Episode 3, July 22, 2020

Supernova in a Lab – Don’t Try This At Home @1:14
     Explosive research!  In a Georgia Tech lab, a science team led by Dr. Devesh  Ranjan recreates the moment a star explodes in order to reproduce the swirls of gas seen in the most famous supernova of all time, the Crab nebula, which exploded this month 966 years ago.  Hear what their supernova sounds like!

Comet NEOWISE – What We’ve Learned, Where It Will Be @15:36
     This unexpected and bright comet has bedazzled North American skywatchers after it rounded the Sun this month and sported a long tail and a head visible to the unaided eye.  What have scientists learned about this comet discovered only four months ago, and where and how can you view this comet, before it quickly flies back into the far ranges of the Solar System.

Black Holes Hidden in Plain View? @20:25
     When you look into the sky, you see the bright stars.  But you may also be seeing black holes.  Among some of the brightest stars may lie black holes in orbit around them, hiding in their light as invisible companions, revealed only by the orbital motions of their companions, that don’t otherwise seem to follow Newton and Kepler’s laws.  The astronomer Thomas Rivinius in Chile explains.

Skies Over Earth @32:47
     We start this fortnite by seeing all five bright planets, Jupiter and Saturn starting at sunset, Mars around middle of the night, Venus and then Mercury before and after morning twilight.  The Delta Aquarid meteors peak on the 28th.  The Moon pass the planets one by one.

{comet image, courtesy Rich Stillman, Winchester, MA}

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Episode 2, July 3, 2020

A Star’s Medical Report–How Betelguese Got The Chills  @1:14
     
Orion’s got two bright stars, blue Rigel and…what happened to red Betelgeuse??  The giant star faded dramatically over the past winter into a pale shadow of former self, altering the winter sky.  Sri Lankan astronomer Thivasha Dharmawardena, at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany explains how she and colleagues took the star’s temperature and discovered this may be a periodic thing, like the sun’s sunspot cycle, only the whole star becomes one giant spot!

Coming Soon, Observatories on the Moon?  @16:19
 
  It has been a staple of science fiction for decades, moonbases with telescopes observing the universe.  The first such bases with observatories may be closer than you think.  Stephen Durst of the International Lunar Observatory Association discusses plans for the placement of telescopes and a moonbase at the South Pole of the Moon over the next four years.

Three Stars, Two Planets, First Stop–A Tour of the Alpha Centauri System  @33:04
   
 If humankind ever goes to the stars, the first place we’re likely to visit is the nearest star system, the three stars that make up Alpha Centauri.  Recent discoveries of planets around Alpha Centauri C, or Proxima Centauri, and how they were found, are described by Texas astronomer Fritz Benedict, along with where other planets there might or might not be found.

Galactic Skies for July 5th through 19th  @46:26
   
 There’s a lunar eclipse this two week period…but don’t waste your evening.  No blood red moon, it is just a slight outer shadow eclipse.  A solar eclipse will be visible if you are in the southern hemisphere, but it is an annular or ring eclipse, because the Earth is at aphelion, its farthest distance from the Sun.  Kind of puts the lie to why it is the Northern hemisphere summer, doesn’t it?  Meanwhile Venus crawls over Taurus the Bull’s face, and Venus and the Moon make a right triangle with now-restored Betelgueuse around the 19th.  Jupiter rises at sunset, at its brightest and biggest, and Saturn rises a short time later.  Also, starting now, if you stay up all night, you can see all five bright planets at some point, Mercury rising before the Sun.

{Photo: Annular eclipse, 2012, courtesy Larry Krumenaker}

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