Like so many in the “space community” I was saddened to hear of the passing of Reg Turnill. He was the BBC’s aerospace correspondent but is best known for covering the American Space program throughout the 60s and 70s that he documents so well in his book Moonlandings: An eye witness account. He was the [...]
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a global science and engineering project to build a revolutionary new radio telescope with extraordinary scientific ambitions. With funding from ten nations the building of the SKA will start in 2016 and be fully operational in 2024. It will tackle some of the profoundest questions of cosmology associated with [...]
If you have ever been to London and used the underground Tube service, it may well have been driven by the speaker in this episode. That is his day job but Nik Szymanek is one of Britain’s best known astrophotographers. This interview was recorded during National Astronomy Meeting at the University of Manchester in 2012. [...]
The first interview in this episode is with astronaut Joe Engle was recorded during his visit to the UK in 2008. Joe Engle was at the front of the queue to go to the Moon when NASA cut its Apollo program. His place was taken by the geologist Harrison Schmitt on Apollo 17 – the last manned [...]
Launched 15 years ago today, the Cassini Huygens mission has been one of the outstanding successes of solar system exploration and a model of NASA ESA collaboration. In episode 14 Professor John Zarnecki spoke about the science conducted from the surface of Titan by the Huygens lander in January 2005. The European Space Agency’s Huygens probe had [...]
Since the mid 1970s six spacecraft (Viking 1 & 2, Sojourner, Opportunity, Spirit and Phoenix) have successfully landed on the surface of Mars. In probably the most audacious, breathtaking and risky space missions, in less than two days, another Mars Curiosity Rover will arrive on Mars. Using a technique never used before, NASA has described [...]
The August 2012 edition of Spaceflight, the monthly magazine from the British Interplanetary Society carried an article where I discuss the Northwest of England’s contribution in Rocketry during the 1930s. An extended version of that article is available for free download on Astrotalkuk.org – here. So on to today’ episode. In 1937, two teenagers Harry [...]
Brian Harvey is a Dublin based writer, author, broadcaster and probably the most informed specialist on Chinese and Soviet/Russian space program in Ireland today. This conversation recorded during the Shenzhou-9 / Tiangong-1 mission orbiting the Earth with the three crew including the first Chinese female astronaut on-board. At the end of the interview Brian Harvey talks about the Space Cooperation Memorandum signed last week.
Historian Michael Wood’s documentary, The Great British Story – A People’s History, is currently being screened in the UK. Michael is from Manchester and was visiting Liverpool last weekend where he made time for this recording.
You know what it is like, you buy a book on a subject of interest and enjoy it. Later you see a book on a similar subject that you probably were not going to buy but do so because it is from that same author. Gradually, you end up with several books from that author in your collection.
David Shayler is one such author for me. During the Space Day event in Droitwich earlier this year organised by British Interplanetary Society West Midlands branch, I finally got to meet David. This is a short recording of our conversation I recorded then.
Robert Goddard in America , Sergei Korolev in the Soviet Union and Herman Oberth in Germany are three names credit with the development of rocket propulsion during the late 1920s and early 1930s. Each led a very small group with more dedication then resources working on a shoestring budget usually in their own time after work. Their [...]
This episode has no specific astronomical topic but draws attention to a very special astronomy meeting later this month. The Royal Astronomical Society’s annual National Astronomy Meeting last year was held in Wales, next year it will be in Scotland but this year it is in Manchester. National Astronomy Meeting 2012 or NAM2012 will be hosted by the University of Manchester in partnership with Germany’s equivalent to the RAS, the Astronomische Gesellschaft in the last week of March 2012.
Episode 48: 13th February 2012: Mat Irvine, early BBC Special Effects Department and Sky at Night episode from 1963
The same year that the first woman made it in to space in 1963, a quaint children’s sci-fi series called Dr Who started on BBC television in the UK. Eventually it became popular around the world and has enjoyed success once more since it restarted again in 2005. Mat Irvine worked in the special effects [...]
Links to audio and video below. The 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s UK visit was marked by the unveiling of an aluminium statue of Gagarin, an exact copy of the one outside Lyubertsy Technical School number 10 where Gagarin started his training as a foundryman. The statue, a gift from the Russian federal space agency [...]
Episode 46:10th July 2011: Yuri Gagarin in London and Manchester. New Book and Personal recollections
On his first visit outside the eastern bloc, Yuri Gagarin arrived in London for a 5 day visit on Tuesday July 11th 1961. He was greeted with a tumultuous and sincere warm welcome everywhere he went including his meetings with the Prime minister and the Queen. The British government juggled with acknowledging Gagarin personal courage [...]
Probably the most scientifically demanding Apollo mission, Apollo 15 was launched on 26th July 1971 on a two week mission. Al Worden in the command module orbited the Moon for 75 orbits whilst Dave Scott and James Irwin explored the south eastern edge of Mare Imbrium on the Moon’s surface. Apollo 15 launched with the [...]
Another Yuri Gagarin episode, I know the anniversary of the world’s first spaceflight is over but there is still lots going on over the next few months. There are two contributors in this episode, Chris Riley and Richard Evans. One of the most successful projects to mark the anniversary is the film First Orbit. The [...]
Scroll down for the audio and video. 1969 is remembered for the unique event in history, Apollo 11 and the first men, Neil and Buzz on the surface of the Moon. Before the year was out, another three men headed the same way. On November 19th, Pete Conrad and Alan Bean precision landed Apollo 12 [...]
Scroll down for the audio and video. On a cold bright Wednesday morning fifty years ago in the Soviet town of Turatam, a rocket launched a man into space. A critical initial step for any civilisation that eventually travels to the stars. Any first is both special and trivial. Special because by definition it only [...]
Scroll down for the audio and video. Reg Turnill joined the BBC in 1956 with the remit to cover aviation and defence. The launch of Sputnik 1 in the following year expanded his remit to include space. He is particularly well known for his coverage of the American Apollo program. In the UK, his name [...]
Scroll down for the options to play audio and video. On the third of Gagarin’s five days in Britain, immediately following his meeting with Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, on Thursday 13th July 1961, he had the only private meeting of his visit with Captain Eric Brown where the press was not invited, no photographs were [...]
Scroll to the bottom for the audio and video. Since the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957, thousands of unmanned spacecraft have been launched, mostly to Earth orbit, but many have gone to the inner and outer planets, and four of them have pretty much left the Solar System altogether. European Space Agency’s Mars Express [...]
Scroll to the bottom of this post to play the audio or watch the video. Going in to space was nothing more than a dream for many of us for such a long time. But things are changing profoundly and fast. Once human spaceflight was only possible as part of a national government project. Then [...]
Scroll to the bottom of this post to play the audio. On November 3rd this year, Professor Jim Al-khalili was to give three lectures in Liverpool on the same day (Quantum Physics, Advances in Mathematics in Medieval Islam and On the Shoulders of Eastern Giants: the Forgotten Contribution of the Medieval Physicists). I did feel [...]
Episode 36: October 11th 2010 – UK Space Policy and Yuri Gagarin’s visit to Manchester and London in July 1961
Next year April 12th 2011 marks the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s, mankind’s, first steps into space. It was a product of the accumulated technology of many countries over many years but particularly driven by the the political landscape resulting from the 2nd world war. Since then successful robotic missions have visited the planets, asteroids [...]
A man playing golf on the moon is one of the images permanently etched into the collective memory of humanity’s first exploration of the moon. The so called “golf player” was Alan Shepard the guy with him was Dr Edgar Mitchell whilst Stuart Roosa orbited the moon in the command module. Today, Ed Mitchell, two [...]
Nestling in a valley amongst the rolling green hills of the Eifel region of western Germany is the 100m Effelsberg steerable radio telescope. Similar to the Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank which is on the plains of Cheshire in northwest England which can be seen from miles away. The Effelsberg telescope is situated in a [...]
If you had the task of gathering all of humanity’s knowledge of cosmology in one place, how would you do it? Answers to questions such as, How big is the Earth? At what date and time will the Moon be full again? What makes the Sun shine? How old is the Universe? Today a good [...]
Sir Patrick Moore is primarily known for his work on the long running TV series, The Sky at Night but he is an author, musician and an observational astronomer, too. He is also a former director of the Armagh Planetarium, a co-founder of the Society for Popular Astronomyand a former president of the British Astronomical [...]
Today’s episode is a special recording with Professor Barrie Jones of the Open University. Special because during the Eighties, I studied several of the courses which he helped to develop and presented on the the late night OU TV programs.
Professor Jones joined the Open University in 1972 and since 2006 is the emeritus professor of astronomy. He recalls people he worked with at Cornell including Tom Gold, Frank Drake, Carl Sagan and the early days of Gamma Ray astronomy from balloons.