Syzygy

Syzygy

www.syzygy.fm/podcast
Chris and Emily explore the Universe.
30: Stardust, or Cosmic Poo?
Feb 15 • 39 min
Happy International Year of the Periodic Table, everyone! We’re celebrating 150 years since Mendeleev brought some order to the unruly mess of the elements of matter, organising all of the types of atoms into a system sorted by physics and chemistry: rows…
29: The Serendipitous Rings of Saturn
Feb 8 • 39 min
Saturn. There’s no denying, it’s gorgeous. And for 13 years the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, a joint mission by NASA, the ESA and the ASI, orbited the ringed planet, sending back stunning images of the rings, the many moons and moonlets, and the planet…
28: All Exoplanets Are Exciting
Jan 25 • 46 min
We’re back for 2019! Welcome to another year of awesome astronomy. In this episode we chat about the Super Wolf Blood Moon (a.k.a. “January-lunar-eclipse-that-was-slightly-bigger-than-average”) and the lunar meteorite impacts caught on video during the…
27: Up A Mountain In NZ
Dec 25, 2018 • 23 min
Emily went back to New Zealand for Christmas. Chris is in Yorkshire. One of them is surrounded by summer sunshine and Middle-Earth mountains. One of them … isn’t. Emily reports from the final day of her observing run on what it’s like being an actual,…
26: How To Build A Solar System
Dec 19, 2018 • 40 min
The Earth and the Sun and all the other planets feel like familiar friends who’ve been around forever. Wind the clock back a few billion years though, and things were very different. The infant Sun was prone to highly energetic tantrums, the gas giants…
25: Picture The Sky
Dec 10, 2018 • 48 min
Ever since early humans gazed in wonder at the majesty of the night sky, astronomy has been a particularly visual science. Modern astronomers deal in vast quantities of data, measuring the cosmos with visible light and invisible neutrinos, x-rays and…
24: Black Holes Feeding On Colliding Galaxies
Nov 23, 2018 • 38 min
There are a lot of galaxies in the universe — billions and billions of them, in fact. And many of them are in the process of collision: some collided long ago, some are merging right now, and some will slam together in the distant future. When they…
23: Syzygy Live! from YorNight 2018
Nov 19, 2018 • 41 min
A very special live event from YorNight 2018, the University of York’s celebration of research at beautiful King’s Manor. We talked about exoplanets — that is, planets around other stars — and Emily shared her top three exoplanets of all time. Chris…
22: How To Measure The Universe
Nov 9, 2018 • 48 min
We’ve been so comfortable throwing around facts like “the Sun is 8 light seconds away” and “the nearest star is 4 light years away”, it’s easy to forget that measuring cosmic distances isn’t as simple as pulling out a tape measure. So how *do* you measure…
21: BepiColombo goes to Mercury
Nov 2, 2018 • 45 min
Mercury: closest planet to the Sun, a small, uninteresting lump of rock … or, an enigma, with a strange tidally-locked orbit, a core that’s way too big, and a mysterious origin story that astronomers are slowly piecing together. Which is why it’s Emily’s…
20: Photo of a Black Hole
Oct 26, 2018 • 38 min
At the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy lies a super-massive black hole. We know it’s there, we can detect its effects on the galaxy and see nearby stars whipping around it at high speed. Last year, a worldwide collaboration of astronomers decided to try to…
19: Moons, Exomoons & Moonmoons
Oct 19, 2018 • 42 min
The Kepler mission found loads of exoplanets, and now astronomers are digging deeper into the data in the search for exo*moons* around those planets. All of which sends Chris and Emily on a deep dive into the detail of definitions: what’s a moon, anyway?…
18: Mysterious Planet 9
Oct 11, 2018 • 40 min
We’re back from our summer hiatus with an appropriately Hallowe’eny story about a goblin. Or rather, The Goblin, a tiny lump of rock far out in the Solar System that might just point to the existence of the long-sought, mysterious Planet 9 …
17: Quantum Conspiracy Theory
Sep 28, 2018 • 12 min
Summer holidays are over, though Emily is still running around overseas enjoying the astronomer lifestyle. So Chris shares a story that tickled him this week, about a bunch of physicists and astronomers who showed that if quantum theory is just a cosmic…
Episode 16: Einstein at the Heart of the Galaxy
Aug 10, 2018 • 37 min
There’s a monster deep in the heart of the Milky Way Galaxy. Even though we can’t see it, we know it’s there … because it has to be. Over two decades, astronomers have pointed very large telescopes, including The Very Large Telescope, toward the galactic…
Episode 15: A Salty Lake on Mars
Aug 3, 2018 • 34 min
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: astronomers announced in July that they’d found water on Mars. No, seriously. I know they’ve said something that sounds like that before, but this is different — this is *liquid* water. Probably. See, previously…
Episode 14: Total Eclipse of the Moon
Jul 26, 2018 • 37 min
Around 9pm (local UK time) on Friday 27 July 2018, the full moon will rise over the horizon. But this full moon will be a bit special: it’ll be a deep red colour, because we’re going to experience a total lunar eclipse! C’mon people, get outside! A lunar…
Episode 13: Neutrino Messenger from a Distant Blazar
Jul 20, 2018 • 35 min
In September 2017, two kilometres deep beneath the South Pole, a tiny but very speedy neutrino collided with an atom in the ice and created a flash of light. The flash was picked up by a few of the more than 5,000 photodetectors that comprise the IceCube…
Episode 12: The Light Fantastic
Jul 5, 2018 • 36 min
A question from a listener leads us into some very tall weeds as we ponder the nature of light: what is it, exactly? It is a wave? Or a particle? Or, somehow, both at once? And photons, the massless particles that apparently make up all light: if they’ve…
Episode 11: Black Hole Eats Star, Then Burps
Jun 29, 2018 • 44 min
Black holes: a staple of quality science fiction for decades now … but what actually *are* they? Awesome, is one answer. Astronomers reported a few weeks ago fresh evidence for a black hole tearing a star apart in a distant galaxy — gruesome, sure, but…
Episode 10: So you want to be an astronomer?
Jun 22, 2018 • 44 min
It’s episode 10! We celebrate with cake and a chat about how how astronomers become astronomers. Emily describes her (slightly unusual and a bit cheeky) path to her current career as Astronomer Extraordinaire and Director of the University of York’s…
Episode 09: Life on Mars?
Jun 15, 2018 • 38 min
A few weeks ago NASA gathered journalists from across the globe for an announcement about something they’d found on Mars. Naturally, the collective imagination went *nuts*, because surely, SURELY this was going to be The Big Announcement: finally, the…
Episode 08: The Frozen Dunes of Pluto
Jun 8, 2018 • 38 min
At the XXVIth General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union, held in Praague in August 2006, a new set of three criteria were decided to define what is — and what is emphatically *not* — a planet. Infamously, Pluto fulfilled only two of the…
Episode 07 (supplemental): Octopuses from Space!
Jun 1, 2018 • 7 min
So, apparently, octopuses come from space. Or something. Emily and Chris chat about a … curious … paper that came out recently, which proposes an explanation for the Cambrian Explosion, the huge increase in diversity of life across the planet 500 million…
Episode 07: Plumes of Ice on Europa
May 25, 2018 • 43 min
Some astronomers found signs of great plumes of water erupting from the surface of Europa, one of the larger moons of Jupiter — and water could mean life, which has everyone jumping around in excitement. The best bit? They found the evidence buried deep…
Episode 06: Galaxy Pile Up Causes Cosmic Chaos!
May 20, 2018 • 32 min
Astronomers have spotted a cluster of 14 galaxies far, far away, so piled up on top of each other, and so soon after the Big Bang, that they’re forcing the theorists to check back over their models and simulations of how the universe evolved. It’s an…
Episode 05: Diamonds from Space!
May 4, 2018 • 31 min
Back in 2008 a large chunk of rock hurtled into the Earth’s atmosphere. Most of it burned up on the way down, but some fragments of the meteorite landed in the deserts of Sudan. When scientists open up those fragments and examined them under a microscope,…
Episode 04: The Music Of The Stars
Apr 27, 2018 • 32 min
TESS made it! The little satellite with the big heart is now in space, gradually getting into its final orbit to start gathering data. And Emily is excited, because alongside all the exoplanet data TESS will be taking, it’s going to collect all sorts of…
Episode 03: Holding Our Breath For TESS!
Apr 19, 2018 • 38 min
After a quick listener question from Graham in Highfields, Australia, this week’s show is all about TESS: The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. TESS is a brand new space telescope that, at the time of recording, was sitting atop a SpaceX Falcon 9…
Episode 02: Dark Matter Is Out There, Even When It’s Not
Apr 13, 2018 • 29 min
A cosmic riddle for you: When does not finding something where you expect to it to be tell you that it exists? In the 1960s and 70s, astronomers measured the speed of stars and gas clouds orbiting at the edge of our galaxy, and discovered something…
Episode 01: Planets, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
Apr 5, 2018 • 33 min
In this, the first proper episode of Syzygy, we’re talking planets: near, far, and very, very far. While the number of planets in our own solar system went from nine to eight (poor Pluto …), over the last few decades astronomers have found hundreds — no,…
Episode 00: A Syzygy Sneak Peek
Apr 3, 2018 • 3 min
syz·y·gy (sĭz′ə-jē), noun: an alignment of three celestial bodies, such as the sun, moon, and earth during an eclipse. Also: a podcast wherein real-life, actual astronomer Dr Emily Brunsden from the University of York and not-astronomer but enthusiastic…