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December 2009: Live!

December 2009

Live! After months of talking about it we finally recorded an episode (the first of two) with a live audience made up of Jodcast listeners. We start with our now traditional December pantomime - Jenaddin. In the show we have an interview with Dr Chris Lintott (University of Oxford) about the latest news from the Galaxy Zoo project. As ever we have the latest astronomical news, what you can see in the December night sky, your feedback and other odds and ends. Various Jodcast listeners have been adding their photos from Jodcast Live to the Jodcast Flickr group (maintained by Jodatheoak).

The News

In the news this month:


It has been a while since we had an update on the massive, online citizen science project Galaxy Zoo so we invited Dr Chris Lintott (University of Oxford) to Jodrell to tell us the latest news in front of a live audience. Amongst other things, we hear about the discovery of green peas (also red peas, i-peas and pea-js) and the new cosmic mergers project.

The Night Sky

Ian Morison tells us what we can see in the night sky during December 2009.

Northern Hemisphere

Soon after sunset over in the west you can see Cygnus the Swan, Lyra the Lyre and Aquila the Eagle. Further around to the south is the Square of Pegasus. Up to the left of that is Andromeda and below that the circlet of Pisces. Higher up in the sky is the w shape of Cassiopeia and down to the left of that is Perseus. Between them is the double cluster and it can be seen as a fuzzy glow in binoculars. As the night progresses, over to the south-east and east, Taurus the Bull can be seen with Orion seen rising at about 10pm.

The Planets


Southern Hemisphere

The brightest star you can see in the sky is Sirius which is in the east in the early evening. Its temperature is about 9500 C and it is about 26 times more luminous than our Sun. Canopus is about 15 degrees higher up and further around to the south. It is a supergiant star and is about 13,000 times brighter than the Sun. Achernar is just above the south celestial pole and is the ninth brightest star in the sky.

Odds and Ends

There will be another Twitter Meteor Watch for the Geminid meteor shower led by the Newbury Astronomical Society (@NewburyAS on Twitter). Follow #Meteorwatch on Twitter for live updates and photos between the 12th and 14th December.

The Galloway Forest Park in Scotland has become the UK's first Dark Sky Park. A park in Hungary was also designated as a Dark Sky Park at the same meeting of the International Dark Sky Association, bringing the total number of European Dark Sky Parks to two.

There is a night sky simulator at to show how dark the sky is across the UK. There is also a petition about light pollution going to the Welsh Assembly.

ESA's Rosetta spacecraft had it's third and final fly-by of the Earth on the 13th November and sent back some amazing photos of the Earth. Rosetta is now on it's way to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in the outer Solar System.

The Atlantis space shuttle took worms and butterflies to the International Space Station as part of mission STS-129 in November.

The stuck Spirit rover on Mars finally moved on the 19th November!. While it only moved 12 millimeters foward, this is better than expected! We showed this picture of the test rover on the big screen.

NASA's Be A Martian website allows you to explore the Martian surface and sort through images to get a more complete map of the planet.

ESO's ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) had it's first fringes - the first time two antennas have worked together. Dave thought he spotted two TARDIS (what is the plural?) in one picture.

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN has restarted. Listener Paul Miyagawa who works at CERN was at Jodcast Live and gave us an update.

Show Credits

News:Megan Argo
Noticias en Español - Diciembre 2009:Lizette Ramirez
Interview:Dr Chris Lintott and Nick Rattenbury
Night sky this month:Ian Morison
Presenters:David Ault, Megan Argo, Jen Gupta, Chris Lintott, Stuart Lowe, Nick Rattenbury and Neil Young
Jodcast Radiophonic Workshop:Adam Avison
Camera:Mark Purver
Runner:Chris Tibbs
Editor:Stuart Lowe
CERN update:Paul Miyagawa
Audience:Jodcast Listeners
Intro script:David Ault
Narrator:Chris Lintott
Doctor Twankey:David Ault
Jenaddin:Jen Gupta
Prof Abanaza:Stuart Lowe
Princess Parkes:Megan Argo
Emperor:Neil Young
Empress:Lisa Hartley
Guard:Paul Miyagawa
Genie:Nick Rattenbury
Segment voice:Ian McDonald
Website:Stuart Lowe
Cover art:Some of the presenters and audience who braved the rain at Jodrell Bank Credit: Jodatheoak

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