Episode 59: Construction of the SKA commences! - The 5th of December 2022 sees the commencement of construction of the long-awaited Square Kilometre Array (SKA)! We are honoured to be joined by the SKA Observatory Council Chairperson, Dr Catherine Cesarsky to talk about this momentous occasion.
Episode 58: Season 4 in Review - In this week's episode, Jacinta and Dan take a step back to review the past year of the Cosmic Savannah podcast. We chat about some of the highlights of the past year in astronomy and also some of our favourite episodes of the season.
Episode 57: From dust to dust - In this episode we are joined by Dr Omima Osman who studies the lifecycles of cosmic dust. Omima explains how she is using computer simulations to understand how dust is created, grows and is destroyed in interstellar space.
Episode 56: Our supermassive black hole - The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration has unveiled the first image of the supermassive black hole at the centre of our own Milky Way galaxy! We are joined by Dr Iniyan Natarajan who is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Witwatersrand and who was part of the team of over 300 astronomers who made this possible.
Episode 55: A Trip Down Under (Re-run) - An oldie but a goodie - re-run of Episode 11. Jacinta takes us on a tour of her homeland, into the Australian bush, and chats about pathfinders, precursor telescopes and exciting collaborations between South Africa and Australia in the lead up to the Square Kilometre Array!
Episode 54: The African Network of Women in Astronomy - In this week's episode we are joined by fours members of the board of the recently established African Network of Women in Astronomy (AfNWA). AfNWA is an initiative that aims to connect women working in astronomy and related fields in Africa. AfNWA aims to guarantee the future participation of girls and women at all levels in astronomy and science developments in Africa.
Episode 53: Space lasers! - A powerful, naturally occurring “space laser”, called a megamaser, has been discovered with South Africa’s MeerKAT radio telescope in a galaxy nearly five billion light-years away. We speak with the lead researcher Dr. Marcin Glowacki and team-lead Associate Professor Sarah Blyth.
Episode 52: Head Space - In this week’s episode, we take a step back from astronomy and focus on mental health in academia and beyond. We are joined by Dr Jack Radcliffe, an astronomer from the University of Pretoria who speaks to us about his work on galaxy evolution, as well his recent efforts to speak out about mental health challenges facing academics in particular.
Episode 51: No Planet B - We are joined by Prof Travis Rector, co-founder of Astronomers for Planet Earth, who chats about why and how astronomers can teach climate change!
Episode 50: Titans of Astronomy - In celebration of our 50th Episode, we are joined by a Titan of Astronomy, Dr Bernie Fanaroff, who speaks with us about his illustrious career and his vision for the future of astronomy in Africa
Episode 49: SALT Spectroscopy - This episode is in celebration of the IAU Women and Girls in Astronomy Month in February. We speak with Dr Elizabeth Naluminsa who is one of the first Ugandan women to obtain her PhD in astronomy is now working with instrumentation on the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT).
Episode 48: ATLAS – Holding up the Heavens! - We're joined by SAAO Astronomer Dr Nic Erasmus who has been responsible for the newest telescope on the SAAO site (And he's just had a comet named after him!) Sutherland has become the latest observatory to host an asteroid tracking system funded by NASA!
Episode 47: SALT and Near-Earth Asteroids (re-run) - This is a re-run of the very first episode of The Cosmic Savannah! We're re-running it in preparation for our next episode where we'll be speaking again with Nic for some exciting updates. In Episode 1, we introduce ourselves and our vision for the podcast. SALT Astronomer Dr Moses Mogotsi then describes what it's like to use the biggest optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere (from 00:12m). Lastly, Dr Nicolas Erasmus tells us about the hunt for near-earth asteroids (from 00:23m) using the ATLAS network. Nic explains how another ATLAS telescope is being installed in South Africa in order to achieve continuous coverage of the Southern night sky.
Episode 46: A crash of clusters - In this episode, we are joined by Dr Kenda Knowles. Kenda has just released a beautiful new dataset called the MeerKAT Galaxy Cluster Legacy Survey (MGCLS). The survey contains images of the radio emission from 115 clusters of galaxies!
Episode 45: The James Webb Space Telescope - The long-awaited James Webb Space Telescope will finally launch into space on December 18 2021! In this episode we are joined by Prof Christy Tremonti who is a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is an observational astronomer who works on galaxy evolution and stellar feedback processes. Christy speaks with us about her work, the JWST and the exciting future that awaits!
Episode 44: Stars behaving badly! (Re-run) - We are joined by two experts in stellar astronomy, Priscilla Muheki from Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda and Distinguished Professor Hakeem Oluseyi from the Florida Institute of Technology. Priscilla talks about her PhD research in Uganda studying violent outbursts, known as coronal mass ejections, from certain types of stars. Hakeem then goes on the explain these coronal mass ejections and the violent magnetic fields associated with them, and what effect they may have on both our technology and our entire planet!
Episode 43: The search for hidden hydrogen - In this episode, we are joined by Dr Tariq Blecher and Shilpa Ranchod who talk to us about the clever ways they are trying to capture the elusive signals of hydrogen gas in the distant Universe.
Episode 42: Rockin’ all over the World - We are joined by Dr Eugene Grosch who is a geologist and petrologist at Rhodes University in South Africa to discuss how planets create the building blocks for life!
Episode 41: How to Train Your Galaxy - We are joined by Dr Rob Yates, from the University of Surrey, who chats with us about how to recreate the formation of galaxies inside a supercomputer!
Episode 40: The mystery of the Fast Radio Burst - This episode we speak with Dr Marisa Geyer. She is a pulsar astronomer and Commissioning Scientist at the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) in Cape Town, South Africa. MeerKAT telescope. She also explains her research on pulsars and mysterious Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs). We don't yet know what causes FRBs, but Marisa reveals some enticing clues!
Episode 39: Erupting novae - In this week's episode, we are joined by Dr Miriam Nyamai who studies thermonuclear eruptions on the surface of white dwarf stars! Miriam explains how these "novae" eruptions occur and what we can learn from them. She also describes her role as a postdoctoral researcher hunting for transient events in the sky using radio telescopes such as MeerKAT.
Episode 38: Rise of the machines - We are joined by Dr Michelle Lochner who is a senior lecturer at the University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa. Michelle is developing new machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) tools to analyse the massive astronomical datasets of next- generation telescopes.
Episode 37: Square Kilometre Array telescope is go for construction! - Welcome to Season Four! We start with a bang and speak with the Director General of the Square Kilometre Array Telescope, Prof Phil Diamond! Phil tells us how it feels to finally have the green light for construction of this giant telescope, after nearly 30 years of preparation.
Episode 36: Another Year in Review - Episode 36 marks the second anniversary of The Cosmic Savannah. We take the opportunity to reflect on what has been a very different year, but not without some great fun and highlights. Jacinta and Dan talk through some of their favourite moments from the past year.
Episode 35: Rising Stars - This week we feature some rising stars in African Astronomy! We're joined by high school learners Indiphile Madletyana and Thabo Maliea who both show great promise as aspiring astronomers, as well as Masters students Sumari Hattingh and Reikantseone Diretse who discuss studies of galaxy clusters using the Hubble Space Telescope. Check out the show notes at www.thecosmicsavannah.com for related links, pics, info and the full transcript.
Episode 34: The Life Cycle of Galaxies - 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. We learn about how observing galaxies in different wavelengths and with different telescopes can add to our overall understanding of how galaxies evolve. Check out the show notes at www.thecosmicsavannah.com for related links, pics, info and the full transcript.
Episode 33: Mars Rovers and the South African National Space Agency - with Tiaan Strydom February 18 2021 will see NASA’s latest Mars Rover, Perseverance, land on the red planet. We are joined by Tiaan Strydom, the Business Development Manager at the […]
Episode 32: The MeerKAT Fornax Survey - In this episode we will be discussing some more exciting work being conducted with the MeerKAT radio telescope. We're joined by Dr Paola Serra from the Cagliari Astronomical Observatory in Italy. He chats with us about the MeerKAT Fornax Survey and the search for the missing gas in the Fornax galaxy cluster.
Episode 31: Cosmic Beasts and Where to Find Them - This year we get off with a bang as our very own Jacinta has a new paper out and takes her turn in the hot seat to tell us all about it! Along with her colleagues, she has been part of the discovery of two giant radio galaxies using South Africa's powerful MeerKAT telescope. These galaxies are amongst the largest single objects in the Universe and are thought to be quite rare. The fact that MeerKAT detected two of these monsters in a relatively small patch of the sky suggests that giant radio galaxies may actually be much more common than previously thought.
Bonus: Rerun – Event Horizon Telescope - This holiday bonus episode is a re-run of Episode 5 from Season 1. We chat about about supermassive black holes, the Event Horizon Telescope and the African Millimetre Telescope. This bonus episode is in celebration of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics which was awarded to three astrophysicists for their black hole-related research.
Episode 30: Pretty Planetary Nebulae - Kelebogile Bonokwane talks with us about her MSc project investigating potential binary stars hiding in the centres of magnificent planetary nebulae. Her work utilises the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) as well as NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).
Episode 29: Zombies of the Cosmos - This week we learn all about neutron stars and pulsars, which can be thought of as the "corpses" of dead giant stars. We are firstly joined by Prof Matthew Bailes who tells us all about using the MeerKAT telescope to study pulsars. We then hear from award-winning science journalist Katia Moskvitch about her new book "Neutron stars: The Quest to Understand the Zombies of the Cosmos."
Episode 28: Under a Shared Sky - Join us this week as we explore the 'Intimate Cosmology' of the indigenous people of South Africa, and the importance of preserving these stories for future generations. Check out the full show notes at www.thecosmicsavannah.com for more info, pictures, related links and the full transcript.
Episode 27: A Bamboo Planetarium - This week's episode sees us celebrate SAAO's 200th anniversary, Dan premiering a full-length planetarium show, and the inspiring work being done by The Travelling Telescope in Kenya. Check out the full show notes at www.thecosmicsavannah.com for more info, pictures, related links and the full transcript.
Episode 26: Beyond 200 years of astronomy in South Africa - Welcome to Season 3 of The Cosmic Savannah! This week we get up to speed with all the activities over the break, hear from Assoc Prof Vanessa McBride joins about the Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) and her role as Head of Research at the SAAO, and her own research in the field of compact binary stars. We also discuss the objectives of the OAD, acknowledging South Africa's difficult past, in striving for an equal and inclusive future for all, in astronomy and beyond. Check out the show notes at www.thecosmicsavannah.com for more info, pictures, links, and the transcript of this episode.
Mini Episode 8: Capturing the whispers of hydrogen - In this mini episode, we chat to Andrew “Andy” Firth, a Masters students at the South African Astronomical Observatory and the University of Cape Town. Andrew tries to detect the faint signals of hydrogen gas in distant galaxies. He is creating an algorithm for stacking data cubes of these galaxies. This clever new technique will be used alongside high-quality MeerKAT radio telescope data. Check out the show notes at www.thecosmicsavannah.com for more info, pictures, links and the transcript of this episode.
Mini Episode 7: Beyond the zone of avoidance - Today we chat with Sambatriniaina Rajohnson about her work on the Galactic Plane Survey and the Zone of Avoidance. Check out the full show notes at www.thecosmicsavannah for more info, pictures, related links and the full transcript.
Mini Episode 6: The Universe evolves too - In this week’s mini-episode, we chat with Liantsoa Finaritra Randrianjanahary who is a PhD candidate at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). Liantsoa works in the field of cosmology which means he is researching the whole universe as one entity rather than focusing on the individual contents of the universe such as stars and galaxies. Check out the full show notes at www.thecosmicsavannah.com for more info, pictures, related links and the full transcript.
Mini Episode 5: “From Hospitality to aspiring Astronomer” - In this mini-episode, we talk with Bret Yotti a student and teaching assistant from the University of Cape Town (UCT) as well as a presenter at the Iziko Planetarium in Cape Town. We look at Bret's journey in astronomy and why he chose this path. We also find out about his life as a teaching assistant whilst being a student as well at UCT and the work he is doing for the planetarium. Check out the full show notes at www.thecosmicsavannah.com for more info, pictures, transcript and related links.
Mini Episode 4: “But How Does Astronomy Benefit Humanity?!” - In this mini-episode we talk with PhD candidate Tshiamiso Makwela from the University of Cape Town. She shared with us some interesting results from studies answering pressing questions in the field of Astronomy Education Research. Why do students struggle with Astronomy? How can Astronomy be beneficial to society at large? Check out the full show notes at www.thecosmicsavannah.com for more info, pictures, related links and the full transcript.
Mini Episode 3: The Most Powerful Explosion Ever Recorded - In this mini episode we talk with Reikantseone Diretse. Reika is a Master's student from the University of Cape Town. He talks about his involvement with the ThunderKAT project to spot mysterious "transient" objects. Reika also tells us about his work with the most powerful gamma-ray burst that has ever been recorded! Check out the full show notes at www.thecosmicsavannah.com for more info, pictures, related links and the full transcript.
Mini Episode 2: Seeing Beyond the Satellites - In this mini-episode we talk with PhD student Brandon Engelbrecht from the University of Western Cape (UWC). We discuss his current work in removing radio frequency interference (RFI) from MeerKAT and how he came to work with one of the largest radio telescope in the world. Check out the full show notes at www.thecosmicsavannah.com for more info, pictures, transcript and related links.
Mini Episode 1: Watching the Watchers - In this special mini episode of the Cosmic Savannah, we are joined by Timothy Roelf who is a Masters student at the University of Cape Town. Tim talks about his project which is going to contribute a lot to improving the performance of astronomical telescopes such as MeerLICHT and BlackGEM.
Special Episode: Annular Solar Eclipse 21 June 2020 - In this special bonus episode we discuss the upcoming Annular Solar Eclipse occurring on 21 June 2020 across much of Africa and Asia!
Episode 25: A Year in Review - In this the final episode of Season 2 of The Cosmic Savannah podcast, Dan and Jacinta look back on the past year and some of their favourite episodes. They discuss asteroids, aliens, black holes, giant Galactic bubbles and much more. We also look forward to the year ahead and some of the exciting events to to come in 2020/21 including the launch of the James Webb Space Telescopes and a new Mars Rover!
Episode 24: HIRAX - Episode 24 features Professor Kavilan Moodley who joins us to discuss another exciting project in radio astronomy in South Africa, HIRAX! HIRAX is a radio telescope array that will detect remnant ripples in the distribution of galaxies that originate from primordial sound waves that existed in the early universe. This can be used for charting the expansion history of the universe and for shedding light on the nature of dark energy.
Episode 23: ThunderKAT - In Episode 23 of The Cosmic Savannah podcast, we are joined by the Head of Astronomy at the University of Cape Town, Professor Patrick Woudt. Patrick talks about the exciting ThunderKAT project which has recently observed a black hole ejecting material at close to the speed of light out to some of the largest angular distances (separations) ever seen!
Episode 22: Milky Way blowing bubbles! - This week on The Cosmic Savannah Podcast week we are joined by Dr Fernando Camilo who is the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) Chief Scientist. We chat with Fernando about MeerKAT and the recent discovery of enormous balloon-like structures that tower hundreds of light-years above and below the centre of the Milky Way galaxy.
Episode 21: X-Ray Binaries and Astrocomms! - This week on The Cosmic Savannah Podcast we are joined by South African Astronomer, Dr Tana Joseph. Tana is currently based at the University of Manchester. She studies X-ray binaries which are a type of star system that emit X-rays because of interactions with a black hole or neutron star! Tana is also paving her own path and has started a company called AstroComms. It is a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) consulting and communications company.
Episode 20: Cosmic Chemistry - In our first episode of the 2020s and Episode 20 we are honoured to be joined by Prof Ewine van Dishoeck who is a Dutch astronomer and chemist. We learn how molecules form in space, combine with dust and eventually grow into the massive planets we observe and indeed inhabit. Ewine also tells us what it's like to be the President of the largest organisation of astronomers in the world and what she's been up to during her visit to Cape Town!
Episode 19: Astro Molo Mhlaba - In Episode 19 we learn all about the inspirational Astro Molo Mhlaba programme in Khayelitsha (Cape Town). This project targets the issues of inclusivity and diversity in South African astronomy by engaging the most underrepresented group - black girls from under-served communities. We hear from the project coordinators, the student facilitators and the school girls themselves.
Episode 18: Dark skies over Africa - Carringtone Kinyanjui and Olayinka Fagbemiro join us to talk about incredible astronomy outreach projects happening in Kenya and Nigeria. We talk about traditional interpretations of the night sky, the Sayari astro-tourism project, the Nigerian Space Agency and Astronomers Without Borders: Nigeria.
Episode 17: Space Telescopes! - In Episode 17 of The Cosmic Savannah, we discuss space telescopes! We talk about the amazing Hubble Space Telescope and the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). We also learn how the incredibly beautiful 'photos' of space are made.
Episode 16: Transit of Mercury, 11 November 2019 - On the 11th of November 2019, the planet Mercury will pass between Earth and the Sun. This transit of Mercury will be visible across all of Africa by simply using a small telescope. In this special episode, we speak with Dr Niruj Ramanujam from the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) about the importance of these events and how you can see the transit.
Episode 15: The Vatican Observatory and more! - Dan visits the Vatican Observatory and chats with the Director Brother Guy Consolmagno about how to reconcile faith and the Big Bang! We also talk to PhD Student Julia Healy about her work on galaxy clusters and what happened behind the scenes at the Lindau meeting of Nobel Laureates.
Episode 14: Modeling Meerkats! - Welcome to season 2 of The Cosmic Savannah! We take you on a trip to the African Savannah to the Kruger National Park and take a peek behind-the-scenes of an astronomy conference.
Inter-Season Bonus: Soapbox Science - Season Two of The Cosmic Savannah is on it's way! But in the meantime, our science-savvy listeners can get their fix at a very exciting live event happening soon in Cape Town! Soapbox Science South Africa is happening on Saturday 28th September 2019 at the Pierhead V&A Waterfront in Cape Town from 12pm until 3pm. Join us!
Episode 13: The South African Astronomical Observatory - In our final episode for Season 1, we are joined by Professor Petri Vaisanen, Director of the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO). Petri discusses the path to his current role including his research on galaxy evolution and some of the exciting discoveries along the way. Petri also explains his current role, his vision for astronomy in South Africa, and some of the exciting developments occurring at SAAO and around the world! We are then joined by Allen Versfeld who runs the Urban Astronomer podcast and who does an excellent job of highlighting the astronomy in South Africa. For more info, links and pics see the show notes at www.thecosmicsavannah.com!
Episode 12: Further Adventures in Oz - Jacinta continues her visit to Australia, this week chatting with Dr Jeff Wagg about the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) and Ahmed Elagali about his work on superclusters, neutral hydrogen and ring galaxies.
Episode 11: A Trip Down Under - Jacinta takes us on a tour of her homeland, into the Australian bush, and chats about pathfinders, precursor telescopes and exciting collaborations between South Africa and Australia in the lead up to the Square Kilometre Array!
Episode 10: Stars behaving badly! - We are joined by two experts in stellar astronomy, Priscilla Muheki from Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda and Distinguished Professor Hakeem Oluseyi from the Florida Institute of Technology. Priscilla talks about her PhD research in Uganda studying violent outbursts, known as coronal mass ejections, from certain types of stars. Hakeem then goes on the explain these coronal mass ejections and the violent magnetic fields associated with them, and what effect they may have on both our technology and our entire planet!
Episode 9: Simulating the Universe – Part 2 - We continue our discussion from Episode 8 on simulating the Universe, this week focusing on the simulation of actual galaxies. Nicole explains the SIMBA suite of simulations she is working on. SIMBA is a set of simulations which look at how the super-massive black holes at the centre of galaxies affect the galaxy they live in. Nathan chats with us about his work creating individual galaxies within a computer using a new code he has just published. Using this we can learn more about how galaxies change over time and interact with their environments.
Episode 8: Simulating the Universe - Prof Romeel Davé, from the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, and who spent 5 years working in Cape Town, introduces us to simulations! He explains how we can use simulations to perform experiments to test our understanding of the physics of the Universe.
Episode 7: Under African Skies - In Episode 7 of the Cosmic Savannah we chat with Tanya and Simon about their astronomy at Namibia's HESS Telescope and the VLA in the USA. We also chat about their incredible journey through Africa on bicycles and their experience of the magnificent cosmic savannah!
Episode 6: Galactic Neighbourhoods - with Prof Eric Wilcots and Sinenhlanhla Precious Sikhosana In this episode, we speak with Prof Eric Wilcots and Sinenhlanhla Precious Sikhosana about galaxies and the environments they live in. We […]
Episode 5 (Special Edition): Event Horizon Telescope – First Results - with Dr Roger Deane and Dr Rhodri Evans On 10 April 2019 six simultaneous press conferences around the world broadcast the first results from the Event Horizon Telescope – a […]
Episode 4: Black holes and Radio Jets - with Dr Imogen Whittam and Lerato Sebokolodi Episode 4 features Dr Imogen Whittam, a SARAO Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of the Western Cape and Lerato Sebokolodi a PhD student, […]
Episode 3: SETI with MeerKAT - with Dr Griffin Foster In this episode Dr Griffin Foster describes the planned hunt for extraterrestrial intelligence with South Africa’s MeerKAT telescope! Griffin is from the University of Oxford and […]
Episode 2: Instruments and Singing Asteroids - with Dr Amanda Sickafoose and Vanessa Lorenzo In Episode 2, we hear from Dr Amanda Sickafoose who tells us about the complicated instrumentation her team are building for South African […]
Episode 1: SALT and Near-Earth Asteroids - with Dr Moses Mogotsi and Dr Nicolas Erasmus Welcome to the very first episode of The Cosmic Savannah! In this episode, we introduce ourselves and our vision for the podcast, […]
Episode 0: The Cosmic Savannah teaser - Welcome to The Cosmic Savannah! The Cosmic Savannah is a new podcast giving you a behind-the-scenes peek into the realm of world-class astronomy and astrophysics happening in Africa. Each episode, […]