Astronomy Cast

Astronomy Cast

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Encyclopedia
Astronomy Cast is an educational nonprofit podcast
Podcast
A podcast is a series of digital media files that are released episodically and often downloaded through web syndication...

 discussing various topics in the field of astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

. The specific subject matter of each episode shifts from week to week, ranging from planets and stars to cosmology and mythbusting. The show is co-hosted by the editor of the space and astronomy news site Universe Today
Universe Today
Universe Today is a non-commercial space and astronomy news site, founded in 1999 by Fraser Cain and edited by Nancy Atkinson. The news can then be discussed on the forums. The forum began on 24 July 2003, and was mainly used to discuss the Universe Today news as well as ask space-related...

 Fraser Cain and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, commonly abbreviated SIUE, is a four-year coed public university in Edwardsville, Illinois about from St. Louis, Missouri. SIUE was established in 1957 as an extension of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and is the younger of the two largest...

 astronomy professor Dr. Pamela L. Gay
Pamela L. Gay
Dr. Pamela L. Gay is an American astronomer, educator, podcaster, and writer, best known for her work in astronomical podcasting. She was one of the cofounders of Slacker Astronomy, and was an "on air" personality for the show from February 2005 until the end of its first iteration in September...

 and premiered on September 10, 2006. Each show usually has a length of approximately 30 minutes and all shows, past and present, are accessible for download through the Astronomy Cast archive.

The Astronomy Cast official website also hosts the blog Astronomy Cast LIVE, which covers select astronomy meetings using various bloggers, including Fraser Cain, Dr. Pamela L. Gay, and Phil Plait as well as recent astronomy-related news and events. A public forum
Internet forum
An Internet forum, or message board, is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages. They differ from chat rooms in that messages are at least temporarily archived...

, the Astronomy Cast Forum, where registered members and site visitors may share and exchange valuable information can also be found on the website and is created under Bad Astronomer and Universe Today Forum.

This podcast has been continuously featured by iTunes
ITunes
iTunes is a media player computer program, used for playing, downloading, and organizing digital music and video files on desktop computers. It can also manage contents on iPod, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad....

 in the Science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 & Medicine
Medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

section for its high popularity as well as its excellent listener rating of 5 out of 5 possible stars and is currently ranked #6 in the Natural Sciences podcasts category. The renown of this series has grown rapidly in the past few months and the total number of its listeners stands around 30,000.

Mission



Astronomy Cast takes a fact based journey through the cosmos as it offers listeners weekly discussions on astronomical topics ranging from planets to cosmology. Hosted by Fraser Cain (Universe Today) and Dr. Pamela L. Gay (SIUE), this show brings the questions of an avid astronomy lover direct to an astronomer. Together Fraser and Pamela explore what is known and being discovered about the universe around us.

Format


Labeled as "a fact-based journey through the cosmos" that aims to help the listeners understand "not only what we know, but how we know what we know", the show offers a large amount of information in the form of a mutual conversation between the two co-hosts, with more resources and show notes available on the show's website http://www.astronomycast.com/ to aid the listeners in their attempt to understand the material covered. Several "enhanced" podcast episodes accompanied by pictures have also been released, but this experiment was terminated due to the large file size associated with the pictures and small number of downloads compared to the regular format. (These are still available for download.)

There are also episodes in which listeners' questions are answered. Initially the question shows were produced irregularly (ten shows as of September 2008), but as the number of questions received increased a question show will be released weekly when possible. The hosts have also experimented with student questions shows where they have sent recording equipment to schools who have requested it. The students have then recorded questions to ask the hosts, which are then answered and edited into a special show available separately on the Astronomy Cast website. As of June 2008 two shows have been done in this format, and this ongoing project has been sponsored by NASA's Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope
Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope
The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope , formerly referred to as the “Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope ”, is a space observatory being used to perform gamma-ray astronomy observations from low Earth orbit...

.

Episodes


Main Episodes:

Question shows:

Astronomy Cast has covered a wide variety of topics ranging from the planets in our solar system to the end of the universe, from the big bang to black holes. All previous episodes can be downloaded from the Astronomy Cast website archive http://www.astronomycast.com/archive/ in MP3
MP3
MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III, more commonly referred to as MP3, is a patented digital audio encoding format using a form of lossy data compression...

 format or through major pod-catching softwares such as Apple Inc.'s iTunes
ITunes
iTunes is a media player computer program, used for playing, downloading, and organizing digital music and video files on desktop computers. It can also manage contents on iPod, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad....

 for iPods and other portable media players.

Audience


The listeners of Astronomy Cast vary widely in demographics, but the vast majority is between the ages of 18 and 53 according to a conducted survey. It is believed that the lack of young listeners is caused by the fact that Astronomy Cast may prove slightly too advanced for a younger audience and that the shortage of older listeners is due to the generation's relative infamiliarity with technology and portable devices. Moreover, although Astronomy Cast is aimed at both the male and female audiences, only about 9% of the listeners are female.

Milestones


On August 4, 2008 the 100th Astronomy Cast podcast was produced.

Astronomy Cast was nominated for the Technology/Science section of the 2008 People's Choice Podcast Awards 

International Year Of Astronomy


In 2009 Astronomy Cast is supporting the 365 Days Of Astronomy
365 Days Of Astronomy
365 Days of Astronomy is an educational podcast, inspired by the International Year of Astronomy, that has been published daily since 2009. The podcast episodes are written, recorded and produced by people all around the world....

 podcast

See also

  • Astronomy
    Astronomy
    Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

  • Dr. Pamela L. Gay
    Pamela L. Gay
    Dr. Pamela L. Gay is an American astronomer, educator, podcaster, and writer, best known for her work in astronomical podcasting. She was one of the cofounders of Slacker Astronomy, and was an "on air" personality for the show from February 2005 until the end of its first iteration in September...

  • Fraser Cain
  • Natural sciences
  • Phil Plait (The Bad Astronomer)
  • Universe Today
    Universe Today
    Universe Today is a non-commercial space and astronomy news site, founded in 1999 by Fraser Cain and edited by Nancy Atkinson. The news can then be discussed on the forums. The forum began on 24 July 2003, and was mainly used to discuss the Universe Today news as well as ask space-related...