Travelers In The Night

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Space, Asteroid Hunting, and Astronomy, an insider view. The music is "Eternity" by John Lyell. Astronomy Asteroids Space NASA Comets Earth Impact

Dr. Al Grauer

    • Aug 9, 2022 LATEST EPISODE
    • weekdays NEW EPISODES
    • 1,612 EPISODES

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    Latest episodes from Travelers In The Night

    193E-205-Toy Asteroid

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 9, 2022 2:01

    An asteroid small enough to fit under a basketball hoop makes frequent approaches to Earth, our Moon, and Mars

    704-Mini Moons(490)

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 5, 2022 2:01

    There are likely to be hundreds smaller than softball sized and perhaps several dozen football to beachball sized, natural Earth mini moons, which are so small and fast moving that they are able to slip through asteroid hunters images without being detected.

    192E-204-Birthday Asteroid

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 2, 2022 2:01

    An asteroid hunter wishes for a birthday comet but instead the Universe gave her an asteroid.

    703-Martian Water(489)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 30, 2022 2:01

    Exciting new research indicates that there could be a lake of liquid water beneath the south Martian polar cap. Further research will be required to determine if this briny pool could be the home of martian creatures.

    191E-203-Big Rock

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 26, 2022 2:01

    A rare very large Earth approaching object is discovered in an unusual place in the sky.

    702-20 years(488)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 22, 2022 2:01

    It has been 20 years since the world woke up to the news that a half mile diameter asteroid, 1997 XF11, discovered by Space Watch on Kitt Peak, had a slight chance of impacting the Earth in 2028. The NASA and JPL's Center for Near Earth Object Studies or CNEOS (see-neos) for short maps space rocks orbits, predicts when they will come close to us, and reliably determines each one's chance of impacting Earth.

    190E-202-Martian Purity

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 19, 2022 2:01

    Humans must be very careful not to introduce any of Earth's organisms into the Martian environment.]

    701-Touching The Sun(487)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 15, 2022 2:01

    Imagine a spacecraft traveling at a speed that would take it from New York to Tokyo in less than a minute, a mere 4 million miles from the surface of our Sun, where it would be exposed to about 500 times the solar radiation we receive here on Earth. Not science fiction but science fact for the NASA Parker Solar Probe on one of its final laps around our star.

    189E-201-Frequent Visitor

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 12, 2022 2:01

    A small asteroid about the size of a U-Haul moving truck makes frequent visits to our part of the solar system.

    700-Martian Storms(486)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 8, 2022 2:01

    In a few weeks ,as Earth and Mars moved closer together, a dust storm engulfed most of the red planet making it impossible to see its surface features.

    188E-200-Comet Showers

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 5, 2022 2:01

    It is possible that showers of comets changed the course of life on Earth.

    699-Last One(486)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 1, 2022 2:01

    A huge Earth approaching asteroid is discovered right before the 2018 monsoon rains settled into the American Southwest. This weather imposed break from observing provides the opportunity for asteroid hunters to make major equipment upgrades and perform routine maintenance.

    187E-199-Space Boomerang

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 28, 2022 2:01

    A space boomerang meets its fate in a collision with the Earth about 60 miles off of the coast of Sri Lanka producing a bright, but harmless light show in the noon sky.


    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 24, 2022 2:01

    Most Astronomers find it hard to believe that given perhaps a trillion planets in the Milky Way alone that our Earth is the only one which hosts living organisms. It is both exciting and terrifying to realize we have no concept of what living forms may exist outside Earth in the Milky Way.

    186E-198-Asteroid Water Wagons

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 21, 2022 2:01

    Our Moon is the nearest and most likely place for humans to colonize in the near future. It has a hostile environment where air and liquid water as we know them on Earth are not to be found. In the past astronomers hypothesized that comets are the source of water on the Earth and Moon. However, calculations by Svetsov and Shuvalov published in Planetary and Space Science indicate that when a comet impacts the Moon it is likely that 99% of its water evaporates into space and is lost. On the other hand their work indicates that asteroids have been hauling water to our Moon and depositing it in places which are very handy for future human colonists. Specifically it appears probable that 2 to 4.5 % of lunar craters are likely to contain substantial amounts of water in the form of hydrated minerals. These asteroid impact craters are a convenient source of water and solar energy for lunar bases and are likely to be the home of human lunar colonists.

    697-Double Trouble(697)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 17, 2022 2:01

    Asteroid hunters have discovered a strange asteroid pair. How they came to be together and what humans would do if such a large double trouble object is heading for us remains a mystery.

    185E-197-Rik's 2 Homers

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 14, 2022 2:01

    During his last official observing run before retiring, my Catalina Sky Survey teammate, Rik Hill knocked two out of the park. On successive nights he discovered two new potentially hazardous asteroids 2015 TD323 and 2015 TK238. Not to worry, neither of these asteroids are a threat to Earth in the foreseeable future. However, they are large enough and can come close enough to prompt asteroid hunters to keep careful track of them.

    696-Botswana Fragment(482)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 10, 2022 2:01

    An object is tracked in outer space, seen to explode in our atmosphere, and had a fragment of it discovered on the ground. Its analysis will help humans to prepare for and defend against a much larger object with our number on it.

    184E-196-Dark,Bright,and Beautiful

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 7, 2022 2:01

    The Great Galaxy in Andromeda or M31 as it is also known is one of the furtherest objects that can be seen with the unaided human eye. It is about two and a half million light years away. More than a thousand years ago the a Persian astronomer named Al-Sufi described the Great Galaxy in Andromeda as a "small cloud" in his Book of Fixed Stars. Now there are few places on planet Earth like the Cosmic Campground where one can see it with the naked eye due to inappropriate night time lighting.

    695-A Large Visitor(480)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 3, 2022 2:01

    Statistically, asteroid hunters are thought to have discovered 90% of our potentially dangerous celestial neighbors greater than 1 KM in diameter. Thus my Catalina Sky Survey teammate Greg Leonard was surprised to discover an unknown very large asteroid moving through the constellation of Persus.

    183E-195-Flat Earth Society Reincarnation

    Play Episode Listen Later May 31, 2022 2:01

    In spite of the shape of the Earth's shadow on the Moon, sailing ships disappearing below the horizon, satellite photographs, orbiting objects, and a mountain of other information about the size and shape of the Earth there are still people who belong a flat Earth Society and even have websites. The number of believers has diminished from 3,500 twenty years ago to less than a few hundred today. Not to worry the Flat Earth Society is being replaced by the Climate Change Deniers.

    694-Comet Catalina(479)

    Play Episode Listen Later May 27, 2022 2:01

    Comet C/2018 M1 (Catalina) is eternal in the sense that it will likely wander the vast space between the stars in our Milky Way Galaxy until the end of time.

    182E-194-Star Wanderer

    Play Episode Listen Later May 24, 2022 2:01

    From the dawn of history, humans have longed to wander amongst the stars. Now we know that comets are able to make such a voyage giving us paths to follow.NASA scientists have suggested that the first interstellar robotic spacecraft could be propelled by a solar sail as large as the state of Texas. Such a mission, perhaps two or three hundred years into the future could follow a comet's path. In this flight of fantasy the spaceship would be inclosed in a reflective spherical heat shield, placed into a Sun grazing orbit, and flung by the Sun's gravity onto a path which will cause it to be ejected from the solar system. After getting to a safe distance from the Sun the robotic spacecraft would deploy its solar sail and use light pressure to accelerate towards its destination. It could be further helped along using a powerful laser projected from the far side of the Moon. In a few decades or maybe even a few centuries it would arrive in a nearby solar system. After that it would be on its own to try to make sense of what is there and to beam information back to its human creators.

    693-Comet Leonard III(478)

    Play Episode Listen Later May 20, 2022 2:01

    My Catalina Sky Survey teammate Greg Leonard knew he had bagged his third comet when he spotted an unknown fuzzy object with a broad tail moving through the constellation of Pisces. Eventually when it looses its volatile materials Comet Leonard will become one of the countless millions of main belt asteroids circling our Sun.


    Play Episode Listen Later May 17, 2022 2:01

    Thirty six hours before my Catalina Sky Survey teammate Rik Hill discovered it, a space rock about size of a Toyota Prius passed about 14,000 miles above the Earth's surface. When Rik first spotted it this small asteroid was about a million miles from us and was moving away from the Earth at 12.6 miles per second. Its orbit had been changed by a narrow escape from the Earth's gravity and it was on a new path around the Sun This small space rock was subsequently observed by telescopes in Russia and Arizona. The Minor Planet Center used these observations to calculate an orbit and give it the name 2015 SK7.2015 SK7 survived it's 2015 encounter with planet Earth. It may not be so lucky the next time.

    692-Lonely Fragment(475)

    Play Episode Listen Later May 13, 2022 2:01

    A 2000 foot diameter space rock has stories to tell about violent events long ago. Asteroid hunters are eager to track this huge collision fragment and look for members of its family as it passes near Earth in 2026.

    180E-192-WISE Alive

    Play Episode Listen Later May 10, 2022 2:01

    When the NASA WISE spacecraft ran out of frozen hydrogen, its detectors warmed up, and it was no longer able to conduct its primary mission. It was placed in a hibernation mode and left to orbit the Earth in silence. A couple of years ago NASA engineers figured out that the spacecraft, even with warm detectors, could find some interesting asteroids and decided to wake it up. The WISE spacecraft in turn has produced data on more than15,000 solar system objects including more than 350 Earth approaching asteroids and 60 comets.

    691-Earth-Venus Shuttle(474)

    Play Episode Listen Later May 6, 2022 2:01

    A 100 foot diameter asteroid is spotted on one of its regular trips between the orbits of Venus and Earth. Its ultimate fate is to collide with one of these planets producing a spectacular light show.

    179E-191-Two Odd Fellows

    Play Episode Listen Later May 1, 2022 2:01

    Two quite different Earth approaching asteroids were discovered in a clear hole in the sky between storms.

    690-Peek A Boo Asteroid(468)

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 29, 2022 2:01

    A strange asteroid plays hide and seek with frustrated astronomers.

    178E-190-EX Most Dangerous

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 26, 2022 2:01

    For a week or so after its discovery by the 3.5 meter Space Surveillance Telescope, 2015 PU228 was thought to be the asteroid most likely to collide with Earth in this century. Calculations based on limited data indicated that this asteroid had a one in 23,000 chance of colliding with our planet in January of 2081. As the length of 2015 PU228's observed path in the sky grew its chances of a collision with Earth decreased. More than a month's observations has made us sure that it will completely miss planet the Earth in 2081.

    689-Botswana Bound(471)

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 22, 2022 2:01

    A small space rock with a diameter less than the height of an NBA basketball player had just crossed the orbit of our Moon on a collision course with Earth when it was spotted streaking through the constellation of Scorpius by my Catalina Sky Survey teammate Richard Kowalski. 8 hours and 37 minutes after Richard's discovery observations, the space rock now known as 2018 LA was seen by security cameras to explode over Botswana in southern Africa just as NASA's scout system predicted.

    177E-189-Thats 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 19, 2022 2:01

    Gennadii Borisov has done it again. In a stretch of less than six weeks this talented observer and telescope maker discovered two interesting Earth approaching objects. In this age of big science it is gratifying to see that an individual with relatively modest equipment can make scientific discoveries. In this case Borisov beat my team the Catalina Sky Survey and the Pan-STARRS group in Hawaii with our large telescopes and powerful computer systems to the discovery of a significant object. 

    688-Martian Asteroid Hunters(470)

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 15, 2022 2:01

    The life of an asteroid hunter on Mars will be interesting and exciting. The double planet, our Earth and Moon, in the Martian night sky will be an unforgettable sight and well worth the trip.

    176E-188-Deep Listen

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 12, 2022 2:01

    There is a mind blowing potential for life in the Universe.  Humanity's ignorance of any life forms beyond Earth has prompted the Breakthrough Prize Foundation at the Royal Society in London to create a program to award 100 million dollars in grants to fund projects to search for signals from intelligent life. 


    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 8, 2022 2:01

    After being lost for ten years, the asteroid 2010 WC9 was re-discovered about a week before it came very close to Earth.

    175E-187-Ganymede's Layers

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 4, 2022 2:01

    You can spot Ganymede orbiting the planet Jupiter with any backyard telescope. It is the largest of the four bright moons of Jupiter discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610.  In your telescope Ganymede will be the third farthest moon from Jupiter.  This tiny point of light is really a small world composed of ice, water, and rock.

    686-Big Atira(464)

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 1, 2022 2:01

    The recent discovery of an asteroid, whose orbit lies completely within that of the Earth, reminds asteroid hunters to continue to search near the Sun so that a large dangerous object does not sneak up undetected on the residents of planet Earth.

    174E-186-Breaks Happen

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 29, 2022 2:01

    Hunting asteroids by poking around in clear holes between cloud layers can be very tiresome, however, sometimes it has its rewards.  A break in the monsoon weather pattern over southern Arizona allowed my Catalina Sky Survey Teammate, Richard Kowalski, to discover four new Earth approaching objects during the part of a night it was clear.

    685-Exiled Asteroid(463)

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 25, 2022 2:01

    An asteroid is exiled to the outer regions of the solar system during Jupiter's rampaging tack away from the Sun long ago. During that process enough material was left in Jupiter's wake to form Venus, Earth, Mars, and the asteroid belt as we know them today.

    173E-185-So Many Possibilities

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 22, 2022 2:01

    The number of possible places in a galaxy for life as we know it to develop depends on the number of stars which have planets, the presence of necessary elements such as iron, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon, and the freedom from nearby supernova which could sterilize an otherwise habitable planet. The good news, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey in New Mexico has reported the discovery more than 150,000 galaxies which are rich with the three life enabling properties. The bad news is we will get monologues and not dialogs since it will take 9 million years for radio waves from the closest one to reach us and another 9 million years for our answer to make the trip back.

    684-Our View(462)

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 18, 2022 2:01

    Modern technology provides us with stunning views of objects in the Universe in wavelengths invisible to our eyes, however, nothing is as moving and thought provoking as looking into deep space with your very own eyes.

    172E-183-No Worries

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 15, 2022 2:01

    A number of blogs and postings on the web have been spreading the false rumor that there is an asteroid which is about to strike the Earth producing catastrophic damage. There are also recurrent false rumors that the government or governments are hiding the fact that a catastrophe is about to occur. Neither of these has a shred of evidence to back them up.


    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 11, 2022 2:01

    To find planets close to home NASA has launched TESS the Transiting Exoplanet Satellite which will monitor more than 200,000 nearby, stars over the entire sky to detect the tiny dips in light caused when a planet passes in front of it's star. The TESS era will be a most exciting time as humans discover and are able determine the properties of relatively nearby habitatable worlds and dream about what might be living in our neighborhood of the Milky Way.

    171E-184-Most Dangerous

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 8, 2022 2:01

    Recently the  3.5 meter Space Surveillance Telescope located at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico found an an asteroid which has been named 2015 PU228. It is currently the asteroid which is most likely to collide with planet Earth in this century.  Don't worry, its closest approach to our home planet will not be untill January 15, 2081.  If there is an ideal close approaching asteroid, 2015 PU228 is it.  Humans have discovered this object long before it comes near to our home giving plenty of time to deflect it if that becomes necessary.  Serious scientific and engineering studies are currently underway to investigate various asteroid impact mitigation strategies.  These range from using a solar sail to give the problem asteroid a gentle push to setting off a buried nuclear weapon to create a rocket type thrust which will cause the potential impactor to miss planet Earth.

    682-Falling Space Rocks(459)

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 4, 2022 2:01

    n the early evening of January 17, 2018 six hundred and seventy four observers in 11 States and Canada reported a fireball meteor streaking across the sky to the American Meteor Society. To find freshly fallen meteorites visit the American Meteor Society's website but do not hunt for meteorites on private land without permission.

    170E-182-Earth Life On Mars

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 1, 2022 2:01

    If Earth had a mountain about four times higher than Mt. Everest this hypothetical mountain's summit would have the thin atmosphere, UV radiation from the Sun, and the temperature extremes approaching the hostile environment to be found on the planet Mars. 

    681-17,000 to Go(455)

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 25, 2022 2:01

    So far asteroid hunters have discovered about 8,000 of the 25,000, large, potentially hazardous asteroids, suspected to exist, leaving 17,000 more to be found. For this reason, NASA has designed and proposed the NEOCam spacecraft to give us the ability to find them before they find us.

    169E-181-Beyond Moon

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 22, 2022 2:01

    The relentless pull of the Earth's gravity on the Moon causes it to always point the same side towards us. The Moon's slight wobble has allowed us to catch glimpses of a small sliver of the Moon's far side. In 1968 the first humans to see the far side with their own eyes were the astronauts of Apollo 8. Perhaps someday humans will put a base on the far side of the Moon where powerful telescopes would be unaffected by light and electronic noise from Earth. 

    680-Comets and Asteroids(454)

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 18, 2022 2:01

    If you set your mind to it, you can find and hold a sample of an asteroid, called a meteorite, which has landed on the Earth's surface. On the other hand, watching major meteor showers will allow you to see but not touch comet dust as it enters and burns up in the Earth's atmosphere.

    168E-180-An Eternal One

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 15, 2022 2:01

    Catalina Sky Survey teammate Richard Kowalski found a faint moving point of light in the night sky.  After his discovery observations were posted on the Minor Planet Center's website it was observed by 10 other telescopes around the world and given the name 2013 US10.  It has taken additional observations to reveal that Kowalski's object is not an asteroid but rather a comet which came closest to the Sun on November 15, 2015. After that its speed will be so great that it will leave our solar system never to return. Its path is not in the direction of any known star making it likely that it will continue its cold lonely journey till the end of time.

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