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 - 21 February 2020

What to do if a star goes supernova? This may well happen to Betelgeuse in Orion, as this red giant has been dimming more than expected, and could be in a 'pre-supernova' phase. Thankfully it's a long way away, as you wouldn't want to be anywhere near the formation of a black hole or neutron star. Pronounce Betelgeuse however you like - astronomers are all over the map on this one.

Looking up - 14 February 2020

It's 30 years since Voyager-1 turned its camera back to Earth and took the iconic photograph called 'Pale Blue Dot. You may think we've photographed everything in our solar system but we have never explored the poles of the Sun. This is due to change as last Monday a probe was launched to do just that. You can come take a look for yourself at what is visible in our solar system and beyond at Moonstruck on Saturday 15 February at Clifton 4 beach where astronomers will be waiting with telescopes, in amongst the party.

Looking up - 07 February 2020

The President of the International Astronomical Union, Professor Ewine van Dishoeck, has been visiting South Africa for two weeks, which is a long time out of her schedule. Here she describes how it is that some of the water on Earth originated before Earth was made. So next time you take a sip of water, think that it may be older than the Earth itself! This puts an extra spin on the term fresh water. Some of it is billions of years old. If you'd like to hear more from the person at the top, go to the cosmic savannah podcast where you can find a longer programme about her visit.

Looking up - 24 January 2020

How old is the dust in your house? Possibly not as old as the oldest material found on planet Earth to date: grains of dust analysed from the Murchison meteorite which fell in Australia in 1969. It was recently found that this dust is 7 billion years old! This is thought to relate to a period of stellar evolution some 7 billion years ago in our galaxy, which produced star dust some 2 billion years or so later. More fascinating is how smelly this material is. Yes, astronomers sometimes have to deal with rotten peanut butter, boiled brussels sprouts and methylated spirits. So it's not all sugar and spice and all things nice out there.

Looking up - 17 January 2020

Dr Kerry Patterson began as a keen undergraduate at the University of Cape Town, coming along to star gazing events with her telescope. That telescope is now with her in Chicago as she is now a fully-fledged astronomer doing a post-doctorate, following up gravitational wave detections with optical observations. This last two days in Cape Town we have enjoyed a celebration of Professor Brian Warner's 80th birthday with a retrospective of his career. Perhaps in 50-odd years' time it will be Kerry's life as an astronomer we celebrate!

Looking up - 10 January 2020

Kechil gives a round up of what to expect this year and in January, celestially speaking. Also a description of tonight's partial penumbral lunar eclipse. Look out for details of Leeuwenboschfontein's new observatory. If you're lucky enough to visit at a weekend you could get a tour of the night sky and a peek through the telescopes there.

Looking up - 03 January 2020

Dr Ian Glass, a retired astronomer and author, is giving summer school lectures at the University of Cape Town on the history and development of astronomy. Find out more here:

The dates are 6, 7, and 8 January in the Kramer Building at 5pm All are welcome.

Looking up - 27 December 2019

The International Astronomical Union is the body which creates official names for celestial bodies. Recently it ran a campaign to name 122 stars and their planets from many different countries. The results are astonishing!

Looking up - 20 December 2019

The new MeerKAT radio astronomy observatory is already kicking out science. A recent image showing galaxies in the 'cosmic noon' - a time when most of the stars in the universe were formed - reveals that more stars were formed than previously thought in this epoch.

Looking up - 13 December 2019

NASA's Parker solar probe has been sending us unprecedented detail about our nearest star, as it flies within the corona of the Sun, a mere 7 million kms from its centre. Switchbacks, intense magnetic flips, and erratic solar winds are some of the new phenomena observed by the spacecraft. It's good to know more about the Sun, as extreme solar weather can affect instruments and astronauts close to the Earth and can cause power outages - and we know about those don't we!

181 episodes

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