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Month 4 2020: Keeping It Simple

Month 4 2020

In the show this time, we talk to Stewart Eyres about his study of a star that blew up a long time ago, Luke Hart rounds up the news that has happened in the near past, and we find out what we can see in the Month 4 night sky from Ian Morison, Haritina Mogosanu and Samuel Leske.

The News

This month in the news: shut-downs and space sightings.

First, some news about what has been happening at our space building. Since we started making this month’s show, the place of higher learning in Manchester decided to shut down all its buildings to help keep students and people who work there safe, so we can no longer get into our space building. Because of this, the Jodcast will sound a little different - because we can’t use the room where we make our voices into computer sounds - and might not have all the usual things we talk about in it. Even though we might not sound as good as usual, though, we’ll do our best to keep the show going out.

Our space building isn’t the only place that studies space that is no longer open. Among others, the Jodrell Bank Star-Watching-Place, ALMA, and the ESO have all either closed or working on shutting down, again so that the people who work there can stay safe. Now, people who study space are working from home when possible - like all of us here! This means that space news might not be quite as exciting as usual for the next few weeks or months, but don’t worry - we’ve still found some for you today!

While we here at the Jodcast usually use space machines to look out into space rather than back down at Earth, our space watching-machines are also very important to understand our own world. These space machines, which go around in circles a hundred times higher than Earth’s highest mountains, give us a special view of the Earth and are seeing interesting things since all the people are having to stay inside. Our space machines are seeing up to half less of some kinds of bad tiny matter in the air over large parts of the world. Images from near-Earth space machines also show much less travel and visitor interest at places where people board moving machines. Since these kinds of bad tiny air matter are mostly made by our moving machines and buildings where human goods are made, it is a sign that people’s doings are lowering across the world. It is interesting to know how much these changes can be seen from space, although the situation causing it is clearly very bad.

We hope all of you listening are taking care of yourself and each other. While many of us at the Jodcast can continue working from our homes, our thoughts are with everyone who is alone or in trouble at this time. Until next time!

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First, some news about what's been happening at JBCA. Since we started making this month's show, the University of Manchester made the decision to shut down al of its buildings for the safety of students and staff, so we can no longer get access to JBCA. Because of this, the Jodcast will sound a little different for the foreseeable future - because we can't get into our studio - and might not have all the usual sections as a result. Even though we might not sound as good as normal, though, we'll make our best effort to keep the show going out as usual.

JBCA isn't the only scientific building that's shut because of recent events. Amongst others, the Jodrell Bank Observatory, ALMA, and the ESO have all either closed or are in the process of shutting down, again for the safety of their staff. Now, astronomers from these places are working from home when possible, like us at the Jodcast. This means that astronomy news might be quite quiet for the next few weeks or months, but don't worry - we've still found some for you today!

While we here at the Jodcast usually use our instruments to look out into space rather than back down at Earth, these instruments are also important for our understanding of our own world. Satellites give us a unique view of the Earth and are seeing some interesting consequences of people having to stay inside. Satellites have recently observed up to a fifty percent decline in air pollution over large parts of the world. Images from near-Earth satellites are also showing much less travel and visitor interest in mass transit, particularly airports. Since air pollution is largely caused by transport and factory emissions, it's a sign that these activities are reducing across the world. It's interesting that we can identify these changes from space, although the situation causing it to occur is clearly negative.

We hope all of our listeners are taking care of yourselves and each other. While many of us at the Jodcast can continue working from our homes, our thoughts are with everyone who is alone or struggling at this time. Until next time!

Asking Stewart Eyres Questions

Dr. Stewart Eyres talks about his work studying CK Vulpeculae, which was found in the 1980s to be a star that blew up a long time ago named Vul 1670, which was seen to become brighter in 1670 by star-studiers of the time. First studied in the ‘80s to find out whether normal-class and small-class stars-that-blew-up ever turn into one another, he talks about its history (part of which is the first piece of writing about it, in Latin, a picture from which is our cover image this month – see it for yourself here), why it’s now quite certain it’s a small-class star-that-blew-up, and his studies on what kinds of matter it was formed from. He also talks about how the time needed to be certain about a new sighting has changed over the years, and how searches have allowed stars-that-blew-up to be found earlier than ever before.

Note from the person who put the show up: Because of a problem with our sound-to-computer machines, the goodness of sound of this talk is not as good as we'd like. However, we thought it was too interesting a talk to not use it at all, and our people who make words sound good have done their best to make sure Dr. Eyres can be heard. We hope it's still good to listen to for you all.

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Dr. Stewart Eyres talks about his work studying CK Vulpeculae, which was identified in the 1980s to be a historic nova named Vul 1670, which was observed to brighten to third magnitude in 1670 by astronomers of the time. Initially studied in the ‘80s to investigate whether transitions between classical and dwarf novae ever occur, he discusses its history (including the original Latin publication about its observation, a diagram from which is our cover image this month – see it for yourself here), why it’s now fairly certain it’s a dwarf nova, and his recent studies on what objects it was formed from. He also talks about how the time required to confirm a new sighting has changed over the years, and how modern surveys have allowed novae to be detected earlier than ever before.

Producer's note: Due to an error with our recording equipment, the quality of this interview is unfortunately not to as high a standard as we'd like. However, we thought it was too interesting a subject to not use it at all, and our editors have done their best to make sure Dr. Eyres is audible. We hope it's still enjoyable for our listeners.

The Night Sky

Above The World's Middle Line

Ian Morison tells us what we can see in the night sky above the world's middle line during Month 4 2020.

The Planets

Highlights of the Month

Below The World's Middle Line

Haritina Mogosanu and Samuel Leske from the Carter Science Centre in New Zealand speaks about the night sky below the world's middle line during Month 4 2020.

In these very strange times, as we find ourselves locked inside our homes, we might have some ideas as to what to do with the April night sky. Hopefully you’ll be able to actually get out of your house and take your telescope somewhere else to have a look at the night sky.April is a month of action in astronomy and stargazing! Global Astronomy Month (GAM) is organised each April by Astronomers Without Borders and the International Dark Sky Week is also in April, this year from Sunday, April 19 until Sunday, April 26!

Planets

Stars

Galaxies

Binocular objects

So, from here from New Zealand, we wish you clear skies so that you can always see the stars, and stay safe - stay inside, keep your two metre distance from people, and don’t get sick. Clear skies, everyone, and let’s hear each other healthy next month.

Month 4 Special: Explaining What We All Do

Crispin Agar

Tiaan Bezuidenhout

Jake Staberg Morgan

Lizzy Lee

Fiona Porter

Show Credits

News:Luke Hart
Interview:Stewart Eyres and Fiona Porter
Night sky:Ian Morison and Haritina Mogosanu
People who speak through the whole show:Fiona Porter, Lizzy Lee, and Tiaan Bezuidenhout
People who make our words sound good:Joseph Winnicki, Lizzy Lee, and Adam Avison
Voice between parts:Tess Jaffe
Computer place where our show lives:Fiona Porter and Stuart Lowe
Person who put the show where you can hear it:Fiona Porter
Cover art:This chart of the position of a nova (marked in red) that appeared in the year 1670 was recorded by the famous astronomer Hevelius and was published by the Royal Society in England in their journal Philosophical Transactions. CREDIT: Royal Society

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