Paris as seen from the International Space Station (Credit: NASA)

Shore of Diamonds

Suppose you were walking along a beach and you came across a large diamond. Faced with such a rare occurrence, you would likely treasure the find. You might show it off to your friends and tell the story of how you found it. News media would be fascinated by your tale of discovery. A diamond is rare and beautiful. Read more

NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and W. Keel (University of Alabama)

Obstructed View

When we look at objects in the night sky, it’s easy to imagine that each object has a unique position in the sky. But many times objects can overlap. Most commonly this occurs in occultations, where a planet or asteroid passes in front of a star or other planet. These transitory events allow us to study things like the atmospheres of planets, or help us discover binary stars. It’s also possible for galaxies to overlap, such as the image of NGC 3314 above. Read more

The Sun sets over the Pacific Ocean. Credit: NASA

Earth’s Oceans Have Always Been Local

The origin of Earth’s water is a bit of a mystery. While water is common in our solar system, it’s much more common in the outer solar system, such as Jupiter’s moon Europa or Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Most of the worlds of the inner solar system are fairly dry. So how did Earth come to have large oceans on its surface? Read more

Credit: ESA, NASA, L. Calçada

The Galactic Main Sequence

In the early twentieth century the rise of astrophotography gave us the ability to determine the brightness and spectra of stars with reasonable accuracy. Astronomers such as Annie Jump Cannon were able to use these measurements to classify stars into types. Combined with the ability to determine stellar distances using parallax, Ejnar Hertzsprung and Henry Norris Russell plotted stars by absolute magnitude (brightness) and color. This Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, as it came to be known, found that most stars lay along a roughly linear region known as the main sequence. Read more


Citizen Science and Public Engagement

Science is cool, but how do we get the story out about what scientist do, what they discover, and why it matters? On our show today is Dr. Pamela Gay, astronomer, podcaster, and director of CosmoQuest. She’s going to talk to us about the public engagement of science.

Host: Brian Koberlein
Guest: Pamela Gay
Producer: Mark Gillespie
Music: Marcus Warner

The One Universe at a Time Podcast is produced by Mark Gillespie at the Rochester Institute of Technology with support from the RIT College of Science.

Credit: public domain art by CapnHack

Heffalumps and Woozles

In the A. A. Milne book Winnie the Pooh, Piglet and Pooh come across some footprints. Intrigued, they begin to follow them. They wonder if the footprints will lead them to a mysterious and terrifying woozle, but in the end the footprints turn out to be their own. Read more

Credit: A. Wetzel and P. Hopkins, Caltech

Triangulum II: A Dark Matter Galaxy?

Dark matter is far more common in the universe than regular matter. Since it interacts gravitationally like regular matter, there has been speculation that some galaxies may contain lots of dark matter, but very little visible matter. These “dark galaxies” wouldn’t be particularly bright, but they would be distinguished by their strong gravity. We’ve found some evidence of dark matter galaxies before, and now a new paper proposes that Triangulum II could be a dark galaxy. Read more

Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Baum & C. O’Dea (RIT), R. Perley & W. Cotton (NRAO/AUI/NSF), and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Black Hole On The Radio

This is an image of a black hole. Actually, the black hole is in the center and can’t be directly seen. What we see are two large jets streaming away from the black hole. When matter accretes around a black hole, some of it is captured, but some of it is pushed away into long jets. In the case of this image, the jets stream out for about 1.5 million light years. It’s known as Hercules A, and it’s one of the brightest radio galaxies. Read more


Flowers Of The Atacama

The Atacama desert is often compared to the surface of Mars. It’s barren landscape is eerily similar to the alien world, and as one of the driest regions on the planet it has very little in the way of plant life. When I visited the region this past June, the comparison was obvious. But this past year the Atacama has gotten more rainfall than usual. While still minuscule by most standards, it has entered Spring with landscape of wildflowers.  Read more