The 9pm Keeping the Moon Nice with Dr Alice Gorman and Rami Mandow

Protecting us from the Space Bees! Left: Dr Alice Gorman. (Photo: Simon Royal/ABC) Right: Rami Mandow. (Photo: Supplied; Post-processing: Stilgherrian)

A comet! An eclipse! Everything is happening in space! To kick off the autumn series, my special guests are space archaeologist Dr Alice Gorman aka Dr Space Junk from Flinders University, and astrophysicist and founder of Rami Mandow.

In this episode we talk about the plurality of worlds controversy, comets and eclipses, Irish astronomer Agnes Mary Clerke, and what it might take to keep the Moon nice — and much more.

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Both of today’s guests have been on the podcast before. Do check out the previous episodes with Dr Alice Gorman and Rami Mandow.

Episode Links

  • Alice Gorman (born 1964) FSA is an Australian archaeologist, heritage consultant, and lecturer, who is best known for pioneering work in the field of space archaeology and her Space Age Archaeology blog.
  • Rami wears a few hats at Space Australia (Founding Director and Editor) and is located in Sydney - covering stories across the city and NSW. 
  • Historic newsreel shows scientists and researchers study the total eclipse of sun. Filmed on July 23, 1963.
  • This 3D visualization of the 2024 total eclipse is built with real science data, and shows the shadow of the Moon on Earth.
  • [10 July 2017] On Aug. 21, a total solar eclipse will be visible from the contiguous United States. It’ll be the first to traverse coast to coast in nearly a century. There will be 69 total solar eclipses visible from somewhere on the planet in the next 100 years, but only a few will be visible from North America. See how many total solar eclipses are left in your lifetime:
  • Objects such as trees act as ‘pinhole’ projectors, producing nearly perfect images of the eclipsed Sun all around us
  • [16 October 2023] As pretty as they are, there's no need to freak out.
  • "Nightfall" is a 1941 science fiction short story by the American writer Isaac Asimov about the coming of darkness to the people of a planet ordinarily illuminated by sunlight at all times. It was adapted into a novel with Robert Silverberg in 1990. The short story has appeared in many anthologies and six collections of Asimov stories. In 1968, the Science Fiction Writers of America voted "Nightfall" the best science fiction short story written prior to the 1965 establishment of the Nebula Awards and included it in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume One, 1929–1964.
  • Full text of the short story, with line numbers for reference and study.
  • Assyrians are an indigenous ethnic group native to Mesopotamia, a geographical region in West Asia. Modern Assyrians descend directly from Ancient Mesopotamians such as ancient Assyrians and Babylonians. Modern Assyrians may culturally self-identify as Syriacs, Chaldeans, or Arameans for religious, geographic, and tribal identification.
  • A total solar eclipse occurred on Thursday, May 29, 1919. With the duration of totality at maximum eclipse of 6 minutes 50.75 seconds, it was the longest solar eclipse that occurred since May 27, 1416. A longer total solar eclipse would later occur on June 8, 1937. This eclipse was subject to the Eddington experiment, an observational test that first substantiated Albert Einstein's theory of relativity.
  • General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity and Einstein's theory of gravity, is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1915 and is the current description of gravitation in modern physics.
  • During his fourth and last voyage, Christopher Columbus induced the inhabitants of Jamaica to continue provisioning him and his hungry men, successfully intimidated them by correctly predicting a total lunar eclipse for 1 March 1504 (visible on the evening of 29 February in the Americas).
  • [3 May 2023] The Western Australian coastal town of Exmouth recently experienced a rare, and exciting hybrid total solar eclipse - where the Moon passed directly over the Sun’s disc - an event that attracted 20,000 people. We spoke with three Australians who travelled in to join part of the experience, including conducting scientific observations with some of our world-class radio astronomy instruments.
  • A total solar eclipse will occur right across Australia on 22 July 2028. This is the second in a series of five total solar eclipses in Australia between 2023 and 2028. The first was on 20 April 2023.
  • Zoom in on your location to see exactly where you are in relation to the path of totality.
  • Hubble Space Telescope - Embark on a Journey of Discovery.
  • Georgia Totto O'Keeffe (November 15, 1887 – March 6, 1986) was an American modernist painter and draftswoman whose career spanned seven decades and whose work remained largely independent of major art movements. Called the "Mother of American modernism", O'Keeffe gained international recognition for her meticulous paintings of natural forms, particularly flowers and desert-inspired landscapes, which were often drawn from and related to places and environments in which she lived.
  • Cosmic pluralism, the plurality of worlds, or simply pluralism, describes the belief in numerous "worlds" (planets, dwarf planets or natural satellites) in addition to Earth (possibly an infinite number), which may harbour extraterrestrial life. The debate over pluralism began as early as the time of Anaximander (c.?610 – c.?546 BC) as a metaphysical argument, long predating the scientific Copernican conception that the Earth is one of numerous planets. It has continued, in a variety of forms, until the modern era.
  • On December 16, 1896, 3,015 acres (12.20 km2) of land surrounding the observatory was donated to the City of Los Angeles by Griffith J. Griffith. In his will Griffith donated funds to build an observatory, exhibit hall, and planetarium on the donated land. Griffith's objective was to make astronomy accessible to the public, as opposed to the prevailing idea that observatories should be located on remote mountaintops and restricted to scientists.
  • Lick Observatory is the world's first permanently occupied mountain-top observatory. The observatory, in a Classical Revival style structure, was constructed between 1876 and 1887, from a bequest from James Lick of $700,000, equivalent to $23,737,778 in 2023.
  • The Wallace line or Wallace's line is a faunal boundary line drawn in 1859 by the British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace and named by the English biologist T.H. Huxley that separates the biogeographical realms of Asia and 'Wallacea', a transitional zone between Asia and Australia also called the Malay Archipelago and the Indo-Australian Archipelago. To the west of the line are found organisms related to Asiatic species; to the east, a mixture of species of Asian and Australian origins is present. Wallace noticed this clear division in both land mammals and birds during his travels through the East Indies in the 19th century.
  • A Study of the Results of Scientific Research in Relation to the Unity or Plurality of Worlds. Third edition, 1904.
  • Agnes Mary Clerke was an Irish astronomer and writer on both astronomy and biography.
  • Carl Edward Sagan (/?se???n/; SAY-g?n; November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, planetary scientist, and science communicator. His best known scientific contribution is his research on the possibility of extraterrestrial life, including experimental demonstration of the production of amino acids from basic chemicals by exposure to light. He assembled the first physical messages sent into space, the Pioneer plaque and the Voyager Golden Record, which were universal messages that could potentially be understood by any extraterrestrial intelligence that might find them. He argued in favor of the hypothesis, which has since been accepted, that the high surface temperatures of Venus are the result of the greenhouse effect.
  • [16 October 2018] Carl Sagan was a life long marijuana user and closeted advocate of legalization. He once wrote an anonymous essay on the effects it had on his life and why he felt it should be legalized. His insights will be vital as many societies begin to legalize marijuana.
  • Includes "A Popular History of Astronomy During the Nineteenth Century" as discussed.
  • Project Gutenberg is a library of over 70,000 free eBooks. Choose among free epub and Kindle eBooks, download them or read them online. You will find the world’s great literature here, with focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired. Thousands of volunteers digitized and diligently proofread the eBooks, for you to enjoy.
  • [19 December 2023] The rise of fake papers is really concerning, but the fact they are being retracted shows the scientific publishing world is alive to the issue.
  • [8 November 2023] A study published in March claiming the discovery of a superconductor that works at room temperature — a scientific holy grail — has been retracted by the high-profile journal Nature at the request of most of its authors.
  • [17 December 2023] Sensational report that Indonesia’s Gunung Padang site is 25,000 years old is dismissed by archaeologists around the world.
  • 12P/Pons–Brooks is a periodic comet with an orbital period of 71 years... It is one of the brightest known periodic comets, reaching an absolute visual magnitude of about 5 in its approach to perihelion.
  • [29 March 2024] Several planets line up and Mercury starts a short retrograde loop as Comet Pons-Brooks grows brighter in the sky this week.
  • Periodic comets (also known as short-period comets) are comets with orbital periods of less than 200 years or that have been observed during more than a single perihelion passage (e.g. 153P/Ikeya–Zhang). "Periodic comet" is also sometimes used to mean any comet with a periodic orbit, even if greater than 200 years.
  • Halley's Comet, Comet Halley, or sometimes simply Halley, officially designated 1P/Halley, is a short-period comet visible from Earth every 75–79 years. Halley is the only known short-period comet that is consistently visible to the naked eye from Earth. It last appeared in the inner parts of the Solar System in 1986 and will next appear in mid-2061.
  • New Horizons is an interplanetary space probe launched as a part of NASA's New Frontiers program. Engineered by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), with a team led by Alan Stern, the spacecraft was launched in 2006 with the primary mission to perform a flyby study of the Pluto system in 2015, and a secondary mission to fly by and study one or more other Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) in the decade to follow, which became a mission to 486958 Arrokoth. It is the fifth space probe to achieve the escape velocity needed to leave the Solar System.
  • [14 October 2021] Through the ages, people have attributed meaning to unusual celestial apparitions such as comets. Such is the case for perhaps the most famous comet, the one named after British astronomer Edmond Halley, who determined that periodic sightings of a comet were in fact of the same object. Although recorded sightings of Halley’s Comet go back more than 2,000 years, its most famous association is with the Norman invasion of England in 1066, including the first illustration of the comet on the Bayeux Tapestry. Making an appearance roughly every 76 years, during its last close approach in 1986 several nations dispatched spacecraft for a close examination of this celestial visitor to the inner solar system. Other comets have since received close scrutiny, increasing our understanding of these primordial objects.
  • [3 April 2024] Here’s how you can see this rare phenomenon at its brightest.
  • What did Neil Armstrong really say when he took his first step on the moon?
  • [8 July 2019] Aldrin tweeted about it in April, saying, “Well, I sure feel bad for whoever finds my bag.” The astronaut, apart from being the second man who set foot on the moon, also holds another title: He was the first to urinate there.
  • [19 January 2024] A US spacecraft launched last week to try to land on the Moon has ended its mission in flames over the Pacific.
  • [7 February 2018] Ultimately, these orbiting objects are messages about human relationships with space. Both objects were launched by private corporations, inviting Earthbound people to share the journey. However, one reinforces existing inequalities, while the other promotes a hopeful vision of unity.
  • On February 6, 2018, at 2045 UTC, the first Falcon Heavy was launched into space. It contained a very special payload- a Tesla Roadster with Starman. But where is this vehicle?
  • Yes, Warhol put a dick pic on the moon.
  • The Venus of Willendorf is an 11.1-centimetre-tall (4.4 in) Venus figurine estimated to have been made around 29,500 years ago... [It] is carved from an oolitic limestone that is not local to the area, and tinted with red ochre. It is in the Natural History Museum in Vienna, Austria as of 2003.
  • Lucille Désirée Ball (August 6, 1911 – April 26, 1989) was an American actress, comedian, and studio executive. She was nominated for 13 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning five times, and was the recipient of several other accolades, such as the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award and two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She earned many honors, including the Women in Film Crystal Award, an induction into the Television Hall of Fame, a Kennedy Center Honor, and the Governors Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

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CONVERSATION TOPICS: Barry Anderson, Joanna Forbes, Paul McElwee, and Peter Viertel.

THREE TRIGGER WORDS: Bernard Walsh, Joanna Forbes, Joanna Forbes again, and two people who choose to remain anonymous.

ONE TRIGGER WORD: Andrew Kennedy, Benno Rice, Bruce Hardie, Chris Rauchle, Dave Gaukroger, Frank Filippone, James Moore, Katrina Szetey, Mark Newton, Michael, Michael again, Michael Cowley, Miriam Faye, Nicole Coombe, Oliver Townshend, Oliver Townshend again, Paul Williams, Peter Blakeley, Peter Blakeley again, Rami Mandow, Rhydwyn, Ric Hayman, Tom Carding, and five people who choose to remain anonymous.


PERSONALISED AUDIO MESSAGE: Matt McLeod and Kimberley Heitman.

FOOT SOLDIERS FOR MEDIA FREEDOM who gave a SLIGHTLY LESS BASIC TIP: Brenton Realph, Garth Kidd, James Connor, James Henstridge, Karletta Abianac, Lindsay Jenkinson, Matthew Crawford, Peter McCrudden, and one person who chooses to remain anonymous.

MEDIA FREEDOM CITIZENS who contributed a BASIC TIP: None this time, which is curious.

And another 17 people chose to have no reward, even though some of them were the most generous of all. Thank you all so much.

Series Credits