Subscribe: Astronomy Cast
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
earth  experiment  life  mars  planet  science  solar system  solar  space  system  talk  things  today  universe  world 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Astronomy Cast

Astronomy Cast

Astronomy Cast brings you a weekly fact-based journey through the cosmos.

Last Build Date: Mon, 09 Sep 2013 00:00:00 GMT

Copyright: Fraser Cain and Dr. Pamela Gay

Ep. 447: Animals in Space Pt. 3: Dogs, Monkeys and More

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

For the final episode in our 3-part episode about animals in space, we look at the largest animals to go to orbit. And I’ll just warn you now, this is going to be a really sad episode.

Media Files:

Ep. 446: Animals in Space Pt. 2: Mice and Other Small Animals

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Last week we talked about how the smallest creatures behave in space, but now we move up in size a little to small animals, like mice. What missions have they flown on, and how does microgravity affect their biology?

Media Files:

Ep. 445: Animals in Space Pt. 1: Insects and Arachnids

Mon, 10 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

We've talked about animals traveling to space in the past, but it's time to take another look, with many other creatures making the trip to the void. Today we're going to talk about the spineless insects and arthropods, and those tough as nails waterbears – tardigrades.

Media Files:

Ep. 444: Fractals

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

For this historic 444th episode of Astronomy Cast, we talk about fractals. Those amazing mathematical visualizations of recursive algorithms. What are they, how do you get them? Why are they important?

Media Files:

Ep. 443: Destroy and Rebuild Pt. 7: Tsunamis

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Surf’s up! Today we’re going to be talking about one of the most devastating natural disasters out there: tsunamis. We’re talking huge waves that wreck the seashore. But it turns out, there many ways you can get a tsunami, and one of those has to do with space.

Media Files:

Ep. 442: Destroy and Rebuild Pt. 6: Magnetic Pole Reversal

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

If we look back into the geologic record of the Earth, it appears that our planet’s magnetic field flips polarity every few hundred thousand years or so. Why does this happen? When’s it supposed to happen next? Is it dangerous?

Media Files:

Ep. 441: Destroy and Rebuild, Pt. 5: Continental Drift

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Want to travel the world but you don’t have a lot of money? No problem, your continent is drifting across the surface of the Earth right now. In a few million years, you’ll reach your destination.

Media Files:

Ep. 440: Destroy and Rebuild, Pt. 4: Supervolcanoes!

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT

There are regular volcanoes, and then there are the supervolcanoes. Massive calderas of hot magma of incomprehensible size. Bad news, these things explode randomly and catastrophically. Worse news, there are a bunch around the Earth.

Media Files:

Ep. 439: Destroy and Rebuild, Pt. 3: How Do We Terraform Earth?

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT

We always want to talk about how we can make Mars more Earth like, but the reality is that we’re making Earth more Venus-Like. We’re Venusforming Earth. What are the various factors we’re impacting on a global scale, and how can we fix them?

Media Files:

Ep. 438: Destroy and Rebuild, Pt. 2: Geoengineering

Mon, 06 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT

We know humans are having an impact on planet Earth, but what if we really put our backs into it, and intentionally tried to change the entire planet? Either to make it better, or to fix some terrible mistake we've made. The technique is called geoengineering. Could it work?

Media Files:

Ep. 437: Destroy and Rebuild, Pt. 1: The Torino Scale

Mon, 30 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT

We love to destroy the universe, and also rebuild it. Today we begin a new series where we destroy and rebuild. Let's talk about some existential threats we face, and ways we could recover, starting with the sword of Damocles hanging over our head: killer asteroids!

Media Files:

Ep. 436: Common Misconceptions in Probability

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Human beings are bad at many things, but we're particularly terrible at understanding probability in a rational way. We underestimate, overestimate and generally mess up probability. We'll try to fix it here, but we'll surely fail.

Media Files:

Ep. 435: The Butterfly Effect

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Small changes can have a big impact. But can a butterfly’s wingbeat in the Amazon really impact the weather halfway across the world? And where do small changes have no impact?

Media Files:

Ep. 434: Am I On An Alien World?

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Once again, science fiction television and movies has let you down. They try to recreate what it might be like on an alien world, but surprise surprise, they mostly get it wrong. That’s because a truly alien world would be different in so many ways, it would blow your mind. Today we’ll help you figure out if you’re on a movie set, or you’ve actually crashlanded on an alien planet.

Media Files:

Ep. 433: Volcanoes on Mars

Tue, 03 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Mars is a world of extremes. This unassuming red world is home to the largest and tallest volcanoes in the entire Solar System. In fact, it’s not even a close contest, with Olympus Mons rising 22 km above the surrounding plains, more than twice as tall as Mount Everest. How did Mars get such big volcanoes, and how active is the planet today?

Media Files:

Ep. 432: Geoglogic Ages of Mars - From Wet and Wild to Desolate Desert

Mon, 26 Dec 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Today, Mars is a desolate wasteland, with dusty red rocks and sand stretching out to the horizon. But billions of years ago, it was a vastly different world. It was blue, with oceans, rivers, lakes, and maybe life? Let’s tell the story of geology on Mars, and we got from that world to the one we see today.

Media Files:

Ep. 431: The Search for Life on Mars

Mon, 12 Dec 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Enceladus and Europa are all the rage these days, but classic Mars is still a great place to search for life. In fact, ESA’s ExoMars is scanning the planet’s atmosphere for methane, evidence that there might be life there right now. Let’s talk about the search for life on the Red Planet.

Media Files:

Ep. 430: Coming Home from Mars

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Landing on the surface of Mars is very difficult. In fact, it’s probably the toughest planet to land on in the whole Solar System. Today we’ll talk about what it’s going to take to get to and return from Mars!

Media Files:

Ep. 429: Living on Mars

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 00:00:00 GMT

When Elon Musk announced plans to send humans to Mars, he conveniently left out one important aspect. How are we supposed to survive on a place this hostile to life? Seriously, Mars sucks, and it's going to take some impressive techniques and technologies to make it on the Red Planet.

Media Files:

Ep. 428: The Moons of Mars

Fri, 25 Nov 2016 00:00:00 GMT

We begin a miniseries on Mars. How many episodes will we do? Who knows? But we start today with a discussion of the two Mars moons, Phobos and Deimos.

Media Files:

Ep. 427: Click Bait vs Clear Science

Mon, 07 Nov 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Did you hear that Dark Energy doesn't exist any more? Neither does Dark Matter? It turns out that NASA recalculated the Zodiac and now you're an Ophiuchan! Science is hard enough, but communicating that science out to the public when there are publications hungry for traffic is even harder! Here's how to parse the click-bait science titles.

Media Files:

Ep. 426: Confirmation Bias

Sat, 29 Oct 2016 00:00:00 GMT

I hate to tell you this, but that meat computer in your skull is constantly betraying you. Don’t worry, we’ve all got the same, but fortunately, scientists have learned how this happens, and can help us make sure our science, and lives don’t suffer because of it.

Media Files:

Ep. 425: Naming Spacecraft

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Have you ever noticed spacecraft missions have some pretty cool names? How does anyone decide what to call these things?

Media Files:

Ep. 424: Lightning

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 00:00:00 GMT

It turns out that nature figured out how to use electricity long before humans did. Lightning storms are common across the Earth, and even the Solar System. What causes this electricity in the sky, and how can science use it?

Media Files:

Ep. 423: Cyclones

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 00:00:00 GMT

As Hurricane Matthew reminded us, cyclonic storms are a force to be reckoned with. What causes these storms, and how can they form across the Solar System.

Media Files:

Ep. 422: Geysers

Mon, 03 Oct 2016 00:00:00 GMT

So if you’ve been to Yellowstone National Park, you’ve seen one of the most amazing features of the natural world – geysers. In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about geysers on Earth, and where they might be in the solar system.

Media Files:

Ep. 421: Space Games!

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 00:00:00 GMT

As you probably know, Fraser is an avid video gamer, especially if it has anything to do with space. Today we turn things around, as Fraser talks about the games he plays, and what he thinks you should be playing too.

Media Files:

Ep. 420: FIRE!

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 00:00:00 GMT

One of the most dangerous things that can happen inside a spacecraft is fire. Seriously, it’s NASA’s worst nightmare, and for good reason. Fire acts differently in space, and astronauts are always on alert. Here’s why.

Media Files:

Ep. 419: DragonCon 2016 Live - Rocket Girls

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 00:00:00 GMT

This episode is a special live show that took place at DragonCon 2016 in Atlanta, GA. Pamela hosted a panel of amazing scientists and engineers who all happen to be women, and they discussed the unsung women of NASA and the early Space Age and their roles as “human computers”, and the current climate at JPL for women scientists and engineers.

Media Files:

Ep. 418: Error 418 – I’m a Teapot!

Mon, 27 Jun 2016 00:00:00 GMT

One of the most familiar asterisms in the night sky is the Teapot, in Sagittarius. Today we’re going to talk about that and have a bonus conversation about Bertrand Russell’s Teapot Argument.

Media Files:

Ep. 417: Error 417: Expectation Failed

Mon, 20 Jun 2016 00:00:00 GMT

In all fields of science, sometimes more is learned when you fail at what you’re trying to do than when you succeed. So what new science discoveries have failed expectations given us in astronomy?

Media Files:

Ep. 416: Fireballs from the Sky!

Mon, 13 Jun 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Every now and then we look up and see bright fiery balls falling from the sky. Don’t panic, these are just bolides. Sometimes they leave trails, sometimes they explode, and sometimes they survive all the way to the ground.

Media Files:

Ep. 415: Temperature of the Universe

Mon, 30 May 2016 00:00:00 GMT

The temperature of the Universe can vary a dramatic amount from the hot cores of stars to the vast cold emptiness of deep space. What’s the temperature of the Universe now, and what will it be in the future?

Media Files:

Ep. 414: Navigating Far

Mon, 16 May 2016 00:00:00 GMT

In our last episode, we talked about what it’ll take to navigate across the Solar System. In this episode we scale things up and speculate how future civilizations will navigate to other stars and even other galaxies.

Media Files:

Ep. 413: Navigating Near

Mon, 09 May 2016 00:00:00 GMT

It’s hard enough finding your way around planet Earth, but what do you do when you’re trying to find your way around the Solar System? Today we’ll talk about how spacecraft navigate from world to world.

Media Files:

Ep. 412: The Color of the Universe

Mon, 25 Apr 2016 00:00:00 GMT

What color is the Universe? Turns out this isn’t a simple question, and one that scientists have really been unable to answer, until now!

Media Files:

Ep. 411: Science of Sunset Colors

Mon, 18 Apr 2016 00:00:00 GMT

We all enjoy beautiful, multicolored sunsets. But what causes the brilliant oranges, pinks and purples that we see, and why does it change from day to day and season to season?

Media Files:

Ep. 410: Planet 9 Facts and Fiction

Mon, 11 Apr 2016 00:00:00 GMT

The discovery of Planet 9 has caused a wonderful, confusing uproar and a flood of misinformation in the news and social media. We’ll sort out what we actually know, what things just aren’t true, and what things might be possible!

Media Files:

Ep. 409: Spin in the Universe

Mon, 04 Apr 2016 00:00:00 GMT

The Solar System is a spinny place. Everything’s turning turning. But if you look closely, there are some pretty strange spins going on. Today we talk about how everything started turning, and the factors that still “impact” them today.

Media Files:

Ep. 408: Universe Cannibalism

Mon, 28 Mar 2016 00:00:00 GMT

We’ve talked about stellar cannibalism and galactic cannibalism, but now it’s time to take this concept to its logical extreme – universe cannibalism. In the multiverse theory of physics we live in just one of a vast range of universes which might interact with each other. Let’s look for the evidence.

Media Files:

Ep. 407: Galactic Cannibalism

Mon, 14 Mar 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Remember when we told you that the Universe is a big place, and anything that can go wrong, inevitably does? Today we talk about what happens when galaxies come together. This is particularly pertinent because our Milky Way will collide with Andromeda in the future!

Media Files:

Ep. 406: Stellar Cannibalism

Mon, 07 Mar 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Most of the time stars hang around for billions of years. But the Universe is a big place, and anything that can go wrong, inevitably does. Today we talk about what happens when these stars come together. The outcome is violent, and fortunately for you, also interesting.

Media Files:

Ep. 405: Method Not Found

Mon, 29 Feb 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Last week we talked about knowledge, what we do and don’t know. This week we talk about questions which are impossible to ask, where the answers don’t actually exist.

Media Files:

Ep. 404: The Difference Between: Can’t Know, Don’t Know, and Just Awaiting Better Tech

Mon, 22 Feb 2016 00:00:00 GMT

There the things we know, the things we don’t know, and the things we can’t know. How do we know which one is when when we’re deciding to fund research and direct our scientific inquiry.

Media Files:

Ep. 403: Funding Big Science: from Alma to LIGO to TMT

Mon, 15 Feb 2016 00:00:00 GMT

How much of a challenge is it to get funding for large projects like LIGO? Fraser and Pamela discuss the difficult issues finding “Big Money.”

Media Files:

Ep. 402: Gravity Eyes: See The Invisible With The Force

Mon, 08 Feb 2016 00:00:00 GMT

What kinds of things can we see using gravity, that we may not otherwise be able to see? Pamela will fill us in on the Great Attractor, etc!

Media Files:

Ep. 401: Future Predictions

Mon, 01 Feb 2016 00:00:00 GMT

What do Pamela and Fraser think will happen or be discovered in 2016? What would they like to see in the near future?

Media Files:

Ep. 400: The State of the Universe

Mon, 25 Jan 2016 00:00:00 GMT

It’s time for us to go back and catch up with all of the projects, news stories, weird star systems, and other topics that need updating!

Media Files:

Ep. 399: Women in Science

Mon, 11 Jan 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Science is typically a male dominated profession, mostly dudes, not a lot of ladies. From researchers to professors, to law makers, woman have a tough time gaining traction in such a heavily gendered field. Today we’re going to talk about what it takes to make it as a woman in science, what additional hurdles you’ll have to navigate, and what resources are available if you’re being harassed or discriminated against.

Media Files:

Ep. 398: Seeing Things: Emitting, Reflecting, Ionizing Light

Mon, 04 Jan 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Astronomers gather electromagnetic radiation with the telescopes: mostly visible light. But sometimes they've got to be clever about where they look for these elusive photons. Light can get emitted, absorbed, reflected, and each method tells astronomers a little more about what they're looking at.

Media Files:

Ep. 397: A Universe From Nothing

Mon, 21 Dec 2015 00:00:00 GMT

One of the biggest, most basic questions you can ask is: “why is there something and not nothing?” The reality is that we don’t know the answer, we might never know the answer. Today we’ll investigate this mystery, recently covered by the physicist Lawrence Krauss in his book of the same name.

Media Files:

Ep. 396: Family Astronomy for the Holidays

Mon, 14 Dec 2015 00:00:00 GMT

Every year, it’s the same dilemma: what gift should you get for the super space nerd in the family? And if someone has a budding interest in space and astronomy, what can you do to feed their hunger for knowledge? Today we’ll talk telescopes, books and planispheres. Everything you need to avoid a holiday gift disaster.

Media Files:

Ep. 395: Baryons and Beyond the Standard Model

Mon, 07 Dec 2015 00:00:00 GMT

In the last few episodes, we’ve been talking about the standard model of physics, explaining what everything is made up of. But the reality is that we probably don’t know a fraction of how everything is put together. This week we’re going to talk about baryons, the particles made up of quarks. The most famous ones are the proton and the neutron, but that’s just the tip of the baryonic iceberg. And then we’re going to talk about where the standard model ends, and what’s next in particle physics.

Media Files:

Ep. 394: The Standard Model - Bosons

Sat, 05 Dec 2015 00:00:00 GMT

All fundamental particles are either fermions or bosons. Last week we talked about quarks, which are fermions. This week we’ll talk about bosons, including the famous Higgs boson, recently confirmed by the Large Hadron Collider.

Media Files:

Ep. 393: The Standard Model, Leptons and Quarks

Mon, 30 Nov 2015 00:00:00 GMT

Physicists are getting a handle on the structure of the Universe, how everything is made of something else. Molecules are made of atoms, atoms are made of protons, neutrons and electrons, etc. Even smaller than that are the quarks and the leptons, which seem to be the basic building blocks of all matter.

Media Files:

Ep. 392: The Standard Model - Intro

Mon, 23 Nov 2015 00:00:00 GMT

Humans, cars and planets are made of molecules. And molecules are made of atoms. Atoms are made of protons, neutrons and electrons. What are they made of? This is the standard model of particle physics, which explains how everything is put together and the forces that mediate all those particles.

Media Files:

Ep. 391: Entrophy

Mon, 16 Nov 2015 00:00:00 GMT

Have you ever been doing thermodynamics in a closed system and noticed that there’s a finite number of ways that things can be arranged, and they tend towards disorder? Of course you have, we all have. That’s entropy. And here in our Universe, entropy is on the rise. Let’s learn about entropy in its specific, thermodynamic ways, and then figure out what this means for the future of the Universe.

Media Files:

Ep. 390: Occam’s Razor and the Problem with Probabilities

Mon, 09 Nov 2015 00:00:00 GMT

I’m not saying it’s aliens, but it’s aliens. Actually, it’s almost certainly not aliens, or a wormhole, or a multiverse. When scientists discover something unusual, they make guesses about what’s happening. But Occam’s Razor encourages us to consider the probabilities of different events before making any concrete predictions.

Media Files:

Ep. 389: Roundtable with Paul Sutter

Sat, 31 Oct 2015 00:00:00 GMT

While Pamela and Fraser were at Ohio State University for a symposium in October, they caught up with Paul M. Sutter from Astronomical Observatory of Trieste, who is a visiting scholar at the OSU Center for Cosmology and Astro-Particle Physics. His specialty is cosmic voids. Paul also hosts the podcast “Ask a Spaceman.”

Media Files:

Ep. 388: Megastructures

Mon, 26 Oct 2015 00:00:00 GMT

This week astronomers announced an unusual transit signal from another star. Although it’s most likely a natural phenomenon, one remote possibility is that this is some kind of alien megastructure. Freeman Dyson and others have considered this idea for decades. Today we’ll talk about the kinds of structures that aliens might want to build.

Media Files:

Ep. 387: Water on Mars… Again

Mon, 19 Oct 2015 00:00:00 GMT

Have you heard the big news? NASA has reported that Mark Watney is alive and well on the surface of Mars. No, wait, they’ve reported that there’s water on Mars. Didn’t they already report this? Today we’ll update you on the latest discovery and what this means for the search for life on Mars.

Media Files:

Ep. 386: Orbiting Observers

Mon, 12 Oct 2015 00:00:00 GMT

The atmosphere keeps us alive and breathing, but it really sucks for astronomy. Fortunately, humanity has built and launched space telescopes that get above the pesky atmosphere, where the skies are really clear. Let’s take a look at the past, current and future of orbital observation.

Media Files:

Ep. 385: Rovers on the Run

Mon, 05 Oct 2015 00:00:00 GMT

Taking pictures of distant worlds is great and all, but the best science happens with boots on the ground. Or in this case... wheels. This week we'll talk all about robotic rovers and the places they rove.

Media Files:

Ep. 384: Escaping Probes

Tue, 29 Sep 2015 00:00:00 GMT

The gravity of the Earth is a tough thing to escape, but breaking free from the gravity of the Sun is on a whole other level. But humans have achieved this amazing accomplishment, and right now there are several spacecraft leaving the Solar System and never coming back.

Media Files:

Ep. 383: Approaches to Absolute Zero

Tue, 07 Jul 2015 00:00:00 GMT

The coldest possible theoretical temperature is Absolute Zero, this is the point at which no further energy can be extracted from a system. How are physicists working to get as close as possible to this extreme cold?

Media Files:

Ep. 382: Degenerate Matter

Tue, 30 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT

In some of the most extreme objects in the Universe, white dwarfs and neutron stars, matter gets strange, transforming into a material that physicists call “degenerate matter”. Let’s learn what it is, how it forms.

Media Files:

Ep. 381: Hollowing Asteroids in Science and Fiction

Tue, 23 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT

When we finally make the jump to fully colonizing the Solar System, we're going to want to use asteroids as stepping stones. We can use them as way stations, research facilities, even as spacecraft to further explore the Solar System. Today we'll talk about the science and science fiction of hollowing out asteroids.

Media Files:

Ep. 380: The Limits of Optics

Mon, 15 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT

Astronomers rely on the optics of their instruments, and there are some basic limits that you just can’t avoid. Whatever we look at is distorted by the optics, in fact, a basic property of light means that we’ll never get perfect optics. Here’s why we can’t “magnify and enhance” forever.

Media Files:

Ep. 379: Fermi's Atom Splitting

Mon, 15 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT

When he wasn’t puzzling the mystery of alien civilizations, Enrico Fermi was splitting atoms. He realized that when atoms were split, the neutrons released could go on and split other atoms, creating a chain reaction – and the most powerful weapons ever devised.

Media Files:

Ep. 378: Rutherford and Atoms

Mon, 08 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT

Physicists knew the interior of the atom contained protons, neutrons and electrons, but they didn’t understand exactly how they were organized. It took Ernest Rutherford to uncover our modern understanding.

Media Files:

Ep. 377: Thomson finds Electron

Mon, 01 Jun 2015 00:00:00 GMT

At the end of the 19th century, physicists were finally beginning to understand the nature of matter itself, including the discovery of electrons – tiny particles of negative charge that surround the nucleus. Here’s how J.J. Thompson separated the electrons from their atoms and uncovered their nature.

Media Files:

Ep. 376: The Miller-Urey Experiment

Mon, 18 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT

Evolution explains how life adapts and evolves over eons. But how did life originate? Chemists Miller and Urey put the raw chemicals of life into a solution, applied an electric charge, and created amino acids – the building blocks of life.

Media Files:

Ep. 375: The Search For Life in the Solar System

Mon, 04 May 2015 00:00:00 GMT

With the discovery of water ice in so many locations in the Solar System, scientists are hopeful in the search for life on other worlds. Guest Morgan Rehnberg returns to Astronomy Cast to explain the best places we should be looking for life.

Media Files:

Ep. 374: Stern-Gerlach Experiment

Mon, 27 Apr 2015 00:00:00 GMT

In the world of quantum mechanics, particles behave in discreet ways. One breakthrough experiment was the Stern-Gerlach Experiment, performed in 1922. They passed silver atoms through a magnetic field and watched how the spin of the atoms caused the particles to deflect in a very specific way.

Media Files:

Ep. 373: Becquerel Experiment (Radiation)

Mon, 13 Apr 2015 00:00:00 GMT

Antoine Henri Becquerel discovered radioactivity completely by accident when he exposed a chunk of uranium to a photographic plate. This opened up a whole new field of research to uncover the source of the mysterious energy.

Media Files:

Ep. 372: The Millikan Oil Drop

Mon, 06 Apr 2015 00:00:00 GMT

In 1909 Robert Millikan devised an ingenious experiment to figure out the charge of an electron using a drop of oil. Let's talk about this Nobel Prize winning experiment.

Media Files:

Ep. 371: Eddington Eclipse Experiment

Mon, 30 Mar 2015 00:00:00 GMT

At the turn of the 20th Century, Einstein’s theory of relativity stunned the physics world, but the experimental evidence needed to be found. And so, in 1919, another respected astronomer, Arthur Eddington, observed the deflection of stars by the gravity of the Sun during a solar eclipse. Here’s the story of that famous experiment.

Media Files:

Ep. 370: The Kaufmann–Bucherer–Neumann Experiments

Mon, 23 Mar 2015 00:00:00 GMT

One of the most amazing implications of Einstein's relativity is the fact that the inertial mass of an object depends on its velocity. That sounds like a difficult thing to test, but that's exactly what happened through a series of experiments performed by Kaufmann, Bucherer, Neumann and others.

Media Files:

Ep. 369: The Fizeau Experiment

Mon, 16 Mar 2015 00:00:00 GMT

Light is tricky stuff, and it took scientists hundreds of years to puzzle out what this stuff is. But they poked and prodded at it with many clever experiments to try to measure its speed, motion and interaction with the rest of the Universe. For example, the Fizeau Experiment, which ran light through moving water to see if that caused a difference.

Media Files:

Ep. 368: Searching for the Aether Wind: the Michelson–Morley Experiment

Mon, 23 Feb 2015 00:00:00 GMT

Waves move through a medium, like water or air. So it seemed logical to search for a medium that light waves move through. The Michelson-Morley Experiment attempted to search for this medium, known as the “luminiferous aether”. The experiment gave a negative result, and helped set the stage for the theory of General Relativity.

Media Files:

Ep. 367: Spitzer does Exoplanets

Mon, 16 Feb 2015 00:00:00 GMT

We've spent the last few weeks talking about different ways astronomers are searching for exoplanets. But now we reach the most exciting part of this story: actually imaging these planets directly. Today we're going to talk about the work NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has done viewing the atmospheres of distant planets.

Media Files:

Ep. 366: HARPS Spectrograph

Mon, 09 Feb 2015 00:00:00 GMT

Almost all the planet hunting has been done from space. But there’s a new instrument installed on the European Southern Observatory’s 3.6 meter telescope called the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher which has already turned up 130 planets. Is this the future? Searching for planets from the ground?

Media Files:

Ep. 365: Gaia

Mon, 02 Feb 2015 00:00:00 GMT

The European Gaia spacecraft launched about a year ago with the ambitious goal of mapping one billion years in the Milky Way. That’s 1% of all the stars in our entire galaxy, which it will monitor about 70 times over its 5-year mission. If all goes well, we’ll learn an enormous amount about the structure, movements and evolution of the stars in our galaxy. It’ll even find half a million quasars.

Media Files:

Ep. 364: The COROT Mission

Mon, 26 Jan 2015 00:00:00 GMT

Before NASA’s Kepler mission searched for exoplanets using the transit method, there was the European COROT mission, launched in 2006. It was sent to search for planets with short orbital periods and find solar oscillations in stars. It was an incredibly productive mission, and the focus of today’s show.

Media Files:

Ep. 363: Where Did Earth's Water Come From?

Mon, 19 Jan 2015 00:00:00 GMT

Where on Earth did our water come from. Well, obviously not from Earth, of course, but from space. But did it come from comets, or did the water form naturally right here in the Solar System, and the Earth just scooped it up?

Media Files:

Ep. 362: Modern Women: Carolyn Porco

Mon, 12 Jan 2015 00:00:00 GMT

It hard to think of a more influential modern planetary scientist than Carolyn Porco, the leader of the imaging team for NASA’s Cassini mission exploring Saturn. But before Cassini, Porco was involved in Voyager missions, and she’ll be leading up the imaging team for New Horizons.

Media Files:

Ep. 361: Modern Women: Maria Zuber

Mon, 05 Jan 2015 00:00:00 GMT

Maria Zuber is one of the hardest working scientists in planetary science, being a part of six different space missions to explore the Solar System. Currently, she’s the lead investigator for NASA’s GRAIL mission.

Media Files:

Ep. 360: Modern Women: Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Mon, 29 Dec 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Jocelyn Bell Burnell is an Irish astronomer, best known for being part of the team that discovered pulsars, and the following controversy when she was excluded from the Nobel Prize winning team.

Media Files:

Ep. 359: Modern Women: Margaret Geller

Mon, 15 Dec 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Margaret Geller is best known for her work on the large scale structure of the Universe, helping us understand the large clusters, super clusters and cosmic filaments that matter clumps into.

Media Files:

Ep. 358: Modern Women: Sandra Faber

Mon, 08 Dec 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Our focus on female astronomers continues with Sandra Faber, and Professor of Astronomy at UC Santa Cruz. Faber was part of the team that turned up the Great Attractor, a mysterious mass hidden by the disk of the Milky Way.

Media Files:

Ep. 357: Modern Women: Vera Rubin

Mon, 01 Dec 2014 00:00:00 GMT

It’s time for another series. This time we’ll be talking about famous female astronomers. Starting with: Vera Rubin, who first identified the fact that galaxies rotate too quickly to hold themselves together, anticipating the discovery of dark matter.

Media Files:

Ep. 356: Rotational Inertia

Mon, 24 Nov 2014 00:00:00 GMT

An object at rest stays at rest, and object in motion tends to stay in motion. This is inertia, defined famously by Isaac Newton in his First Law of Motion.

Media Files:

Ep. 355: Maker Space: 3D Printing Exploration

Mon, 17 Nov 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Getting stuff into space is complicated and expensive. And what do you do when your fancy space gadget breaks. You print out a new one, of course, with your fancy space 3D printer. It turns out, space exploration is one of the best uses for this technology.

Media Files:

Ep. 354: Comet Siding Spring vs. Mars

Mon, 10 Nov 2014 00:00:00 GMT

We were witness to a once in a million year event. A close approach of Comet Siding Spring to the Planet Mars. And fortunately, humanity had a fleet of spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet, ready to capture this monumental event in real time. What did we see? What will we learn?

Media Files:

Ep. 353: Seasons on Saturn

Mon, 20 Oct 2014 00:00:00 GMT

You think we’re the only place that experiences seasons? Well, think again. Anything with a tilt enjoys the changing seasons, and that includes one of the most dramatic places in the Solar System: Saturn, with its rings and collection of moons.

Media Files:

Ep. 352: Water, Water Everywhere!

Mon, 06 Oct 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Where ever we find water on Earth we find life. And so, it makes sense to search throughout the Solar System to find water. Well, here’s the crazy thing. We’re finding water just about everywhere in the Solar System. This changes our whole concept of the habitable zone.

Media Files:

Special Episode: Live from DragonCon 2014!

Mon, 29 Sep 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Live from DragonCon 2014! Fraser and Pamela are joined by Les Johnson, Scott Edgington, Erin MacDonald, Roy Kilgard, and Fraser bombards all of these wonderful scientists with the hardest, most complicated questions he can come up with!

Media Files:

Ep. 351: Asteroid Adventures

Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Astronomy Cast’s 2014/15 season begins! With Rosetta’s arrival at Comet 67/P, we’re about to see a comet up close and personal. What will it take to explore, exploit and enjoy the asteroids and comets hurtling around our Solar System. And how does science fiction have it all wrong??

Media Files:

Ep. 350: Space Ship One

Mon, 07 Jul 2014 00:00:00 GMT

SpaceShipOne is the spacecraft created by Scaled Composites to win the $10 million Ansari X-Prize in 2003. It was the first privately built spacecraft to reach 100 km in altitude, twice in two weeks, carrying the equivalent of 3 people. It’s the prototype of the upcoming SpaceShipTwo, created for Virgin Galactic to carry paying passengers into space.

Media Files:

Ep. 349: Mercury 7 and How the US Picked the First Astronauts

Mon, 30 Jun 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Before the Apollo Program, there was the Gemini Program, and before Gemini came the Mercury Program. 7 elite astronauts chosen from a pool of military test pilots. How did NASA choose these original 7 men?

Media Files: