021 - Pursuing New HorizonsThe Skyentists add
In this episode our Skyentists, Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks, describe NASA's New Horizons spacecraft: the first mission to the Pluto system and the Kuiper Belt, in the outskirts of our Solar System. They summarize the main objectives of the mission, the instruments on board of New Horizons, and the results that this small spaceship has provided so far. These include amazing surprises in Pluto and Charon (Pluto's largest moon) and the recent flyby of the transneptunian object 2014 MU69 (unofficially also known as "Ultima Thule") early this year. For "Space News" Kirsten hopes that the next (and last) attempt of re-connecting with the Mars rover Opportunity ("Oppy") are successful. Ángel summarizes a new research from some colleagues at the Canary Islands Institute for Astrophysics (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Spain) who have reprocessed the data of the famous Hubble Ultra-Deep Field image, resulting in the image now revealing the external parts of many distant galaxies. For feedback we provide our "Top-10" list of objects for amateur astronomers in the Southern Hemisphere. Our object for "What's Up" for this episode is the famous globular cluster 47 Tucanae.
020 - Fly me to the MoonThe Skyentists add
This episode of "The Skyentists" brings the very first guest to the show. We invited our guest to describe the project they are conducting regarding observing the Moon... Well, our guest actually doesn't say too much at the end, but our Skyentists, Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez, can't stop talking. They provide some general overview of what we know about Earth's natural satellite and a summary of the lunar exploration, including some "fun facts" about the Moon brought by Kirsten. They also give some details about the Chinese mission, Change-4, that is right now exploring a region in the far side of the Moon. They also answer some of the questions about the Moon received by social media, as well as provide some feedback about previous episodes. For "Space News" Kirsten talks about the New Horizon spacecraft, that just did a flyby of the "cosmic jelly bean" (a.k.a. "Ultima Thule" or, the real official name, 2014 MU69) and Ángel explains what means that the rings of Saturn are "raining" over the planet. The bright red star Betelgeuse is the object chosen for "What's Up". Don't forget to send us your questions and feedback for the next episode!
019 - Planet Up!The Skyentists add
For the first episode of The Skyentists in 2019 astronomers Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks jump into the exciting field of finding planets around other stars. They provide a summary of the observational techniques used by astronomers to discover exoplanets, emphasizing the two main methods: the transit (or mini-eclipses) method and the radial velocity or doppler shift (or "wobbly") method. They also characterize the general properties of the almost 4000 exoplanets already discovered and provide a list of the ~20 most exciting exoplanets (some of them seem to be taken from "Star Wars"). In "Space News" Kristen summarizes Space-X launches in 2018 and their plans for 2019, while Ángel talks about the recent research of 20 protoplanetary disks using the radio-interferometry ALMA. We answer some questions received for feedback (thanks!) and use the brightest star of the night sky, Sirius, for our "What's Up" section. More in 2 weeks!
018 - Telescopes and AppsThe Skyentists add
In this episode our Skyentists, astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez, recommend some good Apps for Astronomy as well as give some few advises if you are considering getting your first amateur telescope. Indeed, Kirsten is very excited (although a bit sleepy) as she just bought a very new telescope and she was able to see comet 46P/Wirtanen! In "Space News" Ángel talks about a very interesting discovery in asteroid Bennu by NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission and Kirsten reminds us that it is the 50th of the amazing "Earth Rise" sequence obtained by the astronauts of the Apollo 8 mission when orbiting the Moon. For "What's Up" we recommend to have a look to the Hyades star cluster in the Bull. Some feedback is also answered. More in 2 weeks, although we are still "on holidays"!
017 - Landing on MarsThe Skyentists add
This is another long (59 minutes!) episode of The Skyentists, where astronomers Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks talk about Mars with the excuse of the successful landing of NASA's InSight mission. But, how easy is landing on Mars? Actually, not at all, and to show this they play the game "landing on Mars" enumerating the failure or success of every mission humans have sent to the Red Planet. Ángel also talks a bit about the Viking program and Kirsten about the rovers Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity. In "Space News" Kirsten discusses star-formation in galaxies and Ángel suggests to try to find an exoplanet using real NASA's TESS data included in the new Zooniverse citizen science project "Planet Hunters". We have some feedback (yeah!) and in some way 3 recommendations for "What's Up!": Mars, the bright comet 46P Wirtanen (that has been called "The 2018 Christmas Comet"), and the Geminids meteor shower peaking on December 15th. Be quick to observe them, though, as they will go away very soon!
016 - Rendezvous with HyakutakeThe Skyentists add
In this episode our Skyentists, astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez, talk about comets and meteor showers. Ángel tells some few "old stories" about enjoying the big comets of 1996 (Hyakutake), 1997 (Hale-Bopp) and 2007 (McNaught), as well as the very amazing meteor shower of the Leonids in 1999. Kirsten, however, is sad because she has not had the chance, yet, to see any bright comet or a very active meteor shower. We also mention famous object ʻOumuamua, the very first interstellar object to be discovered, recommending to all our listeners the reading of "Rendezvous with Rama" by Arthur C. Clarke. In Space News we talk about a very peculiar Wolf-Rayet star recently discovered and our excitement with NASA Insight mission, that is landing Mars just few hours after we recorded this episode. For "What's Up" we talk about the wonderful star Mira, "the Wonderful". We don't have feedback on this episode but we are expecting a lot next fortnight!
015 - Asteroid Attack!The Skyentists add
In this episode of "The Skyentists", astronomers Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Bank talk about the minor bodies of the Solar System: asteroids, comets, meteoroids, and trans-neptunian objects. They explain the difference between a "meteorite", a "meteor" and a "meteoroid" as well as provide a global overview of the content of the Solar System and the many kind of objects we are finding in its outskirsts. In "Space News" we talk about the recent observations of the Small Magellanic Cloud using the ASKAP radio-interferometer in Western Australia, and we say a very sad "bye bye" to the beloved Kepler "exoplanet-hunter" spacecraft. For "What's Up" we recommend to have a look to, well, an asteroid! 4 Vesta is visible in Sagittarius at the moment. Finally, we are very excited because we have something very special in this episode related to feedback. Yeah!
014 - Halloweeny AstronomyThe Skyentists add
This is a very special episode of "The Skyentists", where astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez answer many "spooky" astro-questions, including what is the scariest thing in the Universe. Of course, this is an excuse to talk about Halloween and the origins of this festivity that, yep, it is very related to Astronomy. Plenty of feedback (and auto-feedback) is also answered in this episode. In "Space News" we talk about the new citizen science project "The Hunt of Galaxy Clusters" and how neutron stars are related to different kind of pasta. For our "What's Up" segment we talk about the giant star-forming region 30 Doradus, also known as the "Tarantula Nebula". We also mention some few other astronomical objects with a Halloweeny theme. We wrap up the episode with some thoughts about losing the dark and a nice surprise!
013 - Season WarsThe Skyentists add
And we are back! In this first episode of Seasons 2 of "The Skyentists", episode thirteenth, astronomers Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks try to define what "Seasons" are. It is easy following the astronomical definition, but not so when considering other arbitrary conventions. Do other planets have seasons? Of course they do! For "What's up" they invite us to observe NGC 253, the Sculptor galaxy, or the Silver Coin galaxy, which is visible even with binoculars. Kirsten introduces the new section: "Space News!", where she updates Ángel about the most recent astronomical discoveries (he still have a lot to catch up after being "away" for three months!). Some feedback is answered, but we need much more for future episodes, so don't be shy!
012 - Lighting Saturn in AutumnThe Skyentists add
In the twelfth episode of "The Skyentists", astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez talk about the nasty problem of the light pollution, explain why we are still in Autumn (and not in Winter as many Australian and New Zealanders believe) as seasons are defined by Astronomy, and also discuss some of the main results found in Saturn, its rings, and its moons by the Cassini-Huygens mission. For "What's Up!" we have, well, more Saturn! Angel also explains the transition that the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) is experiencing next month. Some feedback is answered but we are waiting for much more after our break, once we're back from "Season II" in August during "National Science Week". Clear skies!
011 - Stargazing type-Ia supernovaeThe Skyentists add
In this episode we find two very excited Skyentists: Kirsten receives an unexpected birthday gift and Ángel tells us his intense experiences at the Anglo-Australian Telescope trying to observe for his research program while also helping in the TV show "ABC Stargazing Live", 22-24 May 2018. White dwarf stars and type-Ia supernova are the main theme of this episode, but also the amazing contribution of citizen scientists who, inspired by "ABC Stargazing Live", helped to discover not one but two transients in distant galaxies. Interestingly, it was Ángel and his team who, using data collected with the AAT the nights of the TV shows, confirmed the classification of these two transients as type-Ia supernova. Their discoveries were discussed in two science papers led by Ángel that included famous physicist Prof Brian Cox and ABC journalist Julia Zemiro as co-authors! The Skyentists also answer some questions received as feedback and solve the problem of the center of mass of the Earth-Moon system. "What's Up!" is dedicated to Omega Centauri or, as Kirsten prefers, "Oh My God Centauri!". Next episode in just 1 week!
010 - Parallaxes with GaiaThe Skyentists add
In the tenth episode of "The Skyentists" astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez share their excitement about the BIG second data release of Gaia. Gaia, which is a small satellite owned by the European Space Agency (ESA), has just provided detailed astrometric and photometric information of around 1.7 billion stars! For many of these stars Gaia has also obtained accurate measurements of the parallax, which is key to derive the distance to the stars. But this is not as easy as it sounds, because everything out there is moving. How is it done? You have to listen the episode to know! For our "What's Up!" segment we talk about the red giant star Arcturus, also known as Alpha-Boo. And we have feedback, yeah! We answer some few questions from our listeners and encourage everyone to sign the petition to continue producing the science fiction TV show "The Expanse".
009 - Flashing lights In the skyThe Skyentists add
In this episode our Skyentists Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Bank discuss all the flavors of auroras: what are they, how are they produced, what their colors are telling us, and where to see them. From Sydney? Well, it seems it would be possible for time to time... if it wasn't because of the nasty problem of the light pollution! Thanks Kiama is very close to Sydney, auroras have been seen recently from there! On the second part of this episode, as part of the "What's Up" section, we travel to the Carina Nebula and to the very intriguing massive star Eta Carinae... don't miss observing it with your telescope while you can, as it might explode as a hypernova soon! We don't have feedback in this episode, but hopefully will receive plenty for next fortnight. Do you have a question for us?
008 - Weird little galaxyThe Skyentists add
In this episode "The Skyentists", astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez, talk again about galaxies and discuss the mysterious component in all of them: the dark matter. In all galaxies for sure? Very recently it has been announced that a little, faint, fuzzy, low-luminous dwarf galaxy named as NGC1052-DF2 doesn't have any dark matter! Our Skyentists talk about these news and explore what might be happening in this intriguing object. For our "What's Up!" segment we discovered that M 83 is not only a very famous nearby spiral galaxy but something else...
007 - All about JupiterThe Skyentists add
The planets are coming! That's right, during the next months Jupiter, Mars and Saturn will be the "stars" of the night sky. But in this episode our Skyentists Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Bank talk just about Jupiter: its breathtaking view through small telescopes, its shrinking Great Red Spot and its very dynamical atmosphere. They also discuss some of the new amazing discoveries that the spacecraft Juno is getting there, including a new understanding of the structure of the giant planet and the very intriguing storm systems in its poles. Following our poll in Twitter, this episode also has plenty of feedback (thanks!), providing interesting insights about the original classification of galaxies by Edwin Hubble and the meaning of "early type" and "late type" galaxies. Ah, yes, remember: the planets are coming!
006 - She, AstronomerThe Skyentists add
In this episode we find a very busy Kirsten, who has been abducted by Twitter, and a still sleepy Ángel, just back from his busy observing nights at the Anglo-Australian Telescope. But they are starting a journey to talk about the amazing contributions to astronomy, science and culture that many women have done in the past. Many of these women have been forgotten for centuries, but luckily we're recovering their names and their works now: Enheduanna, Aglaonice of Thessaly, Maria Kirch, Caroline Herschel, Annie Cannon and Cecilia Payne. Kirsten and Ángel also emphasize the great scientific work that the "Harvard Computers", a very talented group of women, performed a century ago. Their contributions were key to the big astronomy discoveries in the 20th Century. For the "What's Up!" segment they recommend to try to photograph the Horsehead Nebula, discovered in 1888 by Scottish astronomer Williamina Fleming. A bit of feedback today, but they are still waiting for your astro-questions!
005 - Trillions of galaxiesThe Skyentists add
The number of galaxies out there? Yep, something around that figure... trillion of galaxies! A very sleepy and astro-jet lagged astrophysicist Ángel López-Sánchez and young but very wise astronomer Kirsten Bank jump into the realm of galaxies! They define their basic properties and classification and discuss the names given in the famous "Hubble Tuning Fork". The "What's Up!" section is dedicated to our all-time favourite nearby dwarf galaxy: the Large Magellanic Cloud. And they also talk about supernova explosions, those coming from the death of massive stars: SN 1987A and SN2016gkg. The latest supernova was discovered by an amateur astronomer, who saw in real time how the light of the supernova appeared in the images he was taking with his new camera. No feedback today (did we say Ángel was very sleepy?) but more to come soon!
004 - Double Sonic BoomThe Skyentists add
In this episode "The Skyentists", astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez, provide their thoughts about the successful first launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket by Space X and the brilliant? idea of Elon Musk of sending a Tesla Roadster car to Mars... because that is exactly what happened... or not? For the "What's Up" segment they talk about the beautiful Pleiades stellar cluster, not to be confused by Ursa Minor! And, yeah, they got some feedback! Although that is still not enough so please continue providing your comments about your favorite star cluster, your thoughts about the launch of the Falcon Heavy... or just your astro-questions!
003 - Green OrionThe Skyentists add
Today the "The Skyentists", astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez, describe the famous Orion Nebula in the "What's Up!" section and use it to jump into the basics of how stars are born in galaxies... But first they provide some feedback about the infamous "Super Blue Blood Moon"... that is, last week's lunar eclipse. The impression is that many people around the world were confused about what was really happening because of the hype given by the media. They also answer the question of naming the stars of the Southern Cross but also request your feedback, including answering the question "what is your favorite star cluster?".
002 - Blueberry MoonThe Skyentists add
In this second and extra-long (51 minutes) episode of "The Skyentists", astronomers Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks discuss all around naming moons: Supermoon, Red Moon, Blue Moon, Harvest Moon, Micromoon, Black Moon and many more... even inventing a new kind of moon! The excuse for doing this: the "Super Blue Red Moon" happening the night of the 31st January to the 1st of February 2018. They also introduce the "What's Up!" section describing the Southern Cross and inviting listeners to provide the names of the 5 brightest stars in the constellation. And just a warning: this episode also contains an interesting musical surprise!