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September 2019: Circling in

September 2019

In the show this time, we talk to Fabio Antonini about modelling gravitational wave sources, Michael Wright rounds up the latest news, and we find out what we can see in the September night sky from Ian Morison, Haritina Mogosanu and Samuel Leske.

The News

This month in the news: Chandrayaan 2 detaches its lander, a synthetic catalogue of galaxies, and a 3D printed binocular telescope

Chandrayaan 2, the Indian Space Research Organisation's attempt to land on the moon, has recently detached lander from orbiter. The mission launched on the 22nd of July and on the lander separating on September the 2nd after many manouvers throughout August which moved the craft into its desired orbit. The lander is then expected to land on September the 7th. (Note that since this news segment was recorded the lander unfortunately lost contact and crashed, the lander has been found but contact has yet to be reestablished).

A synthetic catalogue of black holes in the Milky Way has been made by a team of Polish researchers. They have used cosmological models to make estimates of the number and properties of black holes in our galaxy. The paper provides details of what the authors expect in the bulge, disk and halo of the galaxy. The hope is that this can then be used to guide our searches for black holes in the galaxy.

Finally an amateur astronomer has made a rather interesting 3D printed binocular telescope. Robert Asumendi has designed and built a machine called the Analog Sky Drifter. There have already been a few designs of 3D printable telescopes out in the public, and this one has some interesting features in its design. The reasoning behind a lot of how it works is its creator's astigmatism, leading to a binocular design which somewhat mitigates eye problems as you can put both eyes on and your brain is able to use two sources. The design is another example of the growing power amateur astronomers have to improve their ability to see the universe.

Interview with Fabio Antonini

Emma Alexander talks to Dr Fabio Antonini, a Rutherford fellow at the University of Surrey. Dr Antonini tells us about his work modelling gravitational wave sources, particularly black holes in binary systems, and explores the implications of LIGO observations for such modelling efforts.

The Night Sky

Northern Hemisphere

Ian Morison tells us what we can see in the Northern Hemisphere night sky during September 2019.

The Planets

Odds and Ends

We discuss the recent announcement that the European Space Agency's Aeolus satellite had to make an emergency manoeuvre, in order to avoid crossing paths with one of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites. The Starlink satellite was in an unusually low orbit, leading to speculation as to how it got there, and why SpaceX didn't move it out of the way. As more satellites are put into orbit, the likelihood of possible collisions increases — so how is it best to deal with this? More information, and updates since the time of recording, can be found on ESA’s website here.

We discuss NASA’s new deep space atomic clock. This new clock, activated in late August, is designed to autonomously measure distances between objects in space. We discuss how such an atomic clock will help in future unmanned space missions, and how such a technology will help NASA’s future space program.

In a journey towards possibly the last frontier, Josh discusses how scientists in the Netherlands are developing techniques which may lead to the development of the life scanners we see in Star Trek (similar sci-fi is available) . By using the circular polarisation of light and looking for imbalances in left- and right-handed polarisation, the researchers claim that they can detect the presence of organic matter. For details on how they did this, listen in!

Show Credits

News:Michael Wright
Interview:Fabio Antonini and Emma Alexander
Night sky:Ian Morison and Haritina Mogosanu
Presenters:Josh Hayes, Emma Alexander and Joel Williams
Editors:Bin Yu, Tiaan Bezuidenhout, Tom Scragg and Adam Avison
Segment Voice:Tess Jaffe
Website:Michael Wright and Stuart Lowe
Producer:Michael Wright
Cover art:Artist's impression of the black holes studied by the astronomers, using ULTRACAM attached to ESO's Very Large Telescope. The systems — designated Swift J1753.5-0127 and GX 339-4 — each contain a black hole and a normal star separated by a few million kilometres. That's less than 10 percent of the distance between Mercury and our Sun. CREDIT: ESO L. Calcada

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