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The Sun in Hydrogen Alpha

Ep. 255: Observing Hydrogen

Hydrogen is the most common element in the Universe, formed at the beginning of everything in the Big Bang. It’s the raw material of stars, gathering together through mutual gravity into vast nebulae. Astronomers can learn so much looking for hydrogen in the Universe. Here’s why, and how they do it. (more…)

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Reflection nebula

Ep 254: Reflection and Refraction

Light can do some pretty strange stuff, like pass through objects and bounce off them; it can be broken up and recombined. In fact, everything we “see” is actually the end result of reflection and refraction of light. Time to understand how it all works. (more…)

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Blue skies right after sunset - Image credit: Fraser Cain

Ep. 253: Rayleigh Scattering (Why is the Sky Blue?)

Next time a kid asks you, why is the sky blue? Answer them: because of Rayleigh scattering. If they’re not happy with that answer, feel free to expand based on the knowledge we’re about to drop today, right into your brain. (more…)

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Werner Heisenberg

Ep. 252: Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

Quantum theory is plenty strange, but one of the strangest discoveries is the realization that there’s a limit to how much you can measure at any one time. This was famously described by Werner Heisenberg, with his uncertainty principle: how you can never know both the position and motion of a particle at the same […]

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Messier Catalog. Image credit: SEDS

Ep. 251: Messier Catalog

Have you ever looked into the sky and noticed a fuzzy blob? That’s a Messier Object, carefully cataloged by Charles Messier to make it easier to find comets. We’ll learn about the history of the catalog, Messier’s criteria and some of the prominent objects you’ll see in the sky. (more…)

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Simulation of particle decay at CERN

Ep. 249: Schrödinger’s Cat

You’ve probably all heard of Schrödinger’s Cat, that strange thought experiment designed by Erwin Schrödinger to show how the strange predictions of quantum theory could impact the real world. No cats will be harmed in the making of this episode, maybe. (more…)

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Carina Nebula. Image Credit: Hubble

Ep. 248: Carina Constellation

Time for another detailed look at a constellation; one of the most fascinating in the sky, but hidden to most of the northern hemisphere: Carina. Home to one of the most likely supernova candidates we know of: Eta Carinae. Let’s talk just about this constellation, how to find it, and what you can discover in […]

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55 Cancri

Ep. 246: What if Something Were Different?

The number of moons, the age of the Sun, and our placement in the Milky Way all had an impact on the formation of the Earth and the evolution of life on our planet. But what if things were different? What would be the implications? (more…)

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