I spent part of the night on-the-air. Is that right? Does on-the-air still apply? I spent a good part of the night on-the-web doing a broadcast for slooh.com.
Slooh is the “Community Observatory.” They maintain three telescopes, one in Chile and two on the Canary Islands. Slooh members individually assign the telescopes’ “missions.”
It’s a very cool idea. Timeshare telescopes, better than what most could afford, in locations astronomers covet. You view is via the Internet. Members look at comets, asteroids, planets, galaxies and, of course, stars.
That’s a shot of Comet Jacques on the left. I took it last week on one of the Canary Island telescopes.
As part of the company’s outreach, we produce shows on the Internet. It’s me as host, astronomer Bob Berman and observatory director Paul Cox. Tonight we had Lindley Johnson, who runs the show for the Near Earth Object program at NASA. Our show centered on Asteroid 2002 CU11.
Tonight 2002 CU11 passed within .03 AU of Earth. that’s 3% of the distance to the Sun. In space terms, close.
There was a time when astronomers felt this asteroid had a plausible chance of hitting Earth in 2049. That’s only 35 years away!
Since the first prediction 2002 CU11’s orbit has been recalculated with more precision. We’re off the hook for now, but time is on the asteroid’s side.
I love doing these shows. I work with two very smart guys. Bob is encyclopedic in his astronomy knowledge. Paul is just smart. I’m not sure what he’s not smart in. I haven’t seen it. And the British accent makes him sound smarter–unfair.
Usually we do shows from home. Bob is near Woodstock, NY. Paul lives in England. I’m here in SoCal. Our director/producer sits in East Hartford, CT. How cool is that?
I’m in my office using a webcam and headset. It doesn’t quite look like network TV, but it’s obviously pro.
Good TV needs chemistry. It took a few broadcasts to understand each other’s timing and pace.
My job is to be the dumb guy. That’s not to say I don’t know anything about space and astronomy, but these guys are the experts. I ask questions viewers would like answered and make sure we stay on topic. Think of me as a batting practice pitcher.
I am lucky to once again do a show with substance. Not everyone can say that.