SPA revives its Sound of Astronomy ‘podcast’ after 50 years

A 50-year old ‘podcast’ has now returned to the airwaves with an updated twist and exciting new content


Adrian Egan and Hazel Joyce recording the Sound of Astronomy in 1967. Image credit: SPA

The ‘Sound of Astronomy’ audio magazine, similar to a podcast, has been revived 50 years after its first issue was released. The Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA) has undergone this task of bringing this old idea back to a modern reality.

Sound of Astronomy began in the mid 1960s, when three editions were recorded on reel-to-reel magnetic reel. This idea was ahead of its time, as these professional produced editions interpret the same fundamental ideas of a podcast. However at the time, the technology and accessibility was nowhere near its current level.

The early issues contained interviews and comments from the likes of Sir Patrick Moore and Arthur C. Clarke, and even included descriptions of eclipse trips and meteorite searches. Professional voice artist Adrian Egan also presented them at the time, and he is also the first voice that is heard to introduce the new episode.

The driving force behind this revival has been Osnat Katz, a student at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. Katz’s took on the task after encouragement by SPA stalwart Paul Sutherland. Sutherland was a big fan of the broadcasts as a teenager whilst part of the Junior Astronomical Society in 1967.

“If you’d told me just a few months ago that I’d be reviving a fifty-year-old podcast, I wouldn’t have believed a word of it,” says Katz. “But that’s exactly what’s happening! Making the first episode has been an absolute privilege and I can’t wait to release more.”

Osnat Katz led the production of the new Sound of Astronomy. Image credit: SPA

Another notable voice appearance from the original editions is Robin Scagell, a leading astronomy author and President of the SPA. Scagell was handled the final production of the new releases.

Here are a series of highlights, and things to look forward to in the series:

  • An interview with Dr Alan Stern, principal scientist with the New Horizons mission, who argues that Pluto is still a planet;
  • Dr Leigh Fletcher, of the University of Leicester, on how amateur astronomers are giving valuable support to NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter;
  • Dr Andy Newsam, of the National Schools Observatory, whose Soniverse project models the Universe in sound;
  • Robin Scagell with advice on how to defy light pollution and successfully observe from towns and cities;
  • Shoutouts from Chris Lintott, of The Sky at Night, and Matt Taylor, project scientist for ESA’s Rosetta mission to Comet 67P.
  • Also, Paul Sutherland gets Adrian Egan and Robin Scagell to reminisce about how the Sound of Astronomy began way back in the Sixties.

“It was a very important time in astronomy really because the space programme was getting underway. No one had walked on the Moon or been around the Moon by that time,” says Scagell. “There were space missions happening every few days, so it seemed, including the Ranger and Surveyor craft sending back the most amazing pictures of the surface of the Moon. It was an exciting time.”

You can listen to the Sound of Astronomy by visiting or by searching for Sound of Astronomy on iTunes.

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