of Human Spaceflight and Microgravity at the UK Space Agency and was a European ISS flight controller and the spokesperson for Tim Peake’s spaceflight.

  • Being weightless
  • The value of space research to everyday life
  • Following your dreams
  • Her new book: A Galaxy of Her Own
  • Forgotten heroines of the world’s space programmes

Extra: AstroCamp Autumn 2018




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In this podcast extra episode, we go a step further than just talking about astronomy and look forward to a long weekend of practical astronomy.

This episode discusses the value of star parties and whets your apetite for Awesome Astronomy’s AstroCamp event in the Welsh Brecon Beacons International Dark Sky Reserve.

Come share the eyepiece with us, enjoy a talk from the UK Space Agency’s Libby Jackson and win some astronomy prizes!

Extra: Chewin’ the fat with a Nobel Laureate




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In this podcast extra episode, Jeni teams up with our good friend Dr Chris North from the Pythagoras Trousers podcast to speak to Caltech’s Linde Professor of Physics and Nobel Laureate Barry Barish. In this interview we discuss:

  • The early days of experimental particle physics
  • Building the advances in technologies for today’s experiments and detectors
  • The fear of failure creating resistance to building LIGO
  • Wanting to collect direct detections of signals from the Big Bang
  • The first detection of gravitational waves
  • The pomp, circumstance & minutiae of a Nobel Prize award
  • Post Nobel science influence
  • Advice for people wanting a career in STEM

Extra: Space Force




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In this podcast extra episode, there was only one thing playing on all our minds – Space Force. What is it? Why is it? What will it look like? Just like us, I’m sure you’ll be none the wiser after this in-depth look into:

  • President Trump’s plan to create the US Space Force
  • The lesser known Welsh Force
  • The International Space Treaty
  • A few diversions into the future of aircraft technology