StarDate Podcast

StarDate Podcast

Latest Episodes

New York Railroad Storm
May 12, 2021

In May of 1921, technology went haywire. Telegraph lines shut down, and some telegraph offices caught fire. Some railroads briefly ground to a halt. Telephones crackled, and some radio transmissions were nothing more than static. The cause of this mayhem

Solar Sneezes
May 11, 2021

We’ve all learned the value of covering up or turning away when we sneeze over the last year or so. Water droplets can carry viruses, so a sneeze can be a big problem. Fortunately for us, the Sun usually turns away when it sneezes — but not always. The sn

‘Gassy’ Sun
May 10, 2021

Hydrogen and helium are best known as the gases that make things float — from zeppelins to birthday balloons. Both elements are rare here on Earth — there’s even been a shortage of helium in recent years. But there’s a huge supply of both elements just 93

Evening Mercury
May 09, 2021

Every mission to the planets creates as many new questions as it answers. An example is Messenger, the only spacecraft to orbit the planet Mercury. It mapped smooth volcanic plains that are billions of years old. And it found smaller smooth patches that m

Making Super-Earths
May 08, 2021

There’s an old bit of advice about how to sculpt an elephant: Start with a piece of marble, then chip away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant. Nature may be following that advice in sculpting the planets known as super-Earths: Start with a sub-

May 07, 2021

You might think of the planet Kepler-64b as Tatooine-plus. Like the home of Luke Skywalker, the planet orbits both members of a binary — two stars locked in a tight orbit around each other. That gives the planet two sunrises and two sunsets every day. In

Lava Planet
May 06, 2021

A trip to a super-Earth orbiting a star in Pisces would be super-quick. Under daytime temperatures of more than 5500 degrees Fahrenheit, you’d be vaporized in moments. K2-141b is about half again as wide as Earth, and five times as heavy. And like Earth,

Black-Hole Planets
May 05, 2021

Rocky planets like Earth are tough. They can survive some pretty harsh conditions. Some have even formed from the debris around exploded stars. And they may form around supermassive black holes, where conditions could be comfortable for life. Giant black

Morning Treats
May 04, 2021

The early morning sky offers up a couple of beautiful sights tomorrow. One is a meteor shower, although you need to be far from city lights to see it. The other is visible from any place with clear skies: a pairing of the Moon and the planet Jupiter. The

Moon and Planets
May 03, 2021

The giants of the solar system form a wide, skinny triangle with the Moon in the wee hours of tomorrow. Jupiter, the largest planet, looks like a brilliant star to the left of the Moon. And fainter Saturn, the second-largest planet, is to the upper right