#103 – January 2021 Part 2


The Discussion: If you like your introductions rambling, you’re in for a real treat! We discuss the Jeni’s PhD thesis submission, The Real Right Stuff documentary on Disney+, Jeni’s foray into book writing and read some listeners questions, which devolves into discussions of whether Queen Elizabeth is Elizabeth I in Canada, the colonisation of the New World, the entertainer Nosmo King and insurance fraud.

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

  • Puerto Rico stumps up funds to decommission and scope out a replacement for Arecibo
  • China opens up FAST Telescope access to other nations
  • Hyabusa 2 asteroid and Chang’e 5’s lunar samples
  • Progress update on the 3 Mars-bound missions & where to follow them
  • SpaceX accelerate Starship rocket production in Texas

Q&A: ‘How and where did the Awesome Astronomy team first meet?‘ From our good friend Paul Weiler in Pennsylvania USA.

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#103 – January 2021 Part 1


The Discussion: As we welcome in the New Year, we discuss the holiday season and your suggestions to replace the Guide to the Electromagnetic Spectrum section of the show.

The News: Rounding up the astronomy news at the beginning of 2021, we have:

  • Finding exoplanets that have a good chance of being able to see us
  • The ‘Missing Lithium Problem’
  • Chasing down the Hubble Constant
  • A new method for detecting exoplanets
  • Was there another dwarf planet in the inner solar system?

Main News story: That intriguing radio signal found coming from the vicinity of Proxima Centauri.

The Sky Guide: This month we’re taking a look at the great winter constellation of Auriga with a guide to its history, how to find it, a couple of deep sky objects and a round-up of the solar system views on offer in January.

Q&A: We know there is a lower temperature limit (absolute zero), but is there an upper temperature limit? From Matt in California.

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#102 – December 2020 Part 1


A jolly romp around viruses and tasers!

We look back at the astronomy and space exploration highlights of 2020:

  • Phosphine in Venus atmosphere
  • The saga of SpaceX
  • Chang’e 5 at the Moon
  • Comets Atlas & Neowise
  • 3 missions to Mars

The lows of 2020 in astronomy and space exploration:

  • Cancellation of SPICA
  • The loss of the Arecibo radio telescope

We look forward to the anticipated events of 2021:

  • Luna 25, Chandrayaan-3 & Artemis 1 to the Moon
  • 3 Mars arrivals
  • Vera C Rubin telescope & Maybe JWST

And we run through our own predictions for next year before signing off with our customary end-of-year outtakes.

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#102 – December 2020 Part 1


The Discussion: We discuss National Geographic’s The Right Stuff series on Disney+, get a little bit ranty about the use of jokey titles in research papers and read out a few of your emails.

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

  • An update to the Geysers on Jupiter’s moon Europa
  • Another asteroid flies scarily close to Earth
  • The latest developments in Muskworld
  • China’s ambitious chang’e-5 mission en-route to the moon

Main News story: The Hayabusa 2 mission and the imminent return of samples from asteroid Ryugu

The Sky Guide: This month we’re taking a look at the great winter constellation of Orion with a guide to its history, how to find it, a couple of deep sky objects and a round-up of the solar system views on offer in December.

Guide to the Electromagnetic Spectrum: In November we concluded our look at the electromagnetic spectrum. But as we now have a new method of detecting events beyond the electromagnetic spectrum, this month we explain gravitational wave astronomy.

 

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#101 – November 2020 Part 2


The Discussion: The ongoing saga of Jeni’s PhD thesis and a couple of listener emails.

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

  • More destruction to the giant Arecibo radio telescope
  • Keeping in touch with our intergalactic emissaries
  • More information from the Rosettta mission.
  • A new exoplanet characterising spacecraft gets the go ahead form ESA
  • NASA’s Mars sample return mission plans
  • China picks its Mars landing zone for February’s arrival
  • Lockheed propose a new space launch facility in Scotland

Main news story: Congratulations to OSIRIS-REx at asteroid Bennu.

The Electromagnetic Spectrum: The gamma ray end of the spectrum. How these telescopes were developed and became ever more powerful.

Christmas gift ideas: We replace the Q&A section this episode as the holidays are getting closer and we thought you might appreciate some suggestions for the young, new or amateur astronomer in your life.

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#101 – November 2020 Part 1


The Discussion: Beginning the show droning on about us for bit, we cover Jen presenting her latest paper at the dust conference (yes, there is such a thing) in Marseilles, and filming in the wilds of Wales at night for the BBC’s Weatherman Walking TV programme.

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

  • A return to the phosphine on Venus story for an update
  • Earth gets a litterbug mini-moon
  • Water abundance on The Moon
  • The nearest black hole to Earth might not be a black hole after all
  • Citizen science project finds the coolest stars of all in our galactic backyard

Main News story: Did humanity narrowly escape extinction in 1908?

The Sky Guide: This month we’re taking a look at the constellation of Cassiopeia with a guide to its history, how to find it, a couple of deep sky objects and a round-up of the solar system views on offer in November.

Guide to the Electromagnetic Spectrum: In November we conclude our look at the electromagnetic spectrum, what, it is, what is shows us and why it’s so important to astronomers. This month we explain the gamma-ray part of the spectrum and its relevance to astronomy.

Q&A: How do you tell the difference between a star that is nearer to the end of its lifecycle, and a younger star that is actually travelling away from us at a faster speed? From Tony Horton in Herefordshire, England.

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Venus Biosignatures Update Podcast Extra


As the exciting news of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus turns into a point of contention in the astronomy world, we caught up with the study’s lead scientist Professor Jane Greaves for the inside track. In this interview we discuss:

  • Getting time on a range of professional telescopes time for a risky hypothesis
  • How life could survive in the extreme environment of Venus’ highly acidic atmosphere
  • Floating graphite balloons in Venus’ atmosphere
  • Scientific challenges to this discovery being helpful rather than unwanted
  • Blinding NASA pilots in the name of science

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#100 – October 2020 Part 2


The Discussion: The publication of Jeni’s new research paper, a review of Netflix shows Challenger and Away (sublime and ridiculous).

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

  • ESA and JAXA’s future infrared space telescope cancelled
  • Mercury-bound Bepi-Colombo is passing Venus – with sensors…
  • Get ready for next month’s launch of China’s epic Chang’e 5 moon mission.
  • A change in crew for Boeing’s creed Starliner test flight to the ISS
  • NASA’s shiny new plan for Artemis and human exploration of the moon
  • A gallop through SpaceX’s achievements

Main news story: Astrophysicists scoop up Nobel Prizes again this year.

The Electromagnetic Spectrum: The ultraviolet and X-ray parts of the spectrum. How these telescopes were developed and became ever more powerful.

Q&A: If you had to choose just one mission or big science experiment to proceed in your remaining lifetimes, what would you choose and why? Victor Carroon, London, UK via email.

#100 – October 2020 Part 1

The Discussion: Helping us celebrate our 100th(ish) episode, we have a live(ish) audience to join in with us. Anna Lanteri from Gröningen University discusses a new Zooniverse citizen science project, called Space Fluff where you can soon classify dwarf galaxies. And Tom Bridgman from the Goddard Space Flight Centre tells us about NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio.

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

  • Astronomers find an exoplanet in another galaxy using x-rays
  • A group of underground liquid water reservoirs found on Mars
  • The first exoplanet observed around a white dwarf star
  • Asteroid Vesta litters other asteroids

Main News story: We are finally out of solar minimum and the sun will get more active again.

The Sky Guide: This month we’re taking a look at the constellation of Cetus with a guide to its history, how to find it, a couple of deep sky objects and a round-up of the solar system views on offer in October.

Guide to the Electromagnetic Spectrum: In this series we take a look at the electromagnetic spectrum, what, it is, what is shows us and why it’s so important to astronomers. This month we explain the x-ray part of the spectrum and its relevance to astronomy.

#99 – September 2020 Part 2

The Discussion: No time for discussions, we’ve important news to discuss!

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

  • Rocket Lab lowering the cost of small launches
  • SpaceX accelerating development of super heavy lift
  • Vera Rubin Telescope takes a step closer

Main news story: A new detection raises the distinct possibility of life in Venus’ upper atmosphere.

The Interview: Jeni talks to Dr Emily Drabek Maunder, a co-author on the paper that demonstrates phosphine in concentrations that we can only currently attribute to microbial life in the atmosphere of Venus.