The Supermassive Podcast

The Royal Astronomical Society

This is The Supermassive Podcast from the Royal Astronomical Society. Every month, science journalist Izzie Clarke and astrophysicist Dr Becky Smethurst take you through the universe with the latest research, history from the society’s archives and astronomy you can do from your own home. Support the team by buying their book, The Year in Space - https://geni.us/jNcrw You can send your questions to the team via [email protected] or follow them on Instagram @SupermassivePod. The Supermassive Podcast is a Boffin Media Production by Izzie Clarke and Richard Hollingham.

  • 47 minutes 52 seconds
    53: The Major Lunar Standstill
    Every 18.6 years, our moon reaches its farthest northern and southern point, known as a major lunar standstill. This month, Izzie and Dr Becky are exploring why this might be significant to Stonehenge in the UK and another historical site in the US called Chimney Rock. With special thanks to Dr Heather Sebire, Dr Amanda Chadburn and Dr Erica Ellingson.

    The southernmost Moonrise at Stonehenge will be livestreamed, allowing viewers to witness this celestial spectacle firsthand. Plus, there'll be events throughout the standstill season which include talks, a pop-up planetarium, stargazing sessions, storytelling, and a new exhibition display at the Stonehenge visitor centre in October. To find out more, visit...  
    https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stonehenge/things-to-do/major-lunar-standstill/#:~:text=Stonehenge%20is%20famous%20for%20its,'major%20lunar%20standstill'%20occurs.

    Or have a look at Chimney Rock in Colorado: 
    https://www.chimneyrockco.org/puebloan-resources/lunar-standstill/

    The Supermassive Podcast is a Boffin Media Production. The producers are Izzie Clarke and Richard Hollingham. 
    4 June 2024, 1:00 am
  • 19 minutes 50 seconds
    52: BONUS - Why does the Aurora Borealis look better on my phone?
    The UK witnessed the most amazing Northern Lights in years.... And Izzie missed it.

    In this bonus episode, Dr Becky Smethurst, Dr Robert Massey and Izzie Clarke talk about those Northern Lights and answer your questions. What is Jupiter's giant blue dot? If the sun is losing mass (by giving out energy) will that affect the gravity and orbit of the solar system? And how do you date a rock? 
    23 May 2024, 7:31 am
  • 47 minutes 58 seconds
    52: Voyager: Where no-one has gone before...
    Two of the most remarkable spacecraft ever launched are the stars of this month’s episode: Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. Izzie and Dr Becky talk to Dr Jamie Rankin, the mission’s current Deputy project scientist, and editor Richard gets to chat to Ann Druyan, the original Creative Director of the Golden Record project, who worked alongside her husband Carl Sagan.

    The Supermassive Podcast is a Boffin Media production for the Royal Astronomical Society. The producers are Izzie Clarke and Richard Hollingham. 

    29 April 2024, 11:01 pm
  • 13 minutes 50 seconds
    51: BONUS - Wobbly Planets and Baby Names
    Can wobbly planets have more than two solstices? Are we earthlings receding from the sun and the other planets? What is dark flow and why is it controversial? When stars die, is their energy lost forever? 

    Send your questions to [email protected] or find us on Instagram @SupermassivePod. 

    The Supermassive Podcast is a Boffin Media production for the Royal Astronomical Society. The producers are Izzie Clarke and Richard Hollingham. 
    10 April 2024, 1:00 am
  • 45 minutes 45 seconds
    51: Into The Interstellar
    Izzie and Dr Becky are venturing into interstellar space. What is it? Where is it? And what do we know about it? 

    With special thanks to Professor Martin Barstow from University of Leicester and Professor Chris Lintott from the University of Oxford. Chris' new book "Our Accidental Universe" is out now. 

    Check out the RAS's video on Pons Brooks here: https://ras.ac.uk/news-and-press/news/12ppons-brooks-how-and-when-see-devil-comet

    The Supermassive Podcast is a Boffin Media production for the Royal Astronomical Society. The producers are Izzie Clarke and Richard Hollingham. 


    26 March 2024, 2:00 am
  • 12 minutes 17 seconds
    50: BONUS - Dust, stars and alien streetlights
    What is cosmic dust? Could we reignite a dying Sun with a nuclear weapon? How do we know what galaxies stars are in, and can the JWST see streetlights on alien worlds?

    If you have a question for the Supermassive team, send them to [email protected] or find us on Instagram, @SupermassivePod.

    The Supermassive Podcast is a Boffin Media production for the Royal Astronomical Society. The producers are Izzie Clarke and Richard Hollingham. 

    13 March 2024, 12:01 am
  • 53 minutes 40 seconds
    50: Quakes in Space
    Izzie and Dr Becky are exploring shaky ground, whether that’s on Earth, other planets and even on our neighbour the Moon. This month is all about quakes. 

    With special thanks to Mark Panning, the project scientist for NASA's InSight mission, and Dr Jess Johnson from the University of East Anglia.

    Join Izzie and the UK Space Education Office for Mars Day on Tuesday 5th March, sign up to the virtual event here

    Explore the North Tyneside Solar Trail and discover models representing planets from our solar system, 16 & 17 March 2024

    The Supermassive Podcast is a Boffin Media production for the Royal Astronomical Society. The producers are Izzie Clarke and Richard Hollingham. 



    28 February 2024, 2:00 am
  • 13 minutes 19 seconds
    49: BONUS - Double Yolker Galaxies
    Do we see black hole mergers as a result of galaxy mergers? What did the night sky look like to the dinosaurs? Is a gas giant just a rocky planet with a huge and dense atmosphere? Do all orbits eventually end up in resonance? 

    The Supermassive Team is back with the first bonus episode for 2024! Send in your questions to [email protected] or find us on Instagram, @SupermassivePod.

    The Supermassive Podcast is a Boffin Media production for the Royal Astronomical Society. The producers are Izzie Clarke and Richard Hollingham. 



    12 February 2024, 2:00 am
  • 47 minutes 52 seconds
    49: The End of the World
    The Supermassive Podcast is back for 2024 and putting the "happy" in Happy New Year! What could be a cheerier start to the year than an episode about the End of the World… Astronomically speaking!?

    From supernova explosions, to super volcanoes, Izzie Clarke, Dr Becky Smethurst and Dr Robert Massey are running through the checklist of big bad things that put our planet at risk. Special thanks goes to Professor Chris Impey from the University of Arizona and author of How It Ends, and Dr Mike Cassidy from the University of Birmingham.

    Things we promised we'd put in the show notes: 
    NASA worksheet - https://spacemath.gsfc.nasa.gov/earth/10Page5.pdf
    Recent Betelgeuse paper - Saio et al. (2023; Betelgeuse in carbon fusion stage) - https://arxiv.org/pdf/2306.00287.pdf 

    Don't forget to leave us a review, send in your questions ,or share your astrophotography using [email protected] or find us on Instagram @SupermassivePod. 

    The Supermassive Podcast is a Boffin Media production for The Royal Astronomical Society. The producers are Izzie Clarke and Richard Hollingham. 
    30 January 2024, 2:00 am
  • 48 minutes 4 seconds
    48: Do We Live In A Multiverse?
    Izzie Clarke and Dr Becky Smethurst are rounding off 2023 with a biggie. Arguably the biggest of them all. This episode is ALL about the Multiverse. What is it? What does it mean? Does it even exist?  

    A big thank you to Andrew Pontzen from UCL and author of "Universe in a Box" for explaining the basics, Katie Mack from The Perimeter Institute for going from physicist to film reviewer, and to listener Wendy Entwistle who suggested the Supermassive team cover this topic.

    The Supermassive Podcast is a Boffin Media production for the Royal Astronomical Society. The producers are Izzie Clarke and Richard Hollingham. 

    22 December 2023, 2:00 am
  • 13 minutes 40 seconds
    47: BONUS - Could Space Junk Block JWST's View?
    From barbie dolls, to birds baths, what will happen to all the stuff we have made between now and the end of time? Could a large black hole spaghettify a small black hole? Could more satellites block JWST's view? And what came first, the Big Bang or Inflation?

    It's time for another deep dive into The Supermassive Mailbox with Izzie Clarke, Dr Becky Smethurst and Dr Robert Massey. 

    The Supermassive Podcast is a Boffin Media Production for the Royal Astronomical Society. The producers are Izzie Clarke and Richard Hollingham. 
    21 December 2023, 11:44 am
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