Awesome Astronomy explores the frontiers of science, space and our evolving understanding of the universe.Join Ralph, Paul & Jeni for informative and fun astronomy programmes dedicated to space and astronomy news and monthly podcast extras covering hot topics and special interviews in the world of science and astronomy.

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Podcast Extra - AstroCamp Spring 2015

Download Episode! A podcast extra episode to get you in the mood for the biannual dark sky weekend run by the podcast crew. We have renowned comet and asteroid hunter Nick Howes joining us to talk about the nature and history of comets and we'll be giving away loads of astronomy prizes in our astronomy quizzes. And of course, 3 nights of enjoying the wonders of truly dark skies in the Welsh Breacon Beacons' International Dark Sky Reserve. If you're not coming to AstroCamp in May 2015, there's still a sky guide in this episode to give you stargazing inspiration wherever you are.


6 May 2015

Rank #1

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#11 - May 2013

Awesome Astronomy gets a new cohost - welcome Paul!


1 May 2013

Rank #2

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Extra: Your Need to Know Guide to Buying a Telescope

Perhaps the most frequently asked question to the show (and apologies to Terry Dunlin who asked this question about 2 years ago!) is what you need to consider when buying a telescope or what makes the right telescope for you. So, in this podcast extra, we pool our collective brainpower to bring you a 20 minute discussion of telescope types, apertures, portability and capabilities to help you get the perfect telescope for you. If you’re thinking of buying your first telescope – or thinking of getting one as a gift for someone this Christmas – then this will give you all the considerations for that purchase. We recommend The Tring Astronomy Centre (www.tringastro.co.uk), but the most important thing is to buy from a dedicated astronomy retailer rather than the internet or ordinary high street stores. A dedicated astronomy retailer will be able to advise you from a position of knowledge and provide the aftercare you need.


15 Nov 2016

Rank #3

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Sky Guide January 2016

What to look out, and up, for in January. For the beginners and young astronomers this month we take a look at the magnificent winter constellation of Orion with the belt and sword bordered by four magnificent stars. We take a look at a (cosmologically) near term supernova hopeful, a five star multiple star system, and the finest nebula of them all in small telescopes or binoculars. Next we round up the planets that are visible in January: Jupiter rising early to show us some lovely transits of its moons, with Mars Saturn and Venus providing breathtaking views for the night owls. Saturn and Venus give us a rare close conjunction too in January. Next we take a look at the phases of the moon this month and prepare for a conjunction with gas giant planet Jupiter and an occultation with bright star Aldebaran in Taurus. The Quadrantids provide us with a nice meteor shower early in January which can often give us more meteors per hour than any other meteor shower. Comet C2013 US10 Catalina continues to reveal itself to northern hemisphere observers and passes some deep sky objects to add to the excitement. Finally, we end on our deep sky challenge in the constellation of Gemini with a planetary nebula and open clusters to tease out – including the topical Jedi Knight cluster.


30 Dec 2015

Rank #4

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#3 - July 2012

The last transit of Venus, July's night sky and the hunt for ETI with Seth Shostak

1hr 6mins

30 Jun 2012

Rank #5

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Podcast Extra - Jeni Millard on faint galaxy structures

During this spring’s AstroCamp event, hosted by the Awesome Astronomy podcast team, our new presenter, Jeni Millard, gave another of her inspiring talks. We were treated to a history of the much neglected Aboriginal dark sky folklore as we got tour of some of the most interesting objects in the southern hemisphere’s sky. Then we head off into the world of professional astronomy at the Australian Astronomical Observatory as we find out how Jen helped with the science that will enable the Huntsman Eye to investigate faint structures of galaxies using arrays of off-the-shelf Canon camera lenses and sensors.


14 Nov 2015

Rank #6

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#67 - January 2018

The Discussion: Paul avoids the big freeze with astronomy cheats, Ralph reads out the latest good and bad reviews, while Jeni becomes a ‘Who’s Who’ question at Cardiff University! The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have: Voyager 1 shows it still has the skills and prolongs its own life An update on the extrasolar asteroid that just buzzed our solar system Physicists observe a reversal of the arrow of time in laboratory experiments The European Southern Observatory image convective cells on another star NASA reveals its next two major planetary exploration missions Science Concept: This month we return to astronomy-related concepts as we delve back into the quantum world for a primer on the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and why you cannot know both the position and velocity of a particle. Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look at the upcoming astronomical highlights: What is the one thing in the world of astronomy that each of you is looking forward to in 2018? Steve Brown from Yorkshire via Twitter (@sjb_astro)

1hr 9mins

1 Jan 2018

Rank #7

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#80 - February 2019 Part 1

The Discussion: Jeni’s off to La Palma to gather data on dust & gas in the Crab Nebula, did a meteor or two strike the moon during the January eclipse? And what do Europeans think (or know) about the European Space Agency? The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have: More research suggesting there are no seasonal water flows on Mars Modelling the stellar wind at Barnard’s Star Can interstellar objects survive the journey? The unusual planetary system EPIC24924646 Lunar craters show Earth had a brief impact lull 650-300 million years ago The youthful nature of Saturn’s rings More research suggesting there may be no Planet 9 The Russian company planning to put billboards in space Main news story: CERN’s plans for the monster successor to the Large Hadron Collider and what the hell that has to do with astronomy The Sky Guide: Covering the solar system and deep sky objects on offer to amateur astronomers in February. Paul: Mercury at greatest eastern elongation, a conjunction of Uranus and Mars. Ralph: Asteroid 532 Herculina at opposition and a brand new(ly discovered) comet to view in telescopes Jen: Venus and Jupiter on show in the early morning and a conjunction of Saturn and Venus Main Deep Sky Object: Messier 1, the Crab Nebula Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look at the bewildering array of theories for one of the greatest spectacles in the night sky: How did Saturn’s rings form? Scott Jorgensen, Michigan.


31 Jan 2019

Rank #8

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#53 - November 2016

The Discussion: In a month when the European Space Agency succeeded and failed in the first part of their Exomars saga, we go through the glory and the debris of Mars exploration, hanging out with astronauts Tim Peake and Tim Kopra, conducting exoplanet research, provide some advice about studying astrophysics and explain why the effects of dark matter aren’t witnessed in our own solar system. The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have: Exomars, round one Another look at the Viking mission data that may have discovered Martian life Hubble discovers that the universe contains 10 times more galaxies than thought A philosophical discussion about the chances of life existing elsewhere Venus was habitable when life began to flourish on Earth Elon Musk’s plans for colonising the solar system The ethics of colonising other planets An update of NASA’s Juno mission at Jupiter And the latest taikonauts and astronauts. The Hat of Woo: Paul’s Hat of Woo is the repository for all festering and rancid conspiracy theories that have no basis in truth and yet persist in any dark and stinking corner of the internet. This month we pull one of the biggies out of the putrid hat: Evil aliens and a reptilian rival for the title of overlord. The Interview: This month we return to writer, broadcaster and researcher Dr Chris North from Cardiff University to answer a listener’s question on Chris’ interview in last month’s episode. Dr North mentioned that we can see Gravitational Waves to discover all sorts of information from these waves, such as size, distance & velocity, which I can understand (through Amplitude and frequency and rate of change of the signal), but how is it also possible to infer things like the spin and spin rate from the wave signal? (ignoring the question of how does a black hole spin if it has mass but no matter as Dr North mentions, and how do events happen inside a black hole since as you get closer to the event horizon doesn't time appear to us to slow down to us as an outside observer?) Mark de Vrij in Poland.

1hr 31mins

1 Nov 2016

Rank #9

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Extra: AstroCamp Autumn 2016

In this month’s AstroCamp podcast extra episode: The Discussion: An introduction to star parties and enjoying practical astronomy under pristine dark skies away from the city. As the podcast crew run the AstroCamp star party, which many listeners attend, in the Brecon Beacon’s international dark sky reserve twice a year, we take you through the events, tutorials and workshops we run to help you hone your stargazing skills and win astronomy prizes from the Tring Astronomy Centre. The Sky guides: In readiness for 3 nights of stargazing in the Welsh valleys, Ralph, Paul and Damien choose objects to look out for this time of year. If you’re not coming to AstroCamp, these are still great night sky treats to try and locate wherever you are in the northern hemisphere. Ralph’s top choices take in the Owl Cluster, The Double Cluster and the vast North America Nebula. Damien takes a look at the solar system objects available a little closer to home this month as he runs through the asteroids, dwarf planets and meteor showers on offer to AstroCampers And Paul finishes out autumnal round up with Herschel’s Garnet Star, the original Cepheid Variable and the magnificent galaxy cluster Stephan’s Quintet.


19 Sep 2016

Rank #10

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#9 - January 2013

A (very) large quasar group, 2013 Solar System highlights, Dawn's dance with Vesta and a very astrobiological interview

1hr 4mins

18 Jan 2013

Rank #11

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#29 - November 2014

Download Episode! The Discussion: Enjoying light pollution-free skies in the Ionian Sea and soaking up the atmosphere at the North West Astronomy Festival. The News: In the news we have more findings about the interior and evolution of our moon from the GRAIL and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter missions; Russian and Chinese lunar ambitions ratchet up a notch; the ExoMars mission narrows down its possible 2018 landing sites; sampling the atmospheres of Neptune-sized exoplanets; Comet Siding Spring brushes past Mars; Lockheed Martin claim to have made a breakthrough in fusion reactors; more doubt on the gravitational waves detection by the BICEP2 team and dark matter particles streaming from the sun. The 5 Minute Concept: In a solar maximum year when we have tons of solar activity that we can enjoy in the form of visible details on the sun and auroral activity that’s even reached as far south as central latitudes recently, this month Paul explains sunspots. The Interview: Live interviews recorded from the North West Astronomy Festival from Jodrell Bank’s Professor Philippa Browning, Astrophotographer of the Year 2011’s Damian Peach, BBC Sky at Night presenter Professor Chris Lintott, writer and comedian Helen Keen and the host of the NWAF Andrew Davies. Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month Ralph & Paul answer: I know the moon doesn’t spin and that we cannot see the rear of it from Earth, but I wondered if we can ever see a little more of the right or left side (like at different times of the day or year or location on earth)? Ollie Broad from Thailand via Twitter. In your opinions should we send manned mission back to the moon or should we head straight to Mars? Lee Garner from the UK via Twitter .

1hr 5mins

1 Nov 2014

Rank #12

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#81 - March 2019 Part 2

The Discussion: Professor Michelle Dougherty talking Enceladus at the annual Schrodinger lecture, the proficiency (or otherwise) of making science accessible to the layman and emails about inspiring anyone to do the job they want. The News: Rounding up the space exploration news this month we have: Have SpaceX paved the way for the US to return to human spaceflight? The Japanese Hyabusa spacecraft begins exploring asteroid Ryugu The first Israeli lunar lander makes its way to the moon Virgin Galactic take a long awaited return to commercial spaceflight tests NASA’s science experiments for the moon on their commercial landers Ultima Thule actually resembles a bag of Revels. Main news story: New Horizons at Ultima Thule The Debate: We want you to influence the next few debates. We want you to email us with what you think is the greatest space mission of all time (crewed or robotic). We’ll compile a Top Ten and advocate for your choices, court-style, on the coming shows. Q&A: Listeners’ questions via email, Facebook & Twitter take us on a journey into the astronomy issues that have always plagued our understanding or stretched our credulity. This month we take a look at something we discussed in a recent show, commercialization of space: Isn’t commercial branding at NASA already here and wouldn’t increased spacecraft branding diminish the science?? Andy Burns, UK.

1hr 9mins

14 Mar 2019

Rank #13

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Awesome Astronomy - 2014 End of Year Show

This pantomime episode contains some mild bad language and puerile humour Join us for a round up of our favourite stories & events from 2014 and discuss the most exciting space missions and astronomy events in 2015. For this festive season we welcome you back to our secretive Cydonia bunker - the scene of each Earth invasion attempt - as we pull a few crackers over Christmas dinner and inflict some pain on the Earthling slaves. Naturally, no end of year Awesome Astronomy show would be complete without the habitual gaffes and outtakes from 2014. So, happy holiday season, thank you for downloading as listening to us in 2014 and we look forward to spending 2015 with you too. Ralph. Paul, Damien & John


25 Dec 2014

Rank #14

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Sci-Fi Wars episode 4 - Movies

Matt & Phil from Project Helium Tears return to the bunker for this final episode in the Sci-fi Wars series to appeal for your votes for the best movie. We've let catured Earthling slave Damien out of the dungeon to add his favourite too. This is the last in a four part podcast extra series to discover the best sci-fi TV series, book and film over the next three days. Your votes count at www.awesomeastronomy.com/scifiwars


23 Jun 2015

Rank #15

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#7 - November 2012

Water on Mars, an amazing new comet and the black heart of Orion Download Episode!

1hr 8mins

23 Nov 2012

Rank #16

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#5 - September 2012

The Curiosity Episode! A focus on Mars, some sad news, and quick flight to cool off with the Ice Giants


31 Aug 2012

Rank #17

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#4 - August 2012

A 'Higgs-like' boson, Curious about Mars, August skies and a chat with a UK Astro-Communication Legend


31 Jul 2012

Rank #18

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Sky Guide January 2015

What to look out, and up, for in January. We start with three Messier open clusters in Auriga and a tougher nebula in our beginner’s guide. Next up Mercury rises high in our Northern Hemisphere skies, Jupiter dominates the night sky and Saturn, Venus, Uranus & Neptune can be found with the right timing. We bring you the phases and libration events of the moon, the Quadrantid meteor shower and a new comet to take a look for. Then we round up the best of the deep sky offerings for the month in the winter constellations of Cancer & Lynx.


28 Dec 2014

Rank #19

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Sky Guide February 2016

What to look out, and up, for in February. For the beginners this month we take a look at the constellation of Auriga the Charioteer with a trio of open clusters from the Messier catalogue and finishing off with the Flaming Star that originated in Orion’s Belt. Next Jeni rounds up the planets that are visible in December: Jupiter, Mars & Saturn, before taking a look at this month’s moon phases – with a couple of conjunctions with Venus & Mercury and the occultation of star Xi 1 Ceti. Finally we go deep into the universe with an open cluster, a beautiful multiple star system and the vast Rosette Nebula in the constellation Monoceros the Unicorn.


28 Jan 2016

Rank #20