StarDate Podcast

StarDate Podcast

Latest Episodes

May 16, 2020

Max Planck was in a bad way. The German physicist was the leader in the field of quantum theory – understanding the universe on the tiniest of scales. As World War II in Europe ground to its end, though, the 87-year-old scientist and his wife were hiding

Father Hell
May 15, 2020

Father Maximilian Hell had received an offer he couldn’t refuse. King Christian VII of Denmark and Norway had invited him to lead an expedition to observe a transit of Venus across the Sun in 1769. Hell had already declined a couple of other offers. But t

Speedy Stars
May 14, 2020

Most of the stars in the Milky Way Galaxy move at speeds that depend on how far they are from the galaxy’s heart. But some stars strike out on their own. They can zip along many times faster than the others — and in all different directions. Most of these

Moon and Mars
May 13, 2020

Walking across the largest moon of Mars might be quite a jolt. Mars would spread out just 3800 miles away. A strong jump could push you out into space. And the moon’s nightside might create electric shocks — not enough to hurt a person, but enough to dama

Moon and Saturn
May 12, 2020

Big planets do things in a big way. Consider Saturn, the second-largest planet in the solar system. A couple of years ago, astronomers tracked four storms in its northern hemisphere. They weren’t like other storms on the planet. They were bigger than the

Moon and Jupiter
May 11, 2020

Ancient skywatchers gave the planets personalities. Jupiter, for example, represented the king of the gods of Olympus, with all the qualities that suggests — strength and courage, among others. If the modern world associated the planets with heroic beings

Moon and Planets
May 10, 2020

The bright Moon is getting ready to run a gauntlet in the pre-dawn sky – a gauntlet of three planets. The planets align to the left of the Moon at first light tomorrow. The Moon will move past them over the following mornings. The Moon is in its waning gi

North Pole
May 09, 2020

The sky offers two north poles. One is the celestial pole. It’s marked by Polaris, the North Star. Earth’s axis aims toward Polaris, so all the stars appear to rotate around it. And the star is in the same position in the sky all day and night — marking d

Moon and Antares
May 08, 2020

It’s big. It’s bright. And it’s doomed. Antares is one of the most impressive stars in the galaxy. It’s at least 15 times as massive as the Sun, hundreds of times wider, and tens of thousands of times brighter. But that flashiness comes at a price. The st

Ducking Satellites
May 07, 2020

Vanguard 1 has been orbiting Earth for more than 60 years — longer than any other spacecraft. And it’s expected to stay in orbit until late in the 22nd century. Just about every other spacecraft is expected to crash to Earth much sooner. Most will burn up