Take a fact-based journey through the cosmos. Tune in to hear weekly discussions on astronomical topics ranging from planets to cosmology. Hosted by Fraser Cain (Universe Today) and Dr. Pamela L. Gay (SIUE), this show brings the questions of an avid astronomy lover direct to an astronomer. Together Fraser and Pamela explore what is known and being discovered about the universe around us. Astronomy Cast is supported through individual donations and the sponsorship of Swinburne Astronomy Online.
As amateur astronomers, we curse the Moon every month. Seriously! Why doesn't someone get rid of that thing! This week, something occurred to us. What if we actually pointed our telescopes at the Moon? What would we see?
The Lunar "X" that Fraser talked about will be visible this Friday, June 26th! So go out with binoculars or a telescope and enjoy!
We imagine the asteroid belt as a place where all the rocks hang out in the solar system. But there are 2 huge bands of asteroids that orbit the Sun with Jupiter called the Trojans. And soon we may actually get a chance to see them up close!
Not only have astronomers discovered thousands of exoplanets, but they're even starting to study the atmospheres of worlds thousands of light years away. What can we learn about these other worlds and maybe even signs of life.
Join us for this week's Rocket Roundup with host Annie Wilson. We look at the rocket launches that did and did not happen since our last update, including, of course, the SpaceX Crew Dragon launch. We also cover a couple of Chinese launches, one Russian launch, one Japanese launch, the Virgin Orbit test launch, and the explosion of SN4.
We're all looking to the next generation of exoplanetary research where we get planets directly. But astronomers are already making great strides in directly observing newly forming planets help us understand how our solar system might have formed.
So we're familiar with regular binary stars. Two stars orbiting each other. Simple. Of course the Universe has come up with every combination of things orbiting other things, and this week we look at some extreme examples.
Discovering comets is one of the fields that amateurs can still make a regular contribution to astronomy. But more and more comets are getting found by spacecraft, automated systems and machine learning. This week we'll talk about how comets are discovered and how you can get your name on one!
Every year, more and more people are making their way to space. Some private citizens have already gotten their astronaut wings, paying for a trip to space out of their own pocket. What are the ethical implications of this as the costs of spaceflight come down?
The key to surviving in space will be learning how to live off the land. Instead of carrying all your fuel, water and other resources from Earth, extract them locally from your destination. It's called In Situ Resource Utilization, and if we can figure it out, it'll change everything.
Space is really far away, so when you send a satellite out into the void, that's pretty much the last you're going to be able to work on it. And if anything goes wrong, too bad, you're out a satellite. But a new test has shown that it's possible to actually visit and fix a satellite in space. Maybe we don't have to throw them all away after all.
As everyone knows, the Universe owes us a bright comet. There have been a lot of promising candidates, but in the end, they always fail to live up to our expectations. Comets keep on breaking up with us.
565: When Worlds Collide Astronomy Cast 565: When Worlds Collide by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay So much of our Solar System has been shaped by enormous collisions early on in our history. Seriously, the nature of every planet in the Solar System has some evidence of massive impacts during some point in its history.
Last month astronomers announced that they had detected a tiny asteroid that had been captured by the Earth's gravity well and had been sharing our orbit for a few years. Today, let's talk about the smallest moons in the Solar System.
We lost a bright star here on planet Earth last week. NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson passed away at the age of 101, after an incredible career of helping humans land on the Moon. If you saw the movie Hidden Figures, you'll know what I'm talking about.
You might be surprised to hear that we've never done an episode of Astronomy Cast featuring Betelgeuse. Well, good news, this is that episode. Let's talk about the star, why it might be dimming, and what could happen if it explodes as a supernova.
A brand new telescope has completed on Maui's Haleakala, and it has just one job: to watch the Sun in unprecedented detail. It's called the Daniel K. Inouye telescope, and the engineering involved to get this telescope operational are matched by the incredible resolution of its first images.
We've been following this story for more than a decade, so it's great to finally have an answer to the question, why was supernova 2006gy so insanely bright? Astronomers originally thought it was an example of a supermassive star exploding, but new evidence provides an even more fascinating answer.
On the one hand, red dwarfs are the longest lived stars in the Universe, the perfect place for life to hang out for trillions of years. On the other hand, they're tempestuous little balls of plasma, hurling out catastrophic flares that could wipe away life. Are they good or bad places to live?
For the longest time astronomers could only study the skies with telescopes. But then new techniques and technologies were developed to help us see in different wavelengths. Now astronomers can study objects in both visible light, neutrinos, gravitational waves and more. The era of multi-messenger astronomy is here.
The other big issue at the AAS was the challenge that astronomy is going to face from all the new satellite constellations coming shortly. There are already 180 Starlinks in orbit, and thousands more are coming, not to mention the other constellations in the works. What will be the impact on astronomy, and what can we do about it?
This week we're live at the American Astronomical Society's 235th meeting in Honolulu, Hawai'i. We learned about new planets, black holes and star formation, but the big issue hanging over the whole conference is the protests and politics over the new Thirty Meter Telescope due for construction on Mauna Kea.
It's hard to believe it, but we survived another trip around the Sun. Now it's time to take the whole journey all over again, but with new news. Let's take a look at some of the space and astronomy stories we're looking forward to in 2020.
Huge surveys of the sky are finding more and more planets, stars and galaxies. But they're also turning up strange objects astronomers have never seen before, like Boyajian's star. Today we're going to talk about some unusual objects astronomers have discovered, and why this number is only going to go way way up.
Hi everyone, Producer Susie here. This weekend, December 21-23, 2019, we will be having our CosmoQuest Hangoutathon. For 40 straight hours, our team will be bringing you guests, science and fun live on our channel. We are raising money to pay for our team to continue to bring you science, and for us to continue our citizen science programs, like the extremely successful Bennu Mappers from this past year, where over 3500 of you wonderful volunteers mapped over 14 million rocks on the asteroid Bennu, looking for a safe place for the OSIRIS-REx mission to grab samples to return to earth. We want to keep doing projects like this - and we need your help to continue doing the science. Please join us at starting 9am EST / 6am PST / 1400UTC. If you can’t tune in live, you can catch the replays on Twitch, and we’ll be trying our best to archive all of the content on YouTube after this weekend. We’re accepting donations at As part of the Planetary Science Institute, we are a 501c3 non-profit, so all of your donations are tax deductible where the law allows. Please watch, share and donate if you can, so we can keep bringing the science to you! Thank you for listening!
The Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation is the earliest moment in the Universe that we can see with our telescopes, just a few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang itself. What will it take for us to be able to fill in the missing gap? To see closer to the beginning of time itself?
Powerful observatories like Hubble and the Very Large Telescope have pushed our vision billions of light-years into the Universe, allowing us to see further and further back in time. But there are regions which we still haven't seen: the Cosmic Dark Ages. What's it going to take to observe some of these earliest moments in the Universe?
Last week we gave you an update on the formation of elements from the Big Bang and in main sequence stars like the Sun. This week, we wrap up with a bang, talking about the death of the most massive stars and how they seed the Universe with heavier elements.
The Universe started out with hydrogen and helium and a few other elements, but all around us, there are other, more proton-rich elements. We believe these heavier elements formed in stars, but which stars? And at what points in their lives? Today we'll update our knowledge with the latest science.
Few sciences have been able to take advantage of the power of computers like astronomy. But with all this computing power, you might be surprised to learn how important a role humans still play in this science.
Before we discovered other planets, our Solar System seemed like a perfectly reasonable template for everywhere. But now we see massive planets close to their stars, which leads you to the question, how does it all get there. Do the planets form in place or do they migrate around?
Things used to be so simple. Comets were snowballs from the outer Solar System, and asteroids were rocks from the inner Solar System. But now everything's all shades of grey. Astronomers have found asteroids that behave like comets and comets that behave like asteroids.
Once again, another place where the Universe is going to make this difficult for us. Proving, once and for all that there's alien life on another world. It should be straightforward, look for biosignatures, but it looks like there are natural sources that could explain almost any chemical we could hope to search for.
Got clear skies? Go out tonight and catch the Orionids Meteor shower, a storm of falling stars generated by Halley's comet. Later this week, we'll see aurora like those that will one day be predicted by the ESA Solar Probe. We also have an update on the Mars 2020 rover.
541: Weird Issues: Expansion Rate of the Universe Astronomy Cast 541: Weird Issues: Expansion Rate of the Universe by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay Just when the Universe was starting to make sense, the cosmos throws a curveball at us. Astronomers have been trying to accurately measure the expansion rate of the Universe as far back as Hubble. It's been tough to nail down, and now astronomers are starting to figure out why.
As astronomers started to discover planets orbiting other stars, they immediately realized that their expectations would need to be tossed out. Hot jupiters? Pulsars with planets? We're now decades into this task, and the Universe is continuing to surprise us.
How old are Saturn's rings? They could be brand new, or they could be as ancient as the Solar System itself. Planetary scientists thought they knew the answer thanks to new data from Cassini, but new ideas are calling even that into question.
Thanks to all the work from Hayabusa 2 and OSIRIS-REx, astronomers are getting a much better look at the smaller asteroids in the Solar System. It turns out, they're piles of rubble... but fascinating piles of rubble. Let's talk about what we've learned so far.
537: Reusable Rocket Revolution Astronomy Cast 537: Reusable Rocket Revolution by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay We took a hiatus this summer, but SpaceX sure didn’t, with the tests of the Starhopper prototype. Today we’re going to talk about the revolution in reusable rocketry and quest to build a fully reusable two-stage rocket.
Astronomy Cast will be on hiatus for July and August. Don't worry, we'll be back in September, and we might just have surprises for you all along this summer! Don't forget you can still catch Pamela with Daily Space, rocket launches and specials on CosmoQuest's Twitch channel, and you can find all the space news and videos from Fraser at Universe Today! We usually record Astronomy Cast every Friday at 3:00 pm EDT / 12:00 pm PDT / 19:00 UTC. You can watch us live on here on AstronomyCast.com, or the AstronomyCast YouTube page.
536: Everyday Relativity Astronomy Cast 536: Everyday Relativity by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay Relativity is used in more day to day situations than you may realize. In this episode, we will count (some of) the ways. This episode is brought to you live from the All-Stars Star Party in Indian Wells, California.
535: Astronomy-Related Things To Do This Summer Astronomy Cast 535: Astronomy-Related Things To Do This Summer by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay It's summertime, and time for our annual Astronomy Cast hiatus. But that doesn't mean that the astronomy adventure has to end. Today we'll give you some tips and tricks for astronomy summer adventures.
534: Modern South African Astronomy Astronomy Cast 534: Modern South African Astronomy by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay You know the drill now. Last week we talked about ancient south African astronomy, and so this week we'll talk about the modern state of astronomy in the southern part of Africa, which happens to be a great place with nice dark skies and a perfect view into the heart of the galaxy.
533: Indigenous South African Astronomy Astronomy Cast 533: Indigenous South African Astronomy by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay Let's move to another continent this week, and look at the astronomy that was going on in southern Africa in ancient times.
532: Modern Astronomy of Australia Astronomy Cast 532: Modern Astronomy of Australia by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay Last week we talked about how well the indigenous Australians followed the night sky. Well, it turns out, Australia is still an amazing place for astronomy. There are so many powerful observatories in Australia, and even more in the works.
531: Australian Indigenous Astronomy Astronomy Cast 531: Australian Indigenous Astronomy by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay South America, especially the Atacama Desert in Chile has become one of the best places in the world to put a telescope. It's dry, high, and the nights are clear. Today we'll talk about the monster telescopes already in operation in this region, and the big ones coming soon.
530: Astronomy of the Andes - Then and Now Pt. 2 Astronomy Cast 530: Astronomy of the Andes - Then and Now Pt. 2 by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay South America, especially the Atacama Desert in Chile has become one of the best places in the world to put a telescope. It's dry, high, and the nights are clear. Today we'll talk about the monster telescopes already in operation in this region, and the big ones coming soon.
529: Astronomy of the Andes - Then and Now Pt. 1 Astronomy Cast 529: Astronomy of the Andes - Then and Now Pt. 1 by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay The Andes mountains in South America are a hotspot of astronomy today, but ancient peoples knew it was a great place for astronomy and lived their lives in tune with the night sky. Today we'll learn all about what they knew, and how they mapped the movements of the stars and planets.
528: Modern Astronomy of the American Southwest Astronomy Cast 528: Modern Astronomy of the American Southwest by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay Last week we talked about the ancient astronomy of the American Southwest. But this is actually Pamela's stomping grounds, and she's spent many a night perched atop mountains in this region staring in the night sky with gigantic telescopes. How does astronomy get done in this region today?
527: Ancient Astronomy of the American Southwest Astronomy Cast 527: Ancient Astronomy of the American Southwest by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay Ancient peoples had no light pollution, and they knew the night skies very well. In fact, they depends on them to know when to plant and when to harvest. Today Pamela talks about the archeoastronomical sites of the American Southwest.
526: Event Horizon Telescope and the Black Hole at M87 Astronomy Cast 526: Event Horizon Telescope and the Black Hole at M87 by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay Today, of course, we're going to talk about the announcement from the Event Horizon Telescope and the first photograph of a black hole's event horizon.
525: 100 Years of the International Astronomical Union Astronomy Cast 525: 100 Years of the International Astronomical Union by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay Even though they might be scattered around our planet, astronomers have way to come together to work out issues that face their entire field of study. It's called the International Astronomical Union, and they're the ones who work out the new names for stars, and sometimes de-planet beloved Kuiper Belt Objects.
524: Judging Age & Origins, part 3 - Beyond Our System Astronomy Cast 524: Judging Age & Origins, part 3 - Beyond Our System by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay We learned how to figure out the ages of objects in the Solar System, now we push out into the deeper Universe. What about stars, galaxies, and even the Universe itself? How old is it? This episode is part 3 of a series.
523: Judging Age & Origins, Pt. 2 Across the Solar System Astronomy Cast 523: Judging Age & Origins, Pt. 2 Across the Solar System by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay Today we push our aging curiosity out into the Solar System to ask that simple question: how old is it and how do we know? What techniques do astronomers use to age various objects and regions in the Solar System? This is part two of a series.
522: Judging Age & Origins, part 1 - Earth Rocks Astronomy Cast 522: Judging Age & Origins, part 1 - Earth Rocks by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay People always want to know how old everything is. And more specifically, they want to know how we know how old everything is. Well, here at Astronomy Cast, it's our job to tell you now only what we know, but how we know what we know. And today we'll begin a series on how we know how old everything is.
Bonus: Dust with Dr. Paul Sutter Astronomy Cast Bonus: Dust with Dr. Paul Sutter by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay Recorded during the Astrotour to Costa Rica, Fraser talks to Dr. Paul Matt Sutter about the nature of dust and BICEP 2's claim of discovering primordial gravitational waves.
521: The Deep Space Network Astronomy Cast 521: The Deep Space Network by Fraser Cain & Dr. Pamela Gay We always focus on the missions, but there's an important glue that holds the whole system together. The Deep Space Network. Today we're going to talk about how this system works and how it communicates with all the spacecraft out there in the Solar System.