3 mins read 21 May 2020

The Skyentist 36 - Spiral density waves

The Skyentist 36 - Spiral density waves


After a long hiatus consequence of the very unusual times we all are living, The Skyentists, astronomers Kirsten Banks and Ángel López-Sánchez, are back to action. In addition to providing some quick comments about how their work and science communication activities have been affected during the last couple of months they also talk about recent astronomy news: the bright comet C/2020 F8 (Swan), the non-pink, non-super moon, and the apparent disintegration of exoplanet Fomalhaut b 'Dagon'.

For 'Space News' Ángel talks, surprise, surprise, about Betelgeuse, that has fully recovered its normal brightness, as a new research confirms that the reason of its unusual dimming was a dust cloud, while Kirsten celebrates the 30 anniversary of our beloved Hubble Space Telescope, for which she has been preparing some amazing short (< 1 min) videos in TikTok. Here and there plenty of feedback is answered including some clever astro-questions.

The main topic of this episode is galaxies: they provide some 'galaxy fun facts' and then discuss the 'spiral density wave' theory that explains how the arms of spiral galaxies are created.

For 'What's Up!' they invite us to have a look to the beautiful edge-on spiral galaxy NGC 4565, the Needle galaxy, located in the constellation of Coma Berenices.

This episode has been fully recorded 'online', and there were some funny issues with the recording. However, they are confident that the sound quality is good enough and hopes everybody enjoys this 1-hour episode. More in 2 weeks!


Kirsten Banks is a proud Wiradjuri woman, astrophysicist, and science communicator. She’s always had her eyes on the skies and loves to share her passion for space and astronomy. Kirsten jumps at almost every opportunity to share the wonders of the Universe with a wide range of people, from speaking to students at schools to sharing her love for space on national television programs such as ABC’s Q&A. In the years to come, Kirsten looks forward to completing a Ph.D. and becoming Dr. Kirsten Banks. 

Dr. Ángel López-Sánchez is an astronomer and science communicator at the Australian Astronomical Optics and the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the Macquarie University. He studies how the gas is converted into stars in nearby galaxies and how this affects galaxy evolution. He also provides support for visiting astronomers to the Anglo-Australian Telescope. He is a globally-recognised science communicator, with visibility in Spanish and Australian printed, broadcast, and social media (one of the Top-100 most-followed astrophysicists on Twitter). His stunning astronomy timelapse videos have received 1/4 million views on YouTube and have been used by ABC (Australia), BBC (UK), TVE (Spain), and in Science Museums worldwide. He is very active in social media, his Twitter feed is @El_Lobo_Rayado.

This podcast is syndicated with permissions.

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