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. Dave Tholen talks about near-Earth asteroids. He explains why they can be difficult to observe, and how he manages to spot them anyway. He also tells the story of a particularly famous asteroid that he discovered, and sets the record straight about its name.
Hear the performance of "Pirates of the Caribbean" here.
Image: Graphic showing the path of asteorid 99942 Apophis changing after a close pass with Earth.
Urey Prize winner Dr. Francesca DeMeo stops by the show to talk about her asteroid research. She explains what a differentiated asteroid is, and tells us about her asteroid classification system. She also shares a new result, and explains how it may change the way we think about solar system formation.
Tim Thompson, former JPL scientist and member of the Mt. Wilson Institute Board of Trustees, talks about the Mt. Wilson Observatory. He explains why he doesn't operate the Mt. Wilson telescopes himself, and tells us why astronomers hate the twinkling of the stars. This episode was recorded on location, and Tim talks about the many public events offered at Mt. Wilson.
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.
Sagan Prize winner Dr. Henry Throop tells us how scientists look for micron-sized dust that’s millions of miles away to protect the New Horizons spacecraft. This search involves computer modeling, occultation observations, and plenty of teamwork.
Henry Throop at the 2.12-meter telescope at San Pedro Martir, Mexico / Photo: Eduardo de la Fuente
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. Lisa Storrie-Lombardi returns to the show to discuss NuSTAR, Spitzer, and what it feels like to end a mission you’ve been working on for decades. Cassini’s Grand Finale has us reflecting on the upcoming demise of the Spitzer Space Telescope.
Brother Guy Consolmagno shares a Coke and talks about the Vatican Observatory, a discovery that got him in trouble with the Voyager team, and why being next to a dairy farm was convenient when he wanted to measure the properties of meteorites.
True color image of Jupiter's moon Io, taken by the Galileo Spacecraft. Image- NASA/JPL-Caltech.