027 - Cosmology 101The Skyentists add
The Universe is Big, so Cosmology, that is the branch of Astronomy that studies the big picture of the Universe (creation, evolution and fate of the Cosmos, as well as of the stuff it contains) is also BIG. For this episode our Skyentists, Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks, try to provide a general overview of the Cosmology: the discovery of the expansion of the Universe, the Hubble–Lemaître law, the Lambda-CDM model, hierarchical galaxy formation, the cosmic background radiation, the large scale structure of the Universe, cold and hot dark matter, the discovery of the dark energy, the flat geometry of the Universe, and even Cosmology in the local Universe. For "Space News" Kirsten discusses a recent NASA announcement regarding allowing tourists to travel to the International Space Station, while Ángel briefly describes the observation of the cold gas around the supermassive black hole in the centre of the Milky Way by the ALMA radio-interferometer. For "What's Up!" we recommend to have a look to the beautiful red star Epsilon Scorpii, also known with the Australian Aboriginal name of Larawag. We have plenty of feedback for this episode, huge thank for that, keep it going!
026 - Twinkle, twinkle, little satelliteThe Skyentists add
In this episode of The Skyentists astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez talk about artificial satellites: what are they, where are they, how many are there, what they usually do, and more. Of course the reason of talking about satellites is discussing Space X Starlink satellite constellation, as plenty of conversations have happened in the last couple of weeks about how these objects might affect the view of the night sky for everybody and how they will affect to both amateur and professional astronomical observations. For helping to understand the impact of satellite constellations such Starlink we are interviewing astrophysicist Kyler Khuen, deputy director of technology at Lowell Observatory (Arizona, USA), who has been intensively working on this lately. Many interesting points are raised, emphasising that proper and continue conversations between all stakeholders (private space companies, astronomers, national space agencies, government and law makers) are needed to minimise the impact of satellite constellations. For Space News Ángel briefly presents a new research article that claims to have solved the problem of "the galaxy lacking of dark matter" (main topic in our Episode 8). For "What's Up" we choose a very famous and bright galaxy: M 104, the Sombrero galaxy. More in two weeks!
025 - A Sip of ScienceThe Skyentists add
This a very special episode as our Skyentists, Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks, participated as MCs in one of the Sydney venues of the international science communication festival "Pint of Science". They actually recorded the Astronomy event "Enter the Dead Star!" on Wednesday 22nd May using... wait for it... a mobile phone! Here we present a summary of the event, the highlights of the talks, the trivia, and their impressions about the festival and the night. We don't have space news, feedback or what's up in this episode. However we include the interviews we conducted to the speakers, astrophysicists Devika Kamath (Lecturer in Astronomy and Astrophysics, ARC DECRA Fellow, Macquarie University) and Sarah Reeves (Assistant Curator, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Powerhouse Museum), after the show. We couldn't help ourselves, though, and the last 10 minutes of this episode include our main points and concerns about the Starlink satellites launched last week by SpaceX. We will extend this discussion providing a comprehensive picture of satellites around Earth and the big issues arising with the expected new "satellite constellations" in the next episode. We hope to release this in a week, we are waiting for your feedback about all of this by then.
024 - Astro BookwormsThe Skyentists add
For this episode of The Skyentists, astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez talk about books, more precisely about astro-books, providing a list of 13 interesting books to learn and enjoy Astronomy and Space Science. This topic was recently suggested as a feedback question, so we are very pleased to answer it in a full episode. Besides this, we heard a couple of minutes of the amazing TEDxYouth@Sydney talk given by Kirsten last month. For "Astro News" Kirsten talks about the discovery of the "Moon-quakes" and Ángel introduces an important "cosmic controversy" that has recently arisen: when comparing the value of the Hubble constant obtained with the cosmic background radiation with that derived using nearby galaxies, the numbers do not match! Our object for "What's Up!" is the beautiful Jewel Box star cluster. We're waiting for your suggestions and recommendations of books, and any other kind of feedback, for our next episode!
023 - A shadow of darknessThe Skyentists add
After a long hiatus because of a combination of professional and personal reasons, The Skyentists, Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks, are back. This is a kind of special episode as it is all focused in just one main topic: the amazing image of the "shadow" of the super massive black hole in the center of giant elliptical galaxy M 87 (aka M87*, but it is not a star) obtained with the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). Space News is this. The main topic is this. The feedback is this. And "What's Up!" is also this... well, for "What's Up!" it is actually the galaxy hosting the super massive black hole, M 87, in the centre of the Virgo cluster. They provide an overview of the properties of this fantastic image, give some insight into the radiotelescopes used by the EHT project, the techniques used to create the image, summarise the science and research papers released, and more! Please enjoy it and send your feedback for the next episode, that will be in ~1 month time.
022 - Harvard ComputersThe Skyentists add
In this episode of The Skyentists, Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez talk about women in astronomy and, in particular, the fundamental and still not well known work that a group of women, the "Harvard Computers", made between late 19th Century and early 20th Century. They provide an overview and summary of the achievements that Williamina Fleming, Antonia Mauri, Annie Cannon, Henrietta Leavitt and Cecilia Payne got in Astronomy and how, in some way, they provided the key ideas for the development of the Astrophysics in the 20th Century and beyond: variable stars, stellar spectra, stellar classification, the composition of the stars, and the distances to stars and galaxies. First, in "Space News" Kirsten is sad as our beloved Mars rover "Oppy" is no more, and Ángel briefly discusses a recent research digging the diffuse light of the outskirts of the galaxies observed in the Ultra Deep Hubble Image. They also provide the results of the poll about "what is Ultima Thule (aka 2014 MU69)". For "What's Up" they recommend to have a look to beautiful open cluster M 46 as it has a hidden surprise on it...
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...