Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition

The Jodcast is a big part of my life right now. It’s a bimonthly audio astronomy podcast that we do here at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics and I am currently in charge of it (insofar as anyone can be in charge of a collaborative project). I became involved in mid-April 2009 and one of the highlights for me was the April Fool episode last year (2010) where we recorded the episode pretending that it was 1990. At that point Stuart was still in charge and we had a lot of fun (and put in a lot of effort!) trying to figure out what the astronomical world was like 20 years in the past. The episode was, I think it’s safe to say, extremely well received but left me wondering how on Earth we would beat it this year.

Enter Liz Guzman and her team of Spanish-speaking Jodrell astronomers! Liz is a PhD student from Mexico who translates the Jodcast news into Spanish as and when she has time to do so. We’d been throwing around the idea of a full episode in Spanish for a while so the April Fool episode seemed to be the ideal opportunity to finally do it. Liz was fantastic and organised the entire thing, sending an email round Jodrell Bank in Spanish basically saying “if you understand this, we need you!” and then recording and editing nearly everything. The Spanish episode follows the same format as the normal on-the-month show with the latest news (by Liz), interviews with researchers (3 Jodrell post-docs and 1 PhD student), a night sky guide (by Dave Jones, now a post-doc at ESO in Chile) and some lovely presenting by Liz, Dave, Adam Avison and Paul Woods (now at UCL). The episode was released at 11pm BST (midnight in Spain) complete with a Spanish front page and Spanish tweets. We spent the day pretending that we had no idea what was going on (Stuart blamed the new Google Translate module) and, apart from a few concerned emails, I think the majority of listeners got the joke. The English version of the show was released yesterday and now we can relax for the next 11 months until we have to think of a way to better this year’s April Fool!

By a happy coincidence, April is also Global Astronomy Month. There seem to be a lot of events going on across the world as part of this but I was rather surprised to see that their website only seems to be in English. At least we are unintentionally doing our bit with the Jodcast! The episode may have been conceived and released as an April Fool but everything within the show is correct/factual/real and I hope that the show is passed on and found by Spanish-speaking astronomy fans, so if you know any, please spread the word. It would be a shame if all of the hard work of the “El Jodcast team” was just for one (albeit awesome) prank.


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