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Bob Berman
Strange Universe
Sundays, 9:35 a.m.

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. Learn why Betelgeuse sometimes goes weirdly dim and how after the totality in 2017 in places like Wyoming and the Carolinas, millions finally got to see a total solar eclipse.

  • The summer solstice arrived earlier this week, a funny mixture of natural events and government rulings.
  • 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?
  • Sunday night, May 15, we see a total eclipse of the moon. It is especially welcome because for the last couple of years every lunar eclipse has been penumbral, meaning the moon failed to touch even the edge of Earth’s shadow.
  • 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.
  • Can you name worthy sky-spectacles that don’t require knowledge of constellations, any equipment like a telescope or even binoculars, that are easy to find and strikingly fascinating? Most would cite eclipses, auroras, and meteor showers as filling all those check-boxes. But there’s one more category. Bright conjunctions! Tune in to hear about dazzling conjunctions and what makes them so spectacular.