Archive | Planets

Ep. 34: Discovering Another Earth

What a week! Astronomers announced the discovery of an Earth-sized planet orbiting the nearby star Gliese 581. We talk about the technique used to discover the planet, the possibilities of finding even smaller planets, and what the future holds for finding another Earth. Correction: At the beginning of the show, Pamela says that Gliese 581c […]

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Ep. 30: The Sun, Spots and All

It’s Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, and that means the Sun is back. But it’s more than just a free heat lamp for your garden, it’s an incredible, dynamic nuclear reaction complete with flares, coronal mass ejections, twisting magnetic fields and the solar wind. Put in your headphones, head outside and enjoy the sunshine while […]

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Ep. 29: Asteroids Make Bad Neighbors

This week we’re talking about asteroids. And not just any asteroids, but Near Earth Objects. How do astronomers find these things, why are they buzzing around the Earth, what are the chances we’ll actually get hit, and what would happen if we did get hit? How could we stop them? Episode 29: Asteroids Make Bad […]

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Ep. 24: The Fermi Paradox: Where Are All the Aliens?

We live in a mind bogglingly big Universe filled with countless stars. We know intelligent life evolved here on Earth. It must be common across the Universe, right? But if there’s life out there, how come we haven’t been visited by aliens yet? Why haven’t we even picked up signals from alien television stations? Where’s […]

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Ep. 23: Counting Aliens With the Drake Equation

If you’re wondering how many extraterrestrials there are in our galaxy, you just have to use a simple equation developed by astronomer Frank Drake in 1961. Just find out how many stars there are, how many support life, how many advanced societies form, and a few other details and we’ll be set. Episode 23: Drake […]

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Ep. 19: Comets, Our Icy Friends from the Outer Solar System

The sudden brightening of Comet McNaught has reminded us what a treat it can be to see a comet with the unaided eye. A diffuse ball with a long tail stretching across the sky. There’s nothing else in the night sky that can compare to a bright comet. But what are these objects, where do […]

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Special Alert: Go See Comet McNaught

There’s a big bright comet visible in the sky right now. Listen to this special alert, and then go outside right at sunset to see Comet McNaught with your very own eyes. You’ve got to move quickly, as it’ll be lost in the glare of the Sun. Don’t worry, it’ll reappear shortly, and could be […]

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Ep. 17: Where does the Moon Come From?

We take the Moon for granted, but its effect on the Earth is very important; possibly even critical for the formation of life. But where did it come from? Did the Earth and Moon form together? Or did the Earth capture a wayward Moon? Or was there a more catastrophic cause to this lunar mystery? […]

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Ep. 8: Meteor Showers. Yes, the sky is falling.

Dress warmly, gather some friends and family, and head outside to watch sand burn in the upper atmosphere. There’s nothing like a good meteor shower. Fraser and Pamela explain this beautiful phenomenon: what causes them, the best storms and showers to watch for, and different types of meteors you might see. Download Episode 8: Meteor […]

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Ep. 3: Hot Jupiters and Pulsar Planets

You have lived on the Earth all your life, so you’d think you know plenty about planets. As usual though, the Universe is stranger than we assume, and the planets orbiting other stars defy our expectations. Gigantic super-Jupiters whirling around their parent stars every couple of days; fluffy planets with the density of cork; and […]

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