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  • Writer's pictureMatt Russell

#167 - Matt Sharp - Q36

This week we have an Interview with Matt Sharp (Weezer/Rentals) from late November 2019, who has an album coming out in June 2020 with his seminal band The Rentals called Q36, A new song is debuting every two weeks until then. It’s very space-related stuff and we love it! We also get a chance to talk about NEID and TESS and their quest for interesting exoplanets.


Jocelyn Bell Burnell who discovered pulsars

The universe is very big - there's about 100,000 million galaxies in the universe, so that means an awful lot of stars. And some of them, I'm pretty certain, will have planets where there was life, is life, or maybe will be life. I don't believe we're alone.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell who discovered pulsars

So we thought this quote was apt because this week in the Telegraph the headline read “aliens exist and may already be among us” This is how they quoted Helen Sharman our guest from a couple of weeks ago But what she actually said was "there are so many billions of stars out there in the universe that there must be all sorts of forms of life will they be like you and me made up of carbon and nitrogen maybe not it's possible there right here right now all we simply can't see them"


Shout out to Justin Young and Justin Roberts for being ACE !!! 2020 is going to be amazing and we have some exciting plans only made possible by you and the other 66 patreons. If you want to help us in our quest to put the ace back into space please go to


Happy 84th Birthday :

Robert Woodrow Wilson (born January 10, 1936) the American astronomer who, while working on a new type of antenna at Bell Labs with Arno Allan Penzias, discovered cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) in 1964. The pair won the 1978 Nobel prize in physics for their discovery.

After removing pigeon droppings and all potential sources of noise they found a source of noise in the atmosphere that they could not explain. Finally identified as CMB including on the antenna, which served as important corroboration of the Big Bang theory.

I kind of liked the idea of a universe that always was and always will be. - Wilson


Elon Musk is making me sad!

On January 7th Elon Musk launched another 60 Starlink satellites on a Falcon 9 Block 5, that has already flown 3 times, including putting up 60 other starlinks!!! 122 satellites in total, so that beats the record-breaking ISRO PSLV-c37 launch back in 2017 of 104 satellites in one go!!!

  • Getting ahead of the competition like One web

  • Becoming on of the biggest satellite operators of all time.

  • According to Eric Berger on Ars Capturing, just 3 per cent of the global Internet market could bring in about $30 billion in revenue

  • What the hell must indigenous people with no idea about this technological world think when they see these things flying overhead

They will be flying over England as we record this podcast, I saw this using Moribah’s Astriagraph. Starlink is already quite noticeable using this

NEID exoplanet hunter (pronounced “NOO-id,” rhymes with fluid)

Thank you patron Jelly sock for pointing this one out.

Acronym - NEID - the NN-EXPLORE Exoplanet Investigations with Doppler spectroscopy. For a further twist, it’s a “nested” acronym; the NN comes from NN-EXPLORE, the NASA-NSF (national science foundation) Exoplanet Observational Research partnership.


NEID A new NASA-funded planet-hunting instrument has been installed on the WIYN telescope,(Universities of Wisconsin, Indiana, Yale and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory ((NOAO))) on Arizona’s Kitt Peak. NEID is a spectrometer that is one of the first instruments of its kind with the precision to detect small, terrestrial planets around nearby stars. NEID will also confirm the presence of planets discovered by NASA’s TESS space telescope, and reveal details of their anatomy. Trying to find a world with life on it.

The observatory sits on land of the Tohono O'odham Nation, and NEID's pronunciation evokes a word that roughly translates as "to see" in the Tohono O'odham language

Radial velocity method,

Jupiter causes the sun to move back and forth at roughly 13 meters per second whereas Earth causes a more sedate movement of only 10cm per second. Until now, instruments have typically been able to measure speeds as low as about 1 meter per second, but NEID belongs to a new generation of instruments capable of achieving about three-times-finer precision. It has the potential to detect and study rocky planets around stars smaller than the Sun. In addition, the scientists and engineers working with the instrument want to use it to demonstrate "extreme precision radial velocity" that could perhaps one day detect planets as small as Earth-orbiting around Sun-like stars in the habitable zone, where liquid water could potentially exist on a planet's surface.

Again this is all about combining the measurements from TESS using the transit method, that reveals the size of a planet, but not mass. The radial method finds a planet’s mass but not size, if you know both you get the density and that becomes super interesting!!! managed at NASA by the Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP), based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California

The NEID spectrograph was built at the Pennsylvania State University. NSF's National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (OIR Lab) was responsible for modifications to the WIYN 3.5-meter telescope to accommodate NEID


announced on Monday at the 235th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Honolulu. TESS has uncovered its first Tatooine-like circumbinary planet — a world that orbits two stars instead of one.

TOI 1338 b is about 1,300 light-years away in the constellation Pictor. And although one of its stars is slightly larger than our own sun, the other is a tiny red dwarf only 30 per cent of the sun’s mass. The two stars also are quite close together, orbiting each other once every 14.6 days. But the planet, estimated to be 6.9 earth mass, TOI 1338 b traces a wider path around the pair, taking about 95 days to complete a single orbit.

orbit should remain stable for at least another 10 million years, but its orbital tilt changes over time.

Although TOI 1338 b currently passes in front of its host stars from our point of view — which is how TESS was able to spot it — after November 2023, the planet's orbit will be too tilted to eclipse these stars for about eight years.

This kind of changing orbital tilt is something that astronomers often see with circumbinary planets. Lead author Veselin Kostov, an astronomer from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center said at the conference.

The planet is between the sizes of Neptune and Saturn

The acronym "TOI" refers to stars and exoplanets studied by TESS, and is short for: "Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite Object of Interest".

Wolf Cukier who has just finished his junior year at Scarsdale High School in New York at NASA Goddard as an intern, “I was looking through the data for everything the volunteers had flagged as an eclipsing binary, a system where two stars circle around each other and from our view eclipse each other every orbit,” Cukier said. “About three days into my internship, I saw a signal from a system called TOI 1338. At first, I thought it was a stellar eclipse, but the timing was wrong. It turned out to be a planet.” Cukier co-authored along with scientists from Goddard, San Diego State University, the University of Chicago and other institutions, has been submitted to a scientific journal.

After identifying TOI 1338 b, the research team used a software package called Eleanor, named after Eleanor Arroway, the central character in Carl Sagan’s novel “Contact,” to confirm the transits were real and not a result of instrumental artefacts.

There are 4104 confirmed planets, 37 by TESS, and 1517 waiting to be confirmed.

  • 1993, The first confirmed circumbinary planet (2.5 x Jupiter mass) was found orbiting the system PSR B1620-26, which contains a millisecond pulsar and a white dwarf and is located in the globular cluster M4

  • 2011 KEPLER 16b, 200ly from the Earth in Cygnus, frozen world of rock and gas, about the mass of Saturn. It orbits two stars that are also circling each other, one about two-thirds the size of our sun, the other about a fifth the size of our sun. Each orbit of the stars by the planet takes 229 days, while the planet orbits the system's centre of mass every 225 days; the stars eclipse each other every three weeks or so

  • NASA’s Kepler and K2 missions previously discovered 12 circumbinary planets in 10 systems, all similar to TOI 1338 b. Observations of binary systems are biased toward finding larger planets, Kostov said. Transits of smaller bodies don’t have as big an effect on the stars’ brightness. TESS is expected to observe hundreds of thousands of eclipsing binaries during its initial two-year mission, so many more of these circumbinary planets should be waiting for discovery.

Shout out to Skylon Patrons.

Dr Bob Hodges, John Benac, Julio Aprea, Kaarel Siim, Darren Fooks, Sven Neuhaus. Patrick Haywood, Stas Shusha, Mark Sheuern, Rob Annable, Christopher Andreasen, Audun Vaaler, Anthony Peggs, Matt Gilliland

And to the rest of you legends who email and Instagram and tweet to us keep it up.

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