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Artist's depiction of an exoplanetary system, SSC Astronomy 141:
Life in the Universe
Prof. Richard Pogge, MTWThF 12:30

Lecture Audio Podcasts - Autumn 2009

These lecture podcasts are audio recordings of the daily lectures from my Autumn Quarter 2009 section of Astronomy 141. They were recorded live, unscripted, unedited, each day.

These podcasts are primarily intended as a supplemental study resource for the class. For example, if you must miss a class, studying for the final, etc. Overall, past students have found them very useful, so I will do my best to get good-quality recordings of all lectures up on the web quickly.

Despite their name, you do not need an iPod to listen to a podcast. Any MP3 player, either a portable player or software running on your personal computer or laptop, will work just fine.

However, beware: these podcasts are intended to supplement the lectures, not as a substitute for regular attendance. This class uses a lot of graphics, and some lectures feature physical demonstrations of key ideas. If all you do is listen to the audio portion, you'll miss a lot what goes on in class. The new technologies are wonderfully enabling, but they can also be dangerously seductive.


All recordings are Copyright © Richard Pogge, all rights reserved. You are allowed to make personal copies for your own listening, but you may not share or otherwise distribute these audio files to others. If others are interested in listening to them, please point them to this URL.

By downloading any of the audio files from this website, you are implicitly agreeing to the terms of the copyright statement above.

Getting the Recordings

You have a number of options for downloading these recordings:

Method 1: Subscribe to the Podcasts

Subscribe with iTunes

This is probably the easiest way to receive the podcasts. Your computer needs to have iTunes installed to do this. The latest release is version 9, so make sure you update iTunes before subscribing:

Subscribe to the Ast141 lecture podcasts using iTunes

Clicking on the link above will launch iTunes and connect you to the relevant Astronomy 141 podcast page at iTunes. Subscribing is free.

When you get to the iTunes podcast page, click on the iTunes Subscribe Button button to subscribe to the podcast and start downloading lectures. You can also download individual lectures, write a review, read reviews, etc. After a brief pause, the podcast should appear in your "Podcasts" Library in iTunes.

Note: if you try to download individual lectures from the list in the iTunes window by double-clicking on the lecture title, it will download a short preview, not the entire recording. To download an entire single recording, click on the "Get Episode" button at the far right side of each line of the table in the iTunes window.

Subscribe to the Podcast RSS Feed

To subscribe to the podcast RSS feed directly, copy and paste the URL below into the appropriate "Subscribe to Podcast..." form on your podcast player (in iTunes, use the "Advanced" menu; other programs behave similarly):
Your player should automatically download the available lecture recordings, and most podcast readers can be setup to automatically download new lectures as they become available.

Most web browsers (e.g., Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari) know how to subscribe to podcasts from an RSS feed. Try it with this button:

XML Podcast Feed

If it succeeds, you'll see a page with the current offerings. However, if it fails you'll see a screen full of hard to read text (the raw XML code of the podcast feed). That gunk is your browser's way of telling you to try one of the other methods.

Either way you choose to do it, by subscribing to the podcast, you are implicitly agreeing to the terms of the copyright statement above.

Method 2: MP3 Audio File Download

As an alternative to subscribing to the podcast through the RSS feed, you can download individual lecture MP3 audio files below. Click on the MP3 icon next to the lecture to download it. Each file is about 16Mb in size.

     Welcome: The Astronomy 141 Podcasts
Unit 1: Introduction - Imagining Other Worlds
  Lecture 1: Introduction to Astronomy 141
  Lecture 2: Astronomical Numbers
  Lecture 3: Imagining Other Worlds
Unit 2: Five Revolutions
  Lecture 4: The Copernican Revolution
  Lecture 5: The Chemical Revolution and the Nature of Matter
  Lecture 6: The Geological Revolution: Deep Time and the Age of the Earth
  Lecture 7: The Biological Revolution: What is Life?
  Lecture 8: The Cosmological Revolution: The Depths of Space and Time
Unit 3: Life on Earth
  Lecture 9: Inside the Earth
  Lecture 10: The Earth's Atmosphere - recorder malfunction, no recording!
  Lecture 11: The History of the Earth
  Lecture 12: Climate Regulation and Climate Change
  Lecture 13: What is Life?
  Lecture 14: Cells
  Lecture 15: The Chemistry of Life
  Lecture 16: DNA and Heredity
  Lecture 17: Life on the Edge
  Lecture 18: The First Living Things on Earth
  Lecture 19: The Origin of Life on Earth
  Lecture 20: The History of Life on Earth
  Lecture 21: Impacts and Extinctions
Unit 4: Life in the Solar System
  Lecture 22: The Family of the Sun
  Lecture 23: Terrestrial Planets in Comparison
  Lecture 24: The Jovian Planets
  Lecture 25: The Requirements for Life in the Solar System
  Lecture 26: The Deserts of Mars
  Lecture 27: Is There Life on Mars?
  Lecture 28: The Galilean Moons of Jupiter
  Lecture 29: The Children of Saturn
  Lecture 30: Goldilocks and the Three Planets
Unit 5: Life in the Universe
  Lecture 31: The Properties of Stars
  Lecture 32: The Lives of Stars
  Lecture 33: The Deaths of Stars
  Lecture 34: Habitable Zones around Stars
  Lecture 35: The Solar Neighborhood
  Lecture 36: Exoplanets - Planets Around Other Stars
  Lecture 37: Strange New Worlds - the Properties of Exoplanets
  Lecture 38: The Pale Blue Dot - Seeking Other Earths
  Lecture 39: The Drake Equation
  Lecture 40: SETI: The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence
  Lecture 41: Interstellar Travel and Colonization
  Lecture 42: The Fermi Paradox
  Lecture 43: Extraterrestrial Life
Unit 6: Death in the Universe
  Lecture 44: The Future of Life in the Solar System - recorded after lecture because of a recorder malfunction
  Lecture 45: The Future of Life in the Universe
Course Summary
  Lecture 46: This View of Life

By downloading any of the audio files from this website, you are implicitly agreeing to the terms of the copyright statement above.

About the Recordings

All audio recordings are being captured live, and are offered unedited, uncut, and as-is goofs and all. I usually get them converted to MP3 and on the website on the same day as the lecture.

The lectures are recorded using an Olympus WS-200S portable digital voice recorder and lapel microphone (Olympus ME-15). This device records the audio track as a single-channel Windows Media Audio (WMA) file (32Mbps, 44100Hz). I convert this WMA file into a 115kbps MPEG Layer-3 Audio (MP3) format files using the open-source winLAME encoder. The recorder is set for mono recording with the mic on low-gain (high gain causes too much room noise pickup). A typical lecture recording converted into MP3 format is about 16Mb in size (or around 40 minutes in duration).

Overall, the sound quality is pretty good, with minor background noise pickup and clipping on occasion, though sometimes the mic shifts on me. Given that this is low-end equipment, the lower voice registers tend to be lost or muted, so my voice sounds slightly higher pitched than it usually is. Not too bad for $100 in gear.

If you have comments or questions, please don't hesitate to send me an email. I especially like to hear from students or anyone else who has found these recordings useful.

Return to the Astronomy 141 Main Page
Updated: 2009 December 4
Copyright © Richard W. Pogge, All Rights Reserved.