Looking Up

FINE MUSIC RADIO  |  Podcast , ±5 min episodes every 1 week, 1 day  |  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 - 06 September 2019

The latest from the Chang'e mission to the Moon where they've found unexplained gel-like substances on the surface. Plus name a planet! The South African Astronomical Observatory is running a competition. Go to www.saao.ac.za for more details.

Looking up - 23 August 2019

These are a few of my favourite things: the Voyager 2 mission, and that Tesla roadster in orbit around the Sun. Kechil describes why she likes the Voyager mission and what is so special about it. (Warning: Nudity).

Looking up - 09 August 2019

As it's Women's Day today Kechil is talking to Carla Sharpe, African Programme Manager at the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, about women in space. Carla and Kechil are both space enthusiasts and have met a number of astronauts. Here they talk about the qualities needed and about the changing requirements for becoming an astronaut.

Looking up - 02 August 2019

Dr Lee Townsend, an astronomer at UCT, tells us about the merry dance going on in the universe revealing the strange and extreme physics of binary systems, where one dense neutron star sucks the living daylights out of its companion. Sometimes these binaries end up as black holes, and other strange couplings, outputting unimaginable energies when they merge, collapse, explode, and all the other violent things that can go bump in the night.

Looking up - 26 July 2019

What is observational cosmology? Dr Kurt van der Heyden of the University of Cape Town's Astronomy Department tells Kechil about his interests. He asks big questions ...

Looking up - 19 July 2019

More on that fabulous lunar eclipse, and a clip of what it was like at the Observatory last Tuesday. If you'd like to enjoy the Moon some more, go along to the Cape Town Science Centre and gasp in awe at the Soyuz capsule there. Visit www.ctssc.org.za for details of the Cape Town Science Centre programmes and www.saao.ac.za for details about Open Nights.

Looking up - 12 July 2019

The Moon! We landed on it almost 50 years ago and on Tuesday 16 July there will be a partial eclipse of the Moon. The Observatory is having a special public viewing starting at 8pm at the Observatory with a talk, proceeding with telescope observing.

Looking up - 05 July 2019

Last week there was a total eclipse of the Sun! Sadly not for us but for those lucky souls in South America. If you write esoteric pub quizzes you can't beat a question about saros cycles. These are sequences of time used to predict eclipses. Eclipses are a form of transits - a body moving in-between the observer and a distant object, which is a method used to find exoplanets. We're up to 4,096 now, and recently quite a small interesting one was found.

Looking up - 28 June 2019

Some listeners may have heard the term 'machine learning'. This is highly critical for modern astronomy, where computers take vast amounts of data from astronomical observations and sift through it to detect patterns or find anomalies. To put it in context for us is Dr Jasper Horrell who works at the University of Cape Town at the Inter-university Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy and also runs a company, Deep Data, using machine learning for security applications. You can find out more at www.deepdata.works. Astronomers these days must also be data scientists and computer geeks - it's a good thing we're living longer, that's a lot of learning to do.

Looking up - 21 June 2019

There are many interesting parts to NASA's Artemis program to send humans back to the Moon. One of them is checking out the possibilities for habitation, and to do this they want robots to scuttle about the surface investigating sinkholes. These may protect people from radiation, though I can't think the view will be so great.

157 episodes

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