#66 – December 2017

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The Discussion: Jeni gets her name in lights – well, bold print, as she contributes (what else but graphs) to a published research paper and Ralph takes a look at Ben Cacase’s very own new asterism in the heart of Auriga and reads a defiant message from Michelle of ‘ze resistonce’.

The News: It’s a very rocky month as we round up the following space and astronomy news stories:

  • Earth’s moon had an atmosphere thicker than Mars’ for more than 70 million years
  • Observations suggest Proxima Centauri has a Kuiper Belt and maybe a Oort Cloud
  • A sci-fi like asteroid from another star system is now passing through the inner solar system

Hat of Woo/Astronomy Concept mash-up: This month Paul’s festering Hat of Woo is a little less fetid as we discuss a plausible but untested concept that has just a faint whiff of woo about it. This month we look at The Nemesis ‘Theory’ which suggests the sun has a brown dwarf companion which causes periodic extinction events – and, of course, we’re long overdue an extinction and NASA are covering it all up!!!

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 meteor showers and how we calculate their orbits:

I was wondering if all known meteor showers are definitely associated with a comet? Also, how do astronomers determine the orbit of a comet using just a few locations on the sky? Ben Cacase, Manhattan, New York via email

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