Urban Astronomer https://www.urban-astronomer.com Making sense of the universe one page at a time Tue, 13 Aug 2019 08:18:44 +0000 en-ZA hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 http://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/constellationonline.net/media/UrbanAstronomer/cropped-uastronomersquare-32x32.png Urban Astronomer https://www.urban-astronomer.com 32 32 The Urban Astronomer podcast is the audio version of the popular Urban Astronomer website, which has been sharing news and information about space science and astronomy since the year 2009. The website has undergone several facelifts, and changes in editorial style and focus over the years, but it's always stayed true to its principles of honest science presented simply, without oversimplifying.<br /> While Urban Astronomer is not the largest or most popular astronomy website on the internet, we've managed to retain a small, loyal following who have stuck with us through both good times (Allen won a special commendation in a science journalism award ceremony), and bad (when output slowed to about one new posting per month, thanks to increased family and work pressure). <br /> This podcast is the next chapter in the Urban Astornomer story, and features News, Science, Interviews, and the occasional rant on the role and perception of science and astronomy in the modern world.<br /> We at Urban Astonomer expect to become one of South Africa's leading science and astronomy podcasts within the year. If we think we deserve that position, you can help us by simply listening the the episodes, and sharing them with your friends. And if we don't meet your standard, we're definitely open to criticism.<br /> <br /> Thanks for listening! Urban Astronomer clean episodic Urban Astronomer podcast@urban-astronomer.com podcast@urban-astronomer.com (Urban Astronomer) Allen Versfeld and Constellation Online Media. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ Because you don't have to live in the country to appreciate the universe Urban Astronomer http://www.urban-astronomer.com/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/UrbanAstronomerPodcastLogo_web.jpg https://www.urban-astronomer.com podcast@urban-astronomer.com TV-PG South Africa Twice monthly Support the podcast 110638654 How do orbits work? https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/how-do-orbits-work/ https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/how-do-orbits-work/#respond Tue, 13 Aug 2019 08:12:06 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9688 Welcome to another Science Explainy Bit episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast. Today we try to figure out just what an “orbit” actually is. Is it really as simple as they said in primary school? How does gravity, which normally pulls things down, work to keep the Moon in space? Download this episode now, to find the answer, and also learn a little about my upcoming appearance at ScopeX! What is an Orbit? () This turns out to be quite Continue reading →

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https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/how-do-orbits-work/feed/ 0 A quick look at how gravity and momentum combine to keep objects in space and stops them falling to Earth Urban Astronomer Podcast. Today we try to figure out just what an "orbit" actually is. Is it really as simple as they said in primary school? How does gravity, which normally pulls things down, work to keep the Moon in space? Download this episode now, to find the answer, and also learn a little about my upcoming appearance at ScopeX!
What is an Orbit? (1:28)
This turns out to be quite a simple topic - much simpler than why planets are always round, which we covered last month. In fact I struggled to stretch the core idea out long enough to fill an episode! All I really want to do here is explain how things stay up and why they go around, without resorting to the inaccurate "Centrifugal Force" explanation. You know the one? Where you ask people to fill a bucket, and then spin it around? The bucket swings around them without spilling any water, and then you wave your hands and say "That's how orbits work, except that there's no handle on the bucket, just gravity".

The truth, however, is so much cooler than that, so if you want to skip straight to the answer, click the timestamp above!
ScopeX (14:48)
ScopeX is an annual telescope and astronomy expo held in Johannesburg, South Africa. It features a huge display of amateur-built telescopes, commercial stands where you can buy telescopes, binoculars and cameras. There are also science shows and robotics displays. One of the highlights for me has always been the series of public lectures, in the auditorium. This year I will be giving the final talk of the day, where I'll talk about orbits. It won't just be a repeat of what you've heard here, though. I'll dig deeper, into the world of orbital mechanics and showing the strange, intuitive maneuvers that are needed to move around in space. And to make it easy to understand, I'll do it through the medium of video games!

If you'd like to attend, it's on 14 September from 9am to 9pm at the Museum of Military History in Saxonwold, Johannesburg. My talk starts at 3pm, and you're welcome to come introduce yourself afterwards!

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Carnival of Space #623 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/news-and-updates/carnival-of-space-623/ https://www.urban-astronomer.com/news-and-updates/carnival-of-space-623/#respond Sun, 04 Aug 2019 19:31:32 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9677 Welcome back to the 623rd Carnival of Space! As happens every week, the Carnival roams from website to blog, pitching its tent anew. And ever week, it brings you fresh articles on space science and astronomy. Articles written by some of the best and most exciting science writers the Internet has to offer! This week is a big one, with fully five different contributors. If you want to cut straight to the chase, then go ahead and skip down towards Continue reading →

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Interview with Dr Daniel Cunnama https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-dr-daniel-cunnama/ https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-dr-daniel-cunnama/#respond Tue, 30 Jul 2019 07:34:19 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9673 Welcome to the 3rd episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast, season 2, featuring Dr Daniel Cunnama. We almost didn’t make it this week, thanks to a major technical hitch, but we worked around it and here we are. If you listened to the last episode, then you’re probably expecting this to be an interview episode, featuring Dr Rosalind Skelton of the South African Astronomical Observatory. I spoke to her in June last year and we recorded an interview specifically for Continue reading →

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https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-dr-daniel-cunnama/feed/ 0 Dr Daniel Cunnama is the Science Engagement Astronomer at the South African Astronomical Observatory, and is directing the SAAO's 200th anniversary celebration next year
If you listened to the last episode, then you're probably expecting this to be an interview episode, featuring Dr Rosalind Skelton of the South African Astronomical Observatory. I spoke to her in June last year and we recorded an interview specifically for this episode. But when I came to actually produce the thing, the recording was gone! The gods of technology turned their back on me and gremlins ate it. So, no Ros today. Instead, I was lucky enough to get Dr Daniel Cunama to stand in for her. Daniel also works at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), although in a different role, and I'm very lucky that his recording was still intact! So that's what we'll be playing in this episode, and Dr Skelton will appear in a few weeks in a later episode after we've re-recorded her interview.
Dr Daniel Cunnama
Daniel is the Science Engagement Astronomer at the SAAO. Daniel has a background in computational physics and physics simulations, who has worked for the Square Kilometer Array  and SAAO. He is also a co-host of The Cosmic Savannah podcast. If your favourite part of Urban Astronomer is astronomer interviews, then I'd definitely recommend their show!
Links

* Daniel on Twitter
* The South African Astronomical Observatory
* The Cosmic Savannah Podcast
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Why are planets always round? https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/why-are-planets-always-round/ https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/why-are-planets-always-round/#respond Mon, 15 Jul 2019 22:30:48 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9661 Welcome to the second episode of this second season of the Urban Astronomer Podcast! Two of Two, sounds like it should be special… and it kinda sort of is, because this week we’re presenting the first of our unique patented Science Explainy Bits! Now to be clear, it’s the name that’s new, not the science explaining, because I’ve done explainy stuff for science concepts before on this show, back in our super-extended 42 episode long first season. I got quite Continue reading →

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https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/why-are-planets-always-round/feed/ 0 Welcome to the second episode of this second season of the Urban Astronomer Podcast! Two of Two, sounds like it should be special... and it kinda sort of is, because this week we're presenting the first of our unique patented Science Explainy Bits!
This episode makes reference to an earlier explainy episode on the tides. That episode sounded quite a bit different than this one, because it was recorded off-the-cuff, with no script or notes at all. It was also strangely popular, so if you're interested you can play it back here.]]>
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Carnival of Space #619 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/news-and-updates/carnival-of-space-619/ https://www.urban-astronomer.com/news-and-updates/carnival-of-space-619/#respond Mon, 08 Jul 2019 07:26:48 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9658 Good grief, another Carnival of Space just landed! As always, the carnival is a roaming feature, hosted on a different website every week. Our editors gather the best articles on space science and astronomy, and present them here for you. Although in truth, the selection criteria are a little easier than you might think: If you want to be featured, just send a link to susie@wshcrew.space and ask to be included. And if you’d like a chance to be a host Continue reading →

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Interview with Dr Wendy Williams https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/dr-wendy-williams/ https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/dr-wendy-williams/#respond Mon, 01 Jul 2019 23:00:00 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9650 This is Episode 1 of our brand new second season! This is the 43rd episode since the podcast was first launched, back in February 2017, and I’m thrilled to be back on the air with you. The New Season We’re mostly keeping things the same, but there are some important changes. From the beginning, I’ve always been pretty disorganized in how I ran the show. There was no fixed schedule or plan, so I’d release episodes as they became available. Continue reading →

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https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/dr-wendy-williams/feed/ 0 This is Episode 1 of our brand new second season! This is the 43rd episode since the podcast was first launched, back in February 2017, and I'm thrilled to be back on the air with you. The New Season We're mostly keeping things the same, podcast was first launched, back in February 2017, and I'm thrilled to be back on the air with you.
The New Season
We're mostly keeping things the same, but there are some important changes. From the beginning, I've always been pretty disorganized in how I ran the show. There was no fixed schedule or plan, so I'd release episodes as they became available. This meant that new episodes would only come out whenever it was convenient for me. Listeners like you would never know in advance when the next one would be coming out. At the end of Each episode, I'd make a promise for the next release date, but these dates were always based more on hope and ambition than on any real plan. And while this was all very charming and artisanal, it wasn't how I wanted to present myself.

So now we have seasons! Everything is planned in advance, content is written and recorded to a fixed schedule, and you get your episodes when you expect them. Which, in this case, means every fortnight, for 12 episodes. But aside from these changes to scheduling and process, everything else should be much the same. Some episodes will be interviews with interesting people connected to South African astronomy. Others will be loaded with the Science Explainy Stuff that so many of you have written to ask about. Apparently those are very popular, so you're going to get a lot more of them. The only thing that I've had to cut, sadly, is the space mission updates. Clem Unger, my friend and part-time co-host, has unfortunately had to step back for a while. He was always far more interested in the various spacecraft traveling out in the Solar System, exploring and doing science, and knew far more about the subject than me. So, until he's able to rejoin the show, we're going to be silent on that subject.
Dr Wendy Williams
This episode features an interview with Dr Wendy Williams, a radio astronomer from Cape Town who currently works in the Netherlands, for the university of Leiden. She works with the LOFAR array, which scans the skies at the same range frequencies as used by broadcast TV, air liners, and police radios. We spoke about her current research, she taught me how these arrays of radio antennas work together to create an image, astronomy development in Africa, and more.

But before I play you that interview, a quick note on audio quality. Since we were in opposite hemispheres at the time of our conversation, I had to get creative with the recording. Audio quality isn't as good as I'd have liked. I think we're still quite audible, but you can definitely tell we weren't in the same room!
Coming Up
Next week's episode, which airs on the 16th of July, features the first in a new series of science explainy bits, where I answer a question you might never have thought to ask: Why are planets always round, and never some other shape? If you think you know, or would like to take a guess, go ahead and tweet your ideas to @uastronomer and I might read them out before I give the answer!]]>
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Carnival of Space #615 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/news-and-updates/carnival-of-space-615/ https://www.urban-astronomer.com/news-and-updates/carnival-of-space-615/#respond Sun, 09 Jun 2019 14:36:49 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9637 Welcome to the 615th Carnival of Space! The carnival is a roving webpage, hosted on a different site every week. Each edition features the best space science and astronomy writing on the Internet. If you’d like your writing to be featured, or if you would like to take a turn at hosting, send a mail to mailto:susie@schcrew.space Universe Today NASA is building up a map of the entire sky seen in X-rays, line by line with its NICER experiment Subaru Telescope Continue reading →

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Second season coming July 2nd https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/second-season-coming-july-2nd/ https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/second-season-coming-july-2nd/#respond Sun, 09 Jun 2019 14:05:38 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9630 Have you been wondering what happened to the Urban Astronomer Podcast? Do you know want to know why there haven’t been any episodes in a while? Then you’re going to want to hear this. We’re launching our second season, and we’ve decided to change how we do things here. While the basic format will still sound like the shows you’ve come to love and expect, we’re changing how we make them. Starting from the 2nd of June 2019, we’ll be Continue reading →

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https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/second-season-coming-july-2nd/feed/ 0 The next season is starting in a few weeks! From now on, you'll get a much tighter show: 12 episodes, featuring interviews with people connected to South African astronomy, mixed with basic science breakdowns. Urban Astronomer Podcast? Do you know want to know why there haven't been any episodes in a while? Then you're going to want to hear this. We're launching our second season, and we've decided to change how we do things here. While the basic format will still sound like the shows you've come to love and expect, we're changing how we make them.

Starting from the 2nd of June 2019, we'll be releasing a series of 12 episodes, one every two weeks. We've had quite a lot of feedback from our loyal listeners over the past few months, and we now have a solid idea of what you want more of, and what you'd like us to drop. The new episodes will alternate between interviews with astronomers working in South Africa, and basic science questions, where we take very basic questions about our universe, and dig deep to see if they are actually that simply after all!
Interviews
Our featured guests will be:

* Dr Wendy Williams
* Dr Ros Skelton
* Dr Daniel Cunnama
* Ms Nicole Thomas
* Dr Tana Jospeh
* Dr Jarita Holbrook

 
Science
Some of the questions we'll be looking at will seem very obvious, yet turn out to be hard to explain when you really start to think them through. We'll be starting with "Why is it that planets are always round?", moving on to "How exactly do orbits work?". And I'll even be explaining myself to a confused listener: In an earlier episode, I claimed that the old geocentric model of the universe, with it's crystal spheres and epicycles, made more sense than the Heliocentric model proposed by Copernicus. This was apparently a controversial statement, and so I'll be explaining why I was right, despite all that we now know about how the geocentric model was wrong in almost every conceivable way!
Subscribe
So if you want to hear every episode of this second season, as they're released, be sure to subscribe. Just find the subscribe links scattered around this website and click the one most appropriate for your platform. You'll never miss an episode again!

Until July then, thanks for listening,and I look forward to speaking to you again! Clear skies!]]>
Allen Versfeld 2 1 New season trailer trailer clean 5:33 <iframe width="320" height="30" src="https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?powerpress_embed=9630-podcast&amp;powerpress_player=mediaelement-audio" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe> 9630
Carnival of Space #611 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/news-and-updates/carnival-of-space-611/ https://www.urban-astronomer.com/news-and-updates/carnival-of-space-611/#respond Mon, 13 May 2019 20:12:48 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9619 Hey everybody, welcome to the 611th Carnival of Space! As usual, the administrators have chosen a selection of the best space science and astronomy articles written in the past week, and sent them to me to share with you. We have quite a few submitters this week, so strap yourselves in and scroll down: Universe Today Climate Change Q & A with Bear Grylls Starlink’s Satellites Will be Orbiting at a Much Lower Altitude, Reducing the Risks of Space Junk Continue reading →

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Carnival of Space #607 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/news-and-updates/carnival-of-space-607/ https://www.urban-astronomer.com/news-and-updates/carnival-of-space-607/#respond Tue, 16 Apr 2019 04:39:17 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9613 Welcome to the Carnival of Space! If you’re new to the carnival, then you’ve just stumbled upon the best place to find the latest and greatest space science and astronomy news. Every week, writers around the Internet select a new host, and send in their articles. If you would like your writing to be featured, or if you would like to be a host, send  a mail to susie@schcrew.space Universe Today Hayabusa2 Fires an Anti-Tank Warhead at Asteroid Ryugu   Continue reading →

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