The Star Spot

Feature Guest: Henry Joy McCracken

Last month scientists announced the shocking discovery of 574 monster galaxies from the ancient universe. There are surprisingly many such giant galaxies, and they seem to appear more suddenly and earlier than astronomers predicted. How might this finding upend our understanding of galaxy and structure formation in the universe? To help us answer that question we’re joined by the discovery’s co-investigator Henry Joy McCracken.

This episode is dedicated to my wife Denise Fong, on our 6 month anniversary. Denise and I met at the 10th episode celebration of The Star Spot over 3 years ago. It has been a great pleasure to work with you Denise to grow our show and to further public education for astronomy, our common passion. - Justin

Current in Space

Galaxies are alive! Tony explains what makes a galaxy’s heart throb. And Anuj explains how stars can go rogue.

About Our Guest

Henry Joy McCracken has worked as a researcher at the Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris in France since 2003. He received his masters from the University of Victoria and his PhD from the University of Durham. His interests include galaxy formation and evolution and the evolving relationship between dark matter and normal matter.

Direct download: The_Star_Spot_Episode_91_Monster_Galaxies_of_the_Ancient_Universe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

Feature Guest: Scott Sheppard

Recently astronomers discovered an object further than anything we’ve ever found in our solar system. This dwarf planet lies all the way out in the mysterious inner oort cloud. Today the object’s co-discoverer Scott Sheppard joins guest host Denise Fong here at The Star Spot, to reveal cutting edge findings from the unmapped edges of our solar system.

Current in Space

Anuj introduces us to the CLASS telescope. Never heard of it? You will. And with everyone seemingly fascinated by Jupiter's moon Europa, Tony asks what it would take to actually explore this intriguing world. 

About Our Guest

Scott Sheppard is faculty member in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution for Science. He received his PhD from the University of Hawaii. A Hubble Fellow, Sheppard is credited with the discovery of many small moons of the gas giant planets. He has also been part of teams that have discovered comets, asteroids and Kuiper belt objects.

Direct download: The_Star_Spot_Episode_90_Scott_Sheppard.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

Feature Guest: David Paige

There was once a time when scientists believed that beyond the Earth there lied a largely dry, barren and inhospitable solar system. But now we think there is likely to be liquid water below the surface of Jupiter’s moons Ganymede and Europa, a warm salty ocean below the crust of Saturn’s moon Enceladus and recently NASA confirmed that ancient lakes once flowed on Mars.

As the solar system wettens, are we witnessing a paradigm shift with profound implications in our search for life. To help us answer that question today we're joined at The Star Spot by the self-described “professional ice finder” David Paige.

Current in Space

Did you know human beings are not the only life forms aboard the ISS. Anuj explains. Then Tony builds on last episode's description of a Tatooine-like exoplanet by introducing another Star Wars fan favourite. It seems the Kepler space telescope has discovered an object that is been dubbed the "Death Star" for while it is no battle station it may be just as destructive to nearby planets. 

About Our Guest


David Paige is Professor of Planetary Sciences at UCLA. He is Principal Investigator of the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment, an instrument aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission that is currently orbiting the Moon. He made headlines in 2012 for the discovery of water ice deposits and organic material on Mercury using data collected by the MESSENGER spacecraft. Paige is a world authority on water, ices and volatiles in the solar system.  

Direct download: The_Star_Spot_Episode_89_David_Paige.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:23pm EDT

Feature Guest: Pawel Artymowicz

Star Wars fans will be familiar with the planet Tatooine and its two suns. But as it turns out the majority of stars in the Milky Way galaxy live with a companion. And that’s led scientists to study how multiple star systems form and develop, and whether they can host habitable planets.

To help us understand the behaviour of binary star system and the even more fascinating domain of supermassive binary black holes, the results of merging galaxies, today we're joined at The Star Spot by Pawel Artymowicz

 

Current in Space

Anuj shares new evidence that has pushed back the origin of life by hundreds of millions of years. Tony explains what measures scientists are using to predict the likelihood that newly discovered exoplanets are in fact habitable. Dave updates us on NASA's big water on Mars discovery with new analysis which is leading us to believe the red planet was much warmer and wetter than we had thought. And The Star Spot goes to the movies... off to Mars to be exact as Denise reviews The Martian.

About Our Guest

Pawel Artymowicz is Professor of Physics and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. He received his Undergraduate degree in Astronomy from the University of Warsaw and his PhD from the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Toronto he was Associate Professor of Astronomy at the University of Stockholm in Sweden. He was the most cited astronomer in Stockholm from 1994 through to 2004. He has also worked as a Research Assistant at the Space Science Telescope Institute and the Lick Observatory in Santa Cruz, California.



Direct download: The_Star_Spot_-_Episode_88_-_Pawel_Artymowicz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

Feature Guest: Randy Attwood

Nearly a quarter of Americans confuse astronomy with astrology. And barely half know it takes the Earth a year to go around the Sun. Yes, you read that right. Clearly, we have a lot of work to do.

Today we're joined at The Star Spot by Randy Attwood. He’s Executive Director of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. RASC has been engaged in astronomy education for nearly 150 years. He joins me at a live recording of The Star Spot on location in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

Current in Space

Evidence for flowing liquid water on Mars has never been found...until now. Then Anuj updates our coverage of what appears to be the discovery of an infant solar system. Finally Tony surveys the worlds of our solar system where we now believe water to exist, in one form or another.

About Our Guest

Randy Attwood is Executive Director of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada or RASC. He is the publisher of SkyNews, an astronomy periodical recently acquired by the society. Randy is a frequent guest commentator in the media, offering a thoughtful analysis of astronomy and space exploration news and events.

Direct download: The_Star_Spot_Episode_87_-_Randy_Attwood.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

Feature Guest: Wendy Freedman

A long long time ago in every place at once, all of this began. But when exactly did the universe begin? And how quickly did it expand into the structure we see around us? Those numbers are more difficult to nail down than we had thought, yet more critical to our understanding of the nature of the cosmos, of dark matter and dark energy, than we could have ever imagined. Today we're joined at The Star Spot by cosmologist Wendy Freedman who recently stepped down after 12 years heading up the development of the Giant Magellan Telescope.

Current in Space

Anuj wonders if magnetic worm holes will one day transport us to the far reaches of space. And with Pluto data analysis just getting underway, Tony provides the new targets for the New Horizons spacecraft.

About Our Guest

Wendy Freedman is Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. Among the world’s most influential astronomers, Freedman served as co-leader of the Hubble Space Telescope Key Project and is former director of the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California. She served 12 years as chair of the Board of Directors for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) Project, an optical telescope with a primary mirror 80 feet in diameter scheduled to begin operations in 2021. Freedman is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. She is a recipient of the 2009 Gruber Prize for Cosmology.







Direct download: The_Star_Spot_-_Episode_86_-_When_The_Universe_Began.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

Feature Guest: Hilton Lewis

The twin Keck Telescopes of Hawaii are the world’s largest optical and infrared telescopes. For twenty five years they have turned their eyes on the farthest and faintest objects in the cosmos, stacking up a dizzying array of accomplishments: from evidence for the supermassive black hole at the centre of our own galaxy to a recent discovery of the most distant galaxy in the observable universe. 


Today Keck Observatory Director Hilton Lewis joins Justin Trottier at The Star Spot to discuss the life of the most impactful telescope astronomers possess, and to speculate on the future of the Keck in the emerging intensely competitive era of giant telescope astronomy.

Current in Space

Humans have the inate ability to self repair. Now Anuj tell us that the advent of self healing spacecraft may be close at hand. Comets are the ultimate fear factor. But while comets do have the ability to take life, Tony tells us they may also have the power to give it. And Dave reports on the closest known quasar, the product of the battle of two cosmological giants.

About Our Guest

The career of Hilton Lewis has grown alongside that of the Keck observatory. Lewis has been a member of the Keck team since the project’s launch in 1986. From his original job designing and developing the software that controls the Keck he would be promoted to many senior positions, then appointed Deputy Director in 2002 and Director in 2014. Lewis earned a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cape Town and an MBA from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.

Direct download: The_Star_Spot_Episode_85_Keck_Observatory.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

Feature Guest: Marc Garneau
He is the first Canadian to travel into space. But with momentous changes rocketing the space programs of many nations, how many more firsts will there be? Today Dr. Marc Garneau, a real hero of science and exploration, joins Justin Trottier at The Star Spot, to discuss the past, present and future of human space flight.

Current in Space
When it comes to farming in space just how far along are we? Anuj provides a progress report and more importantly, the results of a taste test. Planetary nebulae have nothing to do with planets, but Tony explains why they're still really important. Then Dave and Anuj tell us how the dwarf planet Sedna could turn out to be an alien object. 

About Our Guest
Marc Garneau was selected as one of the original six Canadian astronauts in 1983 following a career as an engineer in the Canadian Navy. Dr. Garneau travelled into space on 3 expeditions aboard the Space Shuttle. He then served as President of the Canadian Space Agency from 2001 to 2005. He has been a member of Canada’s federal Parliament representing the riding of Westmount-Ville-Marie since 2008. Dr. Garneau was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1984 and then promoted to Companion of the Order of Canada in 2003. He is the 9th Chancellor of Carleton University.

 

 

Direct download: The_Star_Spot_Episode_84_-__Marc_Garneau.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

Feature Guest: Chris Gainor

 

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope, which has forever changed the way we look at the cosmos. To help us understand how Hubble proved to be transformational, and for a brief history of the ups and down of our space program, today we're joined at The Star Spot by historian of science and technology Chris Gainor.

Current in Space

Anuj shares new insights into the emergence of the first galaxies in the universe. And Dave pushes the limits with discovery of a new exoplanet that if you were standing on it might feel a lot like home.

About Our Guest

Chris Gainor received his PhD in the history of technology from the University of Alberta, and has taught history at the University of Victoria. Chris worked for many years as a journalist, winning a National Newspaper Award. He is the author of four books, including Arrows to the Moon: Avro's Engineers and the Space Race, Canada in Space and Who Killed the Avro Arrow? He is currently writing a history of the Hubble Space Telescope for NASA.

Direct download: TheStarSpot-Episode83-ChrisGainor.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

Feature Guest: Anousheh Ansari

Her name is synonymous with private space travel. Anousheh Ansari’s $10 million donation enabled the Ansari X-Prize to catalyze the private space industry. And in 2006 Ansari herself became the first female private space explorer when she visited the ISS. Today Anousheh Ansari joins us here at The Star Spot to discuss her amazing life and how the Space Ambassador aims to use her unique experiences to improve life on Earth.

This will be the last episode featuring an interview conducted at the International Space Development Conference, hosted this past May 2015 in Toronto.

 

Current in Space

From a few pixels to bizarre and tantalizing surface features. Today's news features a special Pluto theme in honour of the arrival of the New Horizons space probe at the tiny world of rock and ice. First Dave offers an homage to the discoveries we have already made both regarding Pluto and its many neighbours, as data is only beginning to be analyzed. Then Anuj focuses on Pluto's biggest moon, Charon, a world unto itself.

About our Guest

Anousheh Ansari is an Iranian-American engineer who served as co-founder and CEO of Telecom Technologies. Her family were title sponsors of the Ansari X Prize, which was awarded to the first non-government company to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks. Ansari became the first female space traveller when she visited the ISS in 2006. She is the author of the memoir My Dream of Stars and co-founder and chairwoman of Prodea Systems