Astronomy August 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.
astronomy marks 45 years

With this issue, Astronomy magazine celebrates its 45th anniversary. A young college graduate named Stephen Walther took his passion for astronomy and, in the summer of 1973, founded a popular magazine on the subject. By the 1980s, the magazine had become the most widely read periodical on the subject. It still holds that title today. I never met Steve; in 1977, he died suddenly of a brain tumor. I joined the fold in 1982, and the editorial staff has been holding up the same level of quality reporting ever since Steve’s days. To commemorate the magazine’s anniversary, the editors have assembled a special package looking at astronomy’s greatest hits of the last 45 years. If you’re interested in planetary science, you may want to read about the latest goings-on with the search…

4 min.
astro letters

Memories of McDonald I really enjoyed the article “In pursuit of exoplanets,” by Robert Reeves, in your March issue. The photos of the Harlan J. Smith Telescope at McDonald Observatory brought back many happy memories of visits to Mount Locke. I grew up about 170 miles away in Odessa, Texas, and McDonald (pictured) was a frequent weekend destination for our family. I remember going when their only telescope was the 82-inch (now renamed the Otto Struve Telescope), and when the Harlan J. Smith Telescope was constructed in the early 1960s. The observatory has become a great destination, and I highly recommend it to your readers if they ever find themselves in West Texas. — Richard Taylor, Odessa, TX A trip through time I loved Bob Berman’s March column about memorable sky sightings. My own list…

1 min.
stellar hide-and-seek

New data from the MUSE instrument on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (red), when combined with images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope (green) and Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue and purple), have helped researchers define a mysterious X-ray source. The distinct ring of dust (red) discovered with MUSE appears inside a larger supernova remnant 200,000 light-years away in the Small Magellanic Cloud, and perfectly circles an observed but previously undefined X-ray source dubbed p1. Combining these clues, astronomers determined that the gaseous ring surrounds an isolated neutron star with a low magnetic field, the first of its kind identified outside the Milky Way. Neutron stars are created when a massive star dies. Their dim X-ray luminosity makes these stars difficult to spot, but when literally surrounded by light, it’s tough…

2 min.
a galaxy without dark matter

Dark matter is a gravitationally inferred, but optically elusive, type of matter believed to form the foundation upon which all galaxies are built. But in a study published March 28 in the journal Nature, a team of astronomers uncovered the first galaxy ever found with a dearth of dark matter. “We thought that every galaxy had dark matter and that dark matter is how a galaxy begins,” said lead author Pieter van Dokkum, an astrophysicist at Yale University, in a press release. “This invisible, mysterious substance is the most dominant aspect of any galaxy. So finding a galaxy without it is unexpected. It challenges the standard ideas of how we think galaxies work, and it shows that dark matter is real: It has its own separate existence apart from other components…

1 min.
how much do planets tip?

TILT-A-WHIRL. From the time we were in grade school, one fundamental lesson we learned about our planet is that its axis — the line through the planet from the north to south poles around which it rotates — tilts 23.5° to the plane of its orbit around the Sun. But what about the other planets? Do they also tip by this amount? As you can see, three others tilt about as much as Earth, two have either a tiny or no tilt, and another pair tilt like crazy. FAST FACT As of the beginning of 2018, Earth’s exact axial tilt, called obliquity, is 23.436938°.…

1 min.
this cold front won’t quit

LOW TEMPS. A group of astronomers recently used data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton, and the German Roentgen satellite to study the persistent cold front that has plagued the Perseus galaxy cluster for 5 billion years. The cold front, which appears as a curved arm on the left side of this image, spans 2 million light-years and is hurtling away from the cluster’s center at 300,000 mph (about 483,000 km/h). It measures about 30 million degrees Fahrenheit (17 million degrees Celsius), while the surrounding region is about 80 million F (44 million C). The front was likely created when Perseus collided with another galaxy cluster, sending gas from the cluster’s center sloshing outward. Researchers think the cold front has strong magnetic fields surrounding it, protecting…