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May 2010

May 2010

CAP and NAM. In the show this time we get an update on two recent conferences that Jodcast presenters were lucky enough to attend. Megan brings us a series of interviews from the Communicating Astronomy with the Public conference. Jen and Stuart find out about the National Astronomy Meeting 2010, planets orbiting backwards and the possibilities of life elsewhere in the Universe. As ever we have the latest astronomical news, and what you can see in the May night sky.

Please do help us out by filling in our survey. If you complete it before 13th May 2010 you'll have a chance to win a book!

The News

In the news this month:

CAP2010

Megan attended the Communicating Astronomy with the Public meeting in Cape Town, South Africa earlier in the year. While she was there she managed to record some interviews for us.

Prof George Miley tells us about Commission 55 of the International Astronomical Union. The IAU has recently developed a strategic plan for astronomy (PDF) in the developing world. George tells us how astronomy is a unique tool to inspire children to pursue a career in science and technology.

Kevin Govender talks about organising the CAP2010 meeting.

Dr Carolina Odman shares her experience of CAP2010.

Dr Pamela Gay talks about the cultural challenges of astronomy outreach and education in the developing world.

Prospery Simpemba is a founding member of Space Science Zambia Chapter of Astronomers Without Borders. Prospery tells us about the work of Astronomers Without Borders which brings people together to share the beauty of the night sky.

Avivah Yamani tells us about astronomy in Indonesia during the International Year of Astronomy.

Saevar Bragason tells us about astronomy in Iceland during the International Year of Astronomy. Iceland has 3 months with no dark skies during the summer. During the winter Iceland is affected by clouds but also the aurora.

Mponda Malozo tells us about IYA2009 activities in Tanzania.

Cameron Hummels is the Director of the public outreach programme for astronomy at Columbia University in New York city. During IYA2009 they organised a series of public talks and also took telescopes into Harlem to show passers-by the Moon and planets. Cameron also tells us about guerilla astronomy on subway trains in the New York Metro.

Pedro Russo talks about the huge global success of the International Year of Astronomy.

National Astronomy Meeting 2010

Jen and Stuart attended the UK's National Astronomy Meeting; an annual astronomy meeting that brings together the UK's astronomers, solar and terrestrial physicists. This year it was held in Glasgow to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of the Regis Chair of Astronomy at Glasgow. Dr Lyndsay Fletcher tells us about NAM, Astronomer Royal for Scotland John Brown, astronomy in Glasgow, and the conference ceilidh. We'll be bringing interviews from NAM to you over the next few episodes but you can hear more interviews by Ben of the Naked Scientists and watch some video interviews from Astronomy Now.

Professor Andrew Cameron tells us about the SuperWASP project. The project is aimed at finding large numbers of planets orbiting other stars whose orbits take them between us and their star. At NAM the SuperWASP team announced the discovery of nine new planets. Two of the new planet discoveries orbit their stars in the opposite direction to their star's spin and bring the total number of "backwards planets" to six. These planets provide a challenge to the understanding of how planets are formed.

Biochemist Dr William Bains tells us about his interests in astrobiology and he studies the possibility of life forming from basic chemical principles. He investigates the chemistry available in extremely non-Earth-like environments, such as the surface of Saturn's moon Titan, for life to start.

The Night Sky

Ian Morison tells us what we can see in the night sky during May 2010.

Northern Hemisphere

The nights are getting rather short in the northern hemisphere. After sunset Gemini is setting in the west with Leo the Lion in the south or south west. Over to the left of Leo is the constellation of Virgo which currently contains the planet Saturn. Between the tail of Leo and the brightest star in Virgo is the Realm of the Galaxies - the Virgo supercluster of galaxies. High overhead we have Ursa Major with a group of stars forming the Plough. Looking at the three stars making up the tail of the bear (the handle of the Plough) you can easily see with binoculars that the middle of those three is actually a double star. As the night continues you'll see the bright star Arcturus over in the east. The brightest stars of Hercules make the keystone where you can find the globular cluster M13 which looks nice in binoculars. Below Hercules is the constellation of Ophiuchus.

The Planets

Highlights

Southern Hemisphere

The Milky Way is arcing over from the east to the west fairly high in the south. Almost straight up above you is the little constellation of Crux - the Southern Cross. On the way to Crux, from the pointers, you turn left and go up a bit you might spot another fuzzy object named Omega Centauri. Omega Centauri may be the core of a small galaxy rather than a globular cluster as previously thought. Down towards the east is Scorpius with the Southern Jewelbox at the bottom. Sagittarius is rising in the east and rises higher later in the evening.

Odds and Ends

The European Southern Observatory have announced that they've chosen a site for the future European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). The site will be Cerro Armazones in the Chilean Andes.

We also mentioned Under British Skies which you can hear on Astronomy.FM.

Show Credits

News:Megan Argo
Noticias en Español - Mayo 2010:Lizette Ramirez
Interview:Prof George Miley and Megan Argo
Interview:Kevin Govender and Megan Argo
Interview:Dr Carolina Odman and Megan Argo
Interview:Dr Pamela Gay and Megan Argo
Interview:Prospery Simpemba and Megan Argo
Interview:Avivah Yamani and Megan Argo
Interview:Saevar Bragason and Megan Argo
Interview:Mponda Malozo and Megan Argo
Interview:Cameron Hummels and Megan Argo
Interview:Pedro Russo and Megan Argo
Interview:Dr Lyndsay Fletcher and Stuart Lowe
Interview:Prof Andrew Cameron and Jen Gupta
Interview:Dr William Bains and Jen Gupta
Night sky this month:Ian Morison
Presenters:David Ault, Jen Gupta and Stuart Lowe
Editors:Adam Avison, Iain McDonald, Mark Purver and Chris Tibbs.
Intro/Outro:David Ault
Intro/Outro voices:Julia Linthicum, Chip Joel, Gwendolyn Jensen-Woodard, Fiona Thraille and David Ault
Segment voice:Nadya Kunawicz
Website:Stuart Lowe
Cover art:CAP2010 Credit: IAU Commission 55

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