Extra: SpaceX and the Future of Spaceflight

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This Awesome Astronomy episode is inspired by last week’s incredible SpaceX launch and listeners’ requests to talk a bit more about SpaceX and the advances in commercial spaceflight. In this Podcast Extra, we’re joined by spaceflight aficionado Gavin Price (@pilliarscreatio) to discuss:

  • The inaugural Falcon Heavy launch and what it achieved
  • Was the launch awesome or all hype?
  • How good is the Falcon Heavy really?
  • Will Falcon Heavy or Elon’s next ambitious rocket make NASA’s rocket redundant?
  • How about other organisations? (ULA/Arianne/Blue origin etc)
  • Where do the commercial companies leave the likes of Soyuz? (TsSKB-Progress)
  • Where do we see access to space in ten, fifteen, twenty years time?
  • Will Elon make good on his plan to colonize Mars?

Extra: The Last Jedi & Blade Runner 2049

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In this podcast extra episode, we’re joined again by The Essex Space Agency’s Phil St Pier as we take another sideways diversion into science fiction movies as we cast a critical eye over the recent big sci-fi blockbusters:

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Blade Runner 2049

This episode is dedicated to Matt & Ali’s arrival of their daughter Evangeline Rosa Kingsnorth.

2017 Xmas Panto

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There’s trouble in paradise as Christmas evening in the Cydonia bunker turns ugly. Alcohol may be the culprit. But equally, the blame may lie with suffering a whole day of pretending to like one another and f***ing Christmas songs!

So, while tensions rise and arguments flare, Ralph, Paul and Jen run through the memorable space and astronomy events of 2017 and look forward to the treats in store for 2018.

Then there’s the small matter of John’s annual outtake reel specifically designed to embarrass the hosts and push the bounds of decency as far as politeness will allow!

Main music courtesy of Star Salzman

Additional free music archive tracks:

  • Silent Night by Hyson
  • Christmas on Mars (Dance Mix) by Spinningmerkaba

Extra: Eyepieces

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In this podcast extra we begin a series, suggested by listener Sean Smith, of explaining the considerations involved in choosing practical astronomy equipment. This first in the series discusses one of the most important items in your amateur astronomy tool kit: Eyepieces.

This discussion takes in:

  • Why eyepieces are important
  • The differences between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ eyepieces
  • Choosing the right price point
  • Our suggestions for good quality cheap and expensive eyepieces

Don’t forget our end of year review and Newtonmass panotmime will be available to download on Christmas Day.

Extra: Neutron Star Merger

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In this podcast extra episode Jeni discusses the recent detection of two colliding neutron stars and their observation in both gravitational waves and all areas of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Jeni chats with Dr Edward Gomez, Education Director at the Las Cumbres Observatory and Cardiff University’s Gravitational Physics Research Group Leader, Professor Patrick Sutton about the historic observations, what we can learn from these events, the future of gravitational wave astronomy and how this new window into the universe can help us improve some of the fundamentals of our knowledge of space and time.

We also put listeners’ questions on these subjects from Raoul Van Eindhoven, @FuzzySemi and @calcomega to Patrick.

Extra: Hubble Constant & Research Papers

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In this podcast extra, we discuss the changing value of the Hubble Constant since 2000 – or put more simply, our narrowing down of how quickly the universe is expanding. This discussion takes in:

  • The history of the Hubble Constant
  • Edwin Hubble’s dreadful scatter plot
  • Further attempts to narrow down the universe’s expansion rate
  • Why research papers are awesome and accessible to everyone

Extra: AstroCamp Autumn 2017

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In this podcast extra episode for the dark sky star party held by the Podcast Crew, we discuss:

  • Fighting light pollution by getting local authorities to dim & turn off street lights
  • The value of star parties to boosting your practical astronomy knowledge
  • What to expect at the Autumn 2017 AstroCamp
  • A round up of Ralph, Damien & Paul’s seasonal astronomy targets

Extra: Full Length Interview with Apollo 16’s Charlie Duke

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In this podcast extra episode we present our full length interview with test pilot, astronaut and lunar module pilot on Apollo 16, General Charlie Duke.

Drawing on this unique set of experiences, we asked Charlie:

  • What surprised you or what weren’t you expecting to see on the moon?
  • How did having a rover change the way you could explore the moon?
  • How much fun was the lunar rover?
  • Which was most exciting, being capcom on the 1st moon landing or walking on the moon on Apollo 16?
  • Is the proposed 2032 launch window for a human Mars mission achievable?
  • Did you see any colour other than grey on the moon?
  • Are there any features on Earth you can see from the moon?
  • Were you able to see any star fields during the Apollo 16 mission? Then we turned the interview over to listeners’ questions:
  • @BrewsterNorth asked, what do you think of the commercial plans for lunar exploration?
  • Gavin Price (@pillarscreatio) asked, how important is the moon as a staging post for Mars?
  • David Blanchflower (@Davidbflower) asked, would you return to the moon now?
  • @Openmind asked, did your attitude towards humanity and our planet change for having gone to the moon?
  • And the now regular Cornwell Question (from @samcornwell): What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever broken?

Extra: Jeni’s South Africa Research

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In this podcast extra, Jeni recalls her most recent research trip at the Japanese Infrared Survey Facility (IRSF) situated outside Sutherland in South Africa. This research trip continues Jeni’s endeavours to collect exoplanet transit data.

In this episode we cover:

  • The IRSF observatory
  • The life of a research astronomer
  • The heartbeat of professional astronomy equipment
  • Future research for Jen

Extra: Gravitational Waves Update

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The Interview: On the discovery of only humanity’s third black hole merger by the incredible Laser Interferometry Gravitational wave Observatory (LIGO), Jeni’s speaks with Professor Patrick Sutton, Head of Cardiff University’s Gravitational Physics Group and member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration who develops new strategies to detect gravitational wave bursts and creates techniques for locating these sources on the sky for modelling and simulations.

In this interview Jeni asks Patrick about:

  • The latest gravitational wave detection
  • What we can know about these events and the objects that created them
  • The strength and weakness of these signals

The Announcement: For a physics deep dive into the analysis, the data and the modelling of the new black hole merger detected by LIGO this month, LIGO Governing Council member Professor Sathyaprakash (Sathya to his friends) delivers the first lecture on this discovery.

Return to the Interview: In this segment we return to Professor Patrick Sutton who tells Jen about:

  • The possibilities for future gravitational wave detections
  • The most expensive thing he’s ever broken
  • And… personal grooming tips??