"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!
040 - Exotic little beasts
In today's episode of The Skyentists, astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez talk about exotic stellar objects: white dwarf stars, neutron stars, pulsars, magnetars, and stellar black holes! They summarise what are the nature and origin of each of these exotic little beasts as well as discuss their differences. For "Space News", Kirsten announces that she is now the official "Tiktoker" of SpaceAustralia.com and that she's having a lot of fun with it. Ángel talks about the 3rd Data Release of the "SAMI Galaxy Survey" (he is part of the team), that includes the dissection of more than 3000 galaxies obtained using the Anglo-Australian Telescope. Ángel also discusses the discovery of the most distant quasar known so far, J0313-1806, which is observed when the Universe was only 690 million years old! The Skyentists bring the bright, famous, red giant star Aldebaran ("the Eye of the Bull") for "What's Up!" Keep sending your questions and feedback, we are expecting to record another episode very soon!
039 - The 2020 Great Conjunction
After a long break, The Skyentists, astronomers Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks, are back! We start our Season 4 with a special episode with two main topics: the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn happening on Monday 21st of December 2020 (that is actually our "What's up!") and summarising some of the most important astronomy news that have happened in 2020 while we were away (our extended "Space News" for this episode). We talk about the Nobel Prize in Physics 2020, merging black holes, exoplanet candidates in other galaxies, the first all-sky radio map obtained with the Australia SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) and, of course, the issue of the phosphine gas in Venus. Ángel also explains why some people have connected the Jupiter and Saturn conjunction with the "Christmas Star". As we recorded this episode "on the fly" and without any script we have not included any feedback, but we are eager to hear from you!
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!
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!
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!
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!