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Bob Berman

  • We all know the names of the planets. Many people can even recite them in their correct order from the Sun. But actually seeing them in a line – well, that’s something special. And this month we’ll explain how and when that’s happening.
  • The Big Bang theory, strongly supported by the cosmic microwave background and the cosmic expansion rate, says that starting 13.8 billion years ago, everything initially raced away from everything else like an inflating balloon.
  • June 5 begins the 6-day period when the Moon is at its absolute best. Many imagine that the Full Moon is the jewel of the heavens. But astronomers know that that’s when to close up shop and forget the universe. The Full Moon is disappointing because the sun then shines straight down like a flash camera to erase all shadows, making its wonderful craters disappear. As if that wasn’t bad enough, its light is then so brilliant that all the lovely nebulae and galaxies and most meteors seem to vanish because they can’t compete against such a bright background. Surprisingly, the Full Moon isn’t merely twice as bright as a half Moon, but 10 times brighter!
  • Neutron stars don't get much attention these days. They're not as notorious as black holes, nor as capable of fully warping spacetime. But this story really started before dawn on July 4, 1054, when a new brilliant star abruptly appeared near the left horn of Taurus the Bull, very close to where the Sun is located during the next few weeks. It was seen in broad daylight for more than a month. Good backyard telescopes show this as the remnant of an exploded star 6,500 light-years away, whose tendrils still rush outward at a thousand miles a second, visibly altering the nebula every few years.
  • Antimatter has the same appearance and behavior as ordinary matter. An antimatter star would look just like a normal one. But let an antimatter object touch anything made of conventional matter, and both vanish in a violent flash. Every version of the Big Bang theory says that equal amounts of matter and antimatter should have been created. Yet somehow we live in a matter-dominated universe. What happened to all the potential anti-planets and anti-stars?
  • Mother's Day weekend brings the first quarter moon. Those events seem disparate, but they're actually linked. After all, the moon is feminine in most cultures. Hear how the the lunar day-night line is home to all the details.
  • Strange Universe With Bob Berman
    We are now at the new moon phase of the lunar cycle. This means all week we will be seeing crescents at twilight rather than full darkness and always low in the sky.
  • This week we’ll hear about our galaxy’s five most abundant elements, the remaining seven dozen elements (which together they make up just 4% of the universe) and the unknown dark matter.
  • Everyone knows that Quantum mechanics can be non-logical. Yet it works when it comes to describing the behavior of atoms and all the other small stuff that makes up our universe. It has also been used to create new technologies such as the transistor. But to believe it means believing things about reality that very few of us would find acceptable. Even Albert Einstein, who helped establish quantum theory more than a century ago, came to question its principles for most of his life. This week we'll explore two basic principles of common sense that quantum theory throws away.
  • If you’re hearing this Sunday, well, at 11:33 this morning Eastern Daylight Time, it’s the vernal equinox, when we read that "Day and night are equal." But some people must surely glance at their local sunrise and sunset listings and see that day is longer than night at the equinox. Real equality happened several days ago. The culprit is our atmosphere, which bends the sun’s image upward. But, hey, it’s close enough. Like the date itself. If "March 21" pops to mind, you're probably over 50. The final March 21 equinox happened 32 years ago.