StarDate Online 26 Mar 2018, 05:00 UTC The stars Procyon and Sirius arc to the lower right of the Moon as night falls this evening, and wheel down the western sky later on. Sirius, which is quite a ways from the Moon, is the brightest star in the night sky. And Procyon, which is much closer to the Moon, is in the top 10 as well. Both stars anchor constellations that point to a curious imbalance in the heavens: There are four domestic dogs up there, but no cats. Sirius leads Canis Major, the big dog. Sirius, the Dog Star, looks so bright in part because it’s quite close — a mere 8.6 light-years away. Procyon is the only bright star in Canis Minor, the little dog. It’s also a near neighbor, just 11.4 light-years from Earth.
StarDate Online 25 Mar 2018, 05:00 UTC It might not sound wise, but a gazelle leaps past the feet of the Great Bear. In ancient skylore, in fact, it makes three leaps — each marked by a pair of stars. The stars that mark the first jump are known as Alula Borealis and Alula Australis — the northern and southern first leaps. As night falls this evening, they’re almost due east, far to the right of the stars that mark the inner edge of the bowl of the Big Dipper — the most prominent stars of the great bear. The two “alulas” are quite close together, so they look like a pair of eyes.
StarDate Online 24 Mar 2018, 05:00 UTC When the United States entered World War II, many of the country’s astronomers joined the war effort. But a German astronomer working in California took advantage of the wartime conditions to make some important discoveries. Walter Baade was born 125 years ago today. He earned his PhD in 1919, then joined the Hamburg Observatory. He came to the United States in 1931 to work at the Mount Wilson Observatory, near Los Angeles — home of the world’s biggest telescope.
NASACast Audio 23 Mar 2018, 18:29 UTC A conversation with Jessie Dotson, Kepler’s project scientist, and Geert Barentsen, director of the mission's guest observer office, talking about how NASA’s first planet-hunting mission has contributed so much to the field of astronomy.
SpaceTime with Stuart Gary 23 Mar 2018, 08:59 UTC *Steven Hawking’s passing Physicist Steven Hawking dies peacefully at his home aged 76. *Changes in Ceres' Surface Scientists have detected fresh ice on a crater wall on the dwarf planet Ceres. The discovery provides new insights into how materials in Ceres crust are evolving on short timescales. *The star man and the roadster As SpaceX boss Elon Musk’s little red roadster continues its journey towards the orbit of Mars – a new website following the adventures of the sports car and its Stig-like mannequin occupant Star Man -- has done some calculations.
StarDate Online 21 Mar 2018, 05:00 UTC A French satellite that’s small enough to hold in your hand is looking for a big planet to make a move. The planet is expected to pass in front of its star in the next year or so, causing the star’s light to fade a bit. When the satellite sees that happen, it’ll notify a large telescope on the ground, which will study the event in detail. Picsat consists of three cubes stacked together. Combined, they’re a foot tall, and weigh about eight pounds. One of the cubes holds a two-inch telescope.
StarDate Online 20 Mar 2018, 05:00 UTC The next planet hunter is getting ready for launch. It’ll sweep the skies within a few hundred light-years of Earth. Astronomers say its discoveries could include a few hundred worlds that are similar to Earth — about the same size, and at the right distance from their stars to support life.
StarDate Online 19 Mar 2018, 05:00 UTC The Sun will cross a special point in the sky tomorrow. The crossing marks the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere — the vernal equinox. It also marks the starting point for measuring the length of the year. And for much of human history, it also marked the start of the year — the equinox was New Year’s Day. The equinox probably gained its significance because spring is a time of birth and renewal. The days are getting longer, flowers are beginning to bloom, and other signs of life are popping up. So it made sense that the calendar year would begin then, too. In fact, Britain and its American colonies didn’t switch the start of the year to January 1st until 1752.
SpaceTime with Stuart Gary