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Last update: 2013-05-02

Weekly Space Hangout - May 3 2013

2013-05-02 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Another busy episode of the Weekly Space Hangout, with more than a dozen space stories covered by a collection of space journalists. This week’s panel included Alan Boyle, Dr. Nicole Gugliucci, Amy Shira Teitel, David Dickinson, Dr. Matthew Francis, and Jason Major. Hosted by Fraser Cain.…

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Ep. 304: Death of a Spacecraft

2013-04-28 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

n the end, everything dies, even plucky space robots. Today we examine the last days of a series of missions. How do spacecraft tend to die, and what did in such heroes as Kepler, Spirit, and Galileo (the missions... not the people)…

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Ep. 303: Equilibrium

2013-04-21 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

So many of the forces in space depend on equilibrium, that point where forces perfectly balance out. It defines the shape of stars, the orbits of planets, even the forces at the cores of galaxies. Let's take a look at how parts of the Universe are in perfect balance.…

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Ep. 302: Planetary Motion in the Sky

2013-04-14 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Even the ancient astronomers knew there was something different about the planets. Unlike the rest of the stars, the planets move across the sky, backwards and forwards, round and round. It wasn’t until Copernicus that we finally had a modern notion of what exactly is going on.…

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Ep. 301: Planetary Migration

2013-04-07 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We're so familiar with the current configuration of the planets in the Solar System, but did the planets always orbit in this way? Did they form further out and then migrate inward to their current positions? And what about other star systems out there?…

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Ep. 300: What We've Learned in Almost 7 Years

2013-03-31 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We created Astronomy Cast to be timeless, a listening experience that's as educational in the future as it was when we started recording. But obviously, things have changed in almost 7 years and 300 episodes. Today we'll give you an update on some of the big topics in space and astronomy. What did we know back then, and what additional stuff do we know now?…

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Ep. 299: Space Stations, Part 4 — Future Space Station

2013-03-24 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Sometimes a trilogy needs four parts. We've looked at the history and modern era of space stations but now it's time to peer into the future at some space station concepts still in the works. Most of these will never fly, but the ideas are important. We can't call ourselves a true spacefaring civilization until humans live permanently outside the Earth.…

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Ep. 298: Space Stations, Part 3 — International Space Station

2013-03-17 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

And now we reach the third part in our trilogy on space stations, with the largest vehicle ever assembled in space: the International Space Station. Launched in 1998, it now consists of 450 metric tonnes of modules, power systems and spacecraft and is regular host to a handful of astronauts from many countries.…

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Ep. 297: Space Stations, Part 2 — Mir

2013-03-10 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Last week we introduced the history of space stations and focused on the US and Soviet stations that were launched. This week we look at one of the longest running missions ever launched: Mir. From its launch and construction to its fiery finale, Mir helped both the Russians and the Americans extend their understanding of what it actually takes to live in space.…

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Ep. 296: Space Stations, Part 1 — Salyut and Skylab

2013-03-03 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

It’s one thing to fly into space, and another thing entirely to live in space. And to understand the stresses and strains this puts on a human body, you’re going to need a space station. In this three-part series, we explore the past, present and future of stations in space, starting with the American Skylab and Russian Salyut stations.…

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Ep. 295: The Observable Universe

2013-02-17 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We understand our place in the Universe because of our direct observations. We can see the light that traveled billions of light years across space to reach us. This sphere of space is the observable universe; everything we can detect. But it’s really just a fraction of the larger, unobservable universe. Today, we’ll talk about both.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - Feb 15 2013

2013-02-14 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we talk about the meteor that exploded over Russia, the close asteroid flyby, et cetera. We are joined by Ian O'Neill, Nicole Gugliucci, Thad Szabo, Nancy Atkinson, and Pamela Gay. Hosted by Fraser Cain.…

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Ep. 294: The Arecibo Observatory

2013-02-10 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

The mighty Arecibo Radio Observatory is one of the most powerful radio telescopes ever built – it’s certainly the larger single aperture radio telescope on Earth, nestled into a natural sinkhole in Puerto Rico. We’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the construction of the observatory with a special episode of Astronomy Cast.…

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Ep. 293: Earthquakes

2013-02-10 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We always say that the Universe is trying to kill you, but actually, the Earth isn't so fond of you either. Certain parts of planet Earth are prone to earthquakes, where the planet's shifting plates can cause the ground to shake violently. We've had a few devastating earthquakes in recent years, but do they also happen on other worlds?…

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Weekly Space Hangout - Feb 8 2013

2013-02-07 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we talk about the failed search for extraterrestrials, Galaxy M106, Curiosity drilling, a weird metal object found on surface of Mars, the year of the comets, a supernova precursor, and the near-earth asteroid flyby. We are joined by Amy Shira Teitel, Nicole Gugliucci, Alan Boyle, Thad Szabo, Nancy Atkinson, and Phil Plait. Hosted by Fraser Cain.…

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Ep. 292: The Oort Cloud

2013-02-03 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

The very outer reaches of the Solar System is a region of space known as the Oort Cloud, which may extend as far as a light-year from the Sun. We only know about the Oort Cloud because that's where long-period comets come from, randomly falling into the inner Solar System from time to time.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - Feb 1 2013

2013-01-31 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we talk about activities at the Science Online Conference, the anniversary of the Columbia disaster, stuff on the Sun, and a storm on Saturn. We are joined by , Amy Shira Teitel, Nicole Gugliucci, Alan Boyle, Thad Szabo, and Scot Lewis. Hosted by Fraser Cain.…

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Ep. 291: Shockwaves

2013-01-27 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

As a meteor crashed into the atmosphere above Russia, the world discovered the importance of shock waves; how they're caused and how they propagate through the atmosphere. Today we'll discuss the topic in general and find many examples where shock waves can be created, here on Earth, and out in space.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - Jan 25 2013

2013-01-24 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we talk about Mars Curiosity working at night, a historic gamma-ray burst, the Manatee Nebula, a new astronomy thesaurus, a new image of Betelgeuse, and dung beetles using the brightness of the Milky Way to navigate. We are joined by Emily Lakdawalla, Amy Shira Teitel, Nicole Gugliucci, and Scot Lewis. Hosted by Fraser Cain.…

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Ep. 290: Failed Stars

2013-01-20 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

If you get enough hydrogen together in one place, gravity pulls it together to the point that the temperature and pressures are enough for fusion to occur. This is a star. But what happens when you don't have quite enough hydrogen? Then you get a failed star, like a gas giant planet or a brown dwarf.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - Jan 18 2013

2013-01-17 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we talk about: Plans for an inflatable space station, the return of the Orion Mission, craters on Titan, a supercomputer bolted to a telescope, one high school teacher's work in astronomy, an ancient riverbed on Mars, and an update on recent meeting of the American Astronomical Society. We are joined by Alan Boyle, Pamela Gay, Nicole Gugliucci, Amy Shira Teitel, and Scot Lewis. Produced by Nicole Gugliucci. Hosted by Fraser Cain.…

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Ep. 289: Cherenkov Radiation

2013-01-13 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Sure, our atmosphere protects us from a horrible Universe that's trying to kill us, but sometimes it prevents us from learning stuff too. Case in point, the atmosphere blocks highly energetic particles from reaching our detectors. But there's a way astronomers can still detect their influence: Cherenkov Radiation; the cascade of radiation that blasts out as a high-energy particle makes its way through the atmosphere, like a radioactive rainshower.…

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Ep. 288: Phases of Matter

2013-01-06 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

As we quickly learn with water, matter can be in distinct phases: solid, liquid, gas and plasma; it all depends on temperature. But why do different materials require different temperatures? And what's actually happening to the atoms themselves as the material switches phases?…

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Ep. 287: E=mc^2

2012-12-30 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

It’s mind bending to think about this, but the light in your house, and the house itself are really the same thing. Matter and energy are interchangeable. This was the amazing revelation made by Albert Einstein, with his famous formula: E=mc^2. This is the process that the Sun uses to turn hydrogen into radiation through fusion, and the terrible damage from a nuclear weapon.…

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Ep. 286: How to Debunk an End-of-the-World Myth

2012-12-23 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Everyone is always predicting the end of the world. Someone’s going to tell you that this the year that it’s all going to end… the end of planet Earth… and they’re always wrong. But, someone will eventually be right. Planet Earth is doomed, lets figure out how.…

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Ep. 285: How the World Will Really End

2012-12-16 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Have you checked out the internet lately? Apparently there is some kind of rogue planet causing pole alignment and a killer solar flare that will set off a chain reaction turning the whole universe into strange-matter……. after an alien invasion.…

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Ep. 284: Optics

2012-12-09 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Astronomy depends on bullying light. We reflect it, refract it, bend it, and near it through complex manipulations of light. Though optics we bring we bring the distant universe to our eyepiece.…

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Ep. 283: Stellar Motion

2012-12-02 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Our Universe appears timeless and unchanging, the stars taking their nightly flight across the sky. But over long periods of time, you realize that our local region, and even the entire Milky Way is in constant motion. The constellations we see today would be very different millions or even thousands of years ago. Today we'll discuss stellar motion, how astronomers detect it and how it's useful.…

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Ep. 282: Seasons

2012-11-25 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. These are the seasons we experience here on Earth as our planet completes an orbit around the Sun. But what’s going on? Why do we experience such different temperatures and weather over the course of 365 days? Do other planets experience the seasons like we do?…

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Ep. 281: Explosions in Space

2012-11-18 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We've all seen the classic science fiction space explosions, full of flames and loud sounds. Beautiful on the screen but, totally lacking in any kind of... science. What's wrong with science fiction? What would chemical and nuclear explosions really look like? What would we hear? And what are some natural explosions that nature detonates in space?…

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Ep. 279: The Hubble Constant

2012-11-04 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

When Edwin Hubble observed that distant galaxies are speeding away from us in all directions, he discovered the reality that we live in an expanding Universe. Hubble worked to calculate exactly how fast this expansion is happening, creating the Hubble constant – which astronomers continue to refine and reference in their research.…

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Ep. 278: Animals in Space

2012-10-28 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We always think about humans in space, but the cold hard reality is that animals have always been first in space. First to fly, first to orbit, and sadly, first to die. Let’s learn about how our animal companions have been our trusty partners in space exploration, and let’s recognize their noble sacrifices over decades of experiments.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - Oct 25 2012

2012-10-24 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we talk about the discovery of a planet around Alpha Centauri, a flash from the Milky Way supermassive black hole, an afterburner jet from a black hole, new space debris in low Earth orbit, the smallest yet observed supermassive black hole, and thirty two fish delivered to the ISS. We are joined by Jason Major, Nancy Atkinson, Amy Shira Teitel, and Nicole Gugliucci. Hosted by Fraser Cain.…

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Announcing our Mobile App: Phases of the Moon

2012-10-21 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Check out the new mobile app from Universe Today, called "Phases of the Moon". It's a beautiful and functional mobile experience for both Android and iPhone, showing the current state of the Moon as well as rise/set times and more. Support your favourite site and learn about space - at the same time.…

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Ep. 277: Orbit

2012-10-21 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

When an object is orbiting the Earth, it’s really falling. The trick, described in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. There are several different kinds of orbits, and they are good for different reasons. From suborbital jumps to geostationary orbit, time to learn everything there is to know about going around and around and around.…

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Ep. 276: XMM-Newton

2012-10-14 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

The Earth’s atmosphere keeps us alive and blocks x-ray radiation from reaching the surface. In order to understand the universe at the higher energy levels you need to launch a space telescope like the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton Telescope. Let’s learn about the telescope named for the famous scientist.…

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Ep. 275: Isaac Newton

2012-10-07 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Isaac Newton has been called "the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived." That sounds about right. He unlocked our modern understanding of gravity and laws of motion, dabbled in optics, philosophy... even alchemy. He was also known to have a bit of a difficult personality. Let's find out everything we can about Isaac Newton.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - Oct 4 2012

2012-10-03 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we talk about, an ancient stream bed on Mars, the 55th anniversary of Sputnik launch, the Square Kilometer Array in Australia, a strange cold layer on Venus, and the most precise measurement of the universe's expansion. We are joined by Nancy Atkinson, Amy Shira Teitel, and Nicole Gugliucci. Hosted by Fraser Cain.…

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Ep. 274: Vesta

2012-09-30 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

There’s some topics on Astronomy Cast that we wait until we are good and ready, until the science is all in. The Dawn mission has completed it’s mapping operations at asteroid Vesta and it’s now moving on to Ceres. This gives us a great opportunity to take a detailed look at this amazing asteroid, report on the science findings, and give you a preview of what’s coming next.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - Sep. 27 2012

2012-09-26 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we talk about the possibility that comet ISON will be the brightest ever, new picture of Phobos returned by Curiosity Rover, an anticipated date for record setting skydive, Hubble extreme deep field survey, first test of Grasshopper by SpaceX, plans for a base beyond the Moon, and a paddleboat mission to Titan in initial planning stage. We are joined by Jason Major, Nancy Atkinson, Alan Boyle, Michael Wall, and Ian O'Neill. Hosted by Fraser Cain.…

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Ep. 273: Solutions to the Fermi Paradox

2012-09-23 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

In Episode 24 we presented the concept of the Fermi Paradox. In short: Where are all the aliens? Today we’re going to examine the theoretical solutions to this problem. Maybe they’re out there, but just don’t want to talk to us. Maybe it’s too hard to communicate? Maybe there are no other civilizations. Maybe civilizations wipe themselves out when they reach a certain point. So many solutions, none of them satisfactory.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - Sep. 20 2012

2012-09-19 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we talk about Warp Drive research at NASA, Neil Armstrong burial at sea, Curiosity Rover looking at a pyramid shaped rock, Phobos eclipse as seen from Mars, and the oldest-youngest galaxy. We are joined by Jason Major, Nicole Gugliucci, Amy Shira Teitel, Nancy Atkinson, and Ian O'Neill. Hosted by Fraser Cain.…

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Ep. 272: Abiogenesis

2012-09-16 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

The Theory of Evolution provides a rich explanation for why we see the diversity of life here on Earth. There are so many lines of evidence, from genetic drift to the fossil record. But how did life start? How did things go from a collection of raw materials to the building blocks of life, giving evolution and natural selection a way to take over? That first step, from non-life to life is called “abiogenesis”, and it’s one of the most important questions science can answer.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - Sep. 13 2012

2012-09-12 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we talk about DAWN leaving Vesta, an impact recorded on Jupiter, Shuttle Endeavor's move to it's retirement home, and give a Curiosity rover update, We are joined by Jason Major, Nicole Gugliucci, and Pamela Gay. Hosted by Fraser Cain.…

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Ep. 271: Who Does What in Space and Astronomy

2012-09-09 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

In past, if you looked up into the sky, you were an astronomer. But everything has gotten so complicated. Now we have astrophysicists, and cosmologists, planetary geologists, and even exobiologists. Who does what, and how do they all interact with one another. If you want to go into space research as a career, which one should you choose?…

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Astronomy Cast at Dragon*Con 2012: Space Money

2012-09-02 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We've probed the deepest recesses of the universe, landed spacecraft and humans on other planets and moons but face it all of this exploration is expensive. Just a single spacecraft can cost billions. Who pays for all this stuff?…

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Live Coverage of the Curiosity Landing

2012-07-30 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Join Fraser, Pamela and Phil for our live coverage of the Curiosity Rover landing. We'll do 4 hours of non-stop coverage leading up to the landing, with special guests, on-location reporting.…

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Astronomy Cast on Hiatus for the Summer

2012-07-30 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Astronomy Cast and the Weekly Space Hangout will be on hiatus for the summer. We'll be back in September with a live show from Dragon*Con and then your regular episodes.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - July 12, 2012

2012-07-11 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we talk about the new moon discovered orbiting Pluto (P5), New Horizons doing science in it's sleep, a southern polar vortex on Titan, and Pluto moon orbits, et cetera. We are joined by Robert Nemiroff, Jason Major, Alan Boyle, Michael Wall, Amy Shira Teitel and special guest Mark Showalter of SETI. Hosted by Fraser Cain.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - July 5, 2012

2012-07-04 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we talk about: The (A) Higgs Boson discovery, a speedy-speedy pulsar, the case of the disappearing dust cloud, and the tragic death of Shuttle Astronaut Alan G. Poindexter. We're joined by Alan Boyle, Nancy Atkinson, Jason Major, and Nicole Gugliucci.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - June 28, 2012

2012-06-27 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we talk about: a terrifying gas cloud that is headed to the center of the galaxy, more news on exoplanets, sniffing for life on Mars, and what it's going to be like to land on Mars.. We're joined by Jason Major, Ian O'Neill, and Emily Lakdawalla. Hosted by Fraser Cain…

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Weekly Space Hangout - June 21, 2012

2012-06-20 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we talk about: Black Holes as particle detectors, New advances in Chinese space exploration, Asteroid research, History of women in space. We're joined by Amy Shira Teitel, Alan Boyle, Ian O'Neill, and Michael Wall. Hosted by Fraser Cain…

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Ep. 270: Inertia

2012-06-17 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

An object at rest tends to stay at rest. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. Isaac Newton dismantled the traditional idea that objects would tend to slow down over time, and described the concept of inertia: the amount an object will resist changes in its motion.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - June 14, 2012

2012-06-13 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we talk about: Lakes on Titan, Mars Curiosity landing, Earth-type worlds more common, NuSTAR Mission launch. We are joined by Amy Shira Teitel, Emily Lakdawalla, and Nicole Gugliucci…

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Ep. 269: Mass

2012-06-10 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Last week we talked about energy, and this week we’ll talk about mass. And here’s the crazy thing. Mass, matter, the stuff that the Universe is made of, is the same thing as energy. They’re connected through Einstein’s famous formula – E=mc2. But what is mass, how do we measure it, and how does it become energy, and vice versa.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - June 7, 2012

2012-06-06 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

In this week's Weekly Space Hangout, we talk about the Transit of Venus, the transfer of the space shuttle Enterprise, the future of commercial space exploration, and the new movie Prometheus. We're joined by Alan Boyle from http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/ and Amy Shira Teitel from http://www.amyshirateitel.com/…

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Ep. 268: Energy

2012-06-03 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Our entire civilization depends on energy: getting it, converting it, burning it, and conserving it. But how do physicists think about energy? How do they measure and quantify it. And what is energy's special relationship with mass?…

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Weekly Space Hangout - May 31, 2012

2012-05-30 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

In this episode of the Weekly Space Hangout, we're joined by special guest Robert Nemiroff from Astronomy Picture of the Day. We also talked about the return of the SpaceX Dragon capsule, a manned mission to Venus, nomadic planets and the announcement of the Square Kilometer Array. Our team included: Amy Shira Tietel, Jason Major, Alan Boyle, Nicole Gugliucci and Robert Nemiroff…

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Ep. 267: Infinities

2012-05-27 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Forever is a funny thing. Today we’re going to talk about infinities. That’s right, all the different kinds of possible infinities. How you add them, subtract them, and use them to think about the scale of the Universe…

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Ep. 266: Archimedes

2012-05-20 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

It's time to look deep into history to the birthplace of modern mathematics - Ancient Greece. And the most famous mathematician of the time was Archimedes. We use many of his mathematical theories and inventions to this day; others are steeped in legend and mystery.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - May 17, 2012

2012-05-16 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week, we talk about: Building a real starship Enterprise, preparations for the annular solar eclipse, investigation into the Gaia theory, fuel for black holes, Hubble and the transit of Venus. We're joined by Amy Shira Teitel, Jason Major, Nancy Atkinson, Nicole Gugliucci, Phil Plait.…

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Ep. 265: Arthur Eddington

2012-05-13 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We can thank Arthur Eddington for much of our current understanding of stars. He provided some of the breakthrough concepts that explain what’s going on, deep inside the hottest places in the Universe. Sadly, the spacecraft associated with his name wasn’t so successful.…

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Ep. 264: Hazards of Spaceflight

2012-05-06 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We hold all these romantic notions about humans exploring the Solar System, turning humanity into a true spacefaring race. But the cold hard reality is that space, really the entire Universe, is trying to kill you. Any humans venturing out into space will face all kinds of hazards.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - May 3, 2012

2012-05-02 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

In this episode we talked about asteroid mining, SpaceX delays, Shuttle retirement, killer black holes, supermassive planets (aka brown dwarfs), Enceladus/Dione flybys, and missions to Jupiter.…

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Ep. 263: Radioactive Decay

2012-04-29 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Nothing lasts forever, even atoms. Heavier elements decay into lighter elements, releasing energy as radiation. But thanks to this radiation, astronomers can get a glimpse into what's going on inside distant start. Let's take a look at the whole process of radioactive decay, the different events that happen, and how humans use this fundamental force of nature for our own needs.…

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Ep. 262: Solar Sails

2012-04-22 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Wouldn’t it be cool to explore the cosmos, powered only by sunlight caught by your shimmering solar sail? It sounds like science fiction, but it’s serious science – a test sail has even been sent to orbit. It might even be a way to travel from star to star.…

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Ep. 261: Lasers and Masers in Astronomy

2012-04-15 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Last week we introduced the science of lasers and masers. This week we apply that knowledge to our favourite field: astronomy. Learn how naturally forming masers teach us about the cosmos, and how the artificially produced lasers help us gather better science.…

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Ep. 260: The Technology of Lasers and Masers

2012-04-08 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Just when you think you understand it, light will do some amazing things. Just look at the discovery of lasers, and their use in almost every technology you can think of: from cutting, to transmitting information to, yes, astronomy. And nature has figured out its own version of laser technology, called the maser, which has kept astronomers puzzled and excited for years.…

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Ep. 259: Exploration of Venus

2012-04-01 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Mars gets all the attention, but you might be surprised to know how much Venus has been explored. From initial telescope observations and the early flyby missions, to the landers… yes landers and orbiters. We know quite a lot about Venus, but the planet sure didn’t give up its secrets easily.…

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Ep. 258: Viking Landers

2012-03-25 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Last week we talked about the orbiter portion of the Viking Missions. But that was only half the adventure. Each Viking spacecraft carried a lander as well, which touched down on the surface of Mars, searching for evidence of past and current life. And what they discovered is still up for debate.…

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Ep. 257: Viking Orbiters

2012-03-18 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity get all the news now, but it was NASA's Viking Missions that gave us our first close up view of the surface of Mars. These twin missions, both made of orbiter and lander set the stage for the exploration of Mars, demonstrating that we could actually reach the surface of Mars, and study the soil up close. Today, let's talk about the Viking Orbiters.…

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Ep. 256: Resolution

2012-03-11 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

When it comes to telescopes, astronomers really just care about resolution: how much can you see? Your resolution defines how much science you can get done, and it depends on your gear, wavelength, and conditions. Putting a telescope in space really helps too.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - Mar 8, 2012

2012-03-07 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

In this episode of the Weekly Space Hangout, we talk about two different asteroid close passes, the solar storms buffeting the Earth, a recent space exploration conference, and a team of amateur astronomers flashing the space station. We're also joined by Ryan Kobrick - Executive Director of Yuri's Night - to talk about the upcoming festivities.…

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Ep. 255: Observing Hydrogen

2012-03-04 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Hydrogen is the most common element in the Universe, formed at the beginning of everything in the Big Bang. It's the raw material of stars, gathering together through mutual gravity into vast nebulae. Astronomers can learn so much looking for hydrogen in the Universe. Here's why, and how they do it.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - Mar 1, 2012

2012-02-29 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Another week, another space roundup. This week we talk about the redefinition of the term "Earthlike", salty soil on Mars, how you can participate in SETI, asteroid dust from Hayabusa, and the dangers of a warp drive.…

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Ep 254: Reflection and Refraction

2012-02-26 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Light can do some pretty strange stuff, like pass through objects and bounce off them; it can be broken up and recombined. In fact, everything we "see" is actually the end result of reflection and refraction of light. Time to understand how it all works.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - Feb 23, 2012

2012-02-22 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

In this edition, we talk about the non-discovery of faster-than-light neutrinos, the possibility of quakes on Mars, and explanation for the ridge on Iapetus, the 25th anniversary of SN1987A, and a steamy water world.…

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Ep. 253: Rayleigh Scattering

2012-02-19 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Next time a kid asks you, why is the sky blue? Answer them: because of Rayleigh scattering. If they’re not happy with that answer, feel free to expand based on the knowledge we’re about to drop today, right into your brain.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - Feb 16, 2012

2012-02-15 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

The Weekly Space Hangout for Feb. 16, 2012 with special guest Alan Stern, Principal Investigator for NASA's New Horizons spacecraft on its way to Pluto. We also talk about NASA's new budget, Chang'e Moon maps, a Swiss plan to remove space junk and the first human-robot space handshake.…

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Ep. 252: Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

2012-02-12 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Quantum theory is plenty strange, but one of the strangest discoveries is the realization that there’s a limit to how much you can measure at any one time. This was famously described by Werner Heisenberg, with his uncertainty principle: how you can never know both the position and motion of a particle at the same time.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - Feb 9, 2012

2012-02-08 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we talk about possible methods of interstellar communications, supermassive black holes eating asteroids, a stratospheric skydive,…

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Ep. 251: Messier Catalog

2012-02-05 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Have you ever looked into the sky and noticed a fuzzy blob? That’s a Messier Object, carefully cataloged by Charles Messier to make it easier to find comets. We’ll learn about the history of the catalog, Messier’s criteria and some of the prominent objects you’ll see in the sky.…

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Weekly Space Hangout - Feb 2, 2012

2012-02-01 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

In this week's space hangout, we talked about the search for super earths, the non-discovery of life on Venus, new images from the far side of the Moon, nature versus nurture in star formation, and the tests of SpaceX's new rocket system.…

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Ep. 250: Precision

2012-01-29 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Accuracy, precision and reproducibility. These are the foundations of science that make our progress possible. How do these play into a scientist’s daily activities? And just how precise can we get with our measurements?…

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Weekly Space Hangout - Jan. 26, 2012

2012-01-25 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Another edition of our weekly space hangout. This week we talked about a week of space remembrance, solar storms, Newt's plans for a 2020 lunar base, arsenic and old news, black holes and their galaxies and the death of Phobos-Grunt.…

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Ep. 249: Schrödinger’s Cat

2012-01-22 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

You’ve probably all heard of Schrödinger’s Cat, that strange thought experiment designed by Erwin Schrödinger to show how the strange predictions of quantum theory could impact the real world. No cats will be harmed in the making of this episode, maybe.…

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Ep. 248: Carina Constellation

2012-01-15 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Time for another detailed look at a constellation; one of the most fascinating in the sky, but hidden to most of the northern hemisphere: Carina. Home to one of the most likely supernova candidates we know of: Eta Carinae. Let’s talk just about this constellation, how to find it, and what you can discover in and around it.…

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Ep. 246: What If Something Was Different?

2012-01-01 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

The number of moons, the age of the Sun, and our placement in the Milky Way all had an impact on the formation of the Earth and the evolution of life on our planet. But what if things were different? What would be the implications?…

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Ep. 245: Calendars

2011-12-25 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Our lives are ruled by calendars. And calendars are ruled by astronomy. As we near the end of 2011, and get ready to ring in the new year, let’s discover the astronomy underlying the days, weeks, months and years that segment our lives.…

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Ep. 244: Io

2011-12-18 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

If you want to see one of the strangest places in the Solar System, look no further than Io, Jupiter's inner Galilean moon. The immense tidal forces from Jupiter keep the moon hotter than hot, with huge volcanoes blasting lava hundreds of kilometres into space.…

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Ep. 243: Tunguska Event

2011-12-11 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

On June 30th, 1908 “something” exploded over the Tunguska region of Siberia, flattening thousands of square kilometres of forest, and unleashing a force that rivalled the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. What was it? What could unleash that kind of destructive energy? And will it happen again?…

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Ep. 242: Torino Scale

2011-12-04 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

When you hear of a looming asteroid strike, do you wonder what to do? Should you go into your underground bunker, evacuate the state, or leave the planet? Fortunately, astronomers have developed the Torino Scale – a handy measurement that incorporates both the risk of a strike with the amount of devastation.…

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Ep. 241: Astrophotography, Part 3: Image Processing

2011-11-27 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Time for part 3 of our tour through the hobby of astrophotography. You’ve set up your gear, taken some clear images. Now we’re going to help you turn that raw data into the kind of amazing photographs you see in books and on the web.…

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Ep. 240: Astrophotography, Part 2: Techniques

2011-11-20 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

In the first episode, we talked about the gear you'll need for your expensive astrophotography hobby. This week we continue our discussion, and talk about the techniques you'll use to get those amazing photographs. Bring a hot drink, and get ready for some cold nights. But trust us, it'll all be worth it.…

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Ep. 239: Astrophotography, Part 1: The Gear

2011-11-13 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

No matter how good your telescope is, you're never going to see the same detail and colours as the photographs. To take amateur astronomy to the next level, you really need to attach a camera to your telescope. Welcome to the hobby of astrophotography. Fair warning, this hobby could bankrupt you.…

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Ep. 238: Solar Activity

2011-11-06 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

The Sun looks like a harmless burning ball of fire in the sky: warm, life-giving and forever unchanging. But we know better, don’t we. It’s really a massive ball of churning hydrogen plasma, encased in twisting magnetic field lines, speckled with sunspots, and constantly disgorging vast plumes of radiation and charged particles. The Sun is very active indeed.…

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Ep. 237: Spooky Space Sounds

2011-10-30 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

To help you out with your halloween parties, we’ve collected together the spooky sounds of space. Every piece of audio we’re about to play might sound like it comes from a terrifying nightmare dimension, but it’s really just a natural space phenomena.…

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Ep. 236: Einstein Was Right

2011-10-23 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

At least once a week we get an email claiming that Einstein was wrong. Well you know what, Einstein was right. In fact, as part of his theories of Special and General Relativity, Einstein made a series of predictions about what experiments should discover. Some explained existing puzzles in science, while others made predictions that were only recently proven true.…

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Ep. 235: Einstein

2011-10-16 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

What can we say about Einstein? Albert Einstein! Lots, actually. In this show we’re going to talk about the most revolutionary physicist… ever. He completely changed our understanding of time, and space, and energy, and gravity. He made predictions about the nature of the Universe that we’re still testing out.…

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Astronomy Cast at Dragon*Con 2011: Strange Stuff in Space

2011-10-14 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This is an impromptu episode of Astronomy Cast that we recorded during Dragon*Con 2011. Pamela was scheduled to speak with a panel about strange things in space, but she ended up being the only person there. So Fraser jumped in, and this was what we did. We mostly talked about unusual things in the Solar System, but a few things in the rest of the Universe.…

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Ep. 234: Lunar Phases

2011-10-09 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

The Moon is a stark reminder that we actually live in a Universe filled with stars and planets and moons. The changing phases of the Moon show us the relative positions of the Earth, the Sun and the Moon as they interact with one another. Let's learn about the different phases, the geometry of the whole system, and some of the interesting science wrapped up with our fascination of our only natural satellite.…

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Ep. 233: Radar

2011-10-02 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Radar is one of the those technologies that changed everything: it allows boats and aircraft to “see” at night and through thick fog. But it also changed astronomy and ground imaging, tracking asteroids with great accuracy, allowing spacecraft to peer through Venus’ thick clouds and revealing secrets beneath the Earth’s shifting sands.…

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Ep. 232: Galileo Spacecraft

2011-09-25 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

In last season’s thrilling cliff hanger, we talked about astronomer superhero Galileo Galilei. Will a mission be named after him? The answer is yes! NASA’s Galileo spacecraft visited Jupiter in 1995, and spent almost 8 years orbiting, changing our understanding of the giant planet and its moons.…

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Ep. 231: Galileo Galilei

2011-05-01 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

It’s hard to imagine a more famous astronomer than Galileo Galilei. He’s widely recognized as the very first person to point a telescope at the skies and then study what he saw. Galileo discovered the moons of Jupiter, the phases of Venus, and much more. But it was his controversial stance on the nature of the Solar System that brought him into conflict with the church.…

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Ep. 230: Christiaan Huygens

2011-04-24 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

And now we finish our trilogy of Saturnian astronomers and missions with a look at the Dutch astronomer and mathematician, Christiaan Huygens. It was Huygens who discovered Titan, and figured out what Saturn’s rings really are, so it makes sense that a probe landing on the surface of Titan was named after him.…

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Ep. 229: Cassini Mission

2011-04-17 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Last week we talked about the Italian astronomer Giovanni Cassini. This week we’ll talk about the mission that shares his name: NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft. This amazing mission is orbiting Saturn right now, sending back thousands of high resolution images of the ringed planet and its moons.…

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Ep. 228: Giovanni Cassini

2011-04-10 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Another two parter, coming at you. This week we talk about the Italian astronomer, Giovanni Domenico Cassini, best known for discovering Saturn's moons and the biggest division in Saturn's rings. Cassini made many other important discoveries in the Solar System, and in the fields of physics and astronomy.…

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Ep. 227: The Big Dipper

2011-04-03 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We wanted to spend a few shows talking about some of the most recognizable constellations in the night sky. We've chatted about Orion the Hunter, but now we're going to talk about the Big Dipper, also known as Ursa Major, or the Great Bear - apologies to our southern hemisphere listeners.…

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Ep. 226: Weather

2011-03-27 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

How's the weather? Maybe a better question is... why's the weather? What is it about planets and their atmospheres that create weather systems. What have planetary scientists learned about our Earth's weather, and how does this relate to other planets in the Solar System. What is the most extreme weather we know of?…

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Ep. 225: Ice in Space

2011-03-20 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

A huge part of the Solar System is just made of ice. There are comets, rings, moons and even dwarf planets. Where did all this ice come from, and what impact (pardon the pun) has it had for life on Earth?…

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Ep. 224: Orion

2011-03-13 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Most people know how to find two constellations: the Big Dipper, and Orion the Hunter. You can teach a small child to find Orion, and at the right time of year, they'll find it in seconds. There's so much going on in this spectacular constellation, from the star formation in the Orion Nebula to mighty red supergiant Betelgeuse, ready to explode. Let's learn about the history and science of the constellation Orion.…

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Ep. 223: The Transit of Venus

2011-03-06 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Since the planet Venus is closer in to the Sun than Earth, there are rare opportunities to see it pass directly in front of our parent star. This is known as a planetary transit, and thanks to the geometry of the Earth and Venus, they only happen a couple of times a century. The transits of Venus have been used by astronomers to unlock the scale of the Solar System, and there’s another one just around the corner.…

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Ep. 222: The Decadal Survey

2011-02-27 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

In episode 198 we explained how space missions are chosen, and introduced the Decadal Survey. Since the time we recorded that episode, the full Decadal Survey for planetary science has been released, explaining the science goals for planetary geologists over the next 10 years. We thought we’d take an episode and give you an overview of all the science coming your way.…

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Ep. 221: Geomorphology

2011-02-20 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

When we look around our planet, we see a huge variety in landforms: mountains, valleys, plateaus, and more. Continents rise and fall over the eons, providing geologists with a history of the planet's evolution. The study of these changes is known as geomorphology, and the lessons we learn here on Earth apply to the other objects in the Solar System.…

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Ep. 220: Mass Extinction Events

2011-02-13 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

The Earth seems like a safe place, most of the time. But we have evidence of terrible catastrophes in the ancient past. Times when almost all life on Earth was wiped out in a geologic instant. What could have caused so much devastation? And will something like this happen again?…

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Ep. 219: Planck Mission

2011-02-06 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Another mission named after a famous physicist. This time we're looking at the Planck mission, designed to study the Cosmic Microwave Backgorund Radiation over the entire sky. Like the previous WMAP mission, this will help astronomers understand the first moments after the Big Bang.…

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Ep. 218: Max Planck

2011-01-30 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

It's time for another action-packed double episode, where we meet a man and his mission. This time around its German physicist Max Planck, considered to be the father of quantum theory - he was later granted a Nobel Prize for just that discovery. Let's take a trip back just over 100 years to learn about the man who changed our understanding of the very small.…

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Ep. 217: Stellar Classification

2011-01-23 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Have you ever heard an astronomer utter these words? Oh be a fine girl and kiss me. They’re not being romantic, they’re trying to remember the different ways to organize stars, as detailed nicely on a Hertzsprung–Russell diagram. Let’s learn what all those letters mean, and what differentiates a type O star from a type G.…

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Ep. 216: Archaeoastronomy

2011-01-16 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

The Sun, Moon, stars and planets are visible to the unaided eye, and so they have been visible to astronomers since before recorded history. Some of the earliest records we do have tell us what the ancient astronomers thought about the heavens, and how they used the changing night sky in their daily lives.…

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Episode 215: Light Echoes

2011-01-09 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Just as sound can echo off distant objects, light can echo too. And the echoes of light bouncing off stellar remnants, black hole accretion disks, and clouds of gas and dust provide astronomers with another method of probing the distant cosmos.…

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Episode 214: Space Tourism

2011-01-02 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Have you ever wanted to go to space, but lacked the... everything... to be an astronaut? A whole new industry of space tourism will take you where you need to go. There are new companies offering zero-G flights, sub-orbital flights, and there have even been paying customers who have gone into orbit. Is this going to be space travel for the rest of us?…

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Episode 213: Supermassive Black Holes

2010-12-26 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

It's now believed that there's a supermassive black hole lurking at the heart of every galaxy in the Universe. These monstrous black holes can contain hundreds of millions of times the mass of our own Sun, with event horizons better than the Solar System. They're the source of the most energetic particles in the Universe, the brightest objects in the Universe, and the place where the laws of physics go to get mangled.…

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Episode 212: GPS Navigation

2010-12-19 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Last week we talked about the old way navigators used to find their way around the planet; by looking at objects in the sky, and doing some tricky math. The new navigation system, of course, is the Global Positioning System, and it helps you find your spot on the planet with amazing accuracy. Let's see where the system came from, and how it works.…

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Episode 211: Celestial Navigation

2010-12-12 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Before there was GPS, navigators had to rely on the Sun and the stars to find their way around the Earth. It's easier than it sounds, if you've got the right instruments, clear skies, and a really accurate clock. Let's examine the history of celestial navigation, learn about the different methods, and then give you some practical ways that you can go out and learn how to do this for yourself.…

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Episode 210: Mars Exploration Rovers

2010-12-05 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

The twin Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, have been crawling around the surface of Mars since early 2004 – years longer than they were expected to live. And what they have discovered there on Mars has given scientists their best understanding of Martian geology over the last few billion years. Let’s investigate these amazing rovers and their ongoing mission.…

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Episode 209: Exotic Life

2010-11-28 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We don’t like cover news on Astronomy Cast, but sometimes there’s a news story that’s interesting, complicated, and rapidly unfolding – and it happens to cover an area that we haven’t talked much about. So today we thought we’d talk about the discovery of arsenic-based life, and exotic forms of life in general. Maybe we need to redefine our definition of life. Or maybe we just got introduced to some distant cousins.…

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Episode 208: Spitzer Space Telescope

2010-11-21 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Last week we talked about Lyman Spitzer, and this week we’ll take a look at the orbiting observatory that bears his name: the Spitzer Space Telescope. Designed to see into the infrared spectrum, Spitzer has returned images of objects that were previously hidden to astronomers by thick shrouds of gas and dust.…

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Episode 207: Lyman Spitzer

2010-11-14 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Time for another action-packed double episode of Astronomy Cast. This week we focus on the Lyman Spitzer, a theoretical physicist and astronomer who worked on star formation and plasma physics. Of course, this will lead us into next week’s episode where we talk about the mission that bears his name: the Spitzer Space Telescope.…

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Episode 206: Fission

2010-11-07 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Last week we talked about fusion, where atoms come together to form heavier elements. This week, everything comes apart as we talk about nuclear fission. How it occurs naturally in the Universe, and how it has been harnessed by science to produce power, and devastating weapons.…

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Episode 205: Fusion

2010-10-31 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

When the Universe formed after the Big Bang, all we had was hydrogen. But through the process of fusion, these hydrogen atoms were crushed into heavier and heavier elements. Fusion gives us warmth and light from the Sun, destruction with fusion bombs, and might be a source of inexpensive energy. We'll also look into the controversy of cold fusion.…

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Episode 204: Temperature

2010-10-24 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Now we're going to answer a question that a 4-year old might ask - what is temperature? Why are things hot and why are they cold? How hot or cold can they get? And how is this all important for astronomy?…

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Episode 203: Europa

2010-10-17 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Europa is the smallest of the Jovian satellites, but it might be one of the most exciting spots in the Solar System. When NASA’s Voyager spacecraft flew past the moon, they discovered huge cracks in its icy surface. Is it possible that Europa has a huge ocean of liquid water, and maybe even life? This is a world that needs more investigation.…

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Episode 202: The Planets at Gliese 581

2010-10-10 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

With the discovery of a planet in the habitability zone of Gliese 581, the chances of finding life on other worlds is just getting better and better. Let’s take a look at the discoveries made at Gliese 581, provide some perspective on the real chances of life, and talk about what might come next.…

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Episode 201: Titan

2010-10-03 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Titan is Saturn’s largest moon, and the second largest moon in the Solar System. It’s unique in the Solar System as the only moon with an atmosphere. In fact, scientists think that Titan’s thick atmosphere – rich in hydrocarbons – is similar to the early Earth, and could give us clues about how life got started on our planet.…

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Episode 200: The Mariner Program

2010-09-26 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

The first interplanetary series of missions was the American Mariner program. These successful spacecraft visited Mercury, Venus, and Mars, and laid the groundwork for the US missions to the outer planets. Let's take a look at the program and their incredible accomplishments.…

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Episode 199: The Voyager Program

2010-09-19 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Launched in 1977, the twin Voyager spacecraft were sent to explore the outer planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Because of a unique alignment of the planets, Voyager 2 was the first spacecraft to ever make a close approach to Uranus and Neptune. Let’s take a look back at this amazing program, and see where the spacecraft are today.…

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Episode 198: How is a Space Mission Chosen?

2010-09-12 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Space missions are expensive to build and launch, so there’s a lot of planning that goes into choosing exactly what’s going to be shot into space. Space scientists and engineers recently went through the process of deciding on their science goals, so we thought we’d spend an episode explaining how this works, and how the next generation of spacecraft and telescopes will be selected.…

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Ep. 197: Astronomy Cast Live from Dragon*Con 2010

2010-09-05 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

In this special live Dragon*Con 2010 episode of Astronomy Cast we welcomed special guest Les Johnson, Deputy Manager for NASA’s Advanced Concepts Office to talk about the state of human space exploration. And then we opened up the show to some amazing questions from the audience. Listen to the first live show ever done with both Fraser and Pamela in the same room.…

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Ep. 196: Luminosity and Magnitude

2010-06-27 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Astronomers measure the brightness of stars as magnitude. But this brightness depends on the distance to the star as well as the total amount of energy it's pumping out into space. And from our vantage point here on Earth, appearances can be deceiving.…

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Ep. 195: Planetary Rings

2010-06-20 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Saturn is best known for its rings. This huge and beautiful ring system is easy to spot in even the smallest backyard telescope, so you can imagine they were a surprise when Galileo first noticed them. But astronomers have gone on to find rings around the other gas giant worlds in the Solar System – the differences are surprising.…

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Ep. 194: Dwarf Planets

2010-06-13 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union demoted Pluto out of the planet club. But they also started up a whole new dwarf planet club, with Pluto, Eris and the asteroid Ceres as charter members. Let’s find out what it takes to be a dwarf planet, and discuss the current membership.…

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Ep. 193: Astronomy with the Unaided Eye

2010-06-06 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We talk a lot about telescopes here on Astronomy Cast, but you really don't need any special equipment to appreciate what the night sky has to offer. Just head outside with some sky charts, maybe a planisphere, some friends and hot chocolate, and you're good to go. Let's talk about what kinds of things you can see with just your eyes.…

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Ep. 192: Chandra X-Ray Observatory

2010-05-30 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

The Chandra X-Ray Observatory is the third of NASA's Great Observatories, sent into space aboard the space shuttle to view the Universe in high energy X-ray radiation. This is the territory of supernovae, supermassive black holes and neutron stars; some of the most extreme places in the Universe.…

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Ep. 191: Chandrasekhar

2010-05-23 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

The first half of the 20th Century was a productive time for astronomy, with theorists working out much of the science that we take for granted today. One of these astronomy stars was Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, who determined the maximum mass of a white dwarf star.…

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Ep. 190: Kepler Mission

2010-05-16 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Last week we studied Kepler the man, and this week we take a look at Kepler, the mission. Launched in March, 2009, this is a spacecraft designed to search for Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. Let's take a look at the history this mission, the launch and the science gathered so far.…

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Ep. 189: Johannes Kepler and His Laws of Planetary Motion

2010-05-09 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Nicolaus Copernicus changed our understanding of the Universe when he rearranged the Solar System to put the Sun at the center, with the Earth becoming just another of the planets orbiting it. But the movement of the planets didn't really match the theory; not until Johannes Kepler came along with his ellipses, and everything finally worked.…

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Ep. 188: The Future of Astronomy

2010-05-02 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We spent 5 episodes telling the story of astronomy so far, how we got from the work of the Babylonians to the modern discoveries made in the last decade. But now we want to look forward, studying the current space missions and experiments to uncover the mysteries that astronomers hope to solve.…

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Ep. 187: History of Astronomy, Part 5: The 20th Century

2010-04-25 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Many of the modern ideas in astronomy happened in just the 20th century: dark matter, the Big Bang, inflation, quasars, black holes. So many discoveries in one important century.…

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Ep. 186: History of Astronomy, Part 4: The Beginning of Modern Astronomy

2010-04-18 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

With our proper place in the Universe worked out, and some powerful telescopes to probe the cosmos, astronomers started making some real progress. The next few hundred years was a time of constant refinement, with astronomers discovering new planets, new moons, and developing new theories in astronomy and physics.…

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Ep. 185: History of Astronomy, Part 3: The Renaissance

2010-04-11 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Now we reach time with names that many of you will be familiar: Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus. This is an age when the biggest names in astronomy used the best tools of their time to completely rearrange their understanding of the Universe, putting the Earth where it belonged - merely orbiting the Sun, and not the center of everything.…

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Ep. 184: History of Astronomy, Part 2: The Greeks

2010-04-04 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

With the earliest astronomers out of the way, we now move to one of the most productive eras in astronomy; the ancient Greeks. Even though they didn't have telescopes, the Greeks worked out the size and shape of the Earth, the distance to the Moon and Sun, and even had some accurate ideas about our place in the Universe.…

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Ep. 183: History of Astronomy, Part 1: The Ancient Astronomers

2010-03-28 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We know you love a good series. This time we're going to walk you through the history of astronomy, starting with the ancient astronomers and leading right up to the most recent discoveries. Today we're going to start at the beginning, with the astronomers who first tried to understand the true nature of the Earth, the planets and our place in the cosmos.…

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Ep. 182: Astrometry

2010-03-21 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Astronomers have been cataloging star positions for thousands of years, from the first calculations made by Hipparchus, to the more recent star catalogs made by the spacecraft named after him. This is astrometry; another way to find our place in the Universe.…

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Ep. 181: Rotation

2010-03-14 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Everything in the Universe is spinning. In fact, without this rotation, life on Earth wouldn't exist. We need the conservation of angular momentum to flatten out galaxies and solar systems, to make planets possible. Let's find out about the physics involved with everything that spins, and finally figure out the difference between centripetal and centrifugal force.…

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Ep. 180: Albedo

2010-03-07 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Why are some objects in the Solar System bright while others are dim? Much of an object's brightness is caused by its albedo, or how well it reflects radiation from the Sun. If you want to know how big a distant moon, comet, or asteroid is, you've got to know its albedo.…

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Ep. 179: Mysteries of the Universe, Part 2

2010-02-28 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Today we tackle more thrilling mysteries of the Universe. And by tackle, we mean, acknowledge their puzzling existence. Some mysteries will be solved shortly, others will likely trouble astronomers for centuries to come. Join us for part 2.…

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Ep. 178: Mysteries of the Universe, Part 1

2010-02-21 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

All finished with the Milky Way, it's time to move on to the biggest mysteries of all. The mysteries of the Universe. Let's wonder about dark matter and dark energy, and the very nature of reality itself.…

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Ep. 177: Mysteries of the Milky Way, Part 2

2010-02-14 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We survived our first group of mysteries, so now we move onto our second set of stuff of amazing Milky Way mysteries. How many spiral arms does our galaxy have, and why does everything keep dying every 60 million years or so?…

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Ep. 176: Mysteries of the Milky Way, Part 1

2010-02-07 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We've wrapped up our Solar System mysteries and now we move onto the Milky Way mysteries, and the some of the general mysteries of galaxies. From blue stragglers to Eta Carinae... what's going on?…

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Ep. 175: Mysteries of the Solar System, Part 2

2010-01-31 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Apparently this is at least a 2 part series. This week we continue examining some of the baffling mysteries of the Solar System, where we fill your head with more questions than answers. Sometimes we've just got to share the enjoyment of not knowing the answer.…

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Ep. 174: Mysteries of the Solar System, Part 1

2010-01-24 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We know a lot about our Solar System, but there's an awful lot that's a complete and total mystery. Today we're going to begin a series of unknown length examining some of these mysteries, and explain the best theories astronomers have so far.…

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Ep. 173: Herschel Space Observatory

2010-01-17 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Last week we talked about Herschel the people – William Herschel, his sister Caroline, and his son John. This week we look at the Herschel Space Observatory, a mission launched in 2009 to reveal the coldest and dustiest regions in the Universe.…

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Ep. 171: Solar System Movements and Positions

2010-01-03 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Even in ancient times, astronomers realized there was something different about the planets - they move! The movement of the planets and their moons are governed by gravity. And as we all know, gravity can do some funny things.…

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Ep. 170: Coordinate Systems

2009-12-27 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This is going to be one of those weeks where we tackle something you're mentally avoiding. You know all those astronomical terms, like alt-azimuth, right ascension and declination, arc seconds and arc minutes? Of course not, your mind has blocked them out. Today we're going explain them, so you don't need to avoid them any more. Soon, you'll be ready to find anything in the cosmos.…

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Ep. 169: Fermi Mission

2009-12-20 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Last week we talked about Fermi the man, now we're going to talk about Fermi the space telescope. That's right, Enrico Fermi made such an impact in the astronomy and physics community that he got a space telescope named after him. Let's take a look at what this mission will do, and its discoveries so far.…

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Ep. 168: Enrico Fermi

2009-12-13 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Today's episode of Astronomy Cast is about another famous physicist: Enrico Fermi. We've already taken a look at one of Fermi's most famous ideas, the Fermi Paradox - or, where are all the aliens? But let's meet the man behind the ideas, the namesake for the new Fermi mission.…

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Ep. 167: Future Civilizations

2009-12-06 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Let's assume that humans survive the next few hundred years without destroying ourselves, or the planet, and we actually become a space faring civilization. What kinds of challenges will we face, and what projects will we build to expand ourselves out into the Solar System and eventually the galaxy. You just need to think big.…

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Ep. 166: Multiverses

2009-11-29 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

What if our universe was just one in an infinite number of parallel universes; a possible outcome from the specific predictions of quantum mechanics. The idea of multiple universes is common in science fiction, but is there any actual science to back this theory up?…

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Ep. 165: Doppler Effect

2009-11-22 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

You know how a police siren changes sound when it passes by you? That's the doppler effect. It works for sound waves and it works for light waves. Astronomers use the doppler effect to study the motion of objects across the Universe, from nearby extrasolar planets to the expansion of distant galaxies.…

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Ep. 164: Inside the Atom

2009-11-15 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We've talked about the biggest of the big, now let's focus in on the smallest of the small. Let's see what's inside that basic building block of matter: the atom. You probably know the basics, but with ever more powerful particle accelerators, physicists are revealing particles within particles, announcing new discoveries all the time.…

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Ep. 163: Auroras

2009-11-08 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

When the Sun's solar winds crash into the Earth's magnetosphere, we get to enjoy an incredible light show called auroras, or the Northern and Southern Lights. Let's learn about what causes these incredible phenomena, and the best times and places that you can see them with your own eyes.…

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Ep. 162: Edwin Hubble

2009-11-01 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

You might know the name "Hubble" because of the Hubble Space Telescope. But this phenomenal observatory was named after one of the most influential astronomers in modern history. Hubble discovered that galaxies are speeding away from us in all directions, leading to our current understanding of an expanding Universe. Let's learn about the man behind the telescope.…

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Ep. 161: Launch Facilities

2009-10-25 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Launching a rocket into space requires a big effort on the ground. Space agencies have built up huge infrastructures to store, prepare and launch rockets. Let's take a look at what's involved on the ground at a place like Cape Canaveral. What happens before, during and after a launch.…

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Ep. 160: Eclipses

2009-10-18 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Every now and then, the Moon destroys the Sun. Okay, not destroys, covers. Well, not really covers, but from here on Earth, sitting inside the shadow of the Moon, that's what it sure looks like. These events are called eclipses, or more precisely, transits and occultations. They occur whenever one object passes in front of another from a 3rd perspective. They're beautiful and exciting, and deliver a tremendous amount of science as well.…

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Ep. 159: Planet X

2009-10-11 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Astronomers have been searching for the mysterious Planet X for hundreds of years. It was the search for a theoretical planet beyond Uranus that turned up Neptune, and then again for Pluto. And even now there are some astronomers who think there's a more distant planet out there. Oh, and there are a bunch of pseudoscience cranks trying to freak people out about the end of the world. Don't worry, we'll make time for them too, but first let's start with some real science.…

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Ep. 158: Pulsars

2009-10-04 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Imagine an object with the mass of the Sun, crushed down to the size of Manhattan. Now set that object spinning hundreds of times a second, blasting out powerful beams of radiation like a lighthouse. That's a pulsar, one of the most exotic objects in the Universe.…

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Ep. 157: Constellations

2009-09-27 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Did you know there are 88 constellations in the night sky? Let's learn about the constellations and other star formations, their history, their connection to the zodiac, and how to find some of them.…

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Ep. 156: Famous Stars

2009-09-20 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we're going to talk about famous stars. But not those boring human ones you read about in People magazine. No, we're talking about those hot balls of plasma across the distant Universe. The close ones, the bright ones, the massive ones, the giant ones. Let's get to know some famous stars.…

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Ep. 155: Dwarf Stars

2009-09-13 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We think we live near an average star, but that's not the case at all. Compared to most stars in the Universe, the Sun is a giant! Let's look at the small end of the stellar spectrum, to stars with a fraction of the size and mass of our own Sun. There are many ways that a star can get small, and they lead dramatically different lives and deaths.…

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Ep. 154: Dragon*Con Live with Seth Shostak

2009-09-06 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we step away from our regular programming to bring you a live show from Dragon*Con in Atlanta. Pamela shares the stage with SETI researcher Seth Shostak. Together they discuss the technology and science of searching for intelligence, And answer questions from the audience.…

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Ep. 153: Dark Skies

2009-08-30 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

If you live in a city, it's possible that you've never seen the Milky Way with your own eyes. To really appreciate everything the night skies have to offer, you've got to get out of the city, away from the lights, where the skies are really dark. But those places are getting harder and harder to find. Let's talk about what you can do to find dark skies, fight to make the skies darker, and how to make the most of wherever you live.…

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Ep. 152: Binary Stars

2009-08-23 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Did you know that our Solar System is a rarity with its single star. Astronomers believe that most star systems out there actually contain 2 or more stars – imagine seeing a sky with 4 suns. These binary and multiple star systems are a great target for new astronomers, and the dynamics of multiple stars keep astrophysicists busy too. Let's take a look at what it would be like to live on Tatooine.…

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Ep. 151: Atmospheres

2009-08-16 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Take a quick breath. There, that's what we're going to talk about today – the atmosphere. And not just the Earth's familiar atmosphere, but the strange, exotic and deadly atmospheres we find in the Solar System and surrounding extrasolar planets.…

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Ep. 150: Telescopes, the Next Level

2009-08-09 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We've explained how to get into astronomy and buy your first telescope. Now we're going to take things to the next level and get you drooling about bigger and better telescopes. If you're serious about astronomy, what kinds of telescopes will give you the best bang for big bucks?…

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Ep. 149: Constellation Program

2009-08-02 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

It's been more than 40 years since humans first set foot on the Moon. But plans are in place to return humans to the surface of the Moon, and maybe even to asteroids and the planet Mars. New rockets, landers and flight technology are all under development. Humans are pushing out into space again, and this time we're going to stay. Let's take a look at NASA's new Constellation Program. What's been developed so far, and what's coming up.…

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Ep. 148: Astronomy and New Media

2009-07-26 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Astronomy is one of the scientific fields that have been completely shaken up by new media. The Internet has enabled communication between researchers in a dramatic new way, creating new collaborations, removing obstacles, and drawing in an army of enthusiastic volunteers to help with research. Let's take a look at how new media is helping change astronomy, and how you can get involved.…

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Ep. 147: How to Be Taken Seriously By Scientists

2009-07-19 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

For those non-scientists trying to get their original ideas accepted by the scientific community, you've got to have thick skin. It might seem like there's a vast conspiracy, or a general attitude that drives away original, but unorthodox ideas. But that's not true, the reality is that great ideas in science come from everywhere, even amateurs. In this episode we'll help you understand what scientists will be looking for, and the best ways to be taken seriously.…

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Ep. 146: Astronomy Research from Idea to Publication

2009-07-12 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Have you ever wondered how astronomers do their research? How do they go from idea or question, to gathering their data, to publishing the research. What are all the hoops they have to jump through, the paperwork to fill out, and the cool toys they get to use along the way?…

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Ep. 145: Interstellar Travel

2009-07-05 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

In science fiction it's easy to hop into your spaceship and blast off for other stars. But the true distances between stars, and the limits of relativity make interstellar travel almost impossible with our current technology. What would it really take to travel from star to star, exploring the galaxy?…

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Questions Show: Imaging Extrasolar Planets, Infinite Universe, Inside a Black Hole

2009-07-01 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

What will we eventually be able to see on extrasolar planets? What does an infinite Universe mean? And what's down there, inside a black hole? If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 144: Space Elevators

2009-06-28 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

If you want to travel into the Solar System, you have to get off the Earth. Traditionally, that meant blasting off in a rocket. But there's another strategy for escaping the Earth's gravity. Climb to the top of an extremely tall tower, and just jump away. That's the idea behind space elevators. Theoretically possible, but practically unfeasible, space elevators have gotten new life thanks to new, super strong materials.…

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Questions Show: Matter Balance, Jumping Light Speed and Black Hole Star Formation

2009-06-24 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Why was there a difference between the amount of matter and antimatter at the beginning of the Universe? Mathematics lets us travel faster than light speed, so why can't we? And are there stars forming around black holes? If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 143: Astrobiology

2009-06-21 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We know there's life in the Universe. We see it all around us here on Earth. But is there life anywhere else? By studying the extremes that life can take here on Earth, scientists are learning just how hardy and adaptable life can really be. And if you consider other ways that life might function, the options open up considerably. This week we'll discuss the study of life - extreme life here on Earth, and the possibility of finding life on other worlds.…

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Questions Show: Black black holes, Unbalancing the Earth, and Space Pollution

2009-06-17 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Why are black holes black? Can a huge mass of humanity make the Earth wobble? And what's so bad about space pollution anyway? If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 142: Plate Tectonics

2009-06-14 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

The surface of the Earth feels solid under your feet, but you're actually standing on a plate of the Earth's crust. And that plate is slowly shifting across the surface of the Earth. Over geologic timescales, plate tectonics has totally resurfaced our planet, bringing continents together, and tearing them apart. We know we have plate tectonics here on Earth, but what about other worlds?…

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Questions Show: Avoiding the Heat Death, Orbiting Galaxies, and the Dangers of Space Radiation

2009-06-10 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Will robots be able to avoid the heat death of the Universe? Can galaxies orbit each other like binary stars? And what are the dangers of space radiation to astronauts on the Moon? If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 141: Volcanoes, Hot and Cold

2009-06-07 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

You're familiar with volcanoes, eruptive vents where hot magma escapes the Earth's interior – sometimes with disastrous effects. But did you know that volcanoes have shaped many of the planets and moons in the Solar System, not just our own Earth? And just in the last few years astronomers have discovered there are cold volcanoes on some of the icy objects in the outer solar system.…

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Questions Show: Galileoscope, Black Hole Time, and What Exactly is Energy?

2009-06-03 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

How can you get a Galileoscope of your very own? What happens to time inside a black hole? And what exactly is energy anyway? If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 140: Entanglement

2009-05-31 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

One of the most amazing aspects of quantum mechanics is quantum entanglement. This is the strange behavior where particles can become entangled, so they're somehow connected to one another – no matter the distance between them. Interact with one particle and the other reacts instantly; even if they're separated by billions of light-years.…

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Questions Show: Telescope Suggestions, Black Hole Energy, and Universal Time

2009-05-27 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

What starting telescope equipment does the Astronomy Cast team suggest? How much energy does a black hole generate? And how do we measure time outside the Earth? If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 139: Energy Levels and Spectra

2009-05-24 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Last week we took a peek into the tiny world of quantum mechanics, and its unintuitive, but very accurate mathematical predictions. And although we all appreciate the physics lesson, you're probably wondering what this all has to do with astronomy. Well, today we bring it all home and explain how quantum mechanics has given astronomers one of the most powerful tools they have to study the nature of the cosmos.…

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Questions Show: An Unlocked Moon, Energy Into Black Holes, and the Space Station's Orbit

2009-05-20 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

What would happen if the Moon wasn't tidally locked to the Earth? What happens to all that mass and energy disappearing into a black hole? And how can we explain the space station's crazy orbit? If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 138: Quantum Mechanics

2009-05-17 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Quantum mechanics is the study of the very tiny; the nature of reality at the smallest scale. It's a science that defies common sense, and delivers no helpful analogies. And yet it delivers the goods, making scientific predictions with incredible accuracy. Let's look into the history of quantum theory, and then struggle to comprehend its connection to the Universe.…

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Questions Show: Hidden Fusion, the Speed of Neutrinos, and Hawking Radiation

2009-05-13 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Are new stars dark until their photons reach the surface? How fast do neutrinos travel? And what’s the story with Hawking Radiation? If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 137: Large Scale Structure of the Universe

2009-05-10 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we’re going to think big. Bigger than big. We’re going to consider the biggest things in the Universe. If you could pull way back, and examine regions of space billions of light-years across, what would you see? How is the Universe arranged at the largest scale? And more importantly… why?…

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Questions Show: The Source of Atmospheres, the Vanishing Moon, and a Glow After Sunset

2009-05-06 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

How do planets get their atmospheres? What would happen to the Earth if the Moon just disappeared? And what’s that strange glow we see after sunset? If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 136: Gamma Ray Astronomy

2009-05-03 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

And now we reach the end of our tour through the electromagnetic spectrum. Last stop: gamma rays. These are the most energetic photons in the Universe, boosted up to incredible energies in the most violent places in the Universe. Gamma rays are tricky to catch, but they can reveal the most dramatic events in the Universe.…

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Questions Show: Dangerous Solar Flares, Higgs Boson Insights, and Light Speed Flashlights

2009-04-29 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Can our Sun generate a solar flare that would wipe out life on Earth? Has the Large Hadron Collider answered any questions about the Higgs boson? And what would happen if you shined your flashlight out the front window of a spaceship going almost the speed of light? If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 135: X-Ray Astronomy

2009-04-26 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

If you've ever broken a bone, X-rays are a part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Doctors use X-rays to study the human body, and astronomers use X-rays to study some of the hottest places in the Universe. So let's put on our X-ray specs, and see what we can see.…

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Questions Show: NorthEast Astronomy Forum (NEAF)

2009-04-22 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Pamela was lucky enough to attend the NorthEast Astronomy Forum, and while she was there she held a live questions show. And now you get to join in an hear the interesting questions, and Pamela's interesting answers. If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 134: Ultraviolet Astronomy

2009-04-19 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Our next visit in this tour through the electromagnetic spectrum is the ultraviolet. You can't see it, but anyone who's spent a day out in the hot sun without sunblock has sure experienced its effects. Ultraviolet radiation is associated with the birth of stars and some of the hottest places in the Universe.…

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Ep. 133: Optical Astronomy

2009-04-12 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Optical astronomy; now this is the kind of astronomy a human being was born to do. In fact, until the last century, this was the only kind of astronomy anybody ever did. Now we've got the whole electromagnetic spectrum to explore, but our heart still belongs to optical astronomy. Of course, with bigger telescopes, better optics and more sensitive detectors, even optical astronomy has come a long way.…

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Questions Show: Undoing Inflation, Searching for Water, and Seeing Everything a Black Hole's Ever Eaten

2009-04-08 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

If there was enough mass to cause a big crunch, would inflation go backwards too? How do spacecraft know that hydrogen is bonded to water? And why can't we see everything that's ever fallen into a black hole? If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 132: Infrared Astronomy

2009-04-05 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Today we continue our unofficial tour through the electromagnetic spectrum, stopping at the infrared spectrum - you feel it as heat. This section of the spectrum gives us our only clear view through dusty material to see newly forming planetary systems and shrouded supermassive black holes. And infrared lets us look out to the most distant regions of the observable universe, when the first building blocks of galaxies came together.…

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Ep. 131: Submillimeter Astronomy

2009-03-29 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Last week we examined the largest wavelength in the electromagnetic spectrum: radio. This week we get a little smaller… but not too small! And look at the next step in the spectrum, the submillimeter. Astronomers have only recently began exploiting this tiny slice of the spectrum, but the payoff has been huge.…

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Questions Show: Decelerating Black Holes, Earth-Sun Tidal Lock, and the Crushing Gravity of Dark Matter

2009-03-25 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we wonder if you can made a black hole by accelerating a mass, but then can you un-make it again? Will the Earth ever be tidally locked to the Sun? And can dark matter crush an unsuspecting space ship? If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 130: Radio Astronomy

2009-03-22 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Astronomers are very resourceful, when it comes to light, they use the whole spectrum - from radio to gamma rays. We see in visible light, but that's just a tiny portion of the spectrum. Today we're going to celebrate the other end of the spectrum; the radio end, where photons really stretch out their wavelengths.…

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Questions Show: Multiple Big Bangs, Satellite Collisions and the Size of the Universe

2009-03-11 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we wonder if the Universe is going to collapse and then expand again, how satellites can have such different velocities, and the size of the observable Universe. If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 129: Interferometry

2009-03-08 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

When it comes to telescopes, bigger is better. But bigger is more expensive. Way more expensive. To keep the costs reasonable while improving the sensitivity of their instruments, astronomers use an amazing technique called interferometry. Instead of building a single huge telescope, you can merge the light from several telescopes to act like a much larger telescope. It's a technique that has already revolutionized Earth-based observing - but just wait until it gets into space...…

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Questions Show: Shooting Lasers at the Moon and Losing Contact with Rovers

2009-03-04 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we find out how hard it is to hit the Moon with a laser, and if scientists lose contact with the Mars rovers when they go behind the Sun. If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 128: Dust

2009-03-01 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

You can't make a Solar System without a whole lot of dust. And that's the problem. This dust has blocked astronomers views into some of the most fascinating parts of the cosmos. It shields the galactic core, enshrouds newly forming stars and their planets, and blocks our view to churning supermassive black holes, actively feeding in distant galaxies. But new telescopes and techniques are allowing astronomers to peer through this dust, and see these events like never before.…

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Ep. 127: The US Space Shuttle

2009-02-15 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

You’ve heard us talk about capsules, you’ve heard us talk about space suits, well today we take a look at the only currently in use reusable space craft. It’s a not a bird, its not a plane – It’s the US Space Shuttle. And to make it interesting – we’ve sent Scott Miller, Astronomy Cast student web developer, down to watch the launch so he can bring us back us first hand story.…

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Ep. 126: From Skeptics Guide with Questions

2009-02-08 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Orbiting black holes generate gravity waves. This week Bob Novella of Skeptics Guide to the Universe is going to pepper Pamela with questions, testing her ability to leap from tides to gravitational waves to Higgs bosons. We'll see where this takes us on this skeptical journey through what is known and what we're trying to learn about this universe.…

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Ep. 125: A Zoo of Extrasolar Planets

2009-02-01 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Dreaming up new planets is a favorite pastime of science fiction writers, but the universe often has them beat – coming with planets in place and forms that we had quite thought to imagine. Today we know of 228 stars orbiting alien stars, and in this episode we will look at the diversity of these worlds, from Mushy Lava covered planets to Icy Giants to the hottest of hot Jupiters.…

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Questions Show: Moons and the Drake Equation, Stars in the Void, and Rings Around Stars

2009-01-21 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we find out if moons around other planets could support life, if there's anything out there between galaxies, and whether stars form rings. If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 124: Space Capsules, Part 1 - Vostok, Mercury and Gemini

2009-01-18 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

The space capsule has been around for almost 50 years, when Yuri Gagarin headed to space in 1961. There have been many programs that used capsules by both the Americans and the Russians, and even the Chinese are using them now for their spaceflight program. Let's take a look at this rugged, dependable space vehicle that going to making a comeback in the next decade, when NASA sends humans back to the Moon.…

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Ep. 123: Homogeneity

2009-01-11 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

As astronomers discovered that we live in a great big universe, they considered a fundamental question: is the universe the same everywhere? Imagine if gravity was stronger billions of light years away… Or in the past. It sounds like a simple question, but the answer has been tricky to unravel.…

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Ep. 122: How Old is the Universe

2009-01-04 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We did a wildly popular three part series about the center, size and shape of the Universe. But every good trilogy needs a 4th episode. This week we look at age of the Universe. How old is the Universe, and how do we know? And how has this number changed over time as astronomers have gotten better tools and techniques?…

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Questions Show: Questions Show: Stellar Roche Limits, Seeing Black Holes, and Water on Mars

2008-12-31 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we find out when stars get torn apart from gravity, how we can see supermassive black holes, how liquid water could have existed on Mars in the past, and much more. If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 121: Spacesuits

2008-12-28 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

As we've mentioned before, the Universe is trying to kill you. And for astronauts, that's truer than ever. One step out into the vacuum of space would be a world of hurt for an unprotected astronaut: the freezing cold temperature, the lack of atmospheric pressure, and the deadly radiation, just to name a few hazards. That's why the smart astronaut always puts on a spacesuit first. Let's take a look at the smallest spaceship around.…

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Ep. 120: The Christmas Star

2008-12-21 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

With Christmas just around the corner, we thought we'd investigate a mystery that has puzzled historians for hundreds of years. In the bible, the birth of Jesus was announced by a bright star in the sky that led the three wise men to his birthplace. What are some possible astronomical objects that might look like such a bright star in the sky? And were there any unusual events that happened at that time?…

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Questions Show: Different Fields of Astronomy, Our Sibling Stars, and Hidden Lagrange Points

2008-12-17 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we find out the difference between an astronomer, an astrophysicist, and a cosmologist, the search for the stars that shared our nebula, hidden objects in Lagrange points, and much more. If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 119: Robots in Space

2008-12-14 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Space is totally inhospitable. If the freezing temperatures don't get you, the intense radiation will kill you. Or the vacuum, or the lack of breathable atmosphere, or meteoroid impacts. Well… you get the idea. That's why most space exploration is done by hardy robots. They don't need to eat, drink or breathe. They get their energy from the Sun, and they've proven they've got the right stuff to explore every planet and major moon in the Solar System. Let's hear it for the space robots.…

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Questions Show: Distance in Space, Changing Earth's Orbit, and Different Sized Stars

2008-12-10 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we find out the distance between Betelgeuse and Bellatrex, how astronomers measure distance between objects, the possibility that an object could mess up the orbit of Earth, and the reason for different sizes of stars.…

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Ep. 118: Sky Surveys

2008-12-07 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

In the old days, astronomers had to beg for telescope time. They'd put together a proposal, convince observatories to gather data for them, crunch that data and release the results. No telescope, no results. But everything's different now. Fleets of robotic telescopes constantly scan the skies, building up a vast database of raw data about the Universe. Anyone who wants can access the information through the Internet, download what they need to do real science. No telescope necessary. Let's look at the development of sky surveys, and how they're changing how astronomy gets done.…

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Ep. 117: Time

2008-11-30 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Today, time rules our lives. We live each day with the moments broken up into hours, minutes and seconds. We never seem to have enough time. But can you imagine not being able to tell time at all, where the movements of the Sun and the stars was the only way to know what time it was? Let's learn about the history of time, methods of telling time, and Einstein's historic discovery that time isn't as fixed as we thought it was.…

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Ep. 116: Molecules in Space

2008-11-23 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

As part of her trip to England, Pamela had a chance to sit down with Oxford astrophysicist Chris Lintott and record an episode of Astronomy Cast. From the first stars to the newest planets, molecules and the chemistry that allows them to form affects all aspects of astronomy. While most astronomers group molecules into three bins of hydrogen, helium and everything else, there are a few who do proper chemistry by studying the sometimes complex molecules that form between the stars.…

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Ep. 115: The Moon, Part 3: Return to the Moon

2008-11-16 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

It's time for a third lunar chapter. We've talked about the physical characteristics of the Moon, and the exploration. Now we're going to talk about the plans to return to the Moon. From the upcoming lunar reconnaissance orbiter to the plans to have humans set foot on the Moon again, for the first time in more than 50 years.…

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Questions Show: Spiral Arms, Seismic Waves on the Sun, and our Favorite Gear

2008-11-12 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we explore galactic spiral arms, seismic quakes on the Sun, and our picks for astronomy gear. If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 114: The Moon, Part 2 - Exploration of the Moon

2008-11-09 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Let's continue on our journey to the Moon. Last week we talked about the physical characteristics of the Moon, its appearance in the sky and how it interacts with the Earth. This week we're going to take a look at how scientists have expanded our understanding of the Moon. From ancient astronomers using nothing more than their eyes and the first telescope observations of Galileo to the exploration by robotic spacecraft. And of course, the first tentative steps by the human explorers of the Apollo program.…

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Questions Show: Ice in Space, Expansion of the Universe, and Death from the Skies

2008-11-05 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Another week, another batch of questions. If ice disappears in your freezer, how can it last in space? How can the Universe be expanding faster than the speed of light? And what is the risk from a coronal mass ejection in an airplane? All this and even more questions. If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 113: The Moon, Part 1

2008-11-02 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Hey, here's a topic we haven't gotten around to yet... the Moon. Today we look at our closest astronomical companion: the Moon. What impact does the moon have on our lives, where did it come from, who walked on it, and are we ever going to walk on it again? We're going to learn about the phases, the tides and even a little bit about NASA's plans to return to the Moon.…

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Questions Show: Orbit of the Planets, Green Stars, and Oort Cloud Contamination

2008-10-29 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We're back to a themeless questions show. We're right across the Universe this time. Why are the planets lined up in a nice flat plane? Why are there no green stars? And is the Oort Cloud contaminating our understanding of the cosmic microwave background radiation? If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 112: Death from the Skies, Interview with Phil Plait

2008-10-26 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We say it all the time here on Astronomy Cast: the Universe is trying to kill us. This week, Pamela is joined by Dr. Phil Plait to discuss his new book, Death from the Skies. Phil and Pamela talk about asteroid strikes, solar flares and gamma ray bursts.…

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Questions Show: Relativity, Relativity and More Relativity

2008-10-22 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Everyone loves a theme. And this week we've collected together some of your questions about relativity. More light speed spacecraft, twin paradoxes, and the mixing up of gravity, time and mass. If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 111: Nebulae

2008-10-19 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

When you think about the best pictures in astronomy, almost every one is a nebula; the pillars of creation in the Eagle Nebula, or the complex Helix Nebula - or my personal favorite, the Ring Nebula. They're beautiful, wispy clouds of gas and dust that signify both the birth and death of stars. Today we give tribute to nebulae.…

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Questions Show: Galactic Dust, the Speed of Photons, and the Big Bang Calculations

2008-10-18 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Another week, another roundup of your questions. This week listeners asked: what is galactic dust anyway, and where does it come from? Why can photons move at the speed of light? And how can astronomers know what happened right after the Big Bang? And there's even more. If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show. Please include your location and a way to pronounce your name.…

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Ep. 110: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

2008-10-12 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

You know what this show needs? More aliens. Since we don't seem to have any visiting right now, we're going to have to find some. SETI is an acronym. It stands for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. But there's more to SETI than just putting up a radio telescope and hoping to catch a glimpse of an alien television broadcast.…

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Ep. 109: The Life of Other Stars

2008-10-05 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Last week we looked at the complete life of the Sun, birth to death. But stars can be smaller, and stars can get much much larger. And with a change in mass, their lives change too. Let's start the clock again, and see what happens to the smallest stars in the Universe; and what happens to the largest.…

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Questions Show - Running Out of Gravitons and Hitting the Brakes at Light Speed

2008-10-01 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Another week, another roundup of your questions. This week listeners asked: if forces are communicated through particles, can we run out? If you were traveling at light speed, when would you know to stop? And there's even more. If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show.…

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Ep. 108: The Life of the Sun

2008-09-28 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We've talked about the Sun before, but this time we're going to look at the entire life cycle of the Sun, and all the stages it's going to go through: solar nebula, protostar, main sequence, red giant, white dwarf, and more. Want to know what the future holds for the Sun, get ready for the grim details.…

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Questions Show - light speed, Andromeda galaxy, dark matter and black holes

2008-09-25 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Another week, another roundup of your questions. This week listeners asked: will reaching light speed destroy the Universe? When is Andromeda going to look really, really cool with the unaided eye? Why didn't dark matter all turn into black holes? And there's even more. If you've got a question for the Astronomy Cast team, please email it in to info@astronomycast.com and we'll try to tackle it for a future show.…

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Ep. 107: Nucleosynthesis: Elements from Stars

2008-09-21 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Look around you. Breathe in some air. Everything you can see and feel was formed in a star. Today we'll examine that long journey that matter has gone through, forged and re-forged in the hearts of stars. In fact, the device you're using to listen to this podcast has some elements formed in a supernova explosion.…

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Questions Show - Black Hole Surfaces, Magnetic Field Strengths, and the Speed of Gravitons

2008-09-17 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

As you know, we wanted to answer listener questions regularly, but we found it was taking away from the regular weekly episodes of Astronomy Cast. So we've decided to just split it up and run the question shows separately from the regular Astronomy Cast episodes. If this works out, you might be able to enjoy twice the number of Astronomy Cast episodes. So if you've got a question on a topic we cover in a recent show, or you just have a general astronomy question, send it in to info@astronomycast.com. Either by email, or record your question and email in the audio file.…

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Ep. 106: The Search for the Theory of Everything

2008-09-14 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

At the earliest moments of the Universe, there were no separate forces, energy or matter. It was all just the same stuff. And then the different forces froze out, differentiating into electromagnetism, the strong force and the weak force. Today we'll look at the problem that has puzzled physicists for generations: is there a single equation that explains all the forces we see in the Universe. Is there a theory of everything?…

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Student Questions Show: Leelanau School

2008-09-13 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This is our forth installment in our series of student questions shows and these questions come to us from Leelanau High School.…

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Ep. 105: The Strong and Weak Nuclear Forces

2008-09-07 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

After a quick Dragon*Con break, we're back to our tour through the fundamental forces of the Universe. We've covered gravity and electromagnetism, and now we're moving onto the strong and weak nuclear forces. We didn't think they'd really need to be separate episodes, so we're putting them together. And then we'll cap the whole series with the quest for the theory of everything.…

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Ep. 104: Science Fiction at Dragon*Con with Plait and Grazier

2008-08-31 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Pamela left Fraser behind (with sorrow) and took on Dragon*Con and the facts (or lack there of) in Science Fiction. Helping her out were special guests Phil Plait and Kevin Grazier.…

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Ep. 103: Electromagnetism

2008-08-24 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Our series on the basic forces of the cosmos continues! Last week we discussed gravity, and this we'll handle electromagnetism. Electricity and magnetism are just two aspects of the same force, and you can't talk about astronomy without understanding these two keys aspects of physics.…

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Ep. 102: Gravity

2008-08-17 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

You seem to like a nice series, so here's a new one we've been thinking about. Over the course of the next 4 weeks, we're going to cover each of the basic forces in the Universe. And this week, we're going to start with gravity; the force you're most familiar with. Gravity happens when masses attract one another, and we can calculate its effect with exquisite precision. But you might be surprised to know that scientists have no idea why gravity happens.…

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Ep. 101: Advanced Propulsion Systems

2008-08-10 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Last week we talked about rockets. How they work and their limitations. This week we're going to look at the future of propulsion systems. From the ion engines that are already working to explore the Solar System to the prototype solar sails to futuristic technologies like magnetic sails, and bussard ramjets. This is how we'll travel to other stars.…

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Ep. 100: Rockets

2008-08-03 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

To move around in space, you need some kind of propulsion system. And for now, that means rockets. Let's learn the underlying science of rockets, and how they work. And learn why a rocket will never let us reach the speed of light.…

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Ep. 99: The Milky Way

2008-07-27 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

The Milky Way is our home. An island of stars in a universe of other galaxies. But you might be surprised to learn that astronomers have only known the Milky Way's true nature for just a century. Let's learn the history of discoveries about the Milky Way, and what today's science tells us. And let's peer into the future to learn the ultimate fate of our galaxy.…

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Ep. 98: Quasars

2008-07-20 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Last week we talked about galaxies in general, and hinted at the most violent and energetic ones out there: active galaxies. Quasars have been a mystery for half a century; what kind of object could throw out more radiation than an entire galaxy? A black hole, it turns out, with the mass of hundreds of millions of suns performs this feat. Let's trace back the history of quasars, how they were first discovered and puzzled astronomers for so long. And let's look at what we know today.…

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Ep. 97: Galaxies

2008-07-13 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we're going to look at some of the biggest objects in the Universe: galaxies. It was the discovery of galaxies in the early 20th century that helped astronomers realize just how big the Universe is, and how far away everything is. Let's learn how galaxies formed and how they evolve and change over time, merging with the neighbors. And what the future holds.…

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Ep. 96: Humans to Mars, Part 3 - Terraforming Mars

2008-07-06 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

And now we reach the third part of our trilogy on the human exploration and colonization of Mars. Humans will inevitably tire of living underground, and will want to stretch their legs, and fill their lungs with fresh air. One day, we'll contemplate the possibility of reshaping Mars to suit human life. Is it even possible? What technologies would be used, and what's the best we can hope for?…

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Ep. 95: Humans to Mars, Part 2 - Colonists

2008-06-29 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

After astronauts make the first tentative steps onto the surface of Mars, a big goal will be colonization of the Red Planet. The first trailblazers who try to live on Mars will have their work cut out for them, being in an environment totally hostile to life. What challenges will they face, and how might they overcome them?…

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Ep. 94: Humans to Mars, Part 1 - The Scientists

2008-06-22 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We're learned about the failed missions to Mars in the past, and the current spacecraft, rovers and landers currently exploring the Red Planet. But the real prize will come when the first human sets foot on Mars. Robots are cheaper, but nothing beats having a real human being on the scene, to search for evidence of water and life.…

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Ep. 93: Missions to Mars, Part 2

2008-06-15 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

I know last week was a bit of a dry history lesson, but we wanted to give you some understanding of past efforts to explore Mars. Now we'll look at the missions currently in orbit, and crawling around the surface of Mars, and help you understand the science that's happening right now.…

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Ep. 92: Missions to Mars, Part 1

2008-06-08 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

With last month's safe arrival of the Phoenix Mars Lander, Mars enthusiasts breathed a collective sigh of relief… phew. Now it's time to search for evidence of organic molecules in the ice at Mars' north pole. But this is just the latest in a long series of missions sent to the Red Planet. Let's have a history lesson, and look back at the missions sent to Mars, successful and unsuccessful.…

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Ep. 91: The Search for Water on Mars

2008-06-01 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

With the successful touchdown of the Phoenix Lander, NASA is continuing its quest to find evidence of past and present water on Mars. This week we discuss the geologic history of Mars, and explain why NASA thinks the story of water on Mars is so important. And how this ties into the search for life on the Red Planet.…

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Ep. 90: The Scientific Method

2008-05-25 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

You've heard us say it 90 times: "How we know what we know." But how do we know how we know what we know? So astronomers like all scientists use the scientific method. Without the scientific method we'd probably still think the Earth is flat, only a few thousand years old and the center of the universe. But with the scientific method everything changes. From biology, to chemistry, to physics, to astronomy it is impossible to count the number of changes that have happened to human society because of changes brought about from the scientific method. In this episode we tell you about what the scientific method is, how you can use it to improve your life, and discuss why gravity isn't just a theory.…

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Ep. 89: Adaptive Optics

2008-05-18 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Since the dawn of humanity, astronomers have wished to destroy the atmosphere. Oh sure, it's what we breathe and all, but that stupid atmosphere is always getting in the way. Since destroying the atmosphere is out of the question, astronomers have figured out how to work with it. To distort the mirror of the telescope itself though the magic of adaptive optics.…

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Ep. 88: The Hubble Space Telescope

2008-05-11 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Our understanding of the cosmos has been revolutionized by the Hubble Space Telescope. The breathtaking familiar photos, like the Pillars of Creation, pale in comparison to the astounding amount of science data returned to Earth. Hubble's getting old, though, serviced several times already, and due for another mission later this year. Let's relive the historic observatory's amazing life so far, and see what the future holds.…

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Ep. 87: The End of the Universe Part 2: The End of Everything

2008-05-04 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Hopefully you've all recovered from part 1 of this set, where we make you sad about the future of the humanity, the Earth, the Sun and the Solar System. But hang on, we're really going to bring you down. Today we'll look far far forward into the distant future of the Universe, at timescales that we can barely comprehend.…

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Ep. 86: The End of the Universe Part 1: The End of the Solar System

2008-04-27 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This is a show we wanted to do since we started Astronomy Cast but we always thought it was too early. We wanted you to know that we're positive, happy people with enthusiasm for astronomy and the future. It's time for some sadness. It's time for a grim look to see what the future holds for the Universe. This week we stay close to home and consider the end of humanity, the Earth, the Sun, and the entire Solar System. Next week we'll extend out to the very end of the Universe.…

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Ep. 85: Detectors

2008-04-20 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Our senses can only detect a fraction of the phenomena happening in the Universe. That's why scientists and engineers develop detectors, to let us see radiation and particles that we could never detect with our eyes and ears. This week we'll go through them all, so you can understand how we see what we can't see.…

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Ep. 84: Getting Around the Solar System

2008-04-13 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Have you ever wondered what it takes to get a spacecraft off the Earth and into space. And how managers at NASA can actually navigate a spacecraft to another planet? And how does a gravity assist work? And how do they get them into orbit? And how do they land? So many questions……

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Ep. 83: Wave Particle Duality

2008-04-06 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Have you ever heard that photons behave like both a particle and a wave and wondered what that meant? It's true. Sometimes light acts like a wave, and other times it behaves like a little particle. It's both. This week we discuss the experiments that demonstrate this, explain how scientists figured it all out in the first place. What does wave/particle duality have to do with astronomy? Well, everything, since light is the only way astronomers can see out into the Universe.…

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Ep. 82: Space Junk

2008-03-30 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We're polluting every corner of our own planet, so it only makes sense that we'll take our trashy habits out into space with us. This week we look at the myriad of ways we're messing up space, from the trash orbiting the planet to the radiation we're leaking out into space.…

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Ep. 81: Questions on the Shape Size and Centre of the Universe

2008-03-23 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

As predicted we got a lot of questions from people about our trilogy of shows on the size, shape and centre of the universe. Today we'll do our best to clear them all up.As always, if you're still confused drop us an email to info at astronomycast dot com.…

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Ep. 80: Craters

2008-03-16 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Pamela's attending the 39th Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conference, and you know what that means: the Moon… and planets! When you think of the Moon, you think of craters. In fact, that's a big theme this week at the conference, so Pamela took it as inspiration. Here you go, the week we drove the show into a crater. Wait… there's got to be a better way to describe this.…

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Ep. 79: How Big is the Universe?

2008-03-09 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We’re ready to complete our trilogy of discovery about the universe. We’ve learned that it has no center; rather everywhere is its center and nowhere. We discovered that the universe seems to be flat. It not open, it is not closed, it is flat. If that doesn’t make any sense, you need to listen to the previous show because there’s no way I could give that an explanation. So now we want to know: “How big is it?” Does it go on forever or is it finite in scale? How much of it can we see?…

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Ep. 78: What is the Shape of the Universe?

2008-03-02 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Some of the biggest questions in the universe depend on its shape. Is it curved? Is it flat? Is it open? Those may not make that much sense to you, but in fact it’s very important for astronomers. So which is it? How do we know? How did we figure it out? Why does it matter?…

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Ep. 77: Where is the Centre of the Universe?

2008-02-24 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

There are some people – I’m not naming names – who think the universe revolves around them. In fact, for most of humankind, everybody thought that. It’s only been in the last few hundred years that scientists finally puzzled out that the Earth isn’t the centre of the universe at all. That begs the question: where is the centre?…

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Ep. 76: Lagrange Points

2008-02-17 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Gravity is always pulling you down, but there are places in the solar system where gravity balances out. These are called Lagrange points and space agencies use them as stable places to put spacecraft. Nature is on to them and has already been using them for billions of years.…

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Student Questions: Curtis High School

2008-02-15 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This is our second installment in our series of student questions shows and these questions come to us from Curtis High School.…

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Ep. 75: Stellar Populations

2008-02-10 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

After the big bang, all we had was hydrogen, a little bit of helium, and a few other trace elements. Today, we’ve a whole periodic table of elements to enjoy, from oxygen we breathe to the aluminium cans we drink from to the uranium that powers some people’s homes. How did we get from plain old hydrogen to our current diversity? It came from stars, in fact successive generations of stars.…

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Ep. 74: Antimatter

2008-02-03 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Sometimes, we don’t get to decide what our show’s about. So many threads come together at the same time driving the decision for us. This is one of those situations. We’ve gotten so many questions from listeners in just the last week about antimatter that our show had just been chosen for it. You command, we obey. Let’s talk about antimatter.…

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Ep. 73: Questions Show #8

2008-01-27 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We’ve been so crazy following our own whims through the universe that we’ve neglected your questions. That ends today. It’s time to dig deep into our overflowing email box to retrieve the puzzling questions our listeners have sent in.…

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Ep. 72: Cosmic Rays

2008-01-20 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We’re going to return back to a long series of episodes we like to call: Radiation that Will Turn You Into a Superhero. This time we’re going to look at cosmic rays, which everyone knows made the Fantastic Four. These high-energy particles are streaming from the Sun and even intergalactic space, and do a wonderful job of destroying our DNA, giving us radiation sickness, and maybe (hopefully!) turning us into superheroes.…

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Ep. 71: Gravitational Waves

2008-01-13 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

When he put together his theories of relativity, Einstein made a series of predictions. Some were confirmed just a few years later, but scientists are still working to confirm others. And one of the most fascinating is the concept of gravitational waves. As massive objects move in space, they send out ripples across the Universe that actually distort the shape of matter. Experiments are in place and in the works to detect these gravitational waves as they sweep past the Earth.…

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Ep. 70: How to Win a Nobel Prize

2008-01-06 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Just a couple of shows ago, we showed you how to get a career in astronomy. Now that you've got your career in astronomy, obviously the next goal is to win a Nobel prize. We're here at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin, which is just one tiny step that a person has to take before you get that Nobel prize. Before you get that call in the middle of the night from Sweden, you're going to need to come with an idea, do some experiments, write a paper, get published and a bunch of other stuff. This week, we'll tell you all about it.…

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Student Questions: Farmersburg School

2008-01-05 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Thanks to GLAST, Astronomy Cast is now able to provide equipment to send to high school teachers who want to Pamela and Fraser to do a special questions show just for their class. We will be making this shows available on the feed on days other than Monday (that's still reserved for your regularly scheduled Astronomy Cast). This is the first one available and comes with questions from Farmersburg School.…

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Episode 69: The Large Hadron Collider and the Search for the Higgs-Boson

2007-12-30 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

When it was first developed, the standard model predicted a collection of particles, and thanks to more and more powerful colliders, physicsists have been able to find them all except one: the Higgs-Boson. It's an important one because it should explain how objects have mass. The European Large Hadron Collider should have the power and sensitivity to find the Higgs-Boson.…

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Episode 68: Globular Clusters

2007-12-23 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we're going to study some of the most ancient objects in the entire Universe; globular clusters. These relics of the early Universe contain hundreds of thousands of stars, held together by their mutual gravity. Since they formed together, they give astronomers a unique way to test various theories of stellar evolution.…

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Episode 67: Building a Career in Astronomy

2007-12-16 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

With all the enthusiasm that’s being generated with astronomy, it’s had a bit of a strange side-effect. We’ve been causing some of our listeners to have midlife crises about their careers. We’ve had other people who just want advice – they’re moving into college for the first time and they want to direct the courses they’re going to be taking into astronomy. Some other people already have skills that are very useful and have wondered how they can help up or even change their career to be working in the field. We thought we’d try and answer everyone’s questions all at once and just run through the major career paths you can take that relate to astronomy and space, and the kinds of things you’ll need to do to actually make yourself a good candidate for that field.…

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Episode 66: How Amateurs can contribute to Astronomy

2007-12-09 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Astronomy is one of the few sciences where amateurs make meaningful contributions to discoveries. Many professional researchers work hand-in-hand with teams of amateurs to make discoveries that just wouldn't be possible without this kind of collaboration. In fact, Pamela regularly relies on dedicated enthusiasts for her data on variable stars.…

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Episode 65: The End of Our Tour Through the Solar System

2007-12-02 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

All good things come to an end - we now find ourselves in the outer reaches of the solar system where our Sun is hard to distinguish from the other bright stars in the sky. But we're not done with the solar system, there's some stuff that's leftover. This week, we look at the outer reaches of the solar system and how it interacts with the rest of the universe.…

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Episode 64: Pluto and the Icy Outer Solar System

2007-11-25 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

It's been a long journey, 64 episodes, but now we're back where we began: Pluto. Last time we talked about how Pluto lost its planethood status, so we won't go over all that again. This time we're going to talk about Pluto, its moons, the Kuiper belt, and the other icy objects that inhabit the outer Solar System.…

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Episode 63: Neptune

2007-11-18 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We’ve reached Neptune, the final planet in our tour through the solar system – but don’t worry! The tour’s not over, but after this week we’ll be all out of planets. Neptune has a controversial story about its discovery, some of the strongest winds in the solar system and some weird moons.…

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Episode 62: Uranus

2007-11-11 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week, we're on to the next planet in the solar system. We don't know a whole lot about this blue gas planet, but today we'll cover some of the neat stuff we do know, including it's faint rings, sideways axis of rotation and its rocky core - a first in the gas planets we've encountered so far in our tour.…

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Episode 61: Saturn's Moons

2007-11-04 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We know that delaying this show one more week would be too dangerous, so here you go: Saturn's moons. These are some of the most interesting objects in the Solar System, from the spongy Hyperion, to the geysers on Enceladus, to the rainy, misty, oceany Titan. They've kept Cassini busy for years, and scientists will likely be pondering them for decades.…

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Episode 60: Questions on Inflation

2007-10-28 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

It's about time for a question show again, so we'll have one last interruption to our planetary tour, to deal with the questions that arose from our inflation show.So if you still don’t understand inflation, take a listen to this week's show and as always, send us your questions.…

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Episode 59: Saturn

2007-10-21 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Returning to our journey through the solar system, let's voyage away from the largest planet to the second largest, Saturn. Once again, we'll break up our visit because there's lots to talk about. This week, we talk about Saturn and its famous rings. Next week, we'll discuss its many moons.…

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Episode 58: Inflation

2007-10-14 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We interrupt this tour through the solar system to bring you a special show to deal with one of our most complicated subjects: the big bang. Specifically, how it's possible that the universe could have expanded faster than the speed of light. The theory is called the inflationary theory, and the evidence is mounting to support it. Einstein said that nothing can move faster than the speed of light, and yet astronomers think the universe expanded from a microscopic spec to become larger than the solar system, in a fraction of a second.…

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Episode 57: Jupiter's Moons

2007-10-07 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Last week we talked about Jupiter and we could sense right away it would be too much to handle. This week, we'll talk about Jupiter's moons - how many are there? What makes them so interesting? Is it true that the most likely place in the solar system to find life (other than Earth) is actually on one of Jupiter's moons? Hang on tight. We're going to cover a lot.…

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Episode 56: Jupiter

2007-09-30 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Last week we talked about rubble, this week we're going to dig into the largest planet in the Solar System: Jupiter, but will it all just be hot gas? There's so much to talk about, we've decided to break this up into two shows. This week we're going to just talk about Jupiter, and then next week, we're going to cover its moons.…

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Episode 55: The Asteroid Belt

2007-09-23 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

In the last few weeks we've had many emails saying that our tour of the solar system would not be complete without a show on the asteroid belt. Your wish is our command! We talked about Mars in episode 52, and now that we're back on track our next stop is the asteroid belt.…

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Episode 54: Questions Show #6

2007-09-16 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

It's been a while, so let's catch up with the listener questions. We've got some easy ones, some hard ones and probably some impossible ones. We talk about our universe as a black hole, tidal locking of planets like Uranus, colours of stars at different ages, our universe's birthday and more.…

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Episode 53: Astronomy in Science Fiction

2007-09-09 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This is a very different episode of Astronomy Cast. As we mentioned last week, Pamela recently attended the Dragon*Con science fiction convention in Atlanta, Georgia. While she was there, she participated in a special live edition of Astronomy Cast with special guest Dr. Kevin Frazier. Kevin is a NASA scientist, and the science consultant for the TV shows Battlestar Galactica and Eureka. He and Pamela work through physics and astronomy in popular science fiction. What they get right, and what they get wrong... so very wrong.…

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Special Episode: Panspermia

2007-09-03 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

As a reward to the all the dedicated fans who completed our demographic survey, we released this special episode of Astronomy Cast. As promised, we're now releasing this episode to all of our subscribers. Panspermia is a controversial theory that life on Earth originated… out there. Maybe it started out in a cosmic dust cloud or originated from another planet, but somehow the very first lifeforms made the trip through the vacuum of space and colonized our home planet.…

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Episode 52: Mars

2007-09-02 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Today we consider Mars, the next planet in our journey through the Solar System. Apart from the Earth, it's the most explored planet in our Solar System. Even now there are rovers crawling the surface, orbiters overhead, and a lander on its way. It's a cold, dry desert, so why does this planet hold such fascination?…

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Episode 51: Earth

2007-08-26 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

So, another week, another planet. Last week we discussed Venus, and that means this week it is time for our home planet - Earth.…

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Episode 50: Venus

2007-08-19 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Last week we talked about Mercury, so this week our planetary parade proceeds to Venus. It's the brightest object in the sky, the hottest object in the solar system, and it's probably one of the most deadly places to go and visit.…

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Episode 49: Mercury

2007-08-12 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We're still digging through the thousands of comments and suggestions from the listener survey but we hear your requests and suggestions, and now you get to start reaping the benefits. Today we start our survey of the solar system with Mercury. What mysteries is it hiding from us? How similar is Mercury to the other rocky planets? How much do we really know about this first rock from the Sun?…

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Episode 48: Tidal Forces Across the Universe

2007-08-05 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Last week we talked about tidal forces within our solar system. This week we're going to expand our view and encompass the entire universe. Some of the most dramatic events originate from tidal forces caused by gravity: other worlds, galaxies, black holes and even entire clusters of galaxies are under this influence.…

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Episode 47: Tidal Forces

2007-07-29 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Consider the following: we've got tides here on Earth, the Moon only shows one face to the Earth, we've got volcanoes on Io, and ice geysers on Enceladus. All these phenomena originate from a common cause: the force of gravity stretching across space to tug at another world.…

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Episode 46: Stellar Nurseries

2007-07-22 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We've discussed star formation in the past, but now we wanted to talk about the different kinds of stellar nurseries we see across the Universe. We know where our Sun came from because we can look out and see different stellar neighborhoods at every stage of development. It takes a village of gas and dust to raise a star.…

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Episode 45: The Important Numbers in the Universe

2007-07-15 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we wanted to give you a basic physics lesson. This isn't easy physics, this is a lesson on the basic numbers of the Universe. Each of these numbers define a key aspect of our Universe. If they had different values, the Universe would be a changed place, and life here on Earth would never have arisen.…

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Episode 44: Einstein's Theory of General Relativity

2007-07-08 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

If you remember way back to Episode 9, we covered Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity. Well, that's only half of the relativity picture. The great scientist made an even more profound impact on physics with his theory of general relativity, replacing Newton with a better model for gravity.…

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Episode 43: Questions, Questions #5

2007-07-01 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

It's time to answer the questions again. And this time we've got some doozies. Is the Universe rotating? Is space something, or is it nothing? Is dark energy evenly distributed? What would happen if an astronaut went out the airlock, without a spacesuit. Want to know the answers? Well, you've got to listen.…

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Episode 42: Magnetism Everywhere

2007-06-24 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

You probably don't realise it, but magnetic fields are everywhere. We're not talking about the magnets in your speakers, your electronic equipment or on the fridge door. We're talking about the gigantic magnetic fields that surround planets, stars, galaxies and some of the most exotic objects in the Universe.…

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Episode 41: The Rise of the Supertelescopes

2007-06-17 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

The last decade has been the golden age of astronomy, with new observatories and space telescopes pushing out our understanding of the Universe. We can see billions of light years away, watch dynamic events unfold in almost real-time, and see into every corner of the electromagnetic spectrum. Just you wait: things will only get better. Here come the supertelescopes!…

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Episode 40: American Astronomical Society Meeting, May 2007

2007-06-10 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Once again, Pamela does her duty as an astronomer and joins her colleagues at the American Astronomical Society's meeting, held in May, 2007 on Honolulu, Hawaii. With all that sand, surf and sun, how did anyone get any science done? Pamela tracked down the interesting stories, and brought them back so we could analyze them.…

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Episode 39: Astrology and UFOs

2007-06-03 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

While Pamela's away at the American Astronomical Society meeting, we brought in a special guest to help debunk some of the pseudoscience that people mistake for astronomy. Dr Steven Novella from the Skeptic's Guide to the Universe gets to the bottom of astrology and UFOs, and why they're not real science.…

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Episode 38: Neutron Stars and their Exotic Cousins

2007-05-27 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Huge stars become black holes, and small stars become white dwarfs. But medium-sized stars can become neutron stars; exotic objects that overcome the nuclear force holding protons and electrons apart. What was once the size of a star is compressed down to only a few dozen kilometres across.…

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Episode 37: Gravitational Lensing

2007-05-20 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Astronomers are always trying to get their hands on bigger and more powerful telescopes. But the most powerful telescopes in the Universe are completely natural, and the size of a galaxy cluster. When you use the gravity of a galaxy as a lens, you can peer right back to the edges of the observable Universe.…

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Episode 36: Gamma-Ray Bursts

2007-05-13 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Gamma ray bursts are the most powerful explosions in the Universe, releasing more energy in a few seconds than our Sun will put out in its lifetime. It's only been in the last few years that astronomers are finally starting to unravel the cataclysmic events that cause these energetic explosions.…

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Episode 35: Questions Show #4

2007-05-06 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We know there's matter, and we know there's anti-matter. If there's dark matter, is there an anti-dark matter? How come gravity can escape from a black hole? Do black holes capture dark matter? Can a moon have a moon? Can a planet have two stars? If you've had any of these questions, you'll want to listen to this week's show.…

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Episode 34: Discovering Another Earth

2007-04-29 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

What a week! Astronomers announced the discovery of an Earth-sized planet orbiting the nearby star Gliese 581. We talk about the technique used to discover the planet, the possibilities of finding even smaller planets, and what the future holds for finding another Earth.…

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Episode 33: Choosing and Using a Telescope

2007-04-22 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Buying your first telescope can be a nerve-wracking experience filled with buyer's remorse. This week we discuss the basics of purchasing your first binoculars and telescope. What to look for, how to clean older equipment, and how to use it for the first time. Let's make sure your first investment in this wonderful hobby is money well-spent.…

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Episode 32: The Search for Neutrinos

2007-04-15 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Trillions of neutrinos are produced in our Sun through its nuclear reactions. These particles stream out at nearly the speed of light, and pass right through any matter they encounter. In fact, there are billions of them passing through your body right now. Learn how this elusive particle was first theorized and finally discovered.…

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Episode 31: String Theory, Time Travel, White Holes, Warp Speed, Multiple Dimensions, and Before the Big Bang

2007-04-08 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We get questions every week about string theory and topics popularized by science fiction. Here's the problem. There's just no evidence. Each of these is based on wonderful and well-formed mathematical equations, or wishful thinking, but they're very hard (if not impossible) to test in the real Universe.…

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Episode 30: The Sun, Spots and All

2007-04-01 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

It's Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, and that means the Sun is back. But it's more than just a free heat lamp for your garden, it's an incredible, dynamic nuclear reaction complete with flares, coronal mass ejections, twisting magnetic fields and the solar wind. Put in your headphones, head outside and enjoy the sunshine while you listen to this week's podcast.…

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Episode 29: Asteroids Make Bad Neighbors

2007-03-25 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we're talking about asteroids. And not just any asteroids, but Near Earth Objects. How do astronomers find these things, why are they buzzing around the Earth, what are the chances we'll actually get hit, and what would happen if we did get hit? How could we stop them?…

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Episode 28: What is the Universe Expanding Into?

2007-03-18 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Come on, admit it, you've had this question. If the Universe is expanding from the Big Bang, what is it expanding into? What's outside the Universe? Ask any astronomer and you'll get an unsatisfying answer. We give you the same unsatisfying answer, but really explain it, so your unsatisfaction doesn't haunt you any more.…

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Episode 27: The Third Question Show

2007-03-11 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

The questions are piling up, so it's time to get through them. We've got a great collection this week. How can our eyes collect so many photons? What's the speed of gravity? Shouldn't the light from the cosmic microwave background radiation passed us by?…

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Episode 26: The Biggest Structures in the Universe

2007-03-04 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

This week we continue the story of galaxy formation, learning how groups of galaxies come together to form the biggest structures around - galaxy superclusters. And when you look at the Universe at this scale, environment is everything.…

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Episode 25: How Galaxies Form

2007-02-25 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Our Milky Way is a complex and majestic barred spiral galaxy. But 13.7 billion years ago it began, like all galaxies, from the elementary particles formed in the Big Bang. How did our galaxy grow from nothing to the hundreds of billions of stars we see today?…

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Episode 24: Fermi Paradox

2007-02-18 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

We live in a mind bogglingly big Universe filled with countless stars. We know intelligent life evolved here on Earth. It must be common across the Universe, right? But if there's life out there, how come we haven't been visited by aliens yet? Why haven't we even picked up signals from alien television stations? Where's all the life?…

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Episode 23: The Drake Equation

2007-02-11 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

If you're wondering how many extraterrestrials there are in our galaxy, you just have to use a simple equation developed by astronomer Frank Drake in 1961. Just find out how many stars there are, how many support life, how many advanced societies form, and a few other details and we'll be set.…

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Episode 22: Variable Stars

2007-02-04 :: info@astronomycast.com (Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay)

Our Sun has been around for billions of years, and will last for billions more. We're lucky, it's pretty stable and regular as stars go, only changing in brightness a little now and then. But there are stars out there that change dramatically; astronomers call them variable stars, and they demonstrate just how bizarre and dangerous the Universe can be.…

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