Archive | Observing

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Ep. 367: Spitzer does Exoplanets

We’ve spent the last few weeks talking about different ways astronomers are searching for exoplanets. But now we reach the most exciting part of this story: actually imaging these planets directly. Today we’re going to talk about the work NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has done viewing the atmospheres of distant planets. Download the show [MP3] […]

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Ep. 366: HARPS Spectrograph

Almost all the planet hunting has been done from space. But there’s a new instrument installed on the European Southern Observatory’s 3.6 meter telescope called the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher which has already turned up 130 planets. Is this the future? Searching for planets from the ground? Download the show [MP3] | Jump […]

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Ep. 351: Asteroid Adventures

Astronomy Cast’s 2014/15 season begins! With Rosetta’s arrival at Comet 67/P, we’re about to see a comet up close and personal. What will it take to explore, exploit and enjoy the asteroids and comets hurtling around our Solar System. And how does science fiction have it all wrong?? (more…)

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Ep. 337: Photometry

There’s a lot you can learn by just staring at an object, watching how it changes in brightness. This is the technique of photometry, and it has helped astronomers discover variable stars, extrasolar planets, minor planets, supernovae, and much more. Download the show [MP3] | Jump to Shownotes | Jump to Transcript (more…)

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Ep. 334: Chelyabinsk

Around this time last year a space rock crashed into the Earth above Chelyabinsk, Russia. It brightened the skies for hundreds of kilometers, broke windows and injured many people. Let’s look back at the event. What happened, and what did we learn? Download the show [MP3] | Jump to Shownotes | Jump to Transcript (more…)

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Ep. 319: The Zodiac

Although the Zodiac is best known for astrology nonsense, it has a purpose in astronomy too. The constellations of the Zodiac define the plane of the ecliptic: the region where the Sun, Moon and planets appear to travel through the sky. What are the constellations of the Zodiac, and how do astronomers use them as […]

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Ep. 317: Observatories

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to visit one of the big research observatories, like Keck, Gemini, or the European Southern Observatory? What’s it like to use gear that powerful? What’s the facility like? What precautions do you need to take when observing at such a high altitude? (more…)

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isualization of the 93 billion light year three-dimensional observable universe.

Ep. 295: The Observable Universe

We understand our place in the Universe because of our direct observations. We can see the light that traveled billions of light years across space to reach us. This sphere of space is the observable universe; everything we can detect. But it’s really just a fraction of the larger, unobservable universe. Today, we’ll talk about […]

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Ep. 294: The Arecibo Observatory

The mighty Arecibo Radio Observatory is one of the most powerful radio telescopes ever built – it’s certainly the larger single aperture radio telescope on Earth, nestled into a natural sinkhole in Puerto Rico. We’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the construction of the observatory with a special episode of Astronomy Cast. (more…)

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High resolution lets you separate these binary stars. Image credit: Caltech

Ep. 256: Resolution

When it comes to telescopes, astronomers really just care about resolution: how much can you see? Your resolution defines how much science you can get done, and it depends on your gear, wavelength, and conditions. Putting a telescope in space really helps too. (more…)

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