#50 – August 2016

The Discussion: We’re cheering Jeni’s graduation with a first class masters in astrophysics and looking at the PhD options she has as she chases the dream of becoming Dr Millard! Paul & Ralph make preparations for September’s dark sky AstroCamp stargazing event and educate Jeni on computers from the 80s.

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

  • A new dwarf planet is discovered in our solar system
  • The doomed Hitachi spacecraft reveals streams of intergalactic plasma
  • A new moon around Earth discovered
  • Detective work reveals what caused the moon’s Imbrium Basin
  • Tatooine gets outshone by a planet with three stars
  • The first observation of a snowline in a forming solar system

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 festering Hat of Woo: Chemtrails – those quite normal jet exhaust trails that some people think are spraying mind control agents

The Interview: For the interview this month we visit Dr Helen Sharman from Imperial College London, who because Britain’s first astronaut in 1991:

  • Tim Peake’s slight embarrassment at often being called Britain’s 1st astronaut
  • An unconventional route to space
  • Training to be an astronaut at Russia’s Star City
  • The Mir space station compared to the International Space Station
  • Excitement for the future of human spaceflight
  • Uncertainty over space and science funding in the Brexit era.
  • The full interview with Helen will be available as a podcast extra later in 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 get a question that follows the theme of our introduction and looks directly at the point Helen Sharman raised in this month’s interview:

What does Brexit mean for the UKs involvement in things like ESA and ESO? Andrew Burns, United Kingdom

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