Next Episode of The Sky at Night is
Our team of astronomers tell us what's on view in the night sky. From comets to quasars, there is always something fascinating to discuss in the Universe.
This edition comes from the heart of one of the most influential - and surprising - organisations in the history of astronomy. Maggie and Chris have been granted rare access to the Vatican and its little-known observatory, the Specola Vaticana, perched on a hilltop 30km outside Rome.
There they explore its rich history and contemporary cutting-edge science, going inside the Vatican walls to visit the Tower of the Winds, a secret antique sundial that revolutionised the length of the year; the remains of a nest of telescopes atop an old medieval church where the science of spectroscopy was born; and the modern labs, manned by priest scientists who study a range of contemporary astronomical problems, from meteorites to binary stars to the birth of the universe itself.
Scientists have spent hundreds of years observing the planets with telescopes and over fifty exploring the solar system through space travel, so you might have thought they knew our cosmic neighbourhood pretty well.
But actually, they've hardly scratched the surface. The reality is that most of the solar system is still almost a complete mystery. Beyond the orbit of Neptune lies a vast number of strange, dark, icy worlds - the trans-Neptunian objects. And it's only over the last few years that we've even started to see and understand them, and have begun to realise they play a crucial role in the evolution of our solar system.
Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Chris Lintott discover how we've found hundreds of thousands of these strange new objects, some with multiple moons, others with strange orbits, and some spinning way faster than any planet in the solar system.
Marcus du Sautoy explores how studying the mathematics governing the behaviours of these objects has changed our understanding of how the solar system evolved, and how it might eventually end.
In August, the most spectacular meteor shower of 2017 coincides with transmission: The Perseids! If it's clear, it'll be a great chance to see scores of bright shooting stars streaking across the night sky. As those shooting stars vaporise in the atmosphere, a small part of some of them will fall to earth as dust.
This dust will contribute to a total of about 40,000 tonnes of space dust and debris that falls onto our planet every year. In this episode, Chris Lintott and Maggie Aderin-Pocock investigate this mysterious cosmic debris that comes from outer space.
On 15 September 2017, the most successful space mission of all time will come to a dramatic and violent end as the Cassini probe is sent crashing into the planet Saturn. This one space probe has rewritten the rules of space exploration, repeatedly surprising scientists with its incredible and unexpected observations. It discovered lakes of pure methane on Saturn's moon Titan, mysterious weather systems on Saturn itself, and all the conditions for life on the moon Enceladus. It has exceeded every expectation of its original design brief, and its mission duration has been extended not once but four times. Its legacy for science and for space travel is unique. Chris Lintott and Maggie Aderin-Pocock explore four major ways in which space exploration of the future has been changed by the discoveries of the Cassini mission.
Patrick Moore(Patrick Moore)
Maggie Aderin Pocock(Maggie Aderin Pocock)
Lucie Green(Lucie Green)
Chris Lintott(Chris Lintott)
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