Looking Up

FINE MUSIC RADIO  |  Podcast , ±5 min episodes every 1 week  |  Broadcast schedule  | 
Five minutes at the end of each week explores the big and the small questions in astronomy, cosmology, and space science. Hosted by Kechil Kirkham, no subject is too big or too small, and experts are regularly brought on board to illuminate and excite. Cape Town is the place to be for astronomy, with some of the largest telescopes in the world housed or being built not too far away. Looking Up takes advantage of the shoals of scientists and engineers working on the planet’s most advanced astronomy projects, who live and work right here in the Mother City. Kechil has recently acquired an MPhil in Space Studies at the University of Cape Town, and works in South Africa’s space industry on the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope.

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Looking up - 30 July 21

A balloon the size of a football stadium! That's pretty big. Beneath it will dangle SuperBIT, an almost-space telescope which could reveal the secrets of dark matter. This is a far cheaper and more environmentally-friendly way of peering into space and getting round the problem of our restless atmosphere.

Looking up - 23 July 21

All sorts of new discoveries are being made using the new MeerKAT radio telescope in the Northern Cape. Here to tell us about them is Dr Sarah White, an astronomer affiliated to Rhodes University and the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory. If you'd like to find out more, follow this link: https://www.sarao.ac.za/media-releases/meerkats-stunning-image-reveals-cosmic-threads-ribbons-and-rings/

Looking up - 16 July 21

Space tourism is launched! Virgin Galactic successfully completed their fourth test flight and next, in a week's time, we have Blue Origins taking tourists into space. Kechil explores the consequences of these private endeavours.

Looking up - 09 July 21

The new South African MeerKAT telescope has been revealing the secrets of the universe. Here to tell us about the latest revelations is Shilpa Ranchod, a PhD student at Wits. Her research has shown how groups of galaxies are connected by examining the gas around them.

Looking up - 02 July 21

There is alcohol in space! Yes, plenty of alcohol floating about in clouds if you know where to look. Kechil gives the lowdown on booze in space

Looking up - 25 June 21

Recently the US military released footage of UFOs. Kechil explores the arguments with the help of Anders Sandberg. What are they? Angels, fairies, intrusions from the fifth dimension, swamp gas, Chinese drones, sapient octopuses, or a prank or what? And if aliens then why are they so shy?

Yesterday was the Sister Moon, a Full Moon named according to locally meaningful traditions by the Centre for Astronomical Heritage. See https://cfah.org.za/fullmoon/

Looking up - 18 June 21

There's a lot we don't know about our own solar system. Signs are there could be a very large planet about a million light years from Earth, but still orbiting our star.

Looking up - 11 June 21

The latest trend is to send thousands of very small satellites into low earth orbit, which have a short life. These then burn up on re-entry into Earth's atmosphere after a few months of operation. There is predicted to be a couple of tons of satellite debris entering the atmosphere every day. As they are made of aluminium, in sufficient quantities this could cause serious environmental problems.

Looking up - 04 June 21

Lots going on in space flight at the moment: the Chinese space station is being constructed in space with the second robotic cargo launch having been successfully completed; something made a hole in the International Space Station's robotic arm; SpaceX made a 10th launch and re-landing of its reusable booster rocket, and the Mars rover Perseverance's helicopter survived what could have been a serious problem.

Looking up - 28 May 21

Professor David Buckley of the South African Astronomical Observatory talks to Kechil about the latest weird findings from outer space. Periodic X-ray flares from the centre of far away galaxies is having scientists wondering what is causing them - perhaps two black holes whizzing around each other? We just don't know.

Looking up - 21 May 21

Associate Professor Emeritus John S Compton has produced a new book about the West Coast called "The West Coast, A Natural History" and his particular view of the ecology of this area has been influenced and inspired by his life as a geologist. Geology is interesting to some branches of astronomers, particularly those who study exoplanets and astrobiologists, who study the possibilities of life on other planets. You can obtain his book and others from his website http://www.johnscompton.com/ or small bookshops such as The Book Lounge or from Kirstenbosch Gardens. He is giving a talk to the local astronomy society about geology which the public is welcome to join via zoom at 19:30 on Wednesday 26 May. This is the code for those interested: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84770804350?pwd=K3hRaVdEei9vL3p3dHNBTFV5MjRkdz09

Looking up - 14 May 21

Anti-matter is a strange concept and apparently exists in space somewhere. Scientists are looking for it, and if it is detected it could offer clues as to how the Universe was born.

253 episodes

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