StarDate Podcast

StarDate Podcast

Latest Episodes

Morning Mercury
August 08, 2019

A planet that’s as solid as a bowling ball is peeking into view in the early dawn sky the next few days. It’s low in the east-northeast as twilight begins to paint the sky. It looks like a fairly bright star, but it’s so low that you need a clear horizon

More Deneb
August 07, 2019

Deneb — the brightest star of Cygnus, the swan — stands high in the eastern sky during the evenings at this time of year. It forms the northernmost point of the big, bright Summer Triangle, so it’s easy to pick out. Deneb’s brilliance makes it a popular t

August 06, 2019

You might think that astronomers would know just about all there is to know about one of the biggest, brightest stars in our section of the galaxy. That’s not quite the case, though. The star still presents a lot of mysteries. Deneb is the brightest star

Moon and Spica
August 05, 2019

A star that’s always two and a half centuries behind the times perches to the lower left of the Moon this evening. Spica is the leading light of Virgo, and the 16th brightest star in the night sky. It dazzles even though it’s farther than most of the othe

Twin Mariners
August 04, 2019

When scientists dispatched Mariner 6 and 7 toward Mars, they carefully planned what portions of the planet the twin craft would study. But no one had seen the planet in enough detail to aim them at its most interesting features. As a result, the probes ph

Distant Merger
August 03, 2019

Billions of years ago, when the solar system was young, two mountain-sized agglomerations of ice and rock staged a gentle merger. Combined, they look a bit like a flat cookie with a small scoop of ice cream along its rim. The combined object is known form

Visiting a Cluster
August 02, 2019

Under dark skies, the human eye can see a few planets, a few thousand individual stars, and the combined glow of millions of stars in the band of light known as the Milky Way. Yet there is much more to the universe than the eye can perceive. Telescopes re

Hidden Galaxy
August 01, 2019

The subtle glow of the disk of our home galaxy arcs across the sky on summer nights. It’s anchored in the south by the constellation Sagittarius, which forms the outline of a teapot. The Milky Way’s glowing band hides many other astronomical wonders from

Dark Companion
July 31, 2019

The supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way isn’t alone. Astronomers estimate there could be as many as 10 thousand black holes within a few light-years of it. And a recent study found one about 20 light-years away. This one is heavier than

Quiet Monster
July 30, 2019

Today, the supermassive black hole in the heart of the Milky Way is quiet. That hasn’t always been the case, though. Several million years ago, it might have shined as a quasar. The black hole is called Sagittarius A-star. It’s in the center of the Milky