Archive | Observing

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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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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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Ep. 234: Lunar Phases

The Moon is a stark reminder that we actually live in a Universe filled with stars and planets and moons. The changing phases of the Moon show us the relative positions of the Earth, the Sun and the Moon as they interact with one another. Let’s learn about the different phases, the geometry of the […]

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