#48 – June 2016

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The Discussion: Exam season is well underway for Jeni, Paul & Ralph ran the AstroCamp dark sky star party in Wales and the jet stream causes frustration for sky watchers in the UK. But the big event last month was the transit of the planet Mercury with a full day of observing this phenomenon for many parts of the world.

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

  • A possible new particle that threatens the foundation of physics discovered at CERN
  • Is the life-hunting Exomars 2 ever going to get off the ground?
  • 1,284 exoplanets discovered: 550 are rocky, 100 are earth sized, with 9 in their habitable zones
  • The May 2016 transit of Mercury and witnessing the black drop effect
  • DIY carbon nanotubes among 56 patents released by NASA and space elevators
  • SpaceX make Paul look silly (again)

Woobusters: Continuing our quest to debunk the myths and conspiracy theories that persist in every dark corner of the news and the internet. This month’s topic, picked at random from Paul’s Big Hat of Woo, is Flat Earth (heaven help us!)

The Interview: For the interview this month we welcome the University of Oxford’s Professor Daniela Bortoletto who helped build the Large Hadron Collider and researches the findings of the world’s largest atom smasher. We take the opportunity to discuss:

  • What is the Higgs boson and why it’s so important
  • Why was the Higgs so hard to discover
  • Daniela’s construction of LHC sensors & detectors
  • The possible detection of a new particle that breaks the Standard Model
  • Is the Standard Model broke or is this new particle a false discovery
  • How much certainty is needed for a new discovery at CERN

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 get a question about our own observing and imaging of the skies:

Loved the astrophotography verses visual conversation. Maybe you could talk about what astronomy set up you use and what you prefer, ie telescope type? @CosmicBeach from Norwich, United Kingdom

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