With the main event of the International Year of Astronomy quickly approaching, we find out what's happening. We chat about the launch of NASA's Kepler spacecraft to search for Earth-like planets and ESA's GOCE probe to map the Earth's gravity field. On a recent trip to the Netherlands Roy caught up with Gijs Nelemans to find out about the future LISA spacecraft to look for gravitational waves. We also put your astronomical questions to Dr Tim O'Brien.
100 Hours of Astronomy (2-5 April)
One of the biggest events during the International Year of Astronomy 2009 is the 100 Hours of Astronomy. Mike Simmons (President of Astronomers without Borders and co-chair of 100 Hours of Astronomy) talked to Stuart about what could turn out be the world's largest star party. The opening ceremony is on 2nd April 2009 and will include Galileo's first telescope. There will be a Science Centre webcast and, between 9am UTC on the 3rd of April and 9am UTC on the 4th April, a 24 hour webcast of astronomical observatories - Around the World in 80 Telescopes. Douglas Pierce Price (ESO) explains how the webcast will start in Hawaii moving westwards around the planet through Australasia, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. There will also be a visit to telescopes in Antarctica and several in space. Around the World in 80 Telescopes will be streamed via Ustream and the 100 Hours of Astronomy website. It can also be followed on Twitter. On Saturday 4th April there will be a global star party giving people around the world a chance to view the night sky. If you have a telescope you can host an event in your neighbourhood and register it on the global list. The day after the star party, April 5th, is Sun Day and will be a chance to enjoy and appreciate our local star (note that looking at the Sun is dangerous so make sure that you observe the Sun safely).
Roy interviewed Dr Gijs Nelemans (Radboud University of Nijmegen) about LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna). He explained everything about this experiment and his involvement, which includes predictions on the foreground signals that LISA will observe. He also talked about his involvement in tracking whale-sharks using astronomy software.
Ask an Astronomer
Nick puts listener questions to Tim O'Brien.
- Bruce asks: "I have a small telescope only 75mm, along with 3 lenses 20mm,12.5mm and 4mm and a 3* barlow lens. My problem has been getting a good view of Venus, i can easily focus my telescope on the lunar surface, but when i try to look at Venus i can see the veins of the reflector and a very fuzzy planet.... Do i just need to be more patient?"
- Kevin asks: "Is a red dwarf simply a white dwarf that has cooled down or is it created by different circumstances?"
Odds and Ends
In the forum, EarthUnit points out some plugins for Google Earth that let you find out where various satellites are (also check out Rob Simpson's satellite kml) and display the Cosmic Microwave Background.
We also mentioned an upcoming Jodcast video of a lecture about the Mathematics of the Mind.
|Interview:||Mike Simmons and Stuart Lowe|
|Interview:||Dr Douglas Pierce Price and Stuart Lowe|
|Interview:||Dr Gijs Nelemans and Roy Smits|
|Ask An Astronomer:||Dr Tim O'Brien and Nick Rattenbury|
|Presenters:||Nick Rattenbury, Roy Smits and Stuart Lowe|
|Editors:||Nick Rattenbury, Roy Smits and Stuart Lowe|
|Segment voice:||Danny Wong-McSweeney|
|Cover art:||100 Hours of Astronomy poster Credit: James White/signalnoise.com/IAU/IYA2009|