#52 – October 2016

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The Discussion: If you enjoy our attention to scripting, our professional quality audio and our stringent editing, then you’re bang out of luck! This show comes from our AstroCamp stargazing event in Wales and we’re making it up as we go along.

This month we take you through the delights of dark sky stargazing among friends, Jeni becomes a paid scientist and we get the reactions of the gang as we reveal signed movie poster mock ups that we’re emailing to listeners.

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

  • Gravity Spy – hunt for gravitational waves in this new citizen science project
  • More details on NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission
  • The first data from ESA’s Gaia spacecraft wows us all

The Interview: This month we welcome back writer, broadcaster and researcher Dr Chris North from Cardiff University to discuss Gravitational Waves: what this means for the future of professional astronomy and what we can expect from this new field of astronomy in the future.

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’re tackling a question about exoplanet detections with a back of the envelope calculation – and Jeni’s making Ralph do the maths. It’s fair to say, he’s not happy about it:

A big hello from your Antipodean fan from Melbourne to all Martian superior beings in the UK (or something like that)… Whilst listening to your eagerly awaited last instalment of the show I was intrigued by Jeni’s (who I believe has been to Australia…) exoplanet research. I am familiar with the concept of observing transits and teasing the dip of brightness out of the data flood. So far so good. That means that we, Earth and Mars of course have to be in the same plane in order to be able to get an observable transit. Is there any data or knowledge if there is a general orientation of planetary systems in relation to us or the galactic plane? Meaning if we know that can we extrapolate somehow how many planets are really out there as we obviously can only observe a fraction of the existing systems? Bit hard to explain but with your superior minds I am sure you will get the idea… :)? Clem Unger, Melbourne, Australia.

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