Astronomy: First Sunday

Since the start of this year, myself and a group of fellow astronomers from around the UK have recorded “Google Hangouts” on the first Sunday of every month – you can see the latest edition below. They’re meant to be informal and require as little preparation as possible (otherwise none of us would have time, particularly on a Sunday evening!), and only those of us who are available record them – so far with varying combinations of myself, Chris Lintott, Lucie Green, Paul Abel and Pete Lawrence.

The idea is to discuss the latest astronomical news, with discussion amongst ourselves, and taking questions from viewers (one of the very useful features of Google Hangouts). This month, Chris Lintott and I dialled in to discuss the news earlier this month from BICEP2, and also a few stories from the outer Solar System – rings around Churilko, the discovery of 2012 VB113, and water on Enceladus (again!). We wanted to discuss much more, but seeing as we reached the 40 minute mark in what was meant to be a 30 minute programme, we figured we didn’t have time – also confirming (for the fourth consecutive month) that we definitely need editors!

What’s really fun about these Hangouts is that we can explain to viewers relatively complex ideas (in this case, for example, CMB polarisation) and have time to go into them in a bit more detail. Chris Lintott even managed to achieve a life-long goal and mention magnetic monopoles on air – something Patrick Moore would never let him do on Sky at Night!

You can also see our previous Hangouts in the series from January, February and March.