3 mins read 31 Jan 2020

The Skyentist 32 - Bye, bye, Spitzer!

The Skyentist 32 - Bye, bye, Spitzer!


In this episode of The Skyentists astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez provide an overview of the many astronomical achievements obtained with the Spitzer Space Telescope (NASA), which mission is ending today, 30th January 2020. This small space telescope (its main mirror has a size of only 85 cm!) has observed the Universe in infrared light, providing astronomers astonishing views of star-forming regions, galaxies near and far, stars, exoplanets, diffuse cold gas and dust in the Milky Way, and much more.

We have plenty of feedback for this episode, having a lot of fun with your mnemotechnic rules for "O B A F G K M", the standard stellar spectroscopic classification.

For Space News Ángel brings again the famous red supergiant Betelgeuse, as it has continued dimming during the last couple of weeks. New research suggests that the current observed dimming (and also cooling, by 100 K) is a consequence of the expansion of its huge atmosphere. It is expected that Betelgeuse reaches a minimum of brightness around late January - early February 2020, with an increasing of its brightness after that.

Kirsten announces that she finished working at Sydney Observatory to focus on her Ph.D. thesis at UNSW. She was on TV the other day (ABC's The Drum), where the name of "The Skyentists" was mentioned!

For "What's Up" we invite everyone to look at the beautiful planet Venus (yes, in a dark place it casts shadows).


Kirsten Banks is a proud Wiradjuri woman, astrophysicist and science communicator. She’s always had her eyes on the skies and loves to share her passion for space and astronomy. Kirsten jumps at almost every opportunity to share the wonders of the Universe with a wide range of people, from speaking to students at schools to sharing her love for space on national television programs such as ABC’s Q&A. In the years to come, Kirsten looks forward to completing a Ph.D. and becoming Dr. Kirsten Banks. 

Dr. Ángel López-Sánchez is an astronomer and science communicator at the Australian Astronomical Optics and the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the Macquarie University. He studies how the gas is converted into stars in nearby galaxies and how this affects galaxy evolution. He also provides support for visiting astronomers to the Anglo-Australian Telescope. He is a globally-recognised science communicator, with visibility in Spanish and Australian printed, broadcast, and social media (one of the Top-100 most-followed astrophysicists on Twitter). His stunning astronomy timelapse videos have received 1/4 million views on YouTube and have been used by ABC (Australia), BBC (UK), TVE (Spain) and in Science Museums worldwide. He is very active in social media, his Twitter feed is @El_Lobo_Rayado.

This podcast is syndicated with permissions.

Listen to the Podcast here