The Urban Astronomer Podcast https://www.urban-astronomer.com Twice monthly show, explaining science and interviewing South African astronomers. Now with extra Science Explainy Bits! Thu, 22 Aug 2019 08:11:18 +0000 en-ZA hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 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! The Urban Astronomer Podcast clean episodic The Urban Astronomer Podcast podcast@urban-astronomer.com podcast@urban-astronomer.com (The Urban Astronomer Podcast) 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 The Urban Astronomer Podcast 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 How do orbits work? https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/how-do-orbits-work/ Tue, 13 Aug 2019 08:12:06 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9688 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/how-do-orbits-work/#respond https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/how-do-orbits-work/feed/ 0 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? (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!   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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Interview with Dr Daniel Cunnama https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-dr-daniel-cunnama/ Tue, 30 Jul 2019 07:34:19 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9673 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-dr-daniel-cunnama/#respond https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-dr-daniel-cunnama/feed/ 0 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 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 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/ Mon, 15 Jul 2019 22:30:48 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9661 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/why-are-planets-always-round/#respond 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! 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 a lot of feedback from listeners like yourself telling me how much you enjoyed my explanations, but I'll be honest, I'm dubious because I'm just this guy with a website and a podcast, so I'm not sure why you're trusting me to get these things right! I'm not a professional research astronomer, I don't even have a PhD! But you all seem to trust me anyway, and you have explicitly asked for more so.. yeah, sure, just promise me you're not using these segments as exam prep, and if you were planning to cite me in a paper, that's your own fault! 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. 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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Interview with Dr Wendy Williams https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/dr-wendy-williams/ Mon, 01 Jul 2019 23:00:00 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9650 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/dr-wendy-williams/#respond 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, 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! 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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Second season coming July 2nd https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/second-season-coming-july-2nd/ Sun, 09 Jun 2019 14:05:38 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9630 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/second-season-coming-july-2nd/#respond https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/second-season-coming-july-2nd/feed/ 0 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 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! 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!]]>
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Robert Ormerod at ScopeX 2018 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/robert-ormerod-at-scopex-2018/ Sun, 14 Apr 2019 10:20:55 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9607 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/robert-ormerod-at-scopex-2018/#comments https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/robert-ormerod-at-scopex-2018/feed/ 2 Hey everyone, welcome to the 42nd Episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast, the second episode of 2019, and the final episode of our first season! Today we listen to Robert Ormerod, speaking about his first experience photographing the Northern Lights. I should have released this episode two months ago, but after my father's sudden death, I decided I'd rather spend the time with my mother and brothers, remembering him, mourning, and healing. There's still a long way to go before we're all back to normal, but I've decided that I'd like to get back into the saddle and resume podcasting. Robert Ormerod This episode features the final public lecture in the ScopeX 2018 series, which was presented by Robert Ormerod. Robert is a documentary photographer from Scotland and featured ScopeX in an article he published recently in National Geographic. It shares his interest in amateur astronomers, telescope makers, and other people who spend their time looking beyond Earth. But in this talk, he shares his experiences visiting Iceland to photograph the Northern Lights. Future of the Podcast With recent events, I've decided to change how we structure this show. Up until now, we just released episodes as and when they were produced. I like the informal nature of this arrangement, but it does mean that sometimes entire months pass between episodes. That's not fair on loyal listeners and supporters, and it's bad for me since it chases away listeners. This last episode has been the worst for that, with a gap of almost three months. That won't do. After some discussions with professional media folk and members of the local podcasting community, I've decided to introduce seasons. This 42nd episode is now officially the final of an extended super-season. It will be followed by another pause (planned, this time!). Over the next few weeks, I'll be inviting guests and recording interviews, and once I have a solid idea of what's coming, I'll release a short preview to let you know exactly what to expect. So in closing, thank you for your patience, and I'm shaking things about so that it will all have been worth the wait. Until next episode then, thanks for listening! Last episode of first season, featuring the final public lecture presented at ScopeX 2018. Urban Astronomer Podcast, the second episode of 2019, and the final episode of our first season! Today we listen to Robert Ormerod, speaking about his first experience photographing the Northern Lights.

I should have released this episode two months ago, but after my father's sudden death, I decided I'd rather spend the time with my mother and brothers, remembering him, mourning, and healing. There's still a long way to go before we're all back to normal, but I've decided that I'd like to get back into the saddle and resume podcasting.
Robert Ormerod
This episode features the final public lecture in the ScopeX 2018 series, which was presented by Robert Ormerod. Robert is a documentary photographer from Scotland and featured ScopeX in an article he published recently in National Geographic. It shares his interest in amateur astronomers, telescope makers, and other people who spend their time looking beyond Earth. But in this talk, he shares his experiences visiting Iceland to photograph the Northern Lights.
Future of the Podcast
With recent events, I've decided to change how we structure this show. Up until now, we just released episodes as and when they were produced. I like the informal nature of this arrangement, but it does mean that sometimes entire months pass between episodes. That's not fair on loyal listeners and supporters, and it's bad for me since it chases away listeners.

This last episode has been the worst for that, with a gap of almost three months. That won't do. After some discussions with professional media folk and members of the local podcasting community, I've decided to introduce seasons. This 42nd episode is now officially the final of an extended super-season. It will be followed by another pause (planned, this time!). Over the next few weeks, I'll be inviting guests and recording interviews, and once I have a solid idea of what's coming, I'll release a short preview to let you know exactly what to expect.

So in closing, thank you for your patience, and I'm shaking things about so that it will all have been worth the wait. Until next episode then, thanks for listening!]]>
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Podcast #41: Angus Burns at ScopeX 2018 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-41-angus-burns-at-scopex-2018/ Wed, 23 Jan 2019 14:18:56 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9560 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-41-angus-burns-at-scopex-2018/#respond https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-41-angus-burns-at-scopex-2018/feed/ 0 Welcome to the 41st episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast, and the 1st episode of 2019! We are almost done with the ScopeX lecture series, in which we play back talks recorded at ScopeX 2018. This episode we hear Angus Burns speaking about Astrophotography in the Urban Context 3:56. Next week's episode will close off the series, with the keynote talk delivered by Robert Ormerod, talking about photographing the aurora borealis. Robert used his time at ScopeX to capture images for one of his own photographic projects, which National Geographic published here. Welcome to the 41st episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast, and the 1st episode of 2019! We are almost done with the ScopeX lecture series, in which we play back talks recorded at ScopeX 2018. This episode we hear Angus Burns speaking about Astrophoto... Urban Astronomer Podcast, and the 1st episode of 2019! We are almost done with the ScopeX lecture series, in which we play back talks recorded at ScopeX 2018. This episode we hear Angus Burns speaking about Astrophotography in the Urban Context 3:56.

Next week's episode will close off the series, with the keynote talk delivered by Robert Ormerod, talking about photographing the aurora borealis. Robert used his time at ScopeX to capture images for one of his own photographic projects, which National Geographic published here.]]>
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Podcast #40: Christmas Special with Clem Unger https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-40-christmas-special-with-clem-unger/ Fri, 21 Dec 2018 20:18:44 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9547 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-40-christmas-special-with-clem-unger/#respond https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-40-christmas-special-with-clem-unger/feed/ 0 Hey everybody, welcome to this December solstice edition of the Urban Astronomer Podcast starring Clem Unger and myself! It's only a few days till Christmas, so we hope you all have a wonderful festive season and a joyful new year. It's generally agreed that 2018 was a bit of a bust, but in just over a week we get to start over and see if we can have a better run of it this time around. In this episode: 8:40 Sky Guide: What's happening in the sky that's worth looking for between now and the March Equinox. 19:10 The Star of Bethlehem: Since it's Christmas time, let's have another crack at solving this old chestnut. 31:32 A very full Mission Update section, because there are so many active missions right now! 46:16 Previous guest Neville Young is offering his book at a discounted rate - place your order here!   Hey everybody, welcome to this December solstice edition of the Urban Astronomer Podcast starring Clem Unger and myself! It's only a few days till Christmas, so we hope you all have a wonderful festive season and a joyful new year. Urban Astronomer Podcast starring Clem Unger and myself! It's only a few days till Christmas, so we hope you all have a wonderful festive season and a joyful new year. It's generally agreed that 2018 was a bit of a bust, but in just over a week we get to start over and see if we can have a better run of it this time around.
In this episode:
8:40 Sky Guide: What's happening in the sky that's worth looking for between now and the March Equinox.

19:10 The Star of Bethlehem: Since it's Christmas time, let's have another crack at solving this old chestnut.

31:32 A very full Mission Update section, because there are so many active missions right now!

46:16 Previous guest Neville Young is offering his book at a discounted rate - place your order here!

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Allen Versfeld clean 51:49 <iframe width="320" height="30" src="https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?powerpress_embed=9547-podcast&amp;powerpress_player=mediaelement-audio" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe>
Podcast #39: Clyde Foster at ScopeX 2018 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-39-clyde-foster-at-scopex-2018/ Mon, 10 Dec 2018 21:24:58 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9544 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-39-clyde-foster-at-scopex-2018/#respond https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-39-clyde-foster-at-scopex-2018/feed/ 0 This is the 39th episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast. This episode is the fourth in the ScopeX 2018 Public Lecture series, featuring a talk by Clyde Foster, and a mission update by Clem Unger. This is the 39th episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast. This episode is the fourth in the ScopeX 2018 Public Lecture series, featuring a talk by Clyde Foster, and a mission update by Clem Unger. Allen Versfeld clean 52:37 <iframe width="320" height="30" src="https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?powerpress_embed=9544-podcast&amp;powerpress_player=mediaelement-audio" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe> Podcast #38: Dr Pieter Kotzé at ScopeX 2018 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-38-dr-pieter-kotze-at-scopex-2018/ Wed, 28 Nov 2018 20:16:36 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9537 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-38-dr-pieter-kotze-at-scopex-2018/#respond https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-38-dr-pieter-kotze-at-scopex-2018/feed/ 0 Welcome to episode 38 of the Urban Astronomer Podcast. This episode features the last part of our physics feature on the lifecycle of a star from dust cloud to super nova, and the 3rd of the ScopeX 2018 public lectures. Physics 1:30 Over the past few episodes we've been trying to understand how a random cloud of dust and gas can turn into a supernova. In this segment, we finally get to witness our supernova, but that's just brought up more questions. What exactly makes a neutron star so weird?? Don't supernovae also make black holes, and what even is a black hole, exactly? Dr Pieter Kotzé 14:17 Pieter presented a talk on space weather titled "Living in the shadow of a variable star, The Sun". He works as a physicist for the South African National Space Agency, stationed at the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory. Links ScopeX SANSA Dr Pieter Kotzé   Welcome to episode 38 of the Urban Astronomer Podcast. This episode features the last part of our physics feature on the lifecycle of a star from dust cloud to super nova, and the 3rd of the ScopeX 2018 public lectures. Physics 1:30 - ScopeX 2018 public lectures.
Physics
1:30

Over the past few episodes we've been trying to understand how a random cloud of dust and gas can turn into a supernova. In this segment, we finally get to witness our supernova, but that's just brought up more questions. What exactly makes a neutron star so weird?? Don't supernovae also make black holes, and what even is a black hole, exactly?
Dr Pieter Kotzé
14:17

Pieter presented a talk on space weather titled "Living in the shadow of a variable star, The Sun". He works as a physicist for the South African National Space Agency, stationed at the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory.
Links

* ScopeX
* SANSA
* Dr Pieter Kotzé

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Allen Versfeld clean 42:31 <iframe width="320" height="30" src="https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?powerpress_embed=9537-podcast&amp;powerpress_player=mediaelement-audio" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe>
Podcast #37: Mission Update and Tim Cooper at ScopeX 2018 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-37-mission-update-and-tim-cooper-at-scopex-2018/ Fri, 09 Nov 2018 11:16:08 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9520 Welcome to Episode 37 of the Urban Astronomer podcast! This week features a 12:00 public lecture by Tim Cooper, and another of 1:45 Clem Unger's space mission updates. As always, if you enjoy the show and would like to see it grow, there are a few ways that you can help. You could leave a positive review and rating on your favourite podcast service (I'm partial to Podknife but anything goes!). You could send a subscribe link to a friend. You could sign up on our Patreon page and pledge a few dollars financial support. Or you can even just continue listening, and sending in your comments and requests, via email, twitter, or the comments section at the bottom of this page! Tim Cooper This is the second episode in our series of ScopeX 2018 public lectures, titled "Drizzle, showers or storms – how’s the weather tonight?". Tim talks about meteors, meteor showers, and where they come from. He has a very long history of detailed observations of meteors and comets, and has a number of prestigious awards from the Astronomical Society of South Africa over the years in recognition for his work. In fact, at the end of this talk, the president of ASSA handed him his Overbeek Award medal, which he had won at the last ASSA AGM. You can see the handover at the end of the video version of his talk, on YouTube Links "Drizzle, showers or storms – how’s the weather tonight?" on YouTube Clem Unger on Twitter Urban Astronomer on Twitter The Overbeek Medal ScopeX   Welcome to Episode 37 of the Urban Astronomer podcast! This week features a 12:00 public lecture by Tim Cooper, and another of 1:45 Clem Unger's space mission updates. As always, if you enjoy the show and would like to see it grow, Urban Astronomer podcast! This week features a 12:00 public lecture by Tim Cooper, and another of 1:45 Clem Unger's space mission updates. As always, if you enjoy the show and would like to see it grow, there are a few ways that you can help. You could leave a positive review and rating on your favourite podcast service (I'm partial to Podknife but anything goes!). You could send a subscribe link to a friend. You could sign up on our Patreon page and pledge a few dollars financial support. Or you can even just continue listening, and sending in your comments and requests, via email, twitter, or the comments section at the bottom of this page!
Tim Cooper
This is the second episode in our series of ScopeX 2018 public lectures, titled "Drizzle, showers or storms – how’s the weather tonight?". Tim talks about meteors, meteor showers, and where they come from. He has a very long history of detailed observations of meteors and comets, and has a number of prestigious awards from the Astronomical Society of South Africa over the years in recognition for his work. In fact, at the end of this talk, the president of ASSA handed him his Overbeek Award medal, which he had won at the last ASSA AGM. You can see the handover at the end of the video version of his talk, on YouTube
Links

* "Drizzle, showers or storms – how’s the weather tonight?" on YouTube
* Clem Unger on Twitter
* Urban Astronomer on Twitter
* The Overbeek Medal
* ScopeX

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Podcast #36: José da Silva at ScopeX 2018 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-36-jose-da-silva-at-scopex-2018/ Wed, 24 Oct 2018 20:18:49 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9516 Welcome to Episode 36 of the Urban Astronomer podcast, and the first in our ScopeX 2018 series. In this episode we feature the first of the public lectures I recorded at ScopeX. It is by José da Silva, and he speaks about exoplanets, and what we can tell about their weather. Links This talk on YouTube ScopeX José on FaceBook Welcome to Episode 36 of the Urban Astronomer podcast, and the first in our ScopeX 2018 series. In this episode we feature the first of the public lectures I recorded at ScopeX. It is by José da Silva, and he speaks about exoplanets, Links

* This talk on YouTube
* ScopeX
* José on FaceBook
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Allen Versfeld clean 35:42
Podcast #35: Itumeleng Monageng https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-35-itumeleng-monageng/ Wed, 03 Oct 2018 11:44:59 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9500 Welcome to episode 35 of the Urban Astronomer Podcast! This week we have a full show for you, with our main feature being an interview with South African astronomer Dr Itumeleng Monageng. We also continue our series on the physics behind the evolution of a star from gas cloud to black hole.  And finally, my new co-host Clem Unger brings us updates on current space missions. Itumeleng Monageng Itumeleng is a post-grad researcher working for the South African Astronomical Observatory and talks about his research interests, how he came to be an astronomer, and more. Earlier this year, he was featured in a short promotional video for SAAO, which is how I heard about him. He very kindly agreed to do the same thing for us! Stellar Physics Last time we looked at our star, on its journey towards becoming a black hole, we took a detour to categorise different types of stars that form at different masses. Today we see what happens when a medium-sized star, like our own Sun, runs out of Hydrogen Mission Updates Clem Unger brings us up to date with news and updates about current space programs and missions. Today he talks about NASA's 60th birthday, the Hayabusa 2 landers, OSIRIS REx, and the Parker Solar Probe. He also mentions some interesting launches coming up in October. Links Itumeleng Monageng on Twitter Clem Unger on Twitter Allen Versfeld on Twitter     Welcome to episode 35 of the Urban Astronomer Podcast! This week we have a full show for you, with our main feature being an interview with South African astronomer Dr Itumeleng Monageng. We also continue our series on the physics behind the evolution ... Urban Astronomer Podcast! This week we have a full show for you, with our main feature being an interview with South African astronomer Dr Itumeleng Monageng. We also continue our series on the physics behind the evolution of a star from gas cloud to black hole.  And finally, my new co-host Clem Unger brings us updates on current space missions.
Itumeleng Monageng
Itumeleng is a post-grad researcher working for the South African Astronomical Observatory and talks about his research interests, how he came to be an astronomer, and more. Earlier this year, he was featured in a short promotional video for SAAO, which is how I heard about him. He very kindly agreed to do the same thing for us!
Stellar Physics
Last time we looked at our star, on its journey towards becoming a black hole, we took a detour to categorise different types of stars that form at different masses. Today we see what happens when a medium-sized star, like our own Sun, runs out of Hydrogen
Mission Updates
Clem Unger brings us up to date with news and updates about current space programs and missions. Today he talks about NASA's 60th birthday, the Hayabusa 2 landers, OSIRIS REx, and the Parker Solar Probe. He also mentions some interesting launches coming up in October.
Links

* Itumeleng Monageng on Twitter
* Clem Unger on Twitter
* Allen Versfeld on Twitter


 

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Allen Versfeld clean 39:38
Podcast #34: The Equinox Show https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-34-the-equinox-show/ Sun, 23 Sep 2018 12:48:47 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9494 Welcome to this special Equinox edition of the Urban Astronomer Podcast! This episode I share the microphone with Clem Unger for the first of a quarterly series. Clem has been on the show before, and he'll be back every equinox and every solstice. In this episode We start with a look at coming attractions in the sky over the next three months. Clem discusses the state of current asteroid missions OSIRIS-Rex and Hayabusa 2 Allen and Clem butt heads over whether Pluto should have stayed a planet, and speculate about the Martian provenance of their friends at the Awesome Astronomy podcast! Links Allen on Twitter Clem on Twitter The Astronomical Society of South Africa on Twitter The Southern Comets Homepage How to find Comet 21P (Remember to set your location at the top right of the page!) Dark Matter Day Welcome to this special Equinox edition of the Urban Astronomer Podcast! This episode I share the microphone with Clem Unger for the first of a quarterly series. Clem has been on the show before, and he'll be back every equinox and every solstice. Equinox edition of the Urban Astronomer Podcast! This episode I share the microphone with Clem Unger for the first of a quarterly series. Clem has been on the show before, and he'll be back every equinox and every solstice.
In this episode
We start with a look at coming attractions in the sky over the next three months.

Clem discusses the state of current asteroid missions OSIRIS-Rex and Hayabusa 2

Allen and Clem butt heads over whether Pluto should have stayed a planet, and speculate about the Martian provenance of their friends at the Awesome Astronomy podcast!
Links

* Allen on Twitter
* Clem on Twitter
* The Astronomical Society of South Africa on Twitter
* The Southern Comets Homepage
* How to find Comet 21P (Remember to set your location at the top right of the page!)
* Dark Matter Day
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Allen Versfeld clean 44:27
Podcast #33: Jean-Pierre Grootaerd https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-33-jean-pierre-grootaerd/ Wed, 12 Sep 2018 14:51:40 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9490 Welcome to the 33rd episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast. This is a special release, featuring an interview that I recorded for ScopeX, the biggest astronomy and telescope event in South Africa. Jean-Pierre Grootaerd, through SSVI (which translates in English to Stars Shine for Everyone), has donated a pair of 90mm refracting telescopes to ScopeX, for us to hand over to whoever is best able to use them to advance science education in South Africa. Since he isn't able to come to South Africa to hand them over personally, we recorded this interview with him. We will be playing the video version in the auditorium at ScopeX on 15 September (This Saturday!) so if you'd like to say hi, or see us chatting, try not to miss it! SSVI SSVI is an initiative of the ATM (Amateur Telescope Making) group of the Public Observatory Armand Pien in Ghent (Belgium) together with the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Ghent University. Lead by Jean Pierre Grootaerd, it is supported by ESA and NASA astronauts (notably Dirk Frimout of Euro Space Society and Frank De Winne of European Astronaut Centre) and by industry (notably Bresser optics in Germany). The purpose of the project is to promote ATM, astronomy and spaceflight to young people. The reach is global, with an emphasis on developing countries and people of lesser means -  particularly girls, young children and those with disabilities. ScopeX and the ASSA ATM class - whose aims are well aligned with those of SSVI - are very pleased to assist in making South Africa the 12th African country involved. At ScopeX 2018, two worthy organisations will be presented with telescopes on behalf of SSVI. In the years to come, they - namely Brain Waves Development, and the Girl Guides of South Africa - will utilise the telescopes to introduce many young people to the wonders of the universe, thereby promoting interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. Links SSVI ScopeX Welcome to the 33rd episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast. This is a special release, featuring an interview that I recorded for ScopeX, the biggest astronomy and telescope event in South Africa. Jean-Pierre Grootaerd, Urban Astronomer Podcast. This is a special release, featuring an interview that I recorded for ScopeX, the biggest astronomy and telescope event in South Africa. Jean-Pierre Grootaerd, through SSVI (which translates in English to Stars Shine for Everyone), has donated a pair of 90mm refracting telescopes to ScopeX, for us to hand over to whoever is best able to use them to advance science education in South Africa. Since he isn't able to come to South Africa to hand them over personally, we recorded this interview with him. We will be playing the video version in the auditorium at ScopeX on 15 September (This Saturday!) so if you'd like to say hi, or see us chatting, try not to miss it!
SSVI
SSVI is an initiative of the ATM (Amateur Telescope Making) group of the Public Observatory Armand Pien in Ghent (Belgium) together with the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Ghent University. Lead by Jean Pierre Grootaerd, it is supported by ESA and NASA astronauts (notably Dirk Frimout of Euro Space Society and Frank De Winne of European Astronaut Centre) and by industry (notably Bresser optics in Germany).

The purpose of the project is to promote ATM, astronomy and spaceflight to young people. The reach is global, with an emphasis on developing countries and people of lesser means -  particularly girls, young children and those with disabilities. ScopeX and the ASSA ATM class - whose aims are well aligned with those of SSVI - are very pleased to assist in making South Africa the 12th African country involved.

At ScopeX 2018, two worthy organisations will be presented with telescopes on behalf of SSVI. In the years to come, they - namely Brain Waves Development, and the Girl Guides of South Africa - will utilise the telescopes to introduce many young people to the wonders of the universe, thereby promoting interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.
Links

* SSVI
* ScopeX
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Allen Versfeld clean 24:27
Podcast #32: Dr Nicole Gugliucci https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-32-dr-nicole-gugliucci/ Fri, 17 Aug 2018 22:32:15 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9465 Welcome to the 32nd episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast. This episode features an interview with Dr Nicole Gugliucci, whom long time listeners of astronomy podcasts should recognise from her work with Cosmoquest, and her many appearances on various shows in the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast. This is quite a long-running interview, so we didn't have time to include the next segment of our supernova story. We'll pick that up next week instead, with the thrilling tale of what happens when a massive star leaves the main sequence and starts the next stage of its life cycle. Nicole Gugliucci Dr Gugliucci currently works as an assistant professor of physics at Anselm College in New Hampshire, USA. In the interview, we talk about science outreach and education, and her time spent in South Africa, where she helped build the PAPER array as part of her PhD research. Links Dr Gugliucci at Anselm College Cosmoquest Twitter ( @noisyastronomer ) ScopeX Welcome to the 32nd episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast. This episode features an interview with Dr Nicole Gugliucci, whom long time listeners of astronomy podcasts should recognise from her work with Cosmoquest, Urban Astronomer Podcast. This episode features an interview with Dr Nicole Gugliucci, whom long time listeners of astronomy podcasts should recognise from her work with Cosmoquest, and her many appearances on various shows in the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast.

This is quite a long-running interview, so we didn't have time to include the next segment of our supernova story. We'll pick that up next week instead, with the thrilling tale of what happens when a massive star leaves the main sequence and starts the next stage of its life cycle.
Nicole Gugliucci
Dr Gugliucci currently works as an assistant professor of physics at Anselm College in New Hampshire, USA. In the interview, we talk about science outreach and education, and her time spent in South Africa, where she helped build the PAPER array as part of her PhD research.
Links

* Dr Gugliucci at Anselm College
* Cosmoquest
* Twitter ( @noisyastronomer )
* ScopeX
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Allen Versfeld clean 55:36
Podcast #31: Clem Unger talks about OSIRIS-REx https://www.urban-astronomer.com/news-and-updates/podcast-31-clem-unger-talks-about-osiris-rex/ Sun, 15 Jul 2018 14:10:00 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9436 Welcome to the 31st episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast. This episode features an interview with Clem Unger, an ambassador for the OSIRIS-REx mission who lives in Australia. This is followed by the next part of our series on the evolution of stars, taking us one step closer on our journey to seeing where supernovae come from. Clem Unger A few weeks back, I spoke to Clem Unger, who lives in Australia and serves in his spare time in the ambassador program for the OSIRIS-REx mission, which will be arriving at the asteroid Bennu in December this year, although it begins its approach in just over a month from the time this episode airs. Clem is an amateur astronomer like myself, and I'm hoping to bring him back to the show for future episodes. Stellar Evolution: Different sizes This is a short segment this week. We revise a few points behind how those big diffuse gas clouds collapse into stars. This leads us to understand how the size of the cloud leads directly to the size of the newly created star. Different size stars burn in different ways, and fit into distinct types. We look specifically at Brown Dwarfs, Red Dwarfs and Yellow Dwarfs.   Links OSIRIS-REx NASA Welcome to the 31st episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast. This episode features an interview with Clem Unger, an ambassador for the OSIRIS-REx mission who lives in Australia. This is followed by the next part of our series on the evolution of stars,... Clem Unger
A few weeks back, I spoke to Clem Unger, who lives in Australia and serves in his spare time in the ambassador program for the OSIRIS-REx mission, which will be arriving at the asteroid Bennu in December this year, although it begins its approach in just over a month from the time this episode airs. Clem is an amateur astronomer like myself, and I'm hoping to bring him back to the show for future episodes.
Stellar Evolution: Different sizes
This is a short segment this week. We revise a few points behind how those big diffuse gas clouds collapse into stars. This leads us to understand how the size of the cloud leads directly to the size of the newly created star. Different size stars burn in different ways, and fit into distinct types. We look specifically at Brown Dwarfs, Red Dwarfs and Yellow Dwarfs.

 
Links

* OSIRIS-REx
* NASA
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Allen Versfeld clean 43:17
Podcast #30: Stellar Evolution and Nuclear Fusion https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-30-stellar-evolution-and-nuclear-fusion/ Thu, 21 Jun 2018 08:25:47 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9430 Welcome to episode 30 of the Urban Astronomer Podcast. This week's episode features the 2nd part of our look at how stellar evolution can lead to a supernova explosion, inspired by listener requests to present more serious science and physics explainers. Last time we looked at the formation of a stellar nursery, so today we look inside that nursery at the birth of a new star. For fans of the interviews with people who have some connection to astronomy in South Africa, the next episode will see a return to that format. Although our guest has no connection that I can find to South Africa, he is an ambassador for one of the more exciting NASA missions out there, and I think it's interesting enough to bend the rules a little! Announcements A few months back, I announced a giveaway in which one of you would win a copy of Neville Young's book, Astronomy Within Reach. It turns out that the listeners of the Urban Astronomer Podcast are a small, exclusive crowd, and not many people wrote in to say they would like to win a copy. I'm pleased to announce that I was finally able to select a winner, and his name is Dave Reece. Dave is from Cape Town, and I just yesterday had his book couriered to his door, so he should have received it by the time you're listening to this episode. Congratulations Dave! If you're kicking yourself for not responding, never fear. I have more books to give away, and you'll have plenty chances to get them in the future! Now, I have an announcement to make. Some of you might know that, in between the day job and doing all things Urban Astronomer, I am also the director of the Astrophotography and Imaging section of the Astronomical Society of South Africa. Well I should say "Was", because I resigned that position a short while ago, in order to accept a nomination as Director of the Citizen Science section. Now this is a brand new section, which I'm basically putting together from scratch, and that's slightly terrifying for me - definitely pulling me way out of my comfort zone. But this is one of my jobs now so you're going to hear a lot about it in future. If you know of a citizen science project, especially one related to space science or astronomy, and especially if you're part of a team running a citizen science project, I'd love to hear from you. I NEED to hear from you! Please drop me a mail at podcast@urban-astronomer.com and tell me all about it. Call for Guests Would you like to be a guest on the show? I'm looking for guests and interviewees, so if you've ever wanted to break into podcasting, here's your chance! I'm looking for basically anybody who has any connection to South African astronomy. Have a look at our previous guest list. We have amateurs who love looking at the stars, and who live in South Africa. We've spoken to Cassini mission scientists who discovered fascinating features of Saturn and its moons, who also happened to have been born here. We've had astronomy lecturers, a science journalist who enjoys looking at the stars, engineers who work on telescope control systems, and more. It doesn't matter how tenuous you think the connection is, if you have a passion for the subject and want to share it with the world, send me an email to podcast@urban-astronomer.com and we'll see what we can arrange. Links Part one in the Stellar Evolution series: Podcast #29: Stellar evolution - from gas to star Urban Astronomer on Facebook Urban Astronomer on Twitter Mail me Welcome to episode 30 of the Urban Astronomer Podcast. This week's episode features the 2nd part of our look at how stellar evolution can lead to a supernova explosion, inspired by listener requests to present more serious science and physics explainer...
For fans of the interviews with people who have some connection to astronomy in South Africa, the next episode will see a return to that format. Although our guest has no connection that I can find to South Africa, he is an ambassador for one of the more exciting NASA missions out there, and I think it's interesting enough to bend the rules a little!
Announcements
A few months back, I announced a giveaway in which one of you would win a copy of Neville Young's book, Astronomy Within Reach. It turns out that the listeners of the Urban Astronomer Podcast are a small, exclusive crowd, and not many people wrote in to say they would like to win a copy. I'm pleased to announce that I was finally able to select a winner, and his name is Dave Reece. Dave is from Cape Town, and I just yesterday had his book couriered to his door, so he should have received it by the time you're listening to this episode. Congratulations Dave! If you're kicking yourself for not responding, never fear. I have more books to give away, and you'll have plenty chances to get them in the future!

Now, I have an announcement to make. Some of you might know that, in between the day job and doing all things Urban Astronomer, I am also the director of the Astrophotography and Imaging section of the Astronomical Society of South Africa. Well I should say "Was", because I resigned that position a short while ago, in order to accept a nomination as Director of the Citizen Science section. Now this is a brand new section, which I'm basically putting together from scratch, and that's slightly terrifying for me - definitely pulling me way out of my comfort zone. But this is one of my jobs now so you're going to hear a lot about it in future. If you know of a citizen science project, especially one related to space science or astronomy, and especially if you're part of a team running a citizen science project, I'd love to hear from you. I NEED to hear from you! Please drop me a mail at podcast@urban-astronomer.com and tell me all about it.
Call for Guests
Would you like to be a guest on the show? I'm looking for guests and interviewees, so if you've ever wanted to break into podcasting, here's your chance! I'm looking for basically anybody who has any connection to South African astronomy. Have a look at our previous guest list. We have amateurs who love looking at the stars, and who live in South Africa. We've spoken to Cassini mission scientists who discovered fascinating features of Saturn and its moons, who also happened to have been born here. We've had astronomy lecturers, a science journalist who enjoys looking at the stars, engineers who work on telescope control systems, and more. It doesn't matter how tenuous you think the connection is, if you have a passion for the subject and want to share it with the world, send me an email to podcast@urban-astronomer.com and we'll see what we can arrange.
Links

* Part one in the Stellar Evolution series: Podcast #29: Stellar evolution - from gas to star
* Urban Astronomer on Facebook
* Urban Astronomer on Twitter
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Allen Versfeld clean 28:25
Podcast #29: Stellar evolution – from gas to star https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-29-stellar-evolution-from-gas-to-star/ Wed, 23 May 2018 11:49:03 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9417 Welcome to episode 29 of the Urban Astronomer podcast.  As you know by now, we mainly feature interviews with people connected to South African astronomy. But since we had no guests lined up for this episode, we decided it was time to keep a promise we'd made a month ago to listener Andrew Botteril, from KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa. Andrew is a fan of the show and had asked that we feature a little more basic science, explaining some of the physics behind the astronomy. So, we're starting a series on stellar evolution. This episode looks at the behaviour of gas molecules, and how this causes vast clouds of hydrogen floating in space to turn into stars. The final episode will discuss the ultraviolent supernova explosions that mark the end of life of the very biggest stars, and all the rest will cover the journey between. Request For Comment If you are a listener and would like to comment on something you've heard in the show, or if, like Andrew, you have special requests for future topics, please mail us or leave a comment at the end of this page. You might want me to cover some other area of astronomy, or perhaps you'd like me to explore some of the other branches in stellar evolution. You might even want to point out errors and ask me to correct them! Alternatively, if you are involved in astronomy in some way (researcher, observatory technician, amateur, space artist, science fiction writer...) and have some sort of South African connection (you live here, you used to live here, you work with data from one of our observatories, you once met a South African...), and would like to appear on the show, contact me and we can arrange an interview! Contact Details To contact us: email: podcast@urban-astronomer.com twitter: @uastronomer facebook: Urban Astronomer Welcome to episode 29 of the Urban Astronomer podcast.  As you know by now, we mainly feature interviews with people connected to South African astronomy. But since we had no guests lined up for this episode, Urban Astronomer podcast.  As you know by now, we mainly feature interviews with people connected to South African astronomy. But since we had no guests lined up for this episode, we decided it was time to keep a promise we'd made a month ago to listener Andrew Botteril, from KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa. Andrew is a fan of the show and had asked that we feature a little more basic science, explaining some of the physics behind the astronomy. So, we're starting a series on stellar evolution. This episode looks at the behaviour of gas molecules, and how this causes vast clouds of hydrogen floating in space to turn into stars. The final episode will discuss the ultraviolent supernova explosions that mark the end of life of the very biggest stars, and all the rest will cover the journey between.
Request For Comment
If you are a listener and would like to comment on something you've heard in the show, or if, like Andrew, you have special requests for future topics, please mail us or leave a comment at the end of this page. You might want me to cover some other area of astronomy, or perhaps you'd like me to explore some of the other branches in stellar evolution. You might even want to point out errors and ask me to correct them!

Alternatively, if you are involved in astronomy in some way (researcher, observatory technician, amateur, space artist, science fiction writer...) and have some sort of South African connection (you live here, you used to live here, you work with data from one of our observatories, you once met a South African...), and would like to appear on the show, contact me and we can arrange an interview!
Contact Details
To contact us:

* email: podcast@urban-astronomer.com
* twitter: @uastronomer
* facebook: Urban Astronomer
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Allen Versfeld clean 14:23
Podcast #28: Stella Kafka https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-28-stella-kafka/ Mon, 23 Apr 2018 20:17:06 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9400 Welcome to Episode 28 of the Urban Astronomer Podcast.  This episode features an interview with Dr Stella Kafka, current director of the AAVSO (American Association of Variable Star Observers).  I met Dr Kafka at the 2018 Symposium of the Astronomical Society of South Africa, where she delivered several excellent talks on the AAVSO and citizen science. I was so impressed by what she had to say that I just had to invite her onto the show.  Amazingly, she beat me to the punch by approaching me after my own talk, to talk about podcasting.  Several weeks later, I got hold of her on Skype, and we recorded this episode! In this interview, we discussed the history of the AAVSO, and the multiple roles available for volunteers and observers. She explained how even in this age of massive survey projects, amateur observers still have the advantage in freedom and range of targets, and the data they submit are often critical in filling the gaps left in the record by professional astronomers using large telescopes. I was concerned that the serious scientific nature of variable star observing puts it out of reach of more casual observers, but Stella laughed this off as nonsense - as she put it (paraphrased), "Even if you only ever submit one single brightness estimate, that could be the only data point captured worldwide of that object at that time".  If somebody needs that data, and uses it in their research, your name could be included on the resulting paper, which is something of a big deal!   Links The American Association of Variable Star Observers The Variable Star Section of ASSA The 2018 Symposium of the ASSA   Welcome to Episode 28 of the Urban Astronomer Podcast.  This episode features an interview with Dr Stella Kafka, current director of the AAVSO (American Association of Variable Star Observers).  I met Dr Kafka at the 2018 Symposium of the Astronomical ... Podcast.  This episode features an interview with Dr Stella Kafka, current director of the AAVSO (American Association of Variable Star Observers).  I met Dr Kafka at the 2018 Symposium of the Astronomical Society of South Africa, where she delivered several excellent talks on the AAVSO and citizen science. I was so impressed by what she had to say that I just had to invite her onto the show.  Amazingly, she beat me to the punch by approaching me after my own talk, to talk about podcasting.  Several weeks later, I got hold of her on Skype, and we recorded this episode!

In this interview, we discussed the history of the AAVSO, and the multiple roles available for volunteers and observers. She explained how even in this age of massive survey projects, amateur observers still have the advantage in freedom and range of targets, and the data they submit are often critical in filling the gaps left in the record by professional astronomers using large telescopes.

I was concerned that the serious scientific nature of variable star observing puts it out of reach of more casual observers, but Stella laughed this off as nonsense - as she put it (paraphrased), "Even if you only ever submit one single brightness estimate, that could be the only data point captured worldwide of that object at that time".  If somebody needs that data, and uses it in their research, your name could be included on the resulting paper, which is something of a big deal!

 
Links

* The American Association of Variable Star Observers
* The Variable Star Section of ASSA
* The 2018 Symposium of the ASSA

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Allen Versfeld clean 44:24
Podcast #27: Tides and Flerfers https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-27-tides-and-flerfers/ Tue, 20 Mar 2018 12:53:09 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9390 Welcome to the 27th episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast!  This is a special episode where I break from tradition and try for something completely new: Unscripted content, delivered solo, with just a few notes to guide me!  In the first segment, I explain how tides work, and in the second I muse on what makes Flat Earther's reject established scientific knowledge. I recently got back from the 2018 Symposium of the South African Astronomical Society, where I plugged this podcast in a talk titled "Modern Media as an Outreach Tool".  It was a fantastic event, where I made new friends in the International astronomy community, caught up with old, and generally mingled and networked while listening to a long series of interesting talks from both amateur and professional astronomers.  If you have any interest in South African astronomy, I highly recommend attending the next one.  I'll be sure to announce it here when a date and hosting venue is set.  However, all this travel and preparation got in the way with podcast scripting and production, hence he unusual format of this episode! Related Links My earlier writings on How Tides work The Astronomical Society of South Africa Welcome to the 27th episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast!  This is a special episode where I break from tradition and try for something completely new: Unscripted content, delivered solo, with just a few notes to guide me!  In the first segment,
I recently got back from the 2018 Symposium of the South African Astronomical Society, where I plugged this podcast in a talk titled "Modern Media as an Outreach Tool".  It was a fantastic event, where I made new friends in the International astronomy community, caught up with old, and generally mingled and networked while listening to a long series of interesting talks from both amateur and professional astronomers.  If you have any interest in South African astronomy, I highly recommend attending the next one.  I'll be sure to announce it here when a date and hosting venue is set.  However, all this travel and preparation got in the way with podcast scripting and production, hence he unusual format of this episode!
Related Links

* My earlier writings on How Tides work
* The Astronomical Society of South Africa
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Allen Versfeld clean 29:58
Podcast #26: Neville Young https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-26-neville-young/ Wed, 14 Feb 2018 12:31:49 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9376 Neville Young in his observatory, where we recorded the interview. This is the 26th episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast, where we get back to our original focus of interviewing people involved in South African astronomy. Whether they're professional or amateur, South African, or merely visiting to do astronomy under our clear skies through our world-class observatories, we want to talk to them.  In this episode, we chat with Neville Young. Neville Young Neville has been a member of the Pretoria center of the Astronomical Society of South Africa since the mid-1980's.  He is a familiar face at local outreach events and makes a range of teaching models to explain the dynamics of the Solar System.  He even wrote a very popular astronomy book that sold extremely well across the country.  He was kind enough to provide me a copy which I'll be giving away to one of you dear listeners! Neville Young demonstrating his observatory's roof Neville Young's Meade telescope Giveaway: Astronomy With Reach As described in the podcast, I have a copy of Neville's book, Astronomy Within Reach, which I'd like to give away to one lucky listener.  If you want it, just send me an email to podcast@urban-astronomer.com and tell me a little about yourself and what you enjoy about the show.  I will pick a winner at random, and send off a copy, by 28 February 2018. Links Starwaders ASSA Pretoria Exoplanet detection with a DSLR camera Neville Young in his observatory, where we recorded the interview. - This is the 26th episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast, where we get back to our original focus of interviewing people involved in South African astronomy. Neville Young in his observatory, where we recorded the interview.

This is the 26th episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast, where we get back to our original focus of interviewing people involved in South African astronomy. Whether they're professional or amateur, South African, or merely visiting to do astronomy under our clear skies through our world-class observatories, we want to talk to them.  In this episode, we chat with Neville Young.
Neville Young
Neville has been a member of the Pretoria center of the Astronomical Society of South Africa since the mid-1980's.  He is a familiar face at local outreach events and makes a range of teaching models to explain the dynamics of the Solar System.  He even wrote a very popular astronomy book that sold extremely well across the country.  He was kind enough to provide me a copy which I'll be giving away to one of you dear listeners!

Neville Young demonstrating his observatory's roof

Neville Young's Meade telescope
Giveaway: Astronomy With Reach
As described in the podcast, I have a copy of Neville's book, Astronomy Within Reach, which I'd like to give away to one lucky listener.  If you want it, just send me an email to podcast@urban-astronomer.com and tell me a little about yourself and what you enjoy about the show.  I will pick a winner at random, and send off a copy, by 28 February 2018.
Links

* Starwaders
* ASSA Pretoria
* Exoplanet detection with a DSLR camera
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Allen Versfeld clean 1:04:04
Podcast #25: Clyde Foster at ScopeX 2017 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-25-clyde-foster-scopex-2017/ Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:37:13 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9369 Welcome to the 25th episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast, which is also the 1st episode of 2018. Happy New Year!  Over the past few episodes, I've been running a series of public lectures that I recorded at ScopeX 2017.  ScopeX is an annual telescope and astronomy expo held every year at the Military History museum in Johannesburg.  This is the last lecture in the series, on the topic of the Apollo Program. Clyde Foster was the speaker. News Next year's ScopeX will be held on 15 September 2018, at the usual location - for details check out the ScopeX website.  Meanwhile, ASSA are reviving their bi-annual astronomical Symposium in March this year.  I will be presenting a talk at the symposium, so if you're a fan of my work and will be in Cape Town, please come and listen!  Registration is currently open, and I believe the programme has almost been finalised. Even if the thought of spending a weekend sitting through lectures and workshops doesn't appeal, it's always worth going along just to rub  with  amateur astronomers and leading figures in astronomy and observatory engineering! Links ScopeX ScopeX lectures on YouTube Some of Clyde's astrophotography ASSA Symposium Welcome to the 25th episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast, which is also the 1st episode of 2018. Happy New Year!  Over the past few episodes, I've been running a series of public lectures that I recorded at ScopeX 2017. Urban Astronomer Podcast, which is also the 1st episode of 2018. Happy New Year!  Over the past few episodes, I've been running a series of public lectures that I recorded at ScopeX 2017.  ScopeX is an annual telescope and astronomy expo held every year at the Military History museum in Johannesburg.  This is the last lecture in the series, on the topic of the Apollo Program. Clyde Foster was the speaker.
News
Next year's ScopeX will be held on 15 September 2018, at the usual location - for details check out the ScopeX website.  Meanwhile, ASSA are reviving their bi-annual astronomical Symposium in March this year.  I will be presenting a talk at the symposium, so if you're a fan of my work and will be in Cape Town, please come and listen!  Registration is currently open, and I believe the programme has almost been finalised. Even if the thought of spending a weekend sitting through lectures and workshops doesn't appeal, it's always worth going along just to rub  with  amateur astronomers and leading figures in astronomy and observatory engineering!



Links

* ScopeX
* ScopeX lectures on YouTube
* Some of Clyde's astrophotography
* ASSA Symposium
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Allen Versfeld clean 55:15
Podcast #24: Willie Koortz at ScopeX 2017 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-24-willie-koortz-scopex-2017/ Sun, 31 Dec 2017 22:43:07 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9355 Welcome to Episode 24 of the Urban Astronomer Podcast, and a Happy New Year to each and every one of you.  This episode features the keynote lecture from ScopeX 2017, delivered by Willie Koortz.  Willie is an electronic technician working for the South African Astronomical Observatory, and is one of South African astronomy's more interesting characters. ScopeX Lecture In his talk, he discusses South Africa's role in the early days of the Space Age, looking at professional-amateur collaborative projects like Moonwatch, and how american tracking stations built in South Africa in the 1960's started South Africa's push into radio astronomy, with telescopes like HartRAO (built from decommissioned NASA tracking hardware) and MeerKAT continuing to contribute valuable scientific research. The Future of the Podcast This is the last episode of the year.  The next episode will come out early in January, and will feature the last of the ScopeX lecture series.  That lecture, delivered by Clyde Foster on the Apollo Program, was originally scheduled for this week, but technical issues with adding his slides to the video feed led to Willie's talk being moved forward. In the new year, we'll continue bringing you the interviews with people related to South African Astronomy, but we'll be adding more general astronomy items - rants about conspiracy theories and fake astro news, explanations on some astronomy basics, and more.  We'll also be doing a few give-aways.  Over the years, I've been given various books and accessories that I never found use for.  So, about once a month, I'll announce a giveaway in the podcast, and one lucky listener will then receive one of these items in the mail.  I'm rather looking forward to seeing how this plays out, and hopefully these items will find new homes with people who can use them. Links Willie Koortz SAAO HartRAO ScopeX South Africa's role in the early days of the Space Age - video on YouTube Welcome to Episode 24 of the Urban Astronomer Podcast, and a Happy New Year to each and every one of you.  This episode features the keynote lecture from ScopeX 2017, delivered by Willie Koortz.  Willie is an electronic technician working for the South... ScopeX Lecture
In his talk, he discusses South Africa's role in the early days of the Space Age, looking at professional-amateur collaborative projects like Moonwatch, and how american tracking stations built in South Africa in the 1960's started South Africa's push into radio astronomy, with telescopes like HartRAO (built from decommissioned NASA tracking hardware) and MeerKAT continuing to contribute valuable scientific research.
The Future of the Podcast
This is the last episode of the year.  The next episode will come out early in January, and will feature the last of the ScopeX lecture series.  That lecture, delivered by Clyde Foster on the Apollo Program, was originally scheduled for this week, but technical issues with adding his slides to the video feed led to Willie's talk being moved forward.

In the new year, we'll continue bringing you the interviews with people related to South African Astronomy, but we'll be adding more general astronomy items - rants about conspiracy theories and fake astro news, explanations on some astronomy basics, and more.  We'll also be doing a few give-aways.  Over the years, I've been given various books and accessories that I never found use for.  So, about once a month, I'll announce a giveaway in the podcast, and one lucky listener will then receive one of these items in the mail.  I'm rather looking forward to seeing how this plays out, and hopefully these items will find new homes with people who can use them.
Links

* Willie Koortz
* SAAO
* HartRAO
* ScopeX
* South Africa's role in the early days of the Space Age - video on YouTube
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Allen Versfeld clean 45:41
Podcast #23: Phila Sibandze at ScopeX 2017 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-23-phila-sibandze-scopex/ Thu, 14 Dec 2017 13:44:31 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9346 Welcome to episode 23 of the Urban Astronomer Podcast! This week we feature the third in our series of public lectures given at ScopeX earlier this year, which was presented by Phila Sibandze of the South African National Space Agency (SANSA). Phila Sibandze Phila works for SANSA as an earth observation scientist, and his talk was titled "A journey through the life of a satellite".  In it he walked us through the process of designing, building, launching and operating a satellite, with a special focus on South Africa's own satellites over the past few decades. Links ScopeX SANSA Welcome to episode 23 of the Urban Astronomer Podcast! This week we feature the third in our series of public lectures given at ScopeX earlier this year, which was presented by Phila Sibandze of the South African National Space Agency (SANSA). Phila Sibandze
Phila works for SANSA as an earth observation scientist, and his talk was titled "A journey through the life of a satellite".  In it he walked us through the process of designing, building, launching and operating a satellite, with a special focus on South Africa's own satellites over the past few decades.
Links

* ScopeX
* SANSA
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Allen Versfeld clean 41:20
Podcast #22: So you want to be an astrophysicist (Guest Episode by Paul Sutter) https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-22-want-astrophysicist-guest-episode/ Tue, 05 Dec 2017 07:21:15 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9337 Welcome to episode 22 of the Urban Astronomer Podcast.  We're in the middle of a series of public lectures given by various speakers at ScopeX, earlier this year, but this episode is a break from all that.  Some time ago, I was listening to Paul Sutter's excellent "Ask A Spaceman" podcast and he did an episode on what it takes to become an astrophysicist like him.  Since one of the reasons the Urban Astronomer podcast exists is to encourage young South Africans to consider astronomy as a career, or at least as something worth studying, I figured it would be a good match. Paul speaks from an American perspective, but since science is a global business, I think almost everything he says is relevant.  There is a good chance that graduating scientists will travel overseas to find a research job, so much of what he says applies wherever you are. What I appreciated most about his show is that he doesn't gloss over uncomfortable facts.  A research career is hard. The educational requirements alone are higher than anything else out there, including medicine.  Universities around the world are producing more PhD's than there are jobs, so you may well have to go work in industry, possibly not even in your field of study.  But it's good to know these things, and that doesn't make the education worthless.  Despite not working in astronomy myself, my scientific and astronomical education (incomplete though it may be) has been very valuable to me. Anyway, if you enjoyed listening to Paul Sutter talk about becoming an astrophysicist, his usual theme is answering questions about time and space, so if you'd like more of that, check him out via the link at the top of the page.   Welcome to episode 22 of the Urban Astronomer Podcast.  We're in the middle of a series of public lectures given by various speakers at ScopeX, earlier this year, but this episode is a break from all that.  Some time ago, Ask A Spaceman" podcast and he did an episode on what it takes to become an astrophysicist like him.  Since one of the reasons the Urban Astronomer podcast exists is to encourage young South Africans to consider astronomy as a career, or at least as something worth studying, I figured it would be a good match. Paul speaks from an American perspective, but since science is a global business, I think almost everything he says is relevant.  There is a good chance that graduating scientists will travel overseas to find a research job, so much of what he says applies wherever you are.

What I appreciated most about his show is that he doesn't gloss over uncomfortable facts.  A research career is hard. The educational requirements alone are higher than anything else out there, including medicine.  Universities around the world are producing more PhD's than there are jobs, so you may well have to go work in industry, possibly not even in your field of study.  But it's good to know these things, and that doesn't make the education worthless.  Despite not working in astronomy myself, my scientific and astronomical education (incomplete though it may be) has been very valuable to me.

Anyway, if you enjoyed listening to Paul Sutter talk about becoming an astrophysicist, his usual theme is answering questions about time and space, so if you'd like more of that, check him out via the link at the top of the page.

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Allen Versfeld clean 41:32
Podcast #21: Lee Annamalai at ScopeX 2017 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-21-lee-annamalai-scopex-2017/ Sat, 25 Nov 2017 09:48:35 +0000 https://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9325 Welcome to episode 21 of the Urban Astronomer Podcast! This week we feature the second in our series of ScopeX lectures, and plug an exciting new citizen science project.  Next week we'll be bringing you the third lecture in the series, although we might sneak in a special guest episode before then! Lee Annamalai Lee spoke in his capacity at the CSIR (Center for Scientific and Industrial Research), where he manages their Earth Observation ICT systems group. He spoke about plans to use nano-satellites to detect wildfires from orbit, and send alerts to the people who need to be informed. It was a great presentation, but I've unfortunately not been able to get a copy of it, so when I release the video version, you still won't see his slides. Still, he's a good speaker, who makes his points clearly, so it's not that big of a loss. Image Detective Astronauts on the International Space Station bring back a LOT of photos of the Earth as it passes beneath them - more than a million and a half so far. Unfortunately, these images are not usually labelled, so it's hard to get any use from them. So, if you join in and donate a little of your time, you'll be identifying Earth features in the photos. The goal of Image Detective is label all the images and making them searchable, and this will make them useful as a resource to study the Earth.  These projects are usually a lot of fun, but you also get the satisfaction of having helped to do real science that matters, and of course the team at CosmoQuest will be extremely grateful for your help as well! Links The CSIR Image Detective Welcome to episode 21 of the Urban Astronomer Podcast! This week we feature the second in our series of ScopeX lectures, and plug an exciting new citizen science project.  Next week we'll be bringing you the third lecture in the series, Lee Annamalai
Lee spoke in his capacity at the CSIR (Center for Scientific and Industrial Research), where he manages their Earth Observation ICT systems group. He spoke about plans to use nano-satellites to detect wildfires from orbit, and send alerts to the people who need to be informed. It was a great presentation, but I've unfortunately not been able to get a copy of it, so when I release the video version, you still won't see his slides. Still, he's a good speaker, who makes his points clearly, so it's not that big of a loss.
Image Detective
Astronauts on the International Space Station bring back a LOT of photos of the Earth as it passes beneath them - more than a million and a half so far. Unfortunately, these images are not usually labelled, so it's hard to get any use from them. So, if you join in and donate a little of your time, you'll be identifying Earth features in the photos. The goal of Image Detective is label all the images and making them searchable, and this will make them useful as a resource to study the Earth.  These projects are usually a lot of fun, but you also get the satisfaction of having helped to do real science that matters, and of course the team at CosmoQuest will be extremely grateful for your help as well!
Links

* The CSIR
* Image Detective
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Allen Versfeld clean 33:54
Podcast #20: Edwin le Grange at ScopeX https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-20-edwin-le-grange-scopex/ Tue, 07 Nov 2017 13:44:02 +0000 http://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9313 Welcome to the 20th episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast, featuring a public talk given by Edwin le Grange at ScopeX 2017.  This episode has been a long time coming, because I'm doing something new that I've never done before and it's taken me way longer to figure out that I'd really anticipated, but I finally got there, we're here, and your patience is about to be rewarded. As you'll know from previous episodes, the annual ScopeX telescope and astronomy expo happened at the usual venue back in September, and I was there to record the talks and lectures. I'll be playing you those lectures over the next few episodes, but the new thing that I'm doing with these is Video. Along with the audio recordings, I also filmed the speakers, and grabbed copies of their slide shows, and have been trying to learn how to tie this all together into a set of videos for the ScopeX organisers to show on their website. Those videos will also appear on my (very small!) YouTube channel, once I figure out how to make them look the way I want. Edwin le Grange Edwin was the first speaker of the day, and he spoke about the Mars One project.  This is a plan to send a large group of explorers on a one-way mission to Mars, and he hopes to be one of those who get to go along. Now personally I have my doubts about the project -- it all seems a little slapdash to me.  The way the organisers gloss over fundamental questions, like "Do you have a rocket?" makes me wonder how seriously they have thought this through, and I'm certainly not the only person to have my doubts. Still, Edwin himself seems confident, and if there's one thing that the past decade has taught us, it's not to underestimate private companies and individuals when they decide to go to space. Links Urban Astronomer YouTube channel Mars One Edwin le Grange presented a talk at ScopeX, South Africa's largest astronomy and telescope expo, about his plans to travel to join the Mars One project to travel to the red planet. As you'll know from previous episodes, the annual ScopeX telescope and astronomy expo happened at the usual venue back in September, and I was there to record the talks and lectures. I'll be playing you those lectures over the next few episodes, but the new thing that I'm doing with these is Video. Along with the audio recordings, I also filmed the speakers, and grabbed copies of their slide shows, and have been trying to learn how to tie this all together into a set of videos for the ScopeX organisers to show on their website. Those videos will also appear on my (very small!) YouTube channel, once I figure out how to make them look the way I want.
Edwin le Grange
Edwin was the first speaker of the day, and he spoke about the Mars One project.  This is a plan to send a large group of explorers on a one-way mission to Mars, and he hopes to be one of those who get to go along. Now personally I have my doubts about the project -- it all seems a little slapdash to me.  The way the organisers gloss over fundamental questions, like "Do you have a rocket?" makes me wonder how seriously they have thought this through, and I'm certainly not the only person to have my doubts. Still, Edwin himself seems confident, and if there's one thing that the past decade has taught us, it's not to underestimate private companies and individuals when they decide to go to space.
Links

* Urban Astronomer YouTube channel
* Mars One
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Allen Versfeld clean 40:32
Podcast #19: Michele Dougherty https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-19-michele-dougherty/ Mon, 09 Oct 2017 08:23:16 +0000 http://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9303 Welcome to the 19th episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast, featuring an interview with Cassini mission scientist Dr Michele Dougherty.  We've been up to so much since episode 18, with probably the biggest job being hosting an hour segment about podcasting to a developing market, on the International Podcast Day 30 hours continuous celebrations. Thanks to the guys at IPD for inviting us, and especially thank you to Richard, Chantelle and Andrew from the NAG gaming podcast who shared that space with me and helped keep it filled with interesting conversation. I couldn't have done it without you guys, and owe you big time! I've also been hard at work processing the recordings I took at ScopeX, South Africa's biggest and most important annual astronomy event. A regular feature of ScopeX is a series of public talks and lectures, open to all who attend. This year, I was allowed to record these talks, and I'll be making the recordings available as episodes on this podcast. Dr Michele Dougherty But today we've got something a little more in keeping with our usual format. A few weeks back, shortly before the Cassini spacecraft was de-orbited into the atmosphere of Saturn, Dr Michele Dougherty was in Cape Town for a scientific conference. I had hoped to meet her for an interview, which she very kindly granted me. I couldn't make it to Cape Town though, so we spoke over Skype instead. The recording of that interview is the feature item in this episode. Unfortunately, Skype didn't handle the combination of her hotel WiFi and my mobile data connection, so her voice does fade in and out a bit. I've done my best to make things as legible as possible, but I do apologize in advance if there's anything you aren't able to make out. Links Dr Dougherty at Imperial College London Cassini: The Grand Finale The JUICE mission (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) Welcome to the 19th episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast, featuring an interview with Cassini mission scientist Dr Michele Dougherty.  We've been up to so much since episode 18, with probably the biggest job being hosting an hour segment about podca... podcasting to a developing market, on the International Podcast Day 30 hours continuous celebrations. Thanks to the guys at IPD for inviting us, and especially thank you to Richard, Chantelle and Andrew from the NAG gaming podcast who shared that space with me and helped keep it filled with interesting conversation. I couldn't have done it without you guys, and owe you big time!

I've also been hard at work processing the recordings I took at ScopeX, South Africa's biggest and most important annual astronomy event. A regular feature of ScopeX is a series of public talks and lectures, open to all who attend. This year, I was allowed to record these talks, and I'll be making the recordings available as episodes on this podcast.
Dr Michele Dougherty
But today we've got something a little more in keeping with our usual format. A few weeks back, shortly before the Cassini spacecraft was de-orbited into the atmosphere of Saturn, Dr Michele Dougherty was in Cape Town for a scientific conference. I had hoped to meet her for an interview, which she very kindly granted me. I couldn't make it to Cape Town though, so we spoke over Skype instead. The recording of that interview is the feature item in this episode. Unfortunately, Skype didn't handle the combination of her hotel WiFi and my mobile data connection, so her voice does fade in and out a bit. I've done my best to make things as legible as possible, but I do apologize in advance if there's anything you aren't able to make out.
Links

* Dr Dougherty at Imperial College London
* Cassini: The Grand Finale
* The JUICE mission (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer)
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Allen Versfeld clean 24:23
Podcast #18: Simon Fishley https://www.urban-astronomer.com/podcast/podcast-18-simon-fishley/ Mon, 25 Sep 2017 10:02:38 +0000 http://www.urban-astronomer.com/?p=9292 Welcome to the 18th episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast!  This week we interview Simon Fishley, the head of IT at the South African Astronomical Observatory, about the work he does to support the scientists and their data. Hurricane Harvey Podcast Pack I can't believe it's been three weeks since the last episode of the Urban Astronomer podcast, although it actually hasn't been that long. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, I recorded a special episode for the Hurricane Harvey Podcast Pack. This is a fundraising project to help deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and it's organised by Justin Corbett, who is a podcaster, and comic editor and creator. The episode I recorded is available, as part of a pack of other specially produced podcasts, for sponsors of the project, so if you want to hear it, you need to donate a bit of money at the link that you'll find on the show notes at www.urban-astronomer.com. All proceeds will be divided between two funds that have been set up for aid and reconstruction purpose, so it's a pretty good cause, and I urge you to support it. Simon Fishley Many years ago, I was looking for old school friends on Facebook, and was thrilled to find that one of them now works at the South African Astronomical Observatory. Simon Fishley isn't an astronomer, but he is the head of IT at SAAO, so I gave him a call and asked if he'd like to talk about his job with us. Now I normally only interview people who're directly connected to astronomy in South Africa, either South Africans working in the field, or foreign astronomers who come to South Africa to do their research, but the fact is that astronomy provides a huge range of employment options. It's such a multi-disciplinary field that needs so many different skills, that it's worth talking about ways to have a job working with astronomers and giant telescopes that don't need a science degree. So, I present Simon Fishley, whose career path matches my own in so many oddly specific ways, and who holds my current dream job! Links Hurricane Harvey Podcast Pack The South African Astronomical Observatory   Welcome to the 18th episode of the Urban Astronomer Podcast!  This week we interview Simon Fishley, the head of IT at the South African Astronomical Observatory, about the work he does to support the scientists and their data. Hurricane Harvey Podcast Pack
I can't believe it's been three weeks since the last episode of the Urban Astronomer podcast, although it actually hasn't been that long. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, I recorded a special episode for the Hurricane Harvey Podcast Pack. This is a fundraising project to help deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and it's organised by Justin Corbett, who is a podcaster, and comic editor and creator. The episode I recorded is available, as part of a pack of other specially produced podcasts, for sponsors of the project, so if you want to hear it, you need to donate a bit of money at the link that you'll find on the show notes at www.urban-astronomer.com. All proceeds will be divided between two funds that have been set up for aid and reconstruction purpose, so it's a pretty good cause, and I urge you to support it.



Simon Fishley
Many years ago, I was looking for old school friends on Facebook, and was thrilled to find that one of them now works at the South African Astronomical Observatory. Simon Fishley isn't an astronomer, but he is the head of IT at SAAO, so I gave him a call and asked if he'd like to talk about his job with us. Now I normally only interview people who're directly connected to astronomy in South Africa, either South Africans working in the field, or foreign astronomers who come to South Africa to do their research, but the fact is that astronomy provides a huge range of employment options. It's such a multi-disciplinary field that needs so many different skills, that it's worth talking about ways to have a job working with astronomers and giant telescopes that don't need a science degree.
So, I present Simon Fishley, whose career path matches my own in so many oddly specific ways, and who holds my current dream job!
Links

* Hurricane Harvey Podcast Pack
* The South African Astronomical Observatory

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Allen Versfeld clean 32:42