Astrophiz 43: Cassini’s #GrandFinale Legacy



As two of 30 very lucky Astrogeeks, Andrew P Street and Brendan were guests of the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex on Friday 15 September 2017 to witness first hand the #GrandFinale of the astonishing 20 year Cassini Mission to Saturn.

In this episode:
With permission, we read Andrew P Street’s great article published in the Guardian the next day. 

Then Dr Ian Musgrave and I discuss my awed impressions of this amazing night at Tidbinbilla CDSCC as a guest of CSIRO/NASA, and my new understanding of the importance and capabilities of the 3 NASA/JPL Deep Space Network earth stations at Goldstone USA, Madrid Spain and Tidbinbilla Australia. Ian recounts some of Cassini’s iconic achievements.

For observers and astrophotographers, Ian continues with ‘What’s Up Doc’ and tells us when, where and what to look for in morning and evening skies. In Ian’s Tangent, Ian helps us understand why the end of the Cassini Mission was such an emotional event compared with other famous missions.

For Aurora Hunters, we include the spooky sounds of Saturn’s aurorae, as captured by Cassini.

In the news:
1. In many previous episodes we have talked about how the sheer enormity of radio telescope data caches presents challenges for effective analysis. Today we quote from a review of the ‘ Big Data Boom’ in Nature Astronomy by Professor Ray Norris, School of Computing, Engineering, & Maths, Western Sydney University.

2. We report on the May 2018 launch of the NASA InSight Mission to Mars

3. Japanese researchers crack the code of Supermassive Black hole evolution.

Astrophiz 42: Glen Nagle ‘Cassini’s #GrandFinale’ & Dr Ian Musgrave ‘What’s Up Doc?’



Today we are speaking with Glen Nagle from the CSIRO/NASA Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) at Tidbinbilla near Canberra in Australia.

Glen takes us through the genesis of NASA missions and the astonishing achievements of the Cassini mission since the launch in 1997. He explains how the CDSCC establishes two-way communication with about 40 spacecraft, how command sets from JPL are transmitted to Cassini and how science data and images are received. Glen then tells us why and how Cassini will be smashing into the atmosphere of Saturn next week on Friday 15 September, and how the Tidbinbilla dishes will be capturing the final science data from Cassini. Watch this amazing event live on NASA TV at

Dr Ian Musgrave in ‘What’s up Doc’ tells us what to look for in the morning and evening skies and covers this week’s fabulous discoveries about Asteroid Florence and how amateurs can track this asteroid with its two moons. Yes, asteroids can have moons!

In the News: 
1. New understanding of novae explosions from backyard astronomy
2. Repeating FRB’s (Fast Radio Bursts) from distant galaxy
3. New kind of Gravity Waves detected

Episode 41: Dr Hayley Bignall ‘Scintillating Research’ & Dr Ian Musgrave ‘What’s Up Doc’



Today we are speaking with Dr Hayley Bignall. Hayley is an astrophysicist for Australia’s CSIRO in their Astronomy & Space Science Division. 

After her studies, she spent 5 yrs working at the Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe and is now based in Perth, Australia. After spending about 7 years at The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) at Curtin University, she joined CSIRO in 2016.
Hayley explains how a team she works with have made some fabulous discoveries about blazars and quasars and ‘scintillations’ in intergalactic space.

Dr Ian Musgrave in ‘What’s up Doc’ tells us what to look for in the morning and evening skies and explains how an occultation project lead to the discovery of a comet with a binary cross-section

In the News: Amazing new gravity wave source could be visible neutron stars rather then ‘invisible’ black holes. 

Astrophiz 40: Dr. Alice Gorman ‘Spacejunk Treasures’



Today we celebrate our 40th episode and 10,000+ downloads into 50+ countries. 

In this episode we feature Dr Alice Gorman (‘Dr Spacejunk’) who is a Space Archaeologist and Senior Lecturer at the Department of Archaeology, Flinders University in South Australia. She is a member of the Advisory Council of the Space Industry Association of Australia. Alice casts a new focus on WRESAT-1, Australia’s first satellite launch, positioning Australia as the third nation in space in 1967. She explains how the Voyager probes and the ‘Golden record’ are cultural milestones which mark humanity’s place in the solar system. As one of the few space archeologists on planet earth, she gives fabulous and new insights into the ISS and the treasure it has become.
Follow Alice on Twitter @drspacejunk

In ‘What’s up Doc’, Dr Ian ‘Astroblog’ Musgrave tells us what to look for in the evening and morning skies, the skinny on the Perseid Meteor Shower, and in ‘Ian’s Tangent’ he shines the light on the Osiris REx mission, occultations, the imminent US eclipse and gravitational lensing. Follow @ianfmusgrave on Twitter.

In the news:
How big is space? (Yuge!)
Latest NASA missions

Astrophiz 39: Dr Ian Musgrave’s Astronomy & Astrophotography


Dr Ian ‘Astroblog’ Musgrave gives us an insightful approach to amateur astronomy, and introduces us to basic equipment.

He discusses  camera options and the iTelecopeDOTnet remote telescopes.
He tells us what to look for in the evening and morning skies and in his ‘Tangent’, give us more detail on occultations and how some asteroids can become comets. [Follow @ianfmusgrave on Twitter]

Ian is someone very familiar to Astrophiz listeners. For the last 12 months he has presented his ‘What’s Up Doc’ segment where he tells us what to look for in the night sky, astrophotography tips and in ‘Ian’s Tangent’ he gives us a deeper understanding of astronomical phenomena. Today he will do all that, but first we’re going to find out more about this erstwhile producer of the fantastic ‘Astroblog’.

In the News: SKA update, the Voyager Missions, Non-Optical Telescopes and what to look forward to in our next couple of episodes.
On iTunes & Soundcloud.

Astrophiz 38: Richard Stephenson ‘Talking with Spacecraft’ & Dr Ian Musgrave’s ‘What’s Up Doc’



Our feature interview is with Richard Stephenson, who is the Operations Supervisor at the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla in Australia.

The CDSCC is part of the Deep Space Network of NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), managed in Australia by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Thanks to Glen Nagle (Episode 17) for facilitating this interview

Richard explains the technologies he uses to have up to 100 spacecraft contacts each week, and how he and his counterparts in Goldstone/Mojave and Madrid work in shifts around the clock to maintain two-way communications with 27 missions, including Cassini, Juno, New Horizons and the distant Voyager probes.

[Follow @nascom1 and @CanberraDSN on Twitter]

In our regular astrophotography and observations segment, Dr Ian ‘Astroblog’ Musgrave tells us what to look for in the night sky and reports on continuing ideal viewing conditions for Saturn and Mercury. In ‘Ian’s Tangent’ he tells us about different types of occultation and how they can be used to tell us the position, size and shape of asteroids.
[Follow @ianfmusgrave on Twitter]


Astrophiz 37: Robert Arrowsmith ‘The 8 metre Dish’ + Dr Ian Musgrave ‘What’s Up Doc’

In this episode we’re celebrating our first 12 months of Astrophiz, where we have published 37 episodes, and it looks like our diversity and social media policies are working well, for we’ve featured 15 male and 22 women astrophysicists, astronomers, NASA rocket scientists, particle physicists, mission scientists and instrument scientists from the UK, Spain, India, Norway, Japan, Russia, Romania, Germany, Canada, the US and Australia and had well over 9000 downloads to listeners in more than 50 countries. 
For our special anniversary episode, we are re-interviewing our very first guest, Robert Arrowsmith from Melbourne, Australia, who is now leading the construction of an 8 meter radio telescope for the Astronomical Society of Victoria. 
Rob is one of the leaders in the Radio-Astronomy arm of the ASV and in Episode #1 he described the work being done at the ASV Leon Mow Radio Observatory, which is located in a RF quiet zone site about 90 minutes north of Melbourne in SE Australia
In our regular astrophotography and observations segment, Dr Ian ‘Astroblog’ Musgrave tells us what to look for in the night sky and reports on ideal viewing conditions for Saturn and Mercury. In ‘Ian’s Tangent’ he tells us about a very rare discovery where a white dwarf and a brown dwarf are dancing in a very closely orbiting binary star system called a cataclysmic variable.
Next Episode: Richard Stephenson from the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex explains the technologies he uses to talk with Spacecraft like Cassini and the Voyagers.