Astronomy August 2019

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
Read More
12 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
copernicus and his revolution

Once in a great while, some human being comes up with a revolutionary idea. In science, it has occurred with Thales, with Galileo, with Einstein, with a few others. And it certainly happened with Nicolas Copernicus, the 16th-century Polish astronomer and mathematician. Copernicus’ greatest work, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), contains the explosive idea that the Sun is the center of the “cosmos,” not Earth. The book was certain to cause a total meltdown within the formalized church, of course, and so Copernicus held off publishing his lengthy tome until just before his death in 1543. The resulting Copernican revolution carried astronomy out of the Dark Ages and into the modern age, and it cemented a Sun-centered universe in the minds of the educated —…

2 min.
astro letters

Impending supernova In April’s Astro News, you discussed an ancient mass extinction that could have been caused by a nearby supernova, possibly only 150 light-years away. While this supernova threat should not be taken lightly, I was a little surprised that you did not mention the possible danger of relatively close Wolf-Rayet stars like Apep, which is only 8,000 light-years away and is expected to become a supernova soon. Although the chances of getting hit by the resulting gamma-ray bursts are quite small, one can only hope that those jets will truly miss Earth, especially from that short of a distance! For all we know, one of those Wolf-Rayet stars might have already burst, and their gamma rays are on their way here. Oh well, just one more astronomical event to…

1 min.
red wings

Floating like a giant space butterfly, the nebula W40 is composed of two glowing bubbles of hot gas puffed up by radiation from the massive stars forming within its core. At 1,400 light-years away — roughly the same distance as the more famous Orion Nebula — W40 is one of the nearest regions birthing stars more than 10 times our Sun’s mass, offering astronomers a glimpse into the early lives of these giants. This image, taken as part of the Spitzer Legacy and Massive Young Stellar Clusters Study in Infrared and X-rays surveys, shows the nebula in infrared light, much of which comes from warm gas and dust. The reddest colors — the longest wavelengths of light imaged — are the glow of organic molecules containing oxygen and carbon. Shorter…

1 min.
hot bytes

RAGING RIVERS University of Chicago researchers studying ancient riverbeds on Mars have determined that the Red Planet’s rivers flowed more recently — and with more force — than previously believed. MAJOR SETBACK SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule was destroyed during an April 20 test in Cape Canaveral, Florida, delaying plans to fly crew members to the International Space Station in the craft later this year. SIZE IT UP Asteroids in our solar system that pass in front of distant stars can help astronomers directly measure the tiny apparent size of these luminaries.…

5 min.
first-ever black hole image

On April 10, astronomers unveiled the dramatic result of a decades-long effort: the first image ever of a black hole. The iconic photo offers humanity its first glimpse at the gas and debris that swirls around the event horizon, the boundary beyond which material disappears forever. The target was the galaxy M87 and its supermassive black hole, which packs the mass of 6.5 billion Suns. Despite its size, the black hole is so far from Earth — about 55 million light-years — that imaging it took a telescope the size of our planet. Called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), this collaboration of eight independent observatories and more than 200 researchers scattered across the globe released the image and a series of scientific papers published the same day in The Astrophysical Journal…

1 min.
quick takes

PLANETARY RELIC Astronomers discovered a piece of a destroyed planet’s metallic core around a long-dead white dwarf, providing a glimpse into the fate of our solar system. STELLAR FLYBY The Parker Solar Probe made its second close pass by the Sun in early April, skimming our star’s outermost layers at 213,000 miles (343,000 kilometers) per hour. SHAKE IT OFF The InSight lander recorded a marsquake for the first time, though the event was too weak to reveal much about Mars’ interior. SPACE TURDUCKEN Researchers got an unexpected look at the early solar system when they found ancient cometary material trapped inside an asteroid fragment that landed on Earth as a meteorite. PUMP THE BRAKES A rocket mission flown through the northern lights found that aurorae can act as speed bumps that slow down satellites, dragging them closer to Earth. SKY…