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Astronomy December 2019

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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.

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United States
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines
12 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
astronomy’s mad genius

Mention “Isaac Newton” at an astronomy gathering or a star party and you’ll invariably get one response: He was a genius, but also a little bit nuts. Perhaps the two go hand in hand, as psychologists, amateur and professional, have said since the dawn of time. One thing is certain: Isaac Newton was one of the most influential thinkers in world history, and we still owe much of how we see the world and the universe at large to him. Born on Christmas Day 1642 (new style calendar: January 4, 1643), Newton was premature, a small child whose mother said he could have, at birth, fit inside a quart mug. Living with a grandmother and disliked grandfather during his youth, Newton compiled a list of misbehaviors that included threatening to burn…

2 min.
astro letters

Globular clusters, tackled Great article in the August issue of Astronomy magazine on globular star clusters. As a professional and amateur astronomer for over 40 years, I have viewed and studied globular clusters extensively. I recently retired from the University of Hawai‘i but still maintain an observatory on Kaua‘i. I have seen all of the globular clusters you discussed, except 47 Tucanae, which doesn’t come above the horizon from Hawai‘i. — James Dire, Peoria, IL Solving mysteries Astronomers have relentlessly searched the skies, and the result is a multitude of surprising images that dazzle us, giving us some answers, but not all. Your articles by renowned astronomers, astrophysicists, and observers are mind-blowing. The July special issue on the Apollo 11 Moon landing was nostalgic since I saw it on TV. We’ve come a…

1 min.
a star’s death gasps

The Hubble Space Telescope has imaged the remnants of a dying star in the constellation Gemini the Twins several times. Because of its unique bilobed appearance, astronomers once thought the fading system, designated NGC 2371/2, was two distinct objects. This is because the planetary nebula — an expanding shell of gas created when a red giant star sheds its outer layers — has a symmetrical structure that made it look like two dying suns, instead of just one. As the outer layers expand into space, the star’s smoldering core remains behind, energizing the surrounding gas. NGC 2371/2 is an evolving system, with bright knots of gas and jets of material that change from one observation to the next. Eventually, though, these changes will slow as the gas dissipates and the cooling…

1 min.
hot bytes

NEW TECH Turbulence in Earth’s atmosphere can turn crisp images of the cosmos blurry. The University of Hawai‘i’s 2.2-meter telescope will be first on Mauna Kea with a bendable secondary mirror to reduce this effect. GALACTICA INCOGNITA From Earth, much of the Milky Way’s far side is obscured by the crowded galactic center. A new study of more than 1,000 variable stars in this hard-to-see region is helping astronomers chart our galaxy’s structure. ROLLING STONE NASA’s InSight mission team has named a golf ball-sized martian rock “Rolling Stones Rock,” after the famous band. The team believes the rock was pushed about 3 feet (1 m) by the spacecraft’s thrusters during landing.…

2 min.
india’s first lunar lander crashes

On September 6, controllers at the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) facility in Bengaluru, India, watched tensely as the Vikram lander approached the Moon’s surface. The nearly 3,260-pound (1,477 kilograms) lander was about to accomplish India’s first soft landing on the Moon, touching down closer to the lunar south pole than any other country. But at an altitude of about 1.3 miles (2.1 kilometers), as the craft neared the end of its automated soft-landing sequence, communications went out. The lander could not be raised, leading mission controllers to believe Vikram had slammed into the lunar surface faster and harder than expected, possibly bringing its part in the Chandrayaan-2 mission to an end. On September 9, ISRO reported in a tweet that the lander had been spotted by the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, but communication…

1 min.
the windswept craters of mars

The European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft recently revealed the bleak yet beautiful terrain of Terra Cimmeria in Mars’ southern highlands. The stunning new views highlight valleys carved by liquid water that once flowed across the surface, windswept dunes composed of sand and dust, and impact craters that run the gamut in size. Terra Cimmeria is a particularly interesting region largely due to Eridania, a paleolake from Mars’ distant past, when liquid water was abundant in the southern highlands. Though the water is now gone, its valleys and shorelines remain, as well as plenty of sediment rich in various clay minerals.…