152 Astronomy

A big audience in the cavern for our 152nd show, with Astronomy as the theme. The show went well and we had a lot of good feedback from the audience. There may be another show on this theme, as we’ve found quite a lot of tracks that fit.
I’ve included some of the sciencey bits of the dialog just to show that we do do our research 🙂

Sirius was from Clannad’s 1987 album of the same name. It’s also the name of the brightest star in the night sky and derives from the Greek word meaning glowing or scorching. It is part of the constellation Canis Major, from which it gets its nickname The Dog Star.

It’s a spectral class A blue-white star and its brightness in our sky comes from a combination of its luminosity and its closeness – it’s the fifth closest star after Alpha Centauri, Barnard’s Star – location of the hyperspace roundabout, Wolf 359 – a favourite location in Science Fiction used by Terry Pratchett, Harry Harrison and The Outer Limits among many others. There’s also Lalande 21185, which is a very dim red dwarf.

The dawn rising of Sirius marked the onset of the annual flooding of the Nile in Egypt and of the hot, sultry “dog days” of the Greek summer. In the Southern hemisphere, Sirius was an important navigation reference for the Polynesians.

Orion is one of the most-recognised constellations in the night sky, being visible worldwide and having the distinctive belt and two very bright stars, Rigel and Betelgeuse. The belt’s stars are named Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka – the latter a name we find, slightly scrambled, in Uru. He’s often depicted as a hunter by many cultures, although some see a dancer or a deer and the North American Ojibwa called him Kabibona’kan, the Winter Maker, as his presence heralded winter. In other countries he’s a god, Väinämöinen in Finland, Nataraja (an avatar of Shiva) in India.

Closer to home, the Morning Star is a name given to the planet Venus when it is visible in the morning sky. Venus, with its cloud cover, is very bright when visible separate from the Sun, and to the ancient Greeks was thought of as two separate objects, the morning star and the evening star.

Earthshine is what you see at sunrise or sunset when there is a thin crescent new moon and you can see the rest of the moon illuminated by a faint glow. Sometimes called “the old moon in the arms of the new”, the shadowed moon’s surface is being lit by sunlight reflected from the Earth – that is, Earthshine.

Manned spaceflight has fallen into a hiatus since the retirement of the Shuttle, and public willingness to support it is low, as are government funds. I for one think that is shortsighted, and would quote Joe Straczynski’s words, as spoken by his character Jeffrey Sinclair in the TV series Babylon Five.

“No. We have to go there. And there’s a simple reason why. Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics, and you’ll get ten different answers. But there’s one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on. Whether it happens in a hundred years or a thousand years or a million years, eventually our Sun will grow cold and go out. When that happens, it won’t just take us. It’ll take Marilyn Monroe, and Lao-Tzu, and Einstein, and Morobuto, and Buddy Holly, and Aristophanes, and all of this… all of this . . . was for nothing. Unless we go to the stars.”



Title Artists Album Year
Cygnus X-1 Rush A Farewell To Kings 1977
Life on Mars? David Bowie Hunky Dory 1971
New Moon Passport Earthborn 1982
Black Moon Brand X Xtrax 1986
Mars, the Bringer of War Holst: LSO, Richard Hickox The Planets

Main Show

Also sprach Zarathustra Richard Strauss: Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester, Jonathan Nott BBC Prom 2009 2009
The Blue Danube Strauss: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Herbert von Karajan 2001 Original Soundtrack 1968
Star Wars main theme John Williams: BBC Concert Orchestra, John Lockwood BBC Proms 2013 2013
Imperial March John Williams: BBC Concert Orchestra, John Lockwood BBC Proms 2013 2013
Milky Way Weather Report Weather Report 1971
Theme from Cosmos Vangelis Best in Space 1994
Forever on the Moon Olivier Maurey Myha OST 2019
Pulstar Vangelis Best in Space 1994
The Landing Louis & Bebe Barron Forbidden Planet 1956
Dark Sky Island Enya Dark Sky Island 2015
Astronomy Domine Pink Floyd Ummagumma 1969
Shepherd Moons Enya Shepherd Moons 1991
Sirius Clannad Sirius 1987
The Morning Star The Bothy Band Out Of The Wind Into The Sun 1977
The Moon Shines Bright John Renbourn The Black Balloon 1989
Constellation Parts 1 and 2 Klaus Doldinger Constellation 1983
Man In The Moon Yellowjackets Mirage a Trois 1983
Dark Star Crosby, Stills & Nash CSN 1977
Astronomy Jethro Tull Under Wraps 1984
Orion Jethro Tull Stormwatch 1979
Falling Star Robin Trower In City Dreams 1977
Earthshine Rush Vapor Trails 2002
Countdown Rush Signals 1982


’39 Queen A Night At The Opera 1975
The Sun, Moon & Stars Nanci Griffith Late Night Grande Hotel 1991
Moon Olivier Maurey Myha OST 2019
Star Maiden , Mysterioso , Quasar Colosseum II War Dance 1978
Spiral Vangelis Best in Space 1994
Ascending To The Stars The Flower Kings Waiting For Miracles [Disc 1] 2019
I’m The Urban Spaceman The Bonzo Dog Band Cornology Vol. 2 – The Outro 1992