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The Skyentists

Angel Lopez-Sanchez & Kirsten Banks

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Followers
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The Skyentists

The Skyentists

Angel Lopez-Sanchez & Kirsten Banks

1
Followers
3
Plays
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About Us

"The Skyentists" are astronomers Ángel López-Sánchez (Australian Astronomical Optics, Macquarie University) and Kirsten Banks (University of NSW and Sydney Observatory) coming at you once a fortnight with astronomy topics and a general "nerd out" session!

Latest Episodes

031 - The cycle of life in stars

Despite what you might have read or heard during the last weeks, Betelgeuse is not going to explode as a supernova... yet... For explaining this in a bit more detail our Skyentists, astronomers Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks, provide an overview of what we know about stellar evolution. Stars are born from cold clumps in molecular clouds. Then they spend the majority of their life burning hydrogen into helium in the so-called "main sequence". However, depending on the original mass of the star it will evolve and die in a very different way. The most massive stars will burn helium into other elements till they build an iron core, quickly exploding as supernova. Low-mass stars like the Sun will form a planetary nebulae with the naked core, which is now a white dwarf star. They also discuss how astronomers use the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram to understand stellar evolution, as well as define the most important spectral types in stars: O B A F G K M. We need your feedback here, what is your mnemotechnic rule for remembering the right order in the spectral classification of the stars? For "Space News" Kirsten brings a nice story that happened to her in Twitter and Ángel explains why the Hubble Space Telescope observed the massive spiral galaxy UGC 2885, which is now known as "Rubin's galaxy". For "What's Up!" we talk about the beautiful Rosette nebula (Caldwell 49) in Monoceros (The Unicorn).

72 MIN1 w ago
Comments
031 - The cycle of life in stars

030 - Solar Circumnavigation 2020

Happy New Year! In this episode our Skyentists, astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez, provide a summary of the main celestial events during 2020... including some infamous "Supermoons", lunar and solar eclipses, planets ephemeris, and meteor showers. For "Space News" Kirsten updates about the very first interstellar comet 2I/Borisov and Ángel discuss the first results of the GALACTICNUCLEUS survey that studies the building-up of the Milky Way obtaining deep infrared images of the central regions of our Galaxy using the Very Large Telescope. We have feedback (yeah!) and we also do some recommendations of astronomy webpages to follow: the Astrophiz podcast (https://astrophiz.com) by Brendan O'Brien (@Astrophiz) and SpaceAustralia.com (https://spaceaustralia.com) founded by our friend astrophysicist Rami Mandow (@CosmicRami). For "What's Up!" we recommend to have a look to beautiful barred spiral galaxy NGC 1300 in Eridanus.

43 MIN3 w ago
Comments
030 - Solar Circumnavigation 2020

029 - Do not believe in climate change

Australia, NSW, and Sydney are on fire! During the last month we are suffering the most dramatic bushfires in more than a decade. They are releasing plenty of smoke that is extremely dangerous for our health, and indeed Sydney has been the city with the most polluted air in the world these days. Is all of this a consequence of climate change? In this episode our Skyentists, astronomers Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks, talk about global warming, climate change and the huge difficulty to properly comprehend all these issues. They also summarise the recent white paper "The imperative to reduce carbon emissions in astronomy" by Stevens et al 2019, that is available in https://arxiv.org/abs/1912.05834 . The plot "how global warming stacks up" provided by NASA that they discuss today can be obtained in https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/30615 . For "Space News" Ángel talks about the dimming of bright red super-giant star Betelgeuse and Kirsten talks (again) about SpaceX's Starlink satellites. She panicked after watching a new simulation of planned 12,000 Starlink satellites which will be visible during a summer night (it is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGBuk2BTvJE ). For "What's Up!" they talk about bright Southern star Achernar. Kirsten also provides some ideas about "astronomical gifts for Christmas". In addition to Kirsten and Ángel, there are two extra voices on this episode, but you have to listen to all of it to know who they are.

69 MIN2019 DEC 19
Comments
029 - Do not believe in climate change

028 - A tale of galactic cannibalism

And we are back for Season 3! For this episode of The Skyentists astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez first provide a very broad summary of our Season 2. This is the "Space News!" section for this episode, as in the last few months there have been some very interesting news that can be connected with the topics we discussed in Season 2. However, the star of the episode is our very own Kirsten, who has not only submitted her Honour Thesis (yeah!) but has been also accepted to do a PhD Thesis at UNSW, Sydney! She describes the research she has conducted for her Honour Thesis about Bright Cluster Galaxies (BCGs) trying to understand how they have gained their mass during the last few billion years of the Universe. For "What's Up!" Ángel describes some curiosities about the bright star Rigel in Orion. We don't have feedback for this episode, but will have it on the next one, so please don't forget to send us your questions and comments. Yeah, it's sooo good to be back!

74 MIN2019 DEC 5
Comments
028 - A tale of galactic cannibalism

027 - Cosmology 101

The Universe is Big, so Cosmology, that is the branch of Astronomy that studies the big picture of the Universe (creation, evolution and fate of the Cosmos, as well as of the stuff it contains) is also BIG. For this episode our Skyentists, Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks, try to provide a general overview of the Cosmology: the discovery of the expansion of the Universe, the Hubble–Lemaître law, the Lambda-CDM model, hierarchical galaxy formation, the cosmic background radiation, the large scale structure of the Universe, cold and hot dark matter, the discovery of the dark energy, the flat geometry of the Universe, and even Cosmology in the local Universe. For "Space News" Kirsten discusses a recent NASA announcement regarding allowing tourists to travel to the International Space Station, while Ángel briefly describes the observation of the cold gas around the supermassive black hole in the centre of the Milky Way by the ALMA radio-interferometer. For "What's Up!" we recommend to have a look to the beautiful red star Epsilon Scorpii, also known with the Australian Aboriginal name of Larawag. We have plenty of feedback for this episode, huge thank for that, keep it going!

66 MIN2019 JUN 20
Comments
027 - Cosmology 101

026 - Twinkle, twinkle, little satellite

In this episode of The Skyentists astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez talk about artificial satellites: what are they, where are they, how many are there, what they usually do, and more. Of course the reason of talking about satellites is discussing Space X Starlink satellite constellation, as plenty of conversations have happened in the last couple of weeks about how these objects might affect the view of the night sky for everybody and how they will affect to both amateur and professional astronomical observations. For helping to understand the impact of satellite constellations such Starlink we are interviewing astrophysicist Kyler Khuen, deputy director of technology at Lowell Observatory (Arizona, USA), who has been intensively working on this lately. Many interesting points are raised, emphasising that proper and continue conversations between all stakeholders (private space companies, astronomers, national space agencies, government and law makers) are needed to minimise the impact of satellite constellations. For Space News Ángel briefly presents a new research article that claims to have solved the problem of "the galaxy lacking of dark matter" (main topic in our Episode 8). For "What's Up" we choose a very famous and bright galaxy: M 104, the Sombrero galaxy. More in two weeks!

63 MIN2019 JUN 6
Comments
026 - Twinkle, twinkle, little satellite

025 - A Sip of Science

This a very special episode as our Skyentists, Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks, participated as MCs in one of the Sydney venues of the international science communication festival "Pint of Science". They actually recorded the Astronomy event "Enter the Dead Star!" on Wednesday 22nd May using... wait for it... a mobile phone! Here we present a summary of the event, the highlights of the talks, the trivia, and their impressions about the festival and the night. We don't have space news, feedback or what's up in this episode. However we include the interviews we conducted to the speakers, astrophysicists Devika Kamath (Lecturer in Astronomy and Astrophysics, ARC DECRA Fellow, Macquarie University) and Sarah Reeves (Assistant Curator, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Powerhouse Museum), after the show. We couldn't help ourselves, though, and the last 10 minutes of this episode include our main points and concerns about the Starlink satellites launched last week by SpaceX. We will extend this discussion providing a comprehensive picture of satellites around Earth and the big issues arising with the expected new "satellite constellations" in the next episode. We hope to release this in a week, we are waiting for your feedback about all of this by then.

69 MIN2019 MAY 30
Comments
025 - A Sip of Science

024 - Astro Bookworms

For this episode of The Skyentists, astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez talk about books, more precisely about astro-books, providing a list of 13 interesting books to learn and enjoy Astronomy and Space Science. This topic was recently suggested as a feedback question, so we are very pleased to answer it in a full episode. Besides this, we heard a couple of minutes of the amazing TEDxYouth@Sydney talk given by Kirsten last month. For "Astro News" Kirsten talks about the discovery of the "Moon-quakes" and Ángel introduces an important "cosmic controversy" that has recently arisen: when comparing the value of the Hubble constant obtained with the cosmic background radiation with that derived using nearby galaxies, the numbers do not match! Our object for "What's Up!" is the beautiful Jewel Box star cluster. We're waiting for your suggestions and recommendations of books, and any other kind of feedback, for our next episode!

56 MIN2019 MAY 16
Comments
024 - Astro Bookworms

023 - A shadow of darkness

After a long hiatus because of a combination of professional and personal reasons, The Skyentists, Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks, are back. This is a kind of special episode as it is all focused in just one main topic: the amazing image of the "shadow" of the super massive black hole in the center of giant elliptical galaxy M 87 (aka M87*, but it is not a star) obtained with the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). Space News is this. The main topic is this. The feedback is this. And "What's Up!" is also this... well, for "What's Up!" it is actually the galaxy hosting the super massive black hole, M 87, in the centre of the Virgo cluster. They provide an overview of the properties of this fantastic image, give some insight into the radiotelescopes used by the EHT project, the techniques used to create the image, summarise the science and research papers released, and more! Please enjoy it and send your feedback for the next episode, that will be in ~1 month time.

47 MIN2019 APR 18
Comments
023 - A shadow of darkness

022 - Harvard Computers

In this episode of The Skyentists, Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez talk about women in astronomy and, in particular, the fundamental and still not well known work that a group of women, the "Harvard Computers", made between late 19th Century and early 20th Century. They provide an overview and summary of the achievements that Williamina Fleming, Antonia Mauri, Annie Cannon, Henrietta Leavitt and Cecilia Payne got in Astronomy and how, in some way, they provided the key ideas for the development of the Astrophysics in the 20th Century and beyond: variable stars, stellar spectra, stellar classification, the composition of the stars, and the distances to stars and galaxies. First, in "Space News" Kirsten is sad as our beloved Mars rover "Oppy" is no more, and Ángel briefly discusses a recent research digging the diffuse light of the outskirts of the galaxies observed in the Ultra Deep Hubble Image. They also provide the results of the poll about "what is Ultima Thule (aka 201...

41 MIN2019 FEB 21
Comments
022 - Harvard Computers

Latest Episodes

031 - The cycle of life in stars

Despite what you might have read or heard during the last weeks, Betelgeuse is not going to explode as a supernova... yet... For explaining this in a bit more detail our Skyentists, astronomers Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks, provide an overview of what we know about stellar evolution. Stars are born from cold clumps in molecular clouds. Then they spend the majority of their life burning hydrogen into helium in the so-called "main sequence". However, depending on the original mass of the star it will evolve and die in a very different way. The most massive stars will burn helium into other elements till they build an iron core, quickly exploding as supernova. Low-mass stars like the Sun will form a planetary nebulae with the naked core, which is now a white dwarf star. They also discuss how astronomers use the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram to understand stellar evolution, as well as define the most important spectral types in stars: O B A F G K M. We need your feedback here, what is your mnemotechnic rule for remembering the right order in the spectral classification of the stars? For "Space News" Kirsten brings a nice story that happened to her in Twitter and Ángel explains why the Hubble Space Telescope observed the massive spiral galaxy UGC 2885, which is now known as "Rubin's galaxy". For "What's Up!" we talk about the beautiful Rosette nebula (Caldwell 49) in Monoceros (The Unicorn).

72 MIN1 w ago
Comments
031 - The cycle of life in stars

030 - Solar Circumnavigation 2020

Happy New Year! In this episode our Skyentists, astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez, provide a summary of the main celestial events during 2020... including some infamous "Supermoons", lunar and solar eclipses, planets ephemeris, and meteor showers. For "Space News" Kirsten updates about the very first interstellar comet 2I/Borisov and Ángel discuss the first results of the GALACTICNUCLEUS survey that studies the building-up of the Milky Way obtaining deep infrared images of the central regions of our Galaxy using the Very Large Telescope. We have feedback (yeah!) and we also do some recommendations of astronomy webpages to follow: the Astrophiz podcast (https://astrophiz.com) by Brendan O'Brien (@Astrophiz) and SpaceAustralia.com (https://spaceaustralia.com) founded by our friend astrophysicist Rami Mandow (@CosmicRami). For "What's Up!" we recommend to have a look to beautiful barred spiral galaxy NGC 1300 in Eridanus.

43 MIN3 w ago
Comments
030 - Solar Circumnavigation 2020

029 - Do not believe in climate change

Australia, NSW, and Sydney are on fire! During the last month we are suffering the most dramatic bushfires in more than a decade. They are releasing plenty of smoke that is extremely dangerous for our health, and indeed Sydney has been the city with the most polluted air in the world these days. Is all of this a consequence of climate change? In this episode our Skyentists, astronomers Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks, talk about global warming, climate change and the huge difficulty to properly comprehend all these issues. They also summarise the recent white paper "The imperative to reduce carbon emissions in astronomy" by Stevens et al 2019, that is available in https://arxiv.org/abs/1912.05834 . The plot "how global warming stacks up" provided by NASA that they discuss today can be obtained in https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/30615 . For "Space News" Ángel talks about the dimming of bright red super-giant star Betelgeuse and Kirsten talks (again) about SpaceX's Starlink satellites. She panicked after watching a new simulation of planned 12,000 Starlink satellites which will be visible during a summer night (it is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGBuk2BTvJE ). For "What's Up!" they talk about bright Southern star Achernar. Kirsten also provides some ideas about "astronomical gifts for Christmas". In addition to Kirsten and Ángel, there are two extra voices on this episode, but you have to listen to all of it to know who they are.

69 MIN2019 DEC 19
Comments
029 - Do not believe in climate change

028 - A tale of galactic cannibalism

And we are back for Season 3! For this episode of The Skyentists astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez first provide a very broad summary of our Season 2. This is the "Space News!" section for this episode, as in the last few months there have been some very interesting news that can be connected with the topics we discussed in Season 2. However, the star of the episode is our very own Kirsten, who has not only submitted her Honour Thesis (yeah!) but has been also accepted to do a PhD Thesis at UNSW, Sydney! She describes the research she has conducted for her Honour Thesis about Bright Cluster Galaxies (BCGs) trying to understand how they have gained their mass during the last few billion years of the Universe. For "What's Up!" Ángel describes some curiosities about the bright star Rigel in Orion. We don't have feedback for this episode, but will have it on the next one, so please don't forget to send us your questions and comments. Yeah, it's sooo good to be back!

74 MIN2019 DEC 5
Comments
028 - A tale of galactic cannibalism

027 - Cosmology 101

The Universe is Big, so Cosmology, that is the branch of Astronomy that studies the big picture of the Universe (creation, evolution and fate of the Cosmos, as well as of the stuff it contains) is also BIG. For this episode our Skyentists, Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks, try to provide a general overview of the Cosmology: the discovery of the expansion of the Universe, the Hubble–Lemaître law, the Lambda-CDM model, hierarchical galaxy formation, the cosmic background radiation, the large scale structure of the Universe, cold and hot dark matter, the discovery of the dark energy, the flat geometry of the Universe, and even Cosmology in the local Universe. For "Space News" Kirsten discusses a recent NASA announcement regarding allowing tourists to travel to the International Space Station, while Ángel briefly describes the observation of the cold gas around the supermassive black hole in the centre of the Milky Way by the ALMA radio-interferometer. For "What's Up!" we recommend to have a look to the beautiful red star Epsilon Scorpii, also known with the Australian Aboriginal name of Larawag. We have plenty of feedback for this episode, huge thank for that, keep it going!

66 MIN2019 JUN 20
Comments
027 - Cosmology 101

026 - Twinkle, twinkle, little satellite

In this episode of The Skyentists astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez talk about artificial satellites: what are they, where are they, how many are there, what they usually do, and more. Of course the reason of talking about satellites is discussing Space X Starlink satellite constellation, as plenty of conversations have happened in the last couple of weeks about how these objects might affect the view of the night sky for everybody and how they will affect to both amateur and professional astronomical observations. For helping to understand the impact of satellite constellations such Starlink we are interviewing astrophysicist Kyler Khuen, deputy director of technology at Lowell Observatory (Arizona, USA), who has been intensively working on this lately. Many interesting points are raised, emphasising that proper and continue conversations between all stakeholders (private space companies, astronomers, national space agencies, government and law makers) are needed to minimise the impact of satellite constellations. For Space News Ángel briefly presents a new research article that claims to have solved the problem of "the galaxy lacking of dark matter" (main topic in our Episode 8). For "What's Up" we choose a very famous and bright galaxy: M 104, the Sombrero galaxy. More in two weeks!

63 MIN2019 JUN 6
Comments
026 - Twinkle, twinkle, little satellite

025 - A Sip of Science

This a very special episode as our Skyentists, Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks, participated as MCs in one of the Sydney venues of the international science communication festival "Pint of Science". They actually recorded the Astronomy event "Enter the Dead Star!" on Wednesday 22nd May using... wait for it... a mobile phone! Here we present a summary of the event, the highlights of the talks, the trivia, and their impressions about the festival and the night. We don't have space news, feedback or what's up in this episode. However we include the interviews we conducted to the speakers, astrophysicists Devika Kamath (Lecturer in Astronomy and Astrophysics, ARC DECRA Fellow, Macquarie University) and Sarah Reeves (Assistant Curator, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Powerhouse Museum), after the show. We couldn't help ourselves, though, and the last 10 minutes of this episode include our main points and concerns about the Starlink satellites launched last week by SpaceX. We will extend this discussion providing a comprehensive picture of satellites around Earth and the big issues arising with the expected new "satellite constellations" in the next episode. We hope to release this in a week, we are waiting for your feedback about all of this by then.

69 MIN2019 MAY 30
Comments
025 - A Sip of Science

024 - Astro Bookworms

For this episode of The Skyentists, astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez talk about books, more precisely about astro-books, providing a list of 13 interesting books to learn and enjoy Astronomy and Space Science. This topic was recently suggested as a feedback question, so we are very pleased to answer it in a full episode. Besides this, we heard a couple of minutes of the amazing TEDxYouth@Sydney talk given by Kirsten last month. For "Astro News" Kirsten talks about the discovery of the "Moon-quakes" and Ángel introduces an important "cosmic controversy" that has recently arisen: when comparing the value of the Hubble constant obtained with the cosmic background radiation with that derived using nearby galaxies, the numbers do not match! Our object for "What's Up!" is the beautiful Jewel Box star cluster. We're waiting for your suggestions and recommendations of books, and any other kind of feedback, for our next episode!

56 MIN2019 MAY 16
Comments
024 - Astro Bookworms

023 - A shadow of darkness

After a long hiatus because of a combination of professional and personal reasons, The Skyentists, Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks, are back. This is a kind of special episode as it is all focused in just one main topic: the amazing image of the "shadow" of the super massive black hole in the center of giant elliptical galaxy M 87 (aka M87*, but it is not a star) obtained with the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). Space News is this. The main topic is this. The feedback is this. And "What's Up!" is also this... well, for "What's Up!" it is actually the galaxy hosting the super massive black hole, M 87, in the centre of the Virgo cluster. They provide an overview of the properties of this fantastic image, give some insight into the radiotelescopes used by the EHT project, the techniques used to create the image, summarise the science and research papers released, and more! Please enjoy it and send your feedback for the next episode, that will be in ~1 month time.

47 MIN2019 APR 18
Comments
023 - A shadow of darkness

022 - Harvard Computers

In this episode of The Skyentists, Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez talk about women in astronomy and, in particular, the fundamental and still not well known work that a group of women, the "Harvard Computers", made between late 19th Century and early 20th Century. They provide an overview and summary of the achievements that Williamina Fleming, Antonia Mauri, Annie Cannon, Henrietta Leavitt and Cecilia Payne got in Astronomy and how, in some way, they provided the key ideas for the development of the Astrophysics in the 20th Century and beyond: variable stars, stellar spectra, stellar classification, the composition of the stars, and the distances to stars and galaxies. First, in "Space News" Kirsten is sad as our beloved Mars rover "Oppy" is no more, and Ángel briefly discusses a recent research digging the diffuse light of the outskirts of the galaxies observed in the Ultra Deep Hubble Image. They also provide the results of the poll about "what is Ultima Thule (aka 201...

41 MIN2019 FEB 21
Comments
022 - Harvard Computers
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