Astronomy April 2018

The world's best-selling astronomy magazine offers you the most exciting, visually stunning, and timely coverage of the heavens above. Each monthly issue includes expert science reporting, vivid color photography, complete sky coverage, spot-on observing tips, informative telescope reviews, and much more! All this in a user-friendly style that's perfect for astronomers at any level.

United States
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines
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12 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
cosmic threats to life on earth

Most people on Earth wake up and go through their day without giving the universe around them a thought. But you can’t escape the fact that Earth and our solar system lie within a big galaxy, and the galaxy within a big cosmos — and that our planet can be affected by numerous things. We now know that the more fragile life on Earth, like us, will cease to exist within a billion years due to the Sun’s increasing energy output. But other factors can dramatically affect life on Earth on much shorter timescales. This issue contains two unusual stories for Astronomy, each conveying a sense of this danger. New York University biologist Michael Rampino describes the potential connection between dark matter and Earth. Michael is one of the world’s leading…

1 min.
qg quantum gravity

HOT BYTES TRENDING TO THE TOP CERES’ SHEEN The mysterious bright spots observed on the dwarf planet Ceres have changed over time, indicating the world is still surprisingly active. SUPERNOVA STEW A new image taken by the Chandra X-ray Observatory maps the distribution of four elements in the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A. RED ROVER Mars 2020 will seek out sites on the Red Planet that were likely habitable in the distant past and search for evidence of ancient microbial life.…

2 min.
the first interstellar asteroid

At first, astronomers were intrigued when they detected, in October 2017, a high-speed object moving through the solar system. Upon investigating the object, researchers using the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii found it was not an ordinary fast-moving asteroid. Its orbit suggested it came from outside the solar system. Amazingly, the rock is elongated, some 10 times longer than it is wide. This interstellar cigar measures around a quarter of a mile (400 meters) long, or four football fields. Planetary scientists were elated. They had their first evidence of an interstellar asteroid moving through our neighborhood. Others on social media were less circumspect: “C’mon, Dave,” some friends teased. “It looks like a rocky spaceship from Star Trek. You have to be able to see that, right?” But the object — known as 1l/2017…

4 min.
is radiation beneficial?

If we’re ever to colonize other planets, we’ll have to deal with increased radiation environments. Starting in 1969, 24 astronauts ventured beyond Earth’s atmosphere and magnetosphere, leaving behind all layers of cosmic ray protection. U.S. astronaut Shannon Lucid cites this hazard as the biggest challenge for manned space exploration. It may already have cost some astronauts their lives. Five of the original space pioneers have died of cancer. Alan Shepard publicly wondered if his Apollo radiation exposure had given him the leukemia that ultimately killed him. And studies show that radiation is particularly bad for the heart. Many of us have a personal stake in this issue. Some of us have undergone whole-body CT scans, each of which could have delivered as much radiation as Hiroshima survivors received a mile away from…

4 min.
astro letters

Shadow bands Mr. O’Meara, I was paging through the February 2018 issue of Astronomy magazine, which arrived a few days ago, and I noticed your article about Earth’s shadow bands. While reading it, I was reminded of our January 2011 trip to Antarctica, where I took this photo of the Full Moon rising (11:55 p.m. local time) while we were in the Lemaire Channel. The Sun was just setting over my right shoulder, thus some direct sunlight illuminated both the ice floating in the channel and the snow-covered mountain in the distant left. My photo also has Earth’s shadow and the Belt of Venus, which you described. Regards, and I enjoy reading your monthly articles. — Bob Bedell, Mansfield, TX The next billion years I just read David Eicher’s editor’s note for the December…

3 min.
farthest supermassive black hole lies 13 billion light-years away

FREE FALLING. A French satellite experiment confirmed that the equivalence principle — a key tenet of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity that states all objects fall at the same rate, despite any differences in mass — holds true in space. In the early universe, black holes 100,000 or more times the mass of the Sun formed fast and often. But how they formed, especially so quickly, remains a question. The recent discovery of a behemoth black hole just 690 million years after the Big Bang may help astronomers answer it. J1342+0928 is a quasar — a big, bright disk of infalling material — around a black hole already containing 800 million solar masses that formed when the universe was just 5 percent its current age. At 13.1 billion light-years away, it…