#35 – May 2015

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The Discussion: Paul savours a quiet month of teaching astronomy and enjoys sketching Markarian’s Chain of galaxies, while Ralph gets into a few debates following an article publication and gets back to imaging the planet Venus. All in a month when the Project Helium Tears balloon took listeners’ names to the edge of space!

The News: This month we take a look at the discovery of complex organics in a new star system 455 light years away, a new study of the movement of dark matter during galactic collisions, a gas cloud passing the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole turns out to be a star – lucky not to get destroyed, SpaceX suffer another setback, Russia announce bold moon ambitions, Dwarf Planet Ceres gives us a few more answers but also some questions and we take a look at the new Star Wars movie trailer.

The 5 Minute Concept: Returning to our sceptical roots, Paul digs out the tin foil hat and takes leave of his senses as he delves into the barking world of the moon hoaxer and dispels the myths.

The Interview: This month we relive the Project Helium Tears space launch as slave John tagged along with Matt Kingsnorth and Phil St Pier – mission controllers to the edge of space for £1,200. The we bring them into the studio to talk about the mission, lighting up social media, appearing on TV and going viral with ‘Objective 2’.

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:

  • Constellations are based on arbitrary positions relative to Earth. So how far would you have to travel before they appear to move?Alex Speed, Bedfordshire UK, via Twitter.
  • When I die, if I was to get fired from a cannon into outer space, would my body decompose? Darren Knight, Cambridgeshire UK via Twitter.

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