Dr. Alicia Lanz talks about the history of astronomical instrumentation, starting with the first telescope. She describes some bizarre historical telescopes and shares a surprisingly inspirational story about bubbles in glass.
Dr. Solange Ramirez returns to the show to talk about her new position as Project Manager of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey V. Amount other things, the project will study over six million stars and how black holes change over time. These millions of measurements will be made using a robotic telescope system that is currently being built.
Above: Dr. Ramirez, holding one of the telescope robots described in the episode.
Dr. Rosalie McGurk talks about her quest to find pairs of black holes. She explains how she used several different telescopes to solve this problem, narrowing the list of potential candidates from hundreds of thousands to about twenty.
Dr. Thomas Connor stops by the show to talk about massive galaxy clusters and the CLASH project. We talk about naturally occurring gravitational "telescopes" that allow us to see even farther into space, and Dr. Connor makes some fun analogies to cupcakes and crime bosses.
Image: Gravitational lensing as seen by Hubble. Read more here.
Dr. Jeff Rich returns to the show to talk about the interstellar medium— all the rocks, dust, and particles that exist between the stars. After some beer, we end up talking about black holes and how Jeff studies nearby galaxies to learn about the early universe.
Dr. Cindy Hunt returns to the show to talk about the upcoming 100th anniversary of the 100 inch Hooker Telescope on Mount Wilson. She explains why this telescope looks like a battleship and tells us how it “completely upended our understanding of the universe”. Also: poetry!
Dr Jeff Rich stops by the show to talk about variable stars. Some variable stars change brightness dramatically over several hours, and certain types can be used to measure distances. Jeff also explains what it’s like to propose for, and get, time on the Hubble Space Telescope.
Dr. Andrew Benson talks about dark matter, the mysterious stuff that makes up most of the mass of the universe. Andrew explains how we can learn about dark matter, even though we don’t yet know what it is.
Dr. Kevin Schlaufman tells us about exoplanets that orbit around their stars in an unusual manner. He also explains what his research says about the Earth’s fate when our sun dies, billions of years from now.
Image credit: Artist’s conception of exoplanet Kepler-22b. NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech