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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. 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?

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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!

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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?

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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??

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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.

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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?

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Ep. 348: Places with Numbers: 2 Independence Sq (NASA HQ)

Mon, 23 Jun 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Although NASA is spread across the entire US, the headquarters is based right in Washington, DC. And the headquarters building is known as Two Independence Square. This is where past and future space policy for the agency was developed.

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Ep. 347: Live from Balticon!

Mon, 9 Jun 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Enjoy our live show from Balticon!

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Ep. 346: Numbered Places: Area 51

Mon, 26 May 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Who knows what mysteries lurk at the military's Area 51 complex in Nevada? Conspiracy theorists and UFO chasers think it's a big alien coverup. But it's probably something more boring, like advanced military aircraft. Let's talk about what we know, and what we think we know about this infamous military base.

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Ep. 345: Numbered Places: Launch Complex 39

Mon, 19 May 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Almost every historic American launch occurred at one place in Cape Canaveral: Launch Complex 39. Good old LC39 was build for the Apollo spacecraft, and then modified for the Space Shuttle program. And now it’s carrying on this tradition for upcoming SpaceX rockets. Let’s explore the history of this instrumental launch facility.

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Ep. 344: The Rings of Saturn

Mon, 05 May 2014 00:00:00 GMT

There’s so much we know about Saturn’s beautiful rings, and yet, there’s so much we don’t know. Morgan Rehnberg, a PhD student at the University of Colorado, Boulder and works with the Cassini mission. Morgan joins Fraser to talk about Saturn’s amazing rings, and how they might have formed.

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Ep. 343: The Universe is Trying To Kill You

Mon, 28 Apr 2014 00:00:00 GMT

We always say that the Universe is trying to kill you, but we thought we’d really hammer the point home. Dr. Phil Plait from Bad Astronomy joins Fraser Cain for a very special episode of Astronomy Cast. Join us as we hammer out all the ways the Universe wants you dead.

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Ep. 342: Sunsetting Spacecraft

Tue, 15 Apr 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Everything dies, including our technology. But when we've hurtled a few thousands pounds of robotic instrumentation to another planet, it gets a little difficult to shut it down and clean up. What do we do when a mission has reached the end of its useful life?

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Ep. 341: 45th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

Fri, 11 Apr 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Pamela has a day job, remember? As an astronomer? Recently the 45th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference occurred in the The Woodlands, Texas. Pamela and guest astronomer Sondy Springmann will let us know about the big announcements made at this year's conference.

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Ep. 340: Wernher von Braun

Mon, 07 Apr 2014 00:00:00 GMT

When the United States helped defeat Germany at the end of World War II, they acquired the German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun. He had already developed the German V2 rocket program, and went on to design all the major hardware of the US rocket program. This week, we talk about von Braun’s life and accomplishments.

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Ep. 339: Space Conspiracy Theories

Mon, 31 Mar 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Yes, we actually landed on the Moon. No, aliens didn’t crash land at Roswell. What is it about space exploration that leads to so many conspiracy theories? We’ll try to get to the bottom of these conspiracy theories, poke holes in their ridiculous ideas and help you build your baloney detection kit.

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Ep. 338: Copernicus

Mon, 24 Mar 2014 00:00:00 GMT

It’s safe to say that the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus shook up the whole Universe. Well, our understanding of our place in the Universe. It was Copernicus who came up with the heliocentric model, placing the Sun at the center of the Solar System, with the Earth as just another planet.

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Ep. 337: Photometry

Mon, 17 Mar 2014 00:00:00 GMT

There's a lot you can learn by just staring at an object, watching how it changes in brightness. This is the technique of photometry, and it has helped astronomers discover variable stars, extrasolar planets, minor planets, supernovae, and much more.

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Ep. 336: Units of Measure

Mon, 10 Mar 2014 00:00:00 GMT

How heavy is a kilogram, how long is a second? How warm is a degree? We measure our Universe is so many different ways, using different units of measurement. But how do scientists come up with measurement tools which are purely objective?

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Ep. 335:Photoelectric Effect

Mon, 24 Feb 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Pop quiz. How did Einstein win his Nobel prize? Was it for relativity? Nope, Einstein won the Nobel Prize in 1921 for the discovery of the photoelectric effect; how electrons are emitted from atoms when they absorb photons of light. But what is it? Let’s find out.

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Ep. 334: Chelyabinsk

Mon, 17 Feb 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Around this time last year a space rock crashed into the Earth above Chelyabinsk, Russia. It brightened the skies for hundreds of kilometers, broke windows and injured many people. Let’s look back at the event. What happened, and what did we learn?

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Ep. 333: When Worlds Collide

Mon, 10 Feb 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Just take a look at the surface of the Moon and you can see it experienced a savage beating in the past. Turns out, the whole Solar System is a cosmic shooting gallery, with stuff crashing into other stuff. It sure sounds violent, but then, we wouldn't be here without it.

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Ep. 332: Stellar Collisions

Mon, 03 Feb 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Out here in the Milky Way’s suburbs, stellar collisions are unheard of. But there are places in the galaxy where stars whiz past each other, and collisions can happen. When stars collide, it’s a catastrophic event, and the stellar wreckage is visible half a galaxy away.

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Ep. 331: Arthur C. Clarke’s Technologies

Mon, 27 Jan 2014 00:00:00 GMT

In our previous episode, we introduced Arthur C. Clarke, the amazing man and science fiction writer. Today we’ll be discussing his legacy and ideas on space exploration. You’ll be amazed to hear how many of the ideas we take for granted were invented or just accurately predicted by Arthur C. Clarke.

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Ep. 330: Arthur C. Clarke

Mon, 20 Jan 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Arthur C. Clarke was one of the greatest science fiction writers of all time. He defined the genre, and revolutionized our ideas about what it will take to become a true space faring civilization. In the first of our two part series on Arthur C. Clarke, we examine the man’s life and his books.

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Ep. 329: Telescope Making, Part 3: Space Telescopes

Mon, 13 Jan 2014 00:00:00 GMT

As we’ve said before, all telescopes really want to be in space. In part 3 of our series on amateur telescope making, we bring you up to speed on the final frontier: amateurs building space telescopes. The hardware and software is available off the shelf, and launches have never been more affordable. The era of amateur space telescopes has arrived.

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Ep. 328: Telescope Making, Part 2: Serious Gear

Mon, 06 Jan 2014 00:00:00 GMT

Some astronomers are control freaks. It’s not enough to buy a telescope, they want to craft every part of the experience with their own hands. If you’re ready, and willing to get your hands dirty (and covered in glass dust), you can join thousands of amateur telescope makers and build your own telescope from scratch.

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Ep. 327: Telescope Making, Part 1: Toys and Kits

Mon, 30 Dec 2013 00:00:00 GMT

Why pick up a low quality, wobbly telescope from the department store when you can craft your own - just like Galileo, and all the great astronomers from history. For a minor investment, you can build a worthy telescope out of spare parts and high quality kits.

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