Episode 36: Another Year in Review

We celebrate our second anniversary this week!

We take the opportunity to reflect on what has been a very different year, but not without some great fun and highlights.

Jacinta in her recording studio

Jacinta and Dan talk through some of their favourite moments, from our Special Solar Eclipse Episode to our wonderful series of Mini-Episodes created by The Cosmic Savannah Podcasting Bootcamp trainees!

The Cosmic Savannah had the opportunity to explore the rich diversity of African Astronomy including The Travelling Telescope, a Bamboo Planetarium, indigenous /Xam Starlore and to meet the exciting young astronomers coming out of the continent!

Of course, there was no shortage of exciting science, MeerKAT producing some more excellent results with Jacinta at the forefront!

We hope you’ve enjoyed listening to this past year and we look forward to joining you again for more awesome African Astronomy!

You can find our full episode list below:

Transcript

Dan: [00:00:00] Welcome to The Cosmic Savannah with Dr. Daniel Cunnama

Jacinta: [00:00:08] and Dr. Jacinta Delhaize. Each episode, we’ll be giving you a behind the scenes look at world-class astronomy and astrophysics happening under African skies.

Dan: [00:00:17] Let us introduce you to the people involved, the technology we use, the exciting work we do, and the fascinating discoveries we make.

Jacinta: [00:00:25] Sit back and relax. As we take you on a safari through the skies.

Dan: [00:00:35] Welcome to episode 36.

Jacinta: [00:00:38] The final one of season three and our second anniversary.

Dan: [00:00:43] Happy anniversary!

Jacinta: [00:00:44] Happy anniversary! Podversary!

Dan: [00:00:45] It feels a lot longer than two years.

Jacinta: [00:00:48] Yeah it simultaneously feels instant and a lot longer.

Dan: [00:00:53] I think it just feels like it’s been a part of our life for a long time.

Jacinta: [00:00:56] Yeah and the last year has been a rather….different one.

Dan: [00:01:00] Yeah. I think the last year stretched out a bit for everyone. In terms of the podcast, we obviously took a little bit of a break initially when all of the lockdown madness happened and it just was too difficult to even consider recording. And then since then we’ve been doing a lot of recording at home, in blanket forts

Jacinta: [00:01:23] makeshift studios. My blanket fort continued to fall down every time.

There’s my blanket fort is falling down.

It’s my blanket, fort falling down.

Dan: [00:01:41] Yeah, lots of fun, but still I think we’ve succeeded in getting the episodes out. It’s been quite nice actually, to be able to interview people from around the world rather than limiting ourselves to in-person interviews. So I think the change has been good.

Jacinta: [00:01:57] Yeah. So of course, thank you to everyone for putting up with the audio troubles that we’ve had to have along the way, which pretty much everybody in podcasting has had to deal with one way or the other.

But thank you for your patience. For example, the traffic going past at the moment, if you can hear in the background.

Dan: [00:02:17] Let’s look back at the year. It hasn’t just been us who’s been struggling. Astronomy in general, in terms of the lockdown, trying to still observe and keep science going has certainly been challenging.

 We actually spoke to Moses recently, if you remember, about observing with SALT remotely, which is a major challenge, but now something that is done kind of routinely and I think it’ll probably stay in the future.

Jacinta: [00:02:41] Yeah. So that was episode 34 with Moses Mogotsi.

 Moses: [00:02:46] So COVID’s been, at least for me personally, it’s been quite challenging to get that going, but I’ll say that as a telescope, we’ve done quite well because compared to other telescopes that are this size, we’ve been able to utilize a lot of the time that we’ve been under lockdown to actually get observations done.

And our efficiency at observing has not been that far off from our regular observing efficiency. We have either been observing at the SAAO site in Cape Town or from our homes during this whole pandemic.

Dan: [00:03:15] Yeah. So I think that certainly a lot of has changed. Some for good. And I think that there’ll definitely be some elements that will carry on into the future. 

So in terms of the last year, after a little break, we came back with a bang  with a special episode on the June solar eclipse, which was visible across India and central Africa.

  Very exciting eclipse, unfortunately not visible in South Africa this time, but one of our most popular episodes actually. It got picked up around the world.

Jacinta: [00:03:46] That’s right.

Dan: [00:03:47] Yeah. We were joined by some colleagues from around Africa, Niruj Ramanujam, Prospery Simpemba and Alemiye Mamo who talked about some of the activities that were going on around the world and in India, in terms of viewing the solar eclipse.

Niruj: [00:04:02] Now total solar eclipses are very famous. They are well known. People would have seen pictures of the total solar eclipse with the sun’s atmosphere around it, but there’s also a very special kind of an eclipse called an annular solar eclipse. The moon will be too small to completely cover the sun and therefore it will cover only a part of the sun. It’ll be concentric so you’ll get a ring of the sun around the moon in the center.

And it’s called the ring of fire. A ring is also called an annulus and therefore we call this an annular solar eclipse.

Dan: [00:04:34] Yeah, it was very exciting. Nice way to get the season going and asked to have a special episode before we got back into proper programming. But before we did that, we also ran our podcasting bootcamp,

Jacinta: [00:04:46] That’s right. The Cosmic Savannah Podcasting Boot Camp, where we had about 10 trainees and they worked really, really hard for several weeks and they produce their own mini episodes of The Cosmic Savannah, which they did a fantastic job on.

Dan: [00:05:01] They weren’t the only ones who worked hard. You in particularly worked very hard.

Jacinta: [00:05:07] Yeah. It was a lot of work, but it was definitely rewarding and they have continued to volunteer for us throughout the season  and grow their experience and their confidence as podcasters. And so we’re really thankful to them.

So I would like to give a thanks to Sumari Hattingh, who is also our social media manager, Reikantseone Diretse, Tshiamiso Makwela, Timothy Roelf, Sambatriniaina Rajohnson, Andrew Firth, Robbie Lees, Bret Yotti, Brandon Engelbrecht, and Liantsoa Randrianjanahary.

Dan: [00:05:39] Yeah, thanks to all of them. I think it was a very special experience for us trying to pass on some of the lessons we’ve learned in terms of podcasting and sort of train up the next generation of podcasters.

I think it’s something we certainly feel very passionately about and something we’re going to continue to do  with The Cosmic Savannah. We’re not just sort of promoting young astronomy students, but I think the young science communicators. So I think that we’ll run a future podcasting boot camp and, and maybe we can train up some future podcasters.

Jacinta: [00:06:10] Absolutely. So if you are interested in science podcasting, feel free to reach out to us and we will put you on the list.

Dan: [00:06:16] Yeah, it’ll be exciting. I think we can grow The Cosmic Savannah family.

Jacinta: [00:06:20] Yeah and our volunteers really did some amazing episodes.

Dan: [00:06:23] Yeah, definitely. There were, there were quite a few and I think just very interesting to hear other people interviewing. The questions they ask, not necessarily the ones you or I would ask.

Jacinta: [00:06:33] Yeah. Different perspectives, different thoughts, and so many different topics. Like how does astronomy benefit humanity?

Tshiamiso: [00:06:39] Every single time I mention to someone that I actually love astronomy and I want to do astronomy. The question I got was how does that help people? Like, how does that help black people? You know, most of the time, black people would just say that to me. How does that help black people? And then later on after I did my Masters, I just thought maybe I want to do a little bit of astronomy and education because for me that brings both the science and the people together.

Jacinta: [00:07:04] Yeah, so very, very, very proud of all of our trainees and graduates of the camp.

Dan: [00:07:08] And if you haven’t had a chance to listen to the mini episodes, they are 15 minutes and you can go catch up.

Jacinta: [00:07:13] You also had a very, very busy start to the year, Dan.

Dan: [00:07:18] Well yeah, busy start, middle and end.

Jacinta: [00:07:20] Yes, true.

Dan: [00:07:22] I had a very busy 2020  with a lot of changes, a lot of trying to… What’s the analogy you like to use? Build the airplane while it’s taking off.  So yeah, the 200 year anniversary of the SAAO happened in October and there was a lot of work that went into that. Obviously everything had to change in terms of the unveiling of the national heritage site. And the celebration of the 200 years had to be shifted to virtual.

Jacinta: [00:07:51] You were intending to do this as a big live event, but then of course you had to pivot to virtual.

Dan: [00:07:56] Yeah absolutely. You know, it was a large event. We had ministerial attendance and it was something which, you know, we really wanted to make a big deal of, and we did. I think we succeeded to do that. I think that it was, it was obviously different, but in the 2020 climate. I think it was fairly successful. We also held various other things, which I think went really well.

We had the astronomy symposium, which had over 600 registrations, which talked about astronomy in general, in South Africa and various aspects of it, the history of it over the last 200 years and beyond,  ethno-astronomy, then the sort of current astronomy, future astronomy, and a lot of the young up-and-coming students who were also represented. And then topics like we’ve discussed already about astronomy and humanity, the societal impact of astronomy and what can be done and what has been done. And yeah, I think that it was, it was a great symposium. I think it was very well received and something I was quite proud of.

Jacinta: [00:08:51] Yeah, I think you did a spectacular job. And I’ve said this before, but yeah congratulations to you and your team and everyone at the SAAO for making that happen. It was really quite a spectacular event. And, you know, I learned a lot personally about the history, not knowing a lot about the history of South Africa as a whole, but particularly about the South African Astronomical Observatory.

There were quite a few eye-opening things in there. And I think the breadth of the science that is done now and has been done in the past is really quite impressive. So it’s really a very valuable institution. It has been in the past and continues to be into the future.

Vanessa McBride: [00:09:23]  I do think  this 200 year milestone is kind of an interesting place to be because obviously, you know, the observatory was founded as guidance  for the Navy, for the Admiralty, right?

In their efforts to  colonize and expand the empire. But yet here we are today and we’re doing this amazing science. And we’re also trying to grow this community and a cohort of black astronomers, right? Which we’re just starting to see move into these professional positions. So I think it’s a very exciting time to kind of look both back at the history of the observatory where we’ve come from, but also to look forward because it’s a moment really to shape the future of this observatory.

Jacinta: [00:10:14] And you also ran an astronomy festival parallel to that.

Dan: [00:10:17] Yeah, so we, we also organized an astronomy festival in collaboration with SciFest and that also had to be shifted to fully virtual. So we had live talks, people could interact with various speakers from around the world. We had little star party with Master KG, where we did some virtual stargazing and dance music.

And it was, it was really cool. Some exciting sort of ideas that we got to try out and certainly some things which we’ll keep in the future.

Jacinta: [00:10:44] A virtual star party with a DJ. So cool.

Dan: [00:10:47] It was pretty cool. Like it was pretty cool, you know, jamming to tunes, looking at some cool stars and objects.

Jacinta: [00:10:54] And did you play Jerusalema?

Dan: [00:10:56] Of course. Okay. I still don’t really know what it is. We’ll have to practice.

Jacinta: [00:11:01] Yeah ok.

Dan: [00:11:02] And put a YouTube video of it up.

Jacinta: [00:11:03] No!

 And on top of that, you made a planetarium show!

Dan: [00:11:07] Yes. That was super exciting. You know, trying to film during lockdown was certainly a challenge, but making our first planetarium film for the fulldome, we selected the topic of South African astronomy, the sort of journey from the beginnings to now talked a little bit about each of the observatories, including SARAO and MeerKAT and looking to the future and the exciting things that are coming.

And again, very well received. I think that it’s done quite well and we will be sharing it freely around the world.  We’ve finalized the 8k version. We’ve sort of rolled out all of the kinks and it’s looking really good now. So that’s something to be proud of. I’m proud of it.

Jacinta: [00:11:48] Yeah. I recently had the opportunity to watch the full show and I must say I’d seen part of it that you shared with me, but seeing it in the full version in the planetarium dome. I must say I was blown away. It really even exceeded my expectation. So congratulations to you and to Sally and to the other people who produced that.

So if you haven’t seen it yet, head over to Iziko planetarium, if you’re in Cape Town and watch that show Rising Star. And  that’s to be shared with other planetaria around the world

soon.

Dan: [00:12:18] Yeah. We’re distributing it free of charge around the world. So it should hopefully be in a planetarium near you.

Jacinta: [00:12:24] So check it out if you get an opportunity. Speaking of  planetaria we also talked about a bamboo planetarium in episode 27.

Dan: [00:12:32] Yeah. We spoke to Susan Murabana  Owen and Chu Owen who amongst other things have built a bamboo planetarium, an incredible concept.

Jacinta: [00:12:42] Yeah. They’re doing some fantastic work in Kenya with the Traveling Telescope program and have recently built the Nairobi planetarium out of bamboo.

Chu: [00:12:50] One more thing, our planetarium we’re making out bamboo.

Jacinta: [00:12:53] Oh what!? So, wait, what?

Chu: [00:12:57] I know, I know! So it’s going to be a geodesic dome, which is made of bamboo. We’ve been in the process of designing this hexagonal hub thing, which is also made of bamboo so that these… anyway, I’ll have to show you pictures of it. But yeah we’re in the process of doing that and possibly even making a telescope out of bamboo as well, because bamboo is this wonderful material

that’s just super quick to grow and great for the soil. Just thought I’d put that in there.

Jacinta: [00:13:17] Yeah. Maybe we can put a picture of it on our website.

Susan: [00:13:20] Yeah.

Jacinta: [00:13:20] Awesome.

Dan: [00:13:23] Yeah, there really is some excellent work happening across Africa. We we’ve talked before about the sort of richness of Africa. The following episode, actually, we talked a lot about ethno-astronomy.

We were joined by Professor John Parkington. Who’s actually an archeologist who’s got very involved in ethno-astronomy and done quite a lot of work in South Africa, which was, I found, a fascinating

Jacinta: [00:13:44] conversation.

Yeah. I loved hearing about the stories of the indigenous people of a certain region in South Africa and their traditional stories of the night sky.

John: [00:13:53] We realized that the telescopes were going to go up in an area from which we had a lot of 19th century stories. And we knew of course already that many of these stories actually did relate to the sky. You see, those /Xam speaking San hunter-gatherers of Karoo spent just as much of their time looking up at the dark sky as they did looking up at the bright daylight sky.

They knew it backwards. They  knew it’s patterning. They knew its variability. They knew its relationship to seasonal changes, to weather and so on. So it was very obvious to us that many of those stories told us about the /Xam speakers as astronomers.

Jacinta: [00:14:37] And it was really interesting to hear John’s perspective as an archeologist, with an interest in anthropology and his perspectives on the relationship that the indigenous people had with the sky and the land and how they were sort of seen as the same thing. Whereas in modern culture, we tend to separate them as two separate things.

Dan: [00:14:55] Yeah, we at SAAO  are trying our hardest to try and collect and share these stories.

We’ve created a series of animations of some Khoi and San star stories. The first one was Moon’s Message, which has been released. And you can find on the blog. Just trying to capture these stories, animate them and try and share them with the wider world.

Jacinta: [00:15:17] Yeah. I loved Moon’s Message. I watched it so many times.

When’s the next one coming out?

Dan: [00:15:22] Soon. Soon. We are currently building the new visitor center here.  The original plan was to release them in line with the visitor center. We would have them showing in multiple languages. So the animations have been made in four languages:  English, Afrikaans, Xhosa and  Khoekhoegowab, which is an indigenous language in South Africa, as well as Xhosa obviously, but you know, of the Khoi languages.

And it’s still spoken by about 200,000 people. So a good way for us to share these stories with the people who they originated from. Yeah, so a pretty good summary of all of my work from the past year.  But you’ve also been busy. Busy bee.

Jacinta: [00:16:03] Oh yes, yes. I’ve definitely had my work cut out for me.

Dan: [00:16:07] And we  featured you in episode 31 as the guest. Yeah, I got opportunity to interview you rather than interview alongside you.

Jacinta: [00:16:17] I know that we’re always our own worst critic but I cringe when I listen to that episode, I was so excited and nervous and I spoke so fast.

Dan: [00:16:26] Not at all. That was great.

Jacinta: [00:16:27] I was talking about my paper, my recent publication, where we detected two new giant radio galaxies in the sky and with the MeerKAT telescope, which is of course, South Africa’s very, very powerful radio interferometer and the Karoo. And this was very exciting because it was one of the first papers to come out from the MIGHTEE survey, which is one of the large galaxy evolution programs that’s being run with the MeerKAT telescope.

 And yeah, it was just an example of the super cool objects we can find and the promise it has to be, you know, a big legacy project for studies of galaxy evolution. So yeah, it was very, very exciting.

Dan: [00:17:07] See? You’re still enthusiastic.

Jacinta: [00:17:08] Yes, of course. I am. Actually I have some cool news, which I haven’t even told you yet Dan, which is that I proposed some observations. Some new observations with MeerKAT to have a look at these objects again, but at a lower frequency because MeerKAT has a new receiver. It’s called the Ultra High Frequency receiver, UHF. But the name is a bit confusing. It’s actually lower frequency than the previous one.

So I’m not sure why. I think there was some historical reason for that, which I’m not sure about. Anyway, so we put in a proposal for that. There were, I think I got the number wrong in a previous episode, but there were about a hundred and something proposals put in for some of this very rare time on MeerKAT, where it’s not performing these large surveys like MIGHTEE, but it’s called open time.

So anyone, any astronomer around the world can propose to use MeerKAT for their project for a short amount of time. So we put in a proposal to re-observe these two giant radio galaxies in order to get this lower frequency data. And with that, we’re going to try and understand more about the physical properties of these galaxies.

That proposal was accepted, and our observations were taken last night. At the time of recording they were taken last night.

Dan: [00:18:23] Back to work.

Jacinta: [00:18:24] Yeah, exactly exactly.

Dan: [00:18:27] Now you’ve got to go through and publish

another paper.

Jacinta: [00:18:30] I’m excited. I’m really, really excited. I can’t wait to get my hands on that data. I mean, first of all, before we were able to see anything, we have to do several weeks of processing the data. You know, it comes to us in a very raw format and we have to do a lot of things to process it, but yeah, I can’t wait to get started.

Dan: [00:18:45] Awesome. Congratulations!

Jacinta: [00:18:47] Thanks!

Dan: [00:18:49] And obviously yours is not the only project going on on MeerKAT, there’s a lot of good science going on.

In episode 32, we spoke to Paolo Serra about some of his exciting work. And I think since we spoke to him, there has been a lot more exciting work which has come out.

Jacinta: [00:19:03] Oh yes! That was episode 32 was the MeerKAT Fornax survey. And Paolo was telling us about the work that him and his team do in mostly based in Cagliari in Italy and how they’re looking at a cluster of galaxies called Fornax.

Paolo: [00:19:17] In galaxy clusters, you can have from hundreds to thousands of galaxies, all living very close to one another. And when they do so they interact with one another, quite a lot. Essentially they can destroy, disturb, deform, one another. And in galaxy clusters, this happens at a very fast rate. It happens with particularly violent or dramatic events.

And so studying a cluster like Fornax which is very well visible from the MeerKAT site and is very close to us, so you can look at it in detail, is very exciting and useful also to understand the astrophysics that drives this galaxy evolution.

Jacinta: [00:19:53] But since we spoke with Paolo, they’ve produced amazing results. And actually last week at the SKA science conference 2021, Paolo and his team presented their new results, which were so cool, so many awesome images and stuff. And so I won’t spoil it too much because we’d like to speak to them again soon and they can tell us all about their results.

Dan: [00:20:14] yeah. MeerKAT hey? So much exciting stuff.

Jacinta: [00:20:18] One of the other big telescopes in South Africa is SALT, the Southern African Large Telescope, which is not radio, but in the optical.

And we spoke in episode 30 to Kelebogile Bonokwane who was a Master’s student at the time and is now a PhD student. And we spoke about how she uses SALT and also the TESS satellite, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, to study something that’s very different from galaxies, which is planetary nebulae.

Dan: [00:20:47] Yeah. So the remnants of exploding stars, which are beautiful objects and Hubble has spoilt us with these beautiful photos of planetary nebulae.

And yeah, Kelebogile is working on how these planetary nebula can tell you about the nature  of stars and  the elements which get ejected when stars explode.

Kelebogile: [00:21:09] Similar to people, stars evolve over a lifetime. They’re born and they die. And so the planetary nebulae is sort of where star evolves towards the end of its life time.

And so you have this expanded material of gas driven off the surface of the star and then this hot core at the center, sort of heats up this material. And that’s what you see as this glowing nebula. So that whole system is what you have as a planetary nebula.

Jacinta: [00:21:43] I really liked that episode because it’s very different to my field of research.

So I learned a lot.

Dan: [00:21:47] Yeah. Another episode where we learned a lot, episode 29, Zombies of the Cosmos, although I’m still reluctant to call them zombies.

Jacinta: [00:21:54] Oh Dan!

Dan: [00:21:55] You know, some things never change and I’m one of them. Yeah it was very interesting.  We learned about neutron stars. We interviewed Matthew Bailes, who was very involved in the discovery of this neutron star merger.

And then we interviewed  Katia Moskvitch who recently published a book about neutron stars and the quest to understand them.

Matthew: [00:22:15] Well, if you look at the gravity on earth, it’s actually pretty small by cosmic standards. We have an acceleration due to gravity of 9.8 meters per second squared. A neutron star is half a million times heavier.

So that gives you a factor of 500,000 increase in the acceleration due to gravity. But they are also about a factor of 600 times smaller. So you’ve got these gravitational fields, a million times stronger than, than on Earth. And it’s a naturally occurring place to conduct studies into relativistic gravity.

Katia: [00:22:47] Speaking of zombies, what’s very  interesting, and I also talk about it in the book, is that there are neutron stars that die twice. Which is really cool. So first, you get this massive star, which will die. As I described before, it turns into it turns into a neutron star.

And then if it happens to be next to a companion star, what will happen is it will basically start cannibalizing the companion star and eating off the matter from the companion star and by doing so it will spin up, it will rotate faster and faster, and it’ll turn into what we call a millisecond pulsar.

Jacinta: [00:23:25] I really liked hearing Katia’s perspective on this and also about sort of hearing about a science adjacent career that she has as an author and a journalist. I found that really, really interesting, And I guess, so not only has the past year been full of amazing astronomy discoveries and progress in all different areas, despite the difficult circumstances that we’re all living in. But the future is also very, very bright for astronomy in Africa. And that was featured in episode 35 Rising Stars.

When we spoke to Indiphile Madletyana and Thabo Maliea, who are both high school learners, students, very, very keen in astronomy. Very, very proactive with great initiatives and they’re just two examples of the many, many students and young people in the country and on the continent who are passionate about astronomy and who are clearly going to make the future even brighter than it already is.

 Indiphile: [00:24:23] I wanted to let people know. I wanted to promote a strong education of which is what I’m doing now. So promoting astronomy education, sharing knowledge, and just speaking to people about what I love, what I’m interested in.  

Thabo: [00:24:37] The reason why I got interested in astronomy is because we have good clear skies during the night here in Botshabelo. Light pollution here is really rare. So we are able to see many stars and many constellations. During the times when I will be outside during the night, I will ask myself, why did the stars form those kinds of patterns?

Why are they different from our sun? And why do they keep shining? Why do they keep dipping in and off? And why are they there in the first place? So those kinds of questions that I was asking myself from a very young age, they’re the ones that tricked me to love astronomy in the first place.  

Dan: [00:25:17] Yeah. Thabo’s already in first year now at UCT.

Jacinta: [00:25:21] Ah yes! He’s had his first week or so of university, so hope he’s going well. Great. And so, so that’s kind of the longer term future, but what about the more immediate future next year?

What have you got on your plate Dan?

Dan: [00:25:34] I mentioned it briefly earlier, we’re building a new visitor center here in Cape Town, which is really exciting. Hopefully we’ll be able to host visitors soon. But that’s definitely keeping me very busy and the various things which will go into it. So the various exhibitions. We’re doing more work on ethno-astronomy, collecting stories.

We’re also installing a lot of exhibits on the current science and technology. Technology of SALT. So yeah. Very, very exciting stuff coming. I’m also, and I’m not sure I’ve told you yet, doing another planetarium show.

Jacinta: [00:26:04] Oh gosh, another? Wow!

Dan: [00:26:06] I know, right? And this one is focusing on the indigenous starlore entirely and we are working frantically on that at the moment  because the grant we’ve received put us on a very tight deadline to deliver by the 31st of May.

So I’ve got two months to cobble together another awesome planetarium show.

Jacinta: [00:26:25] I’m looking forward to seeing it.

Dan: [00:26:28] And my subsequent gray hairs. And yourself? Other than reducing your MeerKAT data. Tonight?

Jacinta: [00:26:36] Yeah, I guess  there’s several science projects that I’m working on at the moment and the MeerKAT data will be… well, I’m going to prioritize that because I’m very, very excited about it.

So a lot of science going on and I guess preparing for season four of The Cosmic Savannah, and maybe even running another workshop.

Dan: [00:26:55] Yeah, we’ll go off and collect some nice interviews and released them soon.

Jacinta: [00:26:59] Yeah, definitely. So I guess before we end, I just wanted to say thank you to you, Dan, for a wonderful two years and for being my partner in crime,  the co-producer and co-host of The Cosmic Savannah. So thank you for all of your efforts and your time.

Dan: [00:27:13] Thank you. I mean, thank you. You’ve done an incredible job and you continue to, and it wouldn’t be possible without you. We’re going to get all teary.

Jacinta: [00:27:22] Oh no!

Dan: [00:27:24] I think it’s been a wonderful two years. I think it’s been an incredible experience for both of us. Lovely to collect these stories, interview people. I mean, just the opportunity to interview people and find out what’s going on is a pleasure in itself. And then being able to share it with everyone. You. The listener.

Jacinta: [00:27:40] Exactly. Yeah. And thank you most of all to you, the listeners, because without you, we don’t have a podcast and this is all for you.

So thank you very much for the time you spend in listening to these episodes, the time you spend in, giving us feedback and engaging with us on social media, for leaving us reviews and ratings, we truly, truly appreciate it. And  we just really hope that you’re enjoying this.

Dan: [00:28:04] And putting up with our jokes.

Jacinta: [00:28:06] Yeah, sorry about that.

Dan: [00:28:09] And that’s it for this season.

Jacinta: [00:28:11] Yeah that’s it for the season! The end of Season three!

Dan: [00:28:14] We’ll be back soon. Don’t worry. And that’s it for this season. Thank you again very much for listening and we hope you’ll join us again for the next season of The Cosmic Savannah.

Jacinta: [00:28:23] You can visit our website www.thecosmicsavannah.com, where we’ll have the transcript, links and other stuff related to today’s episode.

You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @cosmicsavannah. That’s Savannah spelled S A V A N N A H.

Dan: [00:28:39] Thanks to our social media manager, Sumari Hattingh and all The Cosmic Savannah volunteers. Also to Mark Allnut for music production Janis Brink and Michal Lyzcek check for  photography and Lana Ceraj for the graphic design.

Jacinta: [00:28:51] We gratefully acknowledge support from the South African National Research Foundation, the South African Astronomical Observatory and the University of Cape Town Astronomy Department to help keep the podcast running.

Dan: [00:29:01] You can subscribe on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. And if you’d like to help us out, please rate and review us and recommend us to a friend.

Jacinta: [00:29:09] We’ll speak to you in the next season of The Cosmic Savannah. [Outro music ends]

Each episode we’ll be giving you a behind the scenes look at world-class astronomy and astrophysics happening under African skies.

Dan: [00:29:15] Sit back and relax as we take you on

Jacinta: [00:29:17] What? You missed a line! [Laughs] This is the 36 times we’ve done this Dan!

Dan: [00:29:18] Huh! Just goes to show.

Let us introduce you to the people involved say take…I’ve lost it entirely! Argh!

Jacinta: [00:29:20] This is going well.

Episode 35: Rising Stars

with Indiphile Madletyana, Thabo Maliea, Reikantseone Diretse and Sumari Hattingh

This week we feature some rising stars in African Astronomy!

We’re joined by Indiphile Madletyana, a high school student from Hermanus, South Africa. Indiphile, inspired by the AstroQuiz competition, has taken his love of astronomy to the public by creating his own videos explaining astronomy concepts. His channel is called AstroLearnTV.

We’re also joined by Thabo Maliea who excelled in the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists and recently won an award at the 2021 Taiwan International Science Fair (TISF). Thabo talks about his experience, and his plans to study astronomy at the University of Cape Town.

Finally, we’re joined by two graduates of The Cosmic Savannah Podcasting Bootcamp Reikantseone Diretse from the University of Cape Town and Sumari Hattingh from North-West University. Reikantseone puts his podcasting training into practice by interviewing Sumari about her work on galaxies using instruments such as the Hubble Space Telescope!

This week’s guests:

Related Links:

South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA): https://www.saasta.ac.za
AstroQuiz: https://www.saasta.ac.za/competitions/astroquiz/
AstroLearnTV: https://www.facebook.com/astrolearntv.sa/
Eskom Expo: https://exposcience.co.za/


Episode 34: The Life Cycle of Galaxies

with Dr Moses Mogotsi

This episode we hear from a familiar voice! SALT Astronomer Dr Moses Mogotsi was our first ever guest on The Cosmic Savannah. He joins us again to explain what it’s like to observe in the time of COVID and to tell us more about his research on galaxies.

Moses is an expert on the baryonic cycle – the passage of gas through galaxies over time. He explains how we can observe gas falling into galaxies, how it forms into stars, and where it goes when those stars die.

We learn about how observing galaxies at different wavelengths and with different telescopes can add to our overall understanding of how galaxies evolve.

Deep exposures of Galaxies using the 0.8m Schulman Telescope at the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter. Credit Line & Copyright: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

Today’s Guest

Related Links:

SAAO: http://www.saao.ac.za
SALT: http://www.salt.ac.za

Featured Image:

A Hubble image of the merging galaxies NGC 6240. Like other luminous mergers, this one hosts a rapid flow of molecular gas. Astronomers have now imaged the carbon monoxide gas in the central regions and found it forms jet-like outflows driven by activity around the black holes. NASA/HST