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 - 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.

Looking up - 14 June 2019

This is to clarify Trump's recent confusing tweet:
For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon - We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!

NASA is going back to the moon, constructing a small space station and we will have our first female moonwalker in 2024.

Looking up - 07 June 2019

Did exploding stars result in humans walking upright? Latest research from astronomers suggests that a supernovae explosion increased lightening strikes, burning forests to the ground to be replaced by long grasses and shrubs. It was advantageous to walk upright in the savannah, hence bipedalism.

Looking up - 31 May 2019

More exoplanets. Astronomers are detectives, using tiny amounts of data to infer what's going on up there. The South African Astronomical Observatory has helped to detect yet another rather exotic planet.

Looking up - 24 May 2019

Astronomy Professor Paul Groote talks to Kechil about exploding stars and why there will be more and more of them as time goes on

Looking up - 17 May 2019

We're all DOOMED! But how doomed? What if a large asteroid lands on Earth smashing it to bits? Can life be carried off in rocks, to land back down on Earth aeons later and re-seed the planet? The computers say Yes.

Looking up - 10 May 2019

You may be tired of politics with this recent election, but space and satellite technology have a lot to do with politics and civic society. Here to tell us about it is Prof Rene Laufer from Baylor University in Texas.

Looking up - 3 May 2019

The observatory is constantly upgrading its equipment, and a current project is setting out to make the telescopes at Sutherland operational remotely, so astronomers don't have to trek up to Sutherland to operate them.
This has many benefits, and one of them is that astronomers can order pizza if they are in Cape Town carrying out observations! More importantly, they don't have to schedule their observations to be in Sutherland at a particular time
when they have booked an observing slot on the telescopes. Scheduling can be much more flexible when it's done remotely. This is good news all round. Dr Stephen Potter talks to Kechil about these new developments,
and we can look forward to more exciting related projects over the next year or so.

Looking up - 26 April 2019

The hunt is on - astronomy as it happens! Kechil dropped in on astronomer Dr Stephen Potter at the observatory in Observatory, whilst he happened to be receiving alerts about a new gravitational wave event. Astronomers receive alerts from
telescopes around the world when something happens. In this case a gravitational wave was detected, and so telescopes around the world, including in up in Sutherland, slew round to see if they can detect an optical component.
He will now join his colleagues in setting up observations during the night in Sutherland to hunt down any huge cataclysmic event which happened recently and which could have caused the gravitational wave.

161 episodes

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