Episode 1, June 20, 2020

The Sounds of Stellar Cannibalism–When a Pulsar Has Lunch  @1:12
     Pulsars aren’t always due to supernovae.  Sometimes that clockwork radio signal is due to hotspots on rotating neutron stars caused by infalling gas from a companion star.  And when that happens, the pulsar “powers up.”  Usually astronomers miss the actual start of the power up but Adelle Goodwin, of Monash University, Australia, and her team caught one in the act.  And in a first, The Galactic Times had her take her data and turn the explosion of energy and X-rays into a sound file so we can here five weeks of celestial fireworks as 30 seconds of music!

Mars and Its Chameleon –The Moon That Thinks It’s a Ring  @16:40
     Did you know that Mars used to have a ring?  Dr. Matija Cuk of the SETI Institute shows how Phobos has at least a half-dozen times metamorphosed itself into and out of being a ring because of Mars’ tidal forces, and the outer moon Deimos.

Drawing Blinds Over the Universe  @34:47
     Drs. Patrick Seitzer of the University of Michigan and James Lowenthal of Smith College discuss the ramifications onto astronomy of mega-constellations of satellites, notably the proposed 100,00s belonging to StarLink and OneWeb, and others, on astronomy.  How these can put million dollar observatories out of operation, destroy whole areas of astronomical research, and what astronomers are trying to do, with some cooperation from at least StarLink.

Editorial–What Happens When 100,000 Satellites Go Obsolete? @55:20
     What will happen when there are 100,000 satellites, including StarLinks from SpaceX, making it impossible for observatories to view the universe, just so you can stream Netflix and view your social media from anywhere.

The Galactic Skies from June 20th to June 30th.  @58:01
     We start our time with the Solstic, which also includes a solar eclipse across central Africa, and the Sun then entering Gemini.  The eclipse is partial in parts of Europe and Asia but not a trace to be seen in the Americas. The northern hemisphere’s latest twilight and sunsets’s are this week.  The planets are split between Jupiter and Saturn rising after Sunset, and Venus reappearing in the dawn sky after rounding past the Sun from the evening.  Mars appear between midnight and dawn.

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Episode 4, August 5, 2020

Episode 4, August 5, 2020

Over The Solar System’s Horizon — The View of Stars Beyond Pluto @1:12
     
The New Horizons probe that visited Pluto a few years ago has now gone so far from Earth that some nearby stars have actually shifted positions in the sky, the first “alien” skies we have seen.  Dr. Tod Lauer of NOAO and the New Horizons team describes how they took photos of these ‘star shifts’ or parallaxes and what they tell us.

The Phoenix Stream — How the Death of a Globular Cluster Tells Us About the Birth of the Milky Way @25:49
     
The Milky Way galaxy has a surrounding halo of matter–stars, gas and other things–and threaded through it are star streams, the shredded rivers of stars made from destroyed satellite or dwarf galaxies and globular clusters, spheres of hundreds of thousands of stars once tightly packed into a few light years.  The massive gravitational tides of our galaxy rip them apart when these star groups  get pulled into us.  But one stellar river, the Phoenix Stream, has stars so deficient in atomic metals that it appears to come from a time before the Milky Way was formed.  The research of Carnegie Institute astronomers Alexander Ji, Ting Li, and University of Sydney grad student Zhan Wan reveals how the destruction of this globular starts to explain how the Milky Way was actually created.  And how halo streams may reveal clues about dark matter!

Skies Over Earth for August 6 thru 20  @1:06:09
     
Jupiter and Saturn dominate the evening sky, and point where Pluto and New Horizons would be. Venus lights up the dawn, and so does the waning moon which will curtail all but the brightest Perseid meteors.  Find Mars near the Moon on the 9th, when the Moon appears smallest in diameter, at its apogee.  Lots of Mars anniversaries this month, and Mars probes on its way.  When you look at Mars and the Moon this month, you are looking at the Earth’s path direction in space.

{Artwork–courtesy, Dr. Ting Li, S5Collab}

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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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