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Astronomy June 2020

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
on the passage of time

Time is one constant we can all count on here on our planet. Not even my friend and Starmus collaborator Stephen Hawking could find a solution to time travel, or stop the inevitable movement of the hands of a clock. When I came to work on March 2 of this year, it marked the first day in 34 years that our friend and editor Rich Talcott was not sitting in an office nearby. It was a strange feeling, but Rich retired after an illustrious career at Astronomy magazine, and we wish him well in his new pursuits. Rich was an engine of productivity like few others in the history of the magazine. He handled many of the frontline science stories, helped enormously with acquiring great articles, produced most all of the…

2 min
astro let ters

We welcome your comments at Astronomy Letters, P.O. Box 1612, Waukesha, WI 53187; or email to letters@astronomy.com. Please include your name, city, state, and country. Letters may be edited for space and clarity. Desert memories Thank you so much for Stephen O’Meara’s March article, “The lunar blackdrop effect.” In November, we were in the Namib Desert, watching the daily show of Jupiter passing Venus in the west, when our talented, knowledgeable, and obviously observant guide spotted the youngest Moon either of us have ever seen. Although I was practically shaking with excitement, I was still able to capture a few handheld shots. Again, thank you for reigniting my excitement for those moments! — Bob Goren, Wynnewood, PA Weighing black holes The Ask Astro answer on page 68 of the March issue states that Kepler’s…

1 min
new solar scope sees first light

The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, located on the Haleakala volcano on the Hawaiian island of Maui, released its first photo of the Sun on January 29. The image covers an area roughly 22,680 miles (36,500 kilometers) on each side and clearly shows plasma cells on our star’s surface. These cells form as hot plasma from within the Sun rises to the surface, cools, and sinks back down in a process called convection, like bubbling water in a boiling pot. The hottest plasma, which has just risen to the surface, appears light in this image, while the darker edges show where cooler plasma is sinking below. In addition to creating unprecedented views of our star, the new telescope will help astronomers study the Sun’s magnetic field and test theories about…

3 min
insight detects marsquakes, proving seismic activity

Not far from Mars’ equator, a series of strange fissures rip deep into the Red Planet’s surface. The cracks of Cerberus Fossae run for hundreds of miles, cutting through craters, hills, and everything else in their path. Relatively young-looking volcanoes nearby, combined with trails of tumbling rocks, have long fueled speculation over whether the region is still active today. There’s no need to wonder anymore. In a series of papers published February 24 in the journals Nature Geoscience and Nature Communications, scientists released the first 10 months of discoveries from NASA’s Mars InSight lander. The findings include results from the first seven months of seismic studies, which solve the mystery of Cerberus Fossae: The Red Planet is geologically active and bustling with marsquakes. InSight carries the first working seismometer to investigate the…

1 min
a celestial hourglass

At least one star in the sky has found beauty in death. This image, captured by the Gemini South Observatory, showcases the planetary nebula known as CVMP 1, located about 6,500 light-years away in the constellation Circinus. The planetary nebula is one of the largest known, and is the outcome of a main sequence star that blew off its outer layers as it puffed up into a red giant. This cosmic wonder won’t have a long lifespan, though. Its hourglass shape will only last about 10,000 years. Within that time, the central star lighting the massive cloud will cool down, causing the hourglass to fade from view. THE INTERNATIONAL GEMINI OBSERVATORY/NSF’S NATIONAL OPTICAL-INFRARED ASTRONOMY RESEARCH LABORATORY/AURA…

1 min
quick takes

FOUR-WAY COMPETITION NASA has selected four possible proposals to explore the solar system. TRIDENT would venture to Neptune’s moon Triton, VERITAS would map Venus’ surface, DAVINCI+ would analyze the venusian atmosphere, and IVO would assess volcanic activity on Jupiter’s moon Io. ALTERNATE TAKE An international team of astronomers has simulated galaxy formation without using dark matter. The success potentially overcomes a long-standing challenge for a controversial theory called MOND, which claims dark matter doesn’t exist. FREE THINKER Physicist Freeman Dyson — who proposed that sufficiently advanced aliens would likely build “Dyson spheres” around their home stars to power their civilizations — died February 28 at age 96. BAD BREAK-UP A new study led by a University of Warwick researcher revealed that giant stars nearing the end of their lives can release radiation so intense it causes orbiting…