#29 – November 2014

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The Discussion: Enjoying light pollution-free skies in the Ionian Sea and soaking up the atmosphere at the North West Astronomy Festival.

The News: In the news we have more findings about the interior and evolution of our moon from the GRAIL and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter missions; Russian and Chinese lunar ambitions ratchet up a notch; the ExoMars mission narrows down its possible 2018 landing sites; sampling the atmospheres of Neptune-sized exoplanets; Comet Siding Spring brushes past Mars; Lockheed Martin claim to have made a breakthrough in fusion reactors; more doubt on the gravitational waves detection by the BICEP2 team and dark matter particles streaming from the sun.

The 5 Minute Concept: In a solar maximum year when we have tons of solar activity that we can enjoy in the form of visible details on the sun and auroral activity that’s even reached as far south as central latitudes recently, this month Paul explains sunspots.

The Interview: Live interviews recorded from the North West Astronomy Festival from Jodrell Bank’s Professor Philippa Browning, Astrophotographer of the Year 2011’s Damian Peach, BBC Sky at Night presenter Professor Chris Lintott, writer and comedian Helen Keen and the host of the NWAF Andrew Davies.

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 Ralph & Paul answer:

  • I know the moon doesn’t spin and that we cannot see the rear of it from Earth, but I wondered if we can ever see a little more of the right or left side (like at different times of the day or year or location on earth)? Ollie Broad from Thailand via Twitter.
  • In your opinions should we send manned mission back to the moon or should we head straight to Mars? Lee Garner from the UK via Twitter .

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