#87 – September 2019 Part 1


The Discussion: A good old British whinge about the weather and looking forward to our biannual dark sky star party, AstoCamp.

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

  • An experiment in an underground lab in London to understand dark energy
  • Eight new repeating fast radio burst source
  • Help us come up with a cooler name than a pair-instability supernova
  • The late accretion phase of the formation of the solar system
  • The discovery of interstellar radioactive iron in the Antarctica
  • Spitzer reveals surprising exoplanetary details.
  • A new exoplanet discovery of three rocky worlds in the same system
  • Using oceanography to suggest greater exoplanet biodiversity

The main news story discussion: The latest big Juno discovery at Jupiter.

The Sky Guide: Covering the solar system and deep sky objects on offer to amateur astronomers in September:

Jen: A tour of the planets on offer and the zodiacal light

Ralph: Jupiter Saturn and two meteor showers in September. Then further afield, a double star, an open cluster and a dark Nebula in Cepheus.

Main Object: Messier 27, The Dumbbell Nebula

Q&A: How can Titan have such a thick atmosphere with such a low gravity? From Alastair Frith in the UK

#86 – August 2019 Part 2


The Discussion: Following on from last month’s 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, we take a look at the recent movies and documentaries & social media: High Life, 8 Days to the Moon and Back, Apollo 50th, ApolloinRealTime.org. The ongoing inspiration of Apollo, the build-up of Project Artemis, saying farewell to Flight Director Chris Kraft and Mandla Maseko, and an email from our good friend Lee Stevens.  

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

  • Japan’s Hyabusa 2 mission to return asteroid samples to Earth
  • Toyota and JAXA prototype a pressurized lunar rover for launch in 2029
  • India launch Chandrayaan 2 to the lunar south pole
  • ESA propose a comet interceptor for 2028
  • A formation of satellites to study the heliosphere
  • NASA’s Orion capsule completes its abort tests

Main news stories: NASA select 12 new lunar technology investigations.

The Debate: Court is in session for the third round of advocacy to get winner from your top ten historic space missions. This month we have an epic battle of space telescopes as Kepler goes toe to toe with Hubble.

Q&A: Why did NASA choose to send a drone to Titan rather than a submarine to Enceladus? Suki Woods in Norway

#86 – August 2019 Part 1


The Discussion: Space education at science fairs, sweating in space suits, the public attitude towards space exploration while there are so many relevant shows on TV. A correction from a listener and a lesson in Dutch.

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

  • A young stellar system showing us moons being formed around exoplanets
  • Pinpointing a Fast Radio Burst to understand what it actually is
  • An update on the Hubble Constant
  • Neptune-like exoplanets
  • How do stars merge in a stable manner?
  • A planetary nebula formed from a star in that missing 3-8 solar masses.

The main news story discussion: Protest in Hawaii over the Thirty Metre Telescope.

The Sky Guide: Covering the solar system and deep sky objects on offer to amateur astronomers in August:

Paul: A tour of the planets on offer, the Perseid meteor show, peculiar galaxy NGC7727 and globular cluster NGC6760, both in Aquila.

Jen: How to find Neptune and what to look for. The further afield, the Albireo, Epsilon Lyrae and Izar double stars.

Main Object: Caldwell 4, The Iris Nebula

Q&A: Could multiple space telescopes use optical interferometry to cheaply outperform the vast expensive ground-based telescopes?

The Hubble Tuning Fork and Citizen Science


In this podcast extra episode we talk to Karen Masters, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Haverford College, Pennsylvania about The Hubble Tuning Fork and Galaxy classification. But it’s not only about that canonised galaxy classification system; it’s also about how citizen science, astronomy done by absolutely anybody from their homes, can and do change the accepted wisdom and advance science.