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

#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 2




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The Discussion: It’s almost Halloween and Jeni’s getting the knives out. Paul’s been recording astronomy voiceovers for the Discovery Channel, Jeni’s got the Cardiff BookTalk coming up and Ralph’s excited by the return of Doctor Who.

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

  • ESA tell us that radiation is too dangerous for a Mars voyage
  • The new Nobel Prizes are announced
  • It might be all over for both Kepler and Hubble
  • The Case of the ISS Leak detective story
  • Israel’s SpaceIL has an upcoming moonshot
  • NASA are about to announce their plans for human space exploration
  • Japan’s Hayabusa 2 impresses us all

Black History Month: To honour Black History Month, the crew take a look at the non white, middle-aged males that have pioneered and excelled in making our world what it is today in the fields of astronomy and space science.

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 fate of our sun:

When the sun explodes into a supernovae how far will the ejected material go as a planetary nebulae? Also will any of the planets make it or will they all be shattered into oblivion? Tyler W in the US via email.

#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 2




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The Discussion: Lt Col Dave from Florida gives us his more informed take on Space Force.

The News: In the new revamped show format we have 3 minutes to round up the astronomy news stories you might have missed:

Jeni:

  • An incredible Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter image of Aristarchus Crater
  • New life in the Kepler spacecraft

Ralph:

  • ESA’s Aeolus weather data spacecraft launches
  • NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft enters its science phase
  • China’s Chang’e 4 lander headed for the far side of the moon

The big news story:

  • The Parker Solar Probe on its way to ‘touch the sun’

The Debate: In this section the team debate a pressing question or issue in astronomy or space flight and in this inaugural debate, Ralph takes on Jeni to make arguments for what should be the next big human spaceflight destination: Moon or Mars?

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 powering rovers on Mars:

Will ExoMars be able to survive dust storms? From Mike in Florida

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!

#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.

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

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.

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