Pale Blue Pod, a new podcast from Multitude, explores astronomy with a relatable and playful approach. The show is co-hosted by Astrophysicist Dr. Moiya McTier and Comedian Corinne Caputo, who bring their warmth and curiosity into each episode as they work to demystify questions about the universe.
McTier is the author of the popular science book, The Milky Way: An Autobiography of the Galaxy. She has also given hundreds of public talks on the subject and hosts the podcast Exolore, about facts-based fictional world-building. Caputo is a comedy writer who has always had a deep fascination with space. She created a long-running monthly game show called Astronaut Training and published a self-help parody called How To Success! A Writer’s Guide To Fame and Fortune, which was published by Chronicle Books. The first episode of Pale Blue Pod drops today, with a new episode every Monday.
Forbes spoke to McTier and Caputo about the creation of Pale Blue Pod. We also discussed what they’d learned so far while working on it and if they plan to have any special guests.
Risa Sarachan: You talk about it a bit in the first episode, but can you share with our readers how the two of you first connected and how this podcast came about?
Corinne Caputo: I used to host a comedy game show at Caveat in NYC called Astronaut Training (Imagine if a ‘90s Nickelodeon game show spawned in outer space). I paired up scientists and comedians and teams would compete to “win” a trip to space. It was incredibly fun and made even better by the kind and hilarious scientists I would cold call and ask to be on my show, especially Moiya! Moiya was a repeat guest and always won (I’ll be sending her to space any day now). She and I lost touch after the show abruptly ended (thanks, Covid), but I was over the moon to see an email from Moiya in my inbox this summer asking if I wanted to co-host a space podcast with her!
Dr. Moiya McTier: I remembered my time(s) on Astronaut Training so fondly that when the creative team at Multitude suggested I make a space podcast, Corinne was an obvious choice for a potential co-host. A nice, funny person with a proven ability to keep a show going and a history of space-related work? That’s exactly what I needed! I sent her a cold email after years of no contact (thanks again, Covid) and was thrilled when she agreed to do the show. It seemed like a sign from the universe that we were both miraculously free at the same time to make this show together.
Sarachan: Who do you think would enjoy this podcast?
Caputo: I think anyone who had an interest in space when they were little, and anyone who has an interest in space now. It’s a low-pressure atmosphere to learn and have fun, which is so rare when you’re in a formal school setting.
McTier: This show is for anyone who thinks space is cool, but also kind of scary. It’s for curious people with a healthy dose of awe and wonder about the universe who like to laugh. And to be totally honest, it’s for anyone who’s tired of hearing dudes talk about space without appreciating its splendor, because no matter what some famous scientists might say, eclipses and other space phenomena will never be “unspectacular.”
Sarachan: Moiya, you speak about falling out of love with space after graduate school. Do you think recording Pale Blue Pod has helped you regain your passion for it?
McTier: When I was in graduate school, I spent all of my time crunching numbers about space and listening to people talk about it in the dullest, most uninspired way imaginable. I started to associate space with the natural stress of a PhD program, and it squashed my sense of wonder.
Pale Blue Pod lets me talk about the universe with a funny, curious co-host, and seeing her appreciation for space grow each episode has already helped me gain some passion back. I’m looking forward to the rest of this journey.
Sarachan: I love the way this podcast is making space accessible and not intimidating to anyone who is open to learning about it! Will you have any special guests on the show?
Caputo: For now, it’s just us, but it’s not off the table to chat with special guests. Let us know if you have the man on the moon’s number – would love to hear from him.
McTier: We might make some exceptions for very special guests in the future, but for now, I’m enjoying these one-on-one conversations with Corinne in all the cozy spots we visit for our recordings, like my grandma’s living room.
Sarachan: Corinne, what is your favorite thing you’ve learned so far about space from Moiya?
Caputo: Oh wow, so much. I’m not sure I have a favorite thing, but it’s quickly becoming my favorite way to learn. Who wouldn’t love their enthusiastic, funny friend patiently explaining a cool concept?! Also, I lied; my favorite moment was when Moiya recommended I call dark matter “transparent matter” instead, and it took all of my fear out and made me so excited and curious to learn more!
Sarachan: Moiya, I love how ancient folklore ties into some of the information you give. What’s your favorite topic you’ve covered so far on the podcast?
McTier: My favorite topics in astronomy (aside from exoplanets, which we haven’t covered yet) are always the ones that have a direct folklore tie-in. We have an episode on eclipses coming up, and it’s really cool to be able to talk about the modern science behind an eclipse while also recognizing the impressive math ancient humans used to predict them and the imaginative but useful stories different cultures used to tell to explain them.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Pale Blue Pod is out today anywhere you can listen to podcasts.