StarDate Podcast

StarDate Podcast

Latest Episodes

October 11, 2019

Much of what makes science work is following up. After the discoveries are made, more research is needed to fill in the details. And the launch window for a spacecraft that’s all about the follow-up opens next week. CHEOPS is a European mission that will

October 10, 2019

The Sun is a giant nuclear reactor. Every second, it “fuses” together about 650 million tons of hydrogen atoms to make helium. Some of the hydrogen is converted to energy — less than one percent. That’s enough to keep the Sun shining brightly. Scientists

Rare Earths
October 09, 2019

A mine in California holds the residue of collisions between dead stars. So do even bigger mines in China. The stellar “ash” consists of a set of chemical elements that are used to forge key parts of modern technology — from cell phones to batteries for e

Summer Solstice
October 08, 2019

It’s summertime! Not here on Earth, of course. Instead, summer arrives today in the northern hemisphere of Mars. It’s the Red Planet’s longest season. It lasts about 178 Mars days, which is 183 Earth days. The seasons on Mars have the same cause as those

October 07, 2019

It’s not easy to take a picture of a planet orbiting another star. A planet is much smaller than a star, and it’s so faint that it’s drowned out by the star’s brilliant light. A decade ago, though, Hubble Space Telescope managed to snap the first picture

Circumpolar Stars
October 06, 2019

Two well-known star patterns highlight the northern sky tonight. The Big Dipper is low in the north-northwest at nightfall, and in the northeast at first light tomorrow. And W-shaped Cassiopeia is just the opposite — in the northeast at nightfall, and nor

Moon and Saturn
October 05, 2019

The Moon slides down the southwestern sky this evening. It’s accompanied by Saturn, the second-biggest planet in the solar system. Saturn looks like a bright star to the right of the Moon. Sunlight illuminates about half of the lunar hemisphere that faces

Beta Lyrae
October 04, 2019

An astronomer could probably spend an entire career studying a busy star system in the constellation Lyra. It’s a dynamic system in which two stars are changing as we watch. Beta Lyrae is about a thousand light-years away. The system appears to consist of

Moon and Jupiter
October 03, 2019

The most impressive tides on Earth vary by about 50 feet from high tide to low tide. But that’s barely a jiggle compared to the tides on Io, one of the moons of Jupiter. Its tides vary by the height of a 30-story building. That’s especially impressive whe

Moon and Companions
October 02, 2019

The Moon has a couple of impressive companions this evening. Brilliant Jupiter is to the upper left of the Moon as night falls, with Antares closer to the lower left. Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system. But Antares is something even more im