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, this was always a pretty disorganized 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, and listeners like you would never know in advance when the next one would be coming out. And 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’s 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, and some 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, and 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!
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!