When an object is orbiting the Earth, it’s really falling. The trick, described in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. There are several different kinds of orbits, and they are good for different reasons. From suborbital jumps to geostationary orbit, time to learn everything there is to know about going around and around and around.
If you want to see one of the strangest places in the Solar System, look no further than Io, Jupiter’s inner Galilean moon. The immense tidal forces from Jupiter keep the moon hotter than hot, with huge volcanoes blasting lava hundreds of kilometers into space.
At least once a week we get an email claiming that Einstein was wrong. Well you know what, Einstein was right. In fact, as part of his theories of Special and General Relativity, Einstein made a series of predictions about what experiments should discover. Some explained existing puzzles in science, while others made predictions that were only recently proven true.
What can we say about Einstein? Albert Einstein! Lots, actually. In this show we’re going to talk about the most revolutionary physicist… ever. He completely changed our understanding of time, and space, and energy, and gravity. He made predictions about the nature of the Universe that we’re still testing out.
This is an impromptu episode of Astronomy Cast that was recorded during Dragon*Con 2011. Pamela was scheduled to speak with a panel about strange things in space, but she ended up being the only person there. So Fraser jumped in, and this was what we did. We mostly talked about unusual things in the Solar System, but a few things in the rest of the Universe. Presented raw for your amusement.
The Moon is a stark reminder that we actually live in a Universe filled with stars and planets and moons. The changing phases of the Moon show us the relative positions of the Earth, the Sun and the Moon as they interact with one another. Let’s learn about the different phases, the geometry of the whole system, and some of the interesting science wrapped up with our fascination of our only natural satellite.
In our last thrilling cliff hanger, we talked about astronomer superhero Galileo Galilei. Will a mission be named after him? The answer is yes! NASA’s Galileo spacecraft visited Jupiter in 1995, and spent almost 8 years orbiting, changing our understanding of the giant planet and its moons.
And now we finish our trilogy of Saturnian astronomers and missions with a look at the Dutch astronomer and mathematician, Christiaan Huygens. It was Huygens who discovered Titan, and figured out what Saturn’s rings really are, so it makes sense that a probe landing on the surface of Titan was named after him.
Last week we talked about the Italian astronomer Giovanni Cassini. This week we’ll talk about the mission that shares his name: NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft. This amazing mission is orbiting Saturn right now, sending back thousands of high resolution images of the ringed planet and its moons.
Just as sound can echo off distant objects, light can echo too. And the echoes of light bouncing off stellar remnants, black hole accretion disks, and clouds of gas and dust provide astronomers with another method of probing the distant cosmos.