#26 – August 2014




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The Discussion: Enjoying the delights of July’s skies, writing articles for Astronomy magazine, STEM education and Paul becomes a European Space Agency ambassador.

The News: In the news we have the Rosetta spacecraft’s approach to the almost unpronounceable comet Churyumov Gerasimenko – revealed to be a binary comet, and the Very Large Telscope in Chile takes a 2.5 year study of a supernova to crack the riddle of how dust is created and survives the extreme temperatures of its birth.

The 5 Minute Concept: In this month’s 5MC, Paul looks at the summer phenomenon of noctilucent clouds and asks ‘why is there no record of them before 1885’?

The Interview: We welcome back the General Secretary of the International Astronomical Union, Professor Thierry Montmerle to tells us about the International Year of Light, the IAU’s new look communications strategy and their new project to allow the public to name exoplanets and their host stars.

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 Ralph & Paul answer:

  • Oolaaa Martian overlords. Where in your opinions does the solar system truly end. Thanks, your faithful servant Lee? Lee Garner from Norwich, UK.
  • What’s a Vampire Star? @TweetsByLou via Twitter

And we finish with the winners of last month’s competition to win three DVD copies of the new film Gagarin – First in Space, and a copy of the book Yuri Gagarin – The First Spaceman.

Sky Guide August 2014

What to look out, and up, for in August. We start with the constellation of Cepheus in our beginners’ and young observers’ challenge. Next up is planets and the standout phases of the moon to enjoy this August. We then round up the best of the deep sky offerings for the month with a galaxy, two globular clusters and a couple of planetary nebulas in the constellation Aquarius.

#25 – July 2014




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The Discussion: Looking back over Sirius Astronomy outreach events in June, a bit of a rant over peer-review and science by press conference and our own pathetic attempts to get awarded a Nobel Prize or two.

The News: Modelling of Pluto’s moon Charon ahead of the flyby of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft next year, aerobraking an orbiter through Venus’ upper atmosphere and radio imaging a Near Earth Asteroid.

The 5 Minute Concept: How comets are far from the traditional portents of doom and may well be the harbingers of life.

The Interview: Beginning a regular series of interviews with Dr Joe Liske about each of the key facilities in the European Southern Observatory’s arsenal, starting with the 3.6 meter telescope.

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 Ralph & Paul answer:

  • Hey you mad martians, I have a question for the podcast. When we look at other galaxies we can clearly see the glowing bulge at their centres. Why is it when we look up at the milky way we don’t see one. Thanks for all your efforts? Lee Garner from Norwich, UK via Facebook .
  • Should the BICEP2 team have made their announcement pre-peer review? Mark Cullen (@Mokwepa) from the Buckinghamshire, UK via Twitter .

And we finish with a competition to win a DVD copy of the new film Gagarin – First in Space

Sky Guide July 2014




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What to look out, and up, for in July.

We start with the beautiful summer constellation of Cygnus in our beginners’ and young observers’ guide.

Next up is Mercury, Venus, Mars & Saturn and some lovely lunar conjunctions to enjoy this Month.

The Delta Aquariid meteor shower makes an announcement before we round up the best of July’s deep sky offerings in the constellation Ophiuchus.

#24 – June 2014

This month we’re outside recording under red light as we bag the latest meteor shower to grace planet Earth – the Camelopardalids.

We start with reminisces about our April AstroCamp star party, radio detection of meteors and the engineering & imaging prowess of our captured Earthing slaves John & Damien.

In the news we discusses the new discovery of Earth 2.0(ish), the sad shrinkage of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and Ralph gets a little bit ranty about NASA research into the melting of ice sheets.

Paul shows us that size IS everything in his 5 Minute Concept as he takes us on a tour of the sun and then whisks us away to some nuclear monsters – our sun’s bigger stellar brothers.

Instead of an interview this month, we have higlights of Dr Chris Lintott’s talk at AstroCamp where he covers Life, The Universe & Everthing in a shade over 13 minutes – and still manages to include a question from the audience (all hail Chris Lintott!)

Ralph answers a listener’s question on fleas, the Earth, the sun and UY Scuti (trust us… it’ll all make sense).

And we finish with a return to the Camelopardalid meteor shower and more discussion on how best to observe, understand and measure meteors.

Sky Guide June 2014




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What to look out, and up, for in June.

We start with the constellation of Lyra in our beginners’ and young observers’ guide, and end it with a few deep sky challenges for you to hunt down.

Next up is the moon and a couple of planetary conjunctions to enjoy, with Mars, Saturn & Jupiter feature in the planetary round up for Northern Hemisphere observers.

We then take our pick of the best of the deep sky offerings for June with a tour of Hercules’ globular clusters, galaxies and a planetary nebula.

#23 – May 2014




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The Discussion: Astronomy in the late 18th Century and the increased sense of hope we, as amateur astronomers, get from the work of early astronomical observations.

The Field Report: This month we record from the Herschel Museum of Astronomy in Bath, England and take a tour of the Georgian townhouse to investigate the many objects, telescopes and handwritten observations of William and Carline Herschel.

The News: In the news, we have more exciting inferences about the watery composition of Saturn’s moon Enceladus; a new moon forming in the outer rings of Saturn and a round up of the current tally in exoplanetology.

The 5 Minute Concept: In the 5 Minute Concept, Paul sits in the very spot where William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus and explains the Herschels’ contribution to astronomy.

The Interview: This month, Paul speaks with the curator of the Herschel Museum of Astronomy, Debbie James, about the life and works of the Herschels, the museum and Georgian life.

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 Ralph & Paul answer:

  • Why does the planet Uranus spin on its side? Thea Hutchinson from London, UK via email
  • How did Caroline Herschel record her observations? Eric Emms @EmmsStarGaze in London, UK via Twitter & email

Sky Guide May 2014




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What to look out, and up, for in May.

We start with the constellation of Hercules in our beginner’s and young observer’s guide.

Next up is the moon and our round up of the craters and interesting lunar features you can explore with a small telescope.

Halley’s Comet brings us the peak of the Eta Aquarids on the night of 5th/6th May while Comet LINEAR has the potential to deliver a meteor storm on the night of 23rd/24th May.

Mars, Saturn & Jupiter feature in the planetary round up for Northern Hemisphere observers this month and we finish off by galaxy hunting around the Virgo Cluster.

Podcast Extra: AstroCamp Spring 2014




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A podcast extra episode to get you in the mood for the biannual dark sky weekend run by the podcast crew. We have the BBC’s Sky at Night team joining us again to show off the wonders of truly dark skies.

If you’re not coming to AstroCamp in April 2014, there’s still a sky guide in this episode to give you stargazing inspiration wherever you are.

#22 – April 2014




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This month we talk National Astronomy Week and have an audio report from the outreach we conducted.

In the news, we have a discussion with Jeni Millard and Sebastian Khan from Cardiff University about the discovery of gravitational waves; we discuss the auroral display that lit up Europe and the ensuing scandals caused by the Daily Mail; we have a possible way of detecting dark matter and a theory that dark matter may have killed the dinosaurs; a new minor planet emerges beyond the orbit of Pluto and a yet another minor planet is found to have its own ring system.

In the 5 Minute Concept, Paul poetically explains the history and science behind that false dawn that plagued observers for centuries, the zodiacal light.

We interview Dr Chris North, Astrophysicist at Cardiff University and presenter of the BBC’s Sky at Night programme, about the detection of gravitational waves and what it means for wider cosmology.

And in Q&A, we answer listeners’ questions on Transient Lunar Phenomena and what happens on the boundary of a black hole.