38 episodes

"The Skyentists" are astronomers Ángel López-Sánchez (Australian Astronomical Optics, Macquarie University) and Kirsten Banks (University of NSW) coming at you once a fortnight with astronomy topics and a general "nerd out" session!

The Skyentists Angel Lopez-Sanchez & Kirsten Banks

    • Science
    • 5.0, 3 Ratings

"The Skyentists" are astronomers Ángel López-Sánchez (Australian Astronomical Optics, Macquarie University) and Kirsten Banks (University of NSW) coming at you once a fortnight with astronomy topics and a general "nerd out" session!

    038 - Always was, always will be

    038 - Always was, always will be

    038 - Always was, always will be

    In today's episode of The Skyentists, astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez talk about Australian Aboriginal Astronomy. Kirsten provides a general overview of the importance that Astronomy has always had on Earth's longest-living culture: Australian Aboriginal people. In particular, she discusses how Aboriginal Australians draw constellations in the sky: connecting stars (as usually done in Western civilisations), using just single, bright stars like Arcturus, but also considering the "dark areas" of the Milky Way for creating "dark constellations", such as the "Emu in the Sky". Precisely the long, dark, Australian Aboriginal constellation "Emu in the Sky" (that crosses from the Coal Sack dark nebula in the Southern Cross to the Galactic Center in Sagittarius) is our "What's Up!" for this episode. For Space News, Ángel talks again about the problem of the light pollution, this time not only from the perspective of Astronomy, but also environmental, our health, the impact in flora and fauna, and its useless waste of energy (=money). For this, The Skyentists invite everybody to participate in the citizen science project lead by The Australasian Dark Sky Alliance aiming to measure the light pollution of our cities and towns this Sunday, 21st June 2020. Kirsten brings a very interesting new result combining two independent works about Titan in Saturn. They also answer some questions and provide some extra feedback about the previous episode. More in two weeks!

    • 1 hr 1 min
    037 - Migrating Planets

    037 - Migrating Planets

    For this episode The Skyentists, astronomers Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks, bring not 2 but 9 "Space News" (actually, 10 including the last one briefly mentioned at the end of the episode). Of course, some of them are (unfortunately) just mentioned, others will be explored deeper in future episodes. Kirsten discusses the news about the discovery of the "FBOTs" or "Fast Blue Optical Transients", while Ángel explains what FRBs or "Fast Radio Bursts" are and how combining optical and radio observations of FRBs and their host galaxies Australian astronomers have found the "missing matter" of the Universe. This "missing matter" cannot be confused with the "dark matter": the "missing matter" are atoms that we should expect to see in the Universe but for decades we were not able to find anywhere. They also answer some feedback questions using one of them for moving to the main topic of this episode. For this, Ángel immerses Kirsten in a spiral of plot twists while connecting Uranus and Neptune with the "migrations of planets" astrophysicists need to introduce for explaining the existence of "hot Jupiters" (massive giant planets very close to their parent star). Kirsten describes some interesting properties about hot Jupiters, and we learn a new astronomical term: "Ploonets". For "What's Up!" we encourage everybody to find Mercury in the evening sky, as today, June 4th 2020, it reaches its greatest western elongation (its maximum angular distance of the Sun, which is 24 degrees). In Southern Australia, this corresponds to see Mercury with an altitude around 14 degrees at sunset. We are already expecting your questions and feedback for the next episode!

    • 1 hr
    036 - Spiral density waves

    036 - Spiral density waves

    After a long hiatus consequence of the very unusual times we all are living, The Skyentists, astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez, are back to action. In addition to provide some quick comments about how their work and science communication activities have been affected during the last couple of months they also talk about recent astronomy news: the bright comet C/2020 F8 (Swan), the non-pink, non-super moon, and the apparent disintegration of exoplanet Fomalhaut b "Dagon". For "Space News" Ángel talks, surprise, surprise, about Betelgeuse, that has fully recovered its normal brightness, as a new research confirms that the reason of its unusual dimming was a dust cloud, while Kirsten celebrates the 30 anniversary of our beloved Hubble Space Telescope, for which she has been preparing some amazing short ( 1 min) videos in TikTok. Here and there plenty of feedback is answered (thank you!), including answering some clever astro-questions. The main topic of this episode is galaxies: they provide some "galaxy fun facts" and then discuss the "spiral density wave" theory that explains how the arms of spiral galaxies are created. For "What's Up!" they invite us to have a look to the beautiful edge-on spiral galaxy NGC 4565, the Needle galaxy, located in the constellation of Coma Berenices. This episode has been fully recorded "online", and they had some funny "issues" with the recording, however, and besides some little jumps, delays, and pitch changes, they are confident that the sound quality is good enough and everybody enjoy this 1-hour episode. More in 2 weeks!

    • 1 hr 9 min
    035 - Astrophotography gear

    035 - Astrophotography gear

    In this episode of The Skyentists astronomers Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks talk about the basics of astrophotography: what is the equipment you need for getting stunning photos of the sky, what other tricks do you have to use, and what you should consider if you want to start doing astrophotography. It is not the same taking photos of the Moon and the planets than getting deep sky objects! Ángel is very excited about all of this as he got his new equipment working well, resulting in obtaining some nice astro images from his backyard! For "Space News" Kirsten announces that a couple of stars and a exoplanet have officially received Australian Aboriginal names by the IAU (International Astronomical Union). Ángel brings 3 short topics for "Space News": the status of Betelgeuse, the "hibernation" of the famous "SETI@home" citizen science project, and "Radio Galaxy Zoo: LOFAR", a new citizen science project . For "What's Up!" they recommend to observe the open cluster M 46, that hosts the planetary nebula NGC 2438, for testing the knowledge and experience we got with our astro gear. They also answered some clever questions we have received for feedback, yeah!

    • 53 min
    034 - Globes full of stars

    034 - Globes full of stars

    That is the literal meaning of "Globular Clusters", which is the main topic of this episode of The Skyentists. Astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez describe the main properties of globular clusters and why they should not be confused with open clusters or with dwarf elliptical galaxies. Some interesting curiosities about them are also discussed, as well as they explore the origin of these very old, very "metal-poor", giant stellar systems. For "What's Up!" they talk about M 13, the great globular cluster in Hercules, which is visible from the Northern and a good part of the Southern hemisphere. Regarding "Space News" Kirsten brings an interesting new astronomy-related cocktail (wait to hear that!) and, again, Ángel talks about Betelgeuse... As predicted, the famous supergiant red star in Orion is recovering brightness. Observations conducted using the SPHERE instrument installed at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) managed by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile have recently shown astonishing images of Betelgeuse: the dimming was in one of the hemispheres, perhaps related to some dust emission from the star, or perhaps because of the complex convective movements of the atmosphere, but not because of anything that was happening in its core. Both Ángel and Kirsten are very happy as they have received plenty of questions, meaning a good part of this episode is answering the feedback. Please, keep going!

    • 58 min
    033 - #IncludeHer

    033 - #IncludeHer

    In this special episode of The Skyentists astronomers Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks celebrate the "International Day of Women and Girls in Science". They provide their own thoughts about why having women in Science is important and why society (particularly girls) needs role models for this. Prominent women in Science, like Marie Curie, Henrietta Leavitt, Cecilia Payne, Emmy Noether, Rosalind Franklin, Margaret Hamilton, Jocelyn Bell, or Vera Rubin should be included in textbooks, something that is still not happening in many cases. Astrophysics PhD candidate Kat Ross joins them to share why she wants to make change in the NSW Physics curriculum to #IncludeHer, asking us to sign the petition "STEM courses must teach more about contributions of women in the field" here https://www.change.org/p/stem-courses-must-teach-more-about-contributions-of-women-in-the-field . For "Space News" Kirsten talks about a very peculiar and fast-rotating star and Ángel describes the SkyMapper survey telescope and its new Data Release. For "What's Up!" they briefly talk about the Crab Nebula. And, Ángel can't help it, they also provide an update of the situation of Betelgeuse. A bit of feedback is also answered, but we are eager to get more from you!

    • 59 min

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