Hello, Universe, it’s York calling

photo of Orion's Nebula

They give voice to the stars, but not the Hollywood kind.

Paul Delaney Instead, every Monday night at 9pm, York faculty member Paul Delaney (right) and astronomy students from the Faculty of Science & Engineering welcome the world into the York Observatory for an evening of star gazing and conversation on their online radio show “The York Universe”.

The show, which is streamed live on the Internet radio station astronomy.fm, airs at the same time as the observatory’s online live viewing.

On Monday, March 26, Delaney and his students hosted the 100th radio broadcast of “The York Universe”. Since its initial broadcast in 2009, which was titled “Live from YorkU”, the number of listeners who tune in regularly to the show has grown “astronomically”, says Delaney, who is a senior lecturer in the faculty’s Department of Physics & Astronomy and director of the observatory on the Keele campus.

“The popularity of the show has spread around the world,” he says.  “It started during York’s 50th anniversary year and went live on Feb. 2, 2009, which also happened to be the International Year of Astronomy. Since then, it has been an incredible ride. We talk about anything to do with astronomy and space science.”

Between the live broadcast and repeats over the ensuing 24 hours, the show reaches some 16,000 listeners in more than 100 countries, according to statistics kept by astronomy.fm.  Delaney says it is one of the station’s biggest audiences.

An image of Jupiter, captured by the observatoryAn image of Jupiter, captured by the observatory

To celebrate the 100th show, Delaney conducted a webcam tour of the York Observatory to introduce listeners to the students and faculty working with the telescopes. The show also featured a recap of what Delaney says has been a very busy period in astronomy.

As part of their show and online viewing, Delaney and the students regularly answer questions from the public and field requests from astronomy buffs to have the telescope moved to view a particular planet or star cluster.

Over the years, the observatory has provided its audience with images of meteors and satellites and views of the Orion Nebula and Earth’s moon. The images are derived from the observatory’s 40-cm Schmidt-cassegrain and 60-cm classical cassegrain reflecting telescopes and are augmented by images from a wide-field, short focal length 90-mm diameter refractor and an all-sky meteor camera.

The show is part of York University’s long-standing dedication to public education and the enthusiasm of undergraduate and graduate students in the observatory, says Delaney, who notes that students gain valuable experience in public speaking.The graduate and undergraduate students working in the obsevatory will often speak to visitors about what they are seeing in the night sky

The graduate and undergraduate students working in the obsevatory will often speak to visitors about what they are seeing in the night sky

To listen to an archived version of 100th broadcast of “The York Universe”, visit the astronomy.fm website.

An archive of the broadcast is also available the York Observatory website along with archived podcasts of previous shows. A link to the online viewing portal is also available on the website.

By Jenny Pitt-Clark, YFile editor