Our Island Universe

greg.jenkins

“ Our Island Universe ” is a weekly 4-minute segment looking at new discoveries in our understanding of what lies beyond the horizon and what it means to us here on earth. Parts science, history, physics and pop culture, it’s designed to inform, educate and entertain. Our Island Universe is a partnership between WMKY and Morehead State University's Space Science Center. Virani named Star Theater director Astrophysicist Shanil Virani has been named as the new director of Morehead State's Star Theater and as an instructor of space systems engineering. Virani previously worked as director of the John C. Wells Planetarium at James Madison University. He spent more than five years at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics as part of the science team of the Chandra X-ray Observatory. He said he's excited to use the Star Theater to motivate more young people to get interested in science. "MSU's state-of-the-art Star Theater really brings planetarium astrophysics into the 21st Century

Our Island Universe: Apple Pies and Star Stuff
Trailer 2 min 51 sec

All Episodes

Reviewing her data collected from the previous night, a young PhD student found a puzzling source. She discovered a repeating signal of pulses that consistenlty arrived 1 and third second apart, just like clockwork! Annoyed that perhaps aliens were trying to contact her, Jocelyn Bell Burnell labeled the source LGM-1: Little Green Man-1. Was it a radio signal from ET? What was the source she had serendipitously discovered?! #WomensHistory

Mar 2020

3 min 27 sec

On a dark, moonless night, far away from city lights, you can look up to see thousands of stars glittering against the blackness of space. How did we ever figure out how far away the stars are? Harvard “computer” Henrietta Swan Leavitt solved the riddle of distance in astronomy. Her discovery ushered in the expanding universe and the stunning realization that our Milky Way Galaxy is literally one of trillions in the cosmos! #WomensHistory

Mar 2020

3 min 37 sec

Wood. Oil. Gas. Maybe fire is a fundamental element of nature as the Greeks thought? When did we finally figure out what stars are actually made up of and who made that ground-breaking discovery? Celia Payne’s 1925 doctoral thesis at Harvard provided the key insight that would later be described as “ the most brilliant PhD thesis ever written in astronomy. ” #WomensHistory

Mar 2020

3 min 48 sec

Setting foot on the Moon was an enormous engineering & scientific accomplishment. We’d finally dip our toes in the ocean of space that awaits us to explore. How we got there involves many #HiddenFigures who were instrumental to this story. One such person is Katherine Johnson who was born and raised in a small town in West Virginia. #WomensHistory

Mar 2020

3 min 13 sec

Who was the first African-American woman in space? Dancer. Chemical engineer. Medical doctor. Dr. Mae Jemison became the 1st African-American woman in space when the space shuttle Endeavour launched on September 12, 1992.

Feb 2020

2 min 29 sec

Nichelle Nichols played Lt. Uhura for 6 years on Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. While not a scientist or engineer in real life, she did play one on TV and her impact was no less profound.

Feb 2020

3 min 15 sec

On February 14, 1990, at the suggestion of Dr. Carl Sagan, Voyager 1 turned its camera backwards and snapped a “family portrait”. As Voyager 1 raced outwards to the fringes of the Solar System and then beyond, c aught in the center of scattered light rays from the Sun, Earth appears as a tiny point of blue light. On seeing that image, Dr. Sagan wrote about our “pale blue dot”.

Feb 2020

3 min 41 sec

February 2nd is Groundhog day. It derives from an old European superstition that if a groundhog emerges from its burrow and see its shadow, winter will last another 6 weeks. Groundhog Day is really an important astronomical holiday, and whether a groundhog day sees its shadow or not, we *know* that spring is just around the corner.

Feb 2020

2 min 36 sec

2019 was the second-hottest year on record. In fact, every decade since the 1960s has been warmer than the one before. Is there any “debate” within the scientific community about #climatechange? What’s the evidence that our planet’s climate is changing and that our dependence on fossil fuels is the reason? #OurIslandUniverse Climate Change image caption: Credit: Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record. https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2535/satellite-data-confirm-annual-carbon-dioxide-minimum-above-400-ppm/

Jan 2020

4 min 29 sec

Betelgeuse, the bright orange/red star in the armpit of Orion the Hunter, is going to explode any time now. Betelgeuse this winter is only half as bright as it was last winter. Has it already exploded? What does that mean for us here on Earth? #OurIslandUniverse Betelgeuse image caption: Brian Ottum kindly provided this direct comparison of Betelgeuse a few years ago and Betelgeuse now. He wrote: “Left is February 2016. Right is December 31, 2019. Note that the brightness/appearance of all background stars are identical left versus right, but Betelgeuse is definitely fainter on the right.” https://earthsky.org/space/betelgeuse-dimming-late-2019-early-2020-supernova

Jan 2020

4 min 14 sec

Galileo, using a brand new, technological invention, made a series of startling discoveries in January 1610 that ushered in a scientific revolution that reverberates to this day. His reward? Sentenced to house arrest by the Pope. #OurIslandUniverse

Jan 2020

3 min 29 sec

Traveling at some 70,000 mph, spaceship Earth will make its closest approach to our star on January 4th. We will be nearly 3 and a half million miles closer to the Sun then we will be on July 4. Still think distance is the reason for the seasons?! #OurIslandUniverse

Jan 2020

3 min 21 sec

On December 25, a long time ago, a young boy was born that made an enormous contribution to our understanding of the world around us. His discoveries revolutionized how we view the heavens above and also here on Earth. #OurIslandUniverse

Dec 2019

3 min 51 sec

December 21 is the date of the winter’s solstice. For those of us located north of the equator, its the longest night of the year. Virtually every culture had celebrations at this time of the year as they celebrated the lighter days to come and dealt with the season of dormancy, darkness, and cold. #OurIslandUniverse

Dec 2019

3 min 29 sec

Adorned atop many a Christmas tree this year will be a star. What was the Star of Bethlehem that led wise men to a newborn baby in a manger? How do we even begin to figure it out?! #OurIslandUniverse

Dec 2019

3 min 43 sec

Many Americans will conclude their festive Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday with a slice of homemade pie. Maybe its a recipe that has been passed down the generations. But, if you really wanted to make a pie from scratch, you must first invent the Universe. #OurIslandUniverse

Nov 2019

2 min 51 sec

What’s Kentucky’s BIGGEST export? Maybe you think its horses or bourbon? Maybe coal or tobacco? Nope. It’s aerospace. And at $14 Billion per year and growing, there is only 1 other state in the US that does more than we do. #OurIslandUniverse

Nov 2019

3 min 38 sec

Science is not a collection of facts & formulae you memorize. It is a human endeavor driven by our innate curiosity to understand why the world is the way it is and not some other way. One of science's greatest ambassadors, and one of my scientific heroes, was Dr. Carl Sagan born on November 9, 1934. #OurIslandUniverse

Nov 2019

3 min 24 sec

How big is the Solar System? You can figure out the absolute size and scale using simple high school geometry. On the morning of Monday, November 11, 2019, tiny planet Mercury will cross the solar disk. Our predecessors figured out that by using the timing of the "transit of Mercury" you can deduce the Earth-Sun distance, and in turn, just how big our Solar System is. #OurIslandUniverse

Nov 2019

3 min 36 sec

October 31 is known as Halloween in much of the western world. Its roots, however, lie in astronomy. What is the connection between Halloween and the stars? #OurIslandUniverse

Oct 2019

2 min 30 sec