Strange Universe | WAMC

Strange Universe

Sundays, 9:35 a.m.
  • Hosted by Bob Berman

Astronomer Bob Berman sheds light on the mysteries of space and time. Always fascinating and fun, Strange Universe will take you places you never knew existed.

Strange Universe 2/16/20

5 hours ago

Things in the night sky are radically changing their brightness. Of course, we all know that the moon alters its phase and its brightness, but the big inconstant headline maker these days is the famous start Betelgeuse because it’s dimmer than anyone has seen in a century.

Strange Universe 2/9/20

Feb 9, 2020
Image credit: NASA/JPL

Mercury has the most out of round orbit of any planet with its distance from the sun changing between 30 to 40 million miles. It also has no axial tilt and at its poles, half the sun’s disk is always below the horizon, so there’s permanent darkness inside every slight polar depression and crater. 

Strange Universe 2/2/20

Feb 2, 2020
wikipedia commons

Palindromes are everywhere and everyone enjoys them.   These oddities are found in time, on the calendar and even in our universe.

Strange Universe 1/26/20

Jan 26, 2020
Wikimedia Commons

During day or night a warm breeze is heaven while a howling wind is the enemy. Moving air certainly influences our moods, but now in mid-winter, we get the greatest winds, on average. Listen in as Berman covers the windiest mountain in the northern hemisphere, right here in the U.S.

Strange Universe 1/19/20

Jan 19, 2020

To the ancients the sun circled around us, an idea that was later proved false. In the 4th century Aristarchus of Samos, who was rumored heretical at the time, arrived at conclusions that proved opposite: the earth actually revolved around the sun. A lesson we took from these scientific theories? Always do our own homework before assuming anything to be true. 

Strange Universe 1/12/20

Jan 12, 2020
Gerd Altmann

“If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is there, will it make a sound?” and "does a candle actually burn yellow?" On this episdoe we talk physics and how our mind may be playing tricks on us. 

Strange Universe 1/5/20

Jan 5, 2020

Now is the time of our darkest morning. Sunrise is now at its very latest of the entire year. If you’d like to do some stargazing, you don’t need to set the alarm for 4 a.m., like you would in the summer. Instead you can head out around 6:30 a.m. where the planets and Big Dipper parade overhead. 

Strange Universe 12/29/19

Dec 29, 2019

2020 will be a truly extraordinary year in the sky. It starts this winter and early spring with series of stunning conjunctions and starting in the summer, the giant planets Saturn and Jupiter will hover next to each other, slowly getting closer and closer. 

Strange Universe 12/22/19

Dec 22, 2019

This year’s brightest planet is Venus, visibly seen low in the southwest as soon as night falls. It gives off a strangely steady light that doesn’t twinkle like other starts. Although it looks point-like to the naked eye, it has a little size to it (as even binoculars reveal) and this makes it more immune to having its light bent one way and then another by different temperature air layers.

Strange Universe 12/15/19

Dec 15, 2019

Heat is simply the motion of atoms. At 98.6 degrees, all of your body’s atoms are moving at about 1,000 mph. Even the coldest place on earth, the Antarctic, where they measured -129 degrees Fahrenheit in 1983, still has plenty of atomic motion. We will speak about what happens when atoms do stop at -459.67 degrees, absolute zero.

Strange Universe 12/8/19

Dec 8, 2019

After the moon, Venus is the brightest planet in the sky. Sometimes hidden, Venus, the evening star, is currently visible in the sky and will be for nine months. It will be at its highest and brightest this coming April. 

Strange Universe 12/1/19

Dec 1, 2019

Dec. 21 is the official start of winter; however the darkest afternoon comes weeks before on Dec. 7 when the sun will set later, expanding the afternoon brightness by five minutes. 

Strange Universe 11/24/19

Nov 24, 2019

In a single second light could travel around the world almost 9 times at a speed of 186,282 miles per second. Satellite’s transmitting time beeps to your car’s GPS receiver and in a similar way that was how light was discovered. 

Strange Universe 11/17/19

Nov 17, 2019
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Nighttime is now longer and with the artificial sky glow, the New York City and Los Angeles skies are now 40 times brighter than the natural background. Tune in as we hear what a natural sky consists of. 

Strange Universe 11/10/19

Nov 10, 2019
Image by Jonny Lindner from Pixabay

The transit of Mercury will take place Nov. 11 as the smallest, speediest planet partially eclipses the sun. Make sure you take a peek into the sky because this rarity won’t happen again until 2032.

Strange Universe 11/3/19

Nov 3, 2019
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The anthropic principle, twisted star fragments and why stargazers might give thanks that we're not situated near the black hole at our galaxy's center, low in the southwest at nightfall. 

Strange Universe 10/27/19

Oct 27, 2019
WikiImages from Pixabay

William Herschel discovered Uranus a little over 200 years ago and it created a sensation that still has no equal. Uranus, the third largest planet is now at its closest and brightest of the year.

Strange Universe 10/20/19

Oct 20, 2019
Image by <a href=";utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=2847724">Stefan Keller</a> from <a href=";utm_med /

According to surveys, over a quarter of the U.S. population thinks we are now being visited by aliens from outer space. There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the argument, but if an extraterrestrial visit does occur, it would probably be very different from our expectations. 

Strange Universe 10/13/19

Oct 13, 2019
Image by Mark David from Pixabay

In primitive cultures, full moons were singled out from all other phases and awarded names, but only a few have survived. The only designations still popularly used today are the Hunters Moon coming up on Sunday, Oct. 13 and the Harvest Moon that appeared last month. 

Strange Universe 10/6/19

Oct 6, 2019
Andy J. Wills

Our society revolves around personal responsibility. Everyone believes they have the power to control their own lives. But, surprisingly, this may be an illusion. Listen in as we speak of Benjamin Libet’s experiment that proved this theory true. 

Strange Universe 9/29/19

Sep 29, 2019

From the gaseous Ring Nebula now overhead to the beautiful Saturn system rising in the southeast, rings are a recurring celestial theme. Yet, nature lovers often miss the most spectacular examples, the bright beautiful halos that often encircle the moon and sun.

Strange Universe 9/22/19

Sep 22, 2019

People are acquiring strange new astronomy notions. Take the super moon, a newly coined term for when the moon comes closer than average. When that caught on a few years ago and the major media ran headlines, "Don't miss tonight's super moon!" confusion arose, because such a moon looks just like every other full moon.

Strange Universe 9/15/19

Sep 15, 2019

Tonight or the next clear night, look straight up at nightfall, around 8 PM.  Only one bright star hovers directly overhead, so you can't miss it. This is Vega.

Strange Universe 9/8/19

Sep 8, 2019

The Harvest Moon is coming up on Friday the 14th and all across the country people think they know what it means.  Some assume it has no observational significance and that "Harvest Moon" is just another archaic name like April's "Grass moon." Others imagine just the opposite, that the Harvest Moon looks special in some way: bigger or redder or higher or - something.

Strange Universe 9/1/19

Sep 1, 2019

Now that it's September, we've all noticed that daylight is shrinking. Meteorologists often recite the number of hours and minutes of sunshine each day and then say "It's a decrease of two minutes from yesterday." Yet tomorrow they might say there's only one minute of decrease, or a three minute decrease. Let's get to the bottom of this. 

Strange Universe 8/25/19

Aug 25, 2019

This week it's the birthday of 127 million people from around the world, making our planet's shared birthdays pretty common. If we take one complete revolution around the sun to constitute a birthday, then our planet has had 4.5 billion birthdays. 

Strange Universe 8/18/19

Aug 18, 2019

The vast majority of meteors strike our atmosphere at between 22 and 37 miles per second, but thankfully our atmosphere slows nearly all meteors. Meteroids weighing more than 10 tons are were things get dangerous because they retain a portion of their original space velocity and could hit the ground at 10,000 miles per hour.

Strange Universe 8/11/19

Aug 11, 2019
NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Perseid meteor shower is ruined by a nearly full moon. The moon has once been long a scapegoat for many other problems too, but recent studies allow us to replace those old myths with new lunar powers.

Strange Universe 8/4/19

Aug 4, 2019

So far this summer, we've had humid days as well as drier ones. What most people don't know is that meteorologists express humidity with the word 'dewpoint.' At night, high humidity gives us a sky without many stars that don't twinkle. 

Strange Universe 7/28/19

Jul 28, 2019
NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute -

Right now, this month is when Saturn has come nearest to us and looks its biggest and brightest of the year. The current optimal observing season will last through the autumn.