Astronomy July 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.

United States
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines
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12 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
what we owe stars

I hope that every day, at least for a moment, you think of the Sun — not necessarily because you’re a solar observer, but out of gratitude. If not for the Sun, of course, none of us would be here. Circumstances in our solar system’s formation and evolution led to Earth being in the right place to receive enough solar radiation to permit water, and, thus, life. Our local nuclear reactor in the sky gives us our existence, and we owe our lives to it. The subject of stars is a pretty fundamental one in astronomy. After all, stars are practically everywhere when we look up in the sky; galaxies are filled with them, and the universe is filled with galaxies. It’s a little funny thinking back over conversations with astronomers…

2 min.
astro letters

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. A keen eye I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Moon get some love in the March issue with Michael E. Bakich’s “Explore the Moon at First Quarter.” I did notice one little erratum — he swapped the terms for scotopic vision (low light) and photopic vision (well lit). In a past job, I worked in the refractive surgery market writing software that imaged and measured a patient’s cornea with infrared light. We used infrared so the eye was fully scotopic, or dark adapted. The terms just jumped out at me when I saw them there, and of course I knew…

1 min.
hubble’s cosmic reef

On April 24, NASA celebrated the Hubble Space Telescope’s 30th anniversary with a starstudded image of NGC 2014 (right) and NGC 2020. Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, the region is called the Cosmic Reef, in part for NGC 2014’s coral-like appearance. While NGC 2014 contains several stars 10 times the Sun’s mass each, its blue-hued neighbor is shaped by a single 15-solar-mass Wolf-Rayet star blasting material into space. HOT BYTES LIFTING OFF The Indian Space Research Organisation announced that its first crewed mission, named Gaganyaan, could launch three astronauts into low Earth orbit as early as December 2021. SLOW CRASH New data from the Gaia satellite suggest the Milky Way’s warped disk is the result of an ongoing collision between our galaxy and another, smaller one — possibly the Sagittarius Dwarf. LAVA-LESS A recent analysis of…

3 min.
growing space salad

Aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in August 2015, Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui trimmed a few leaves of red romaine lettuce and passed them to NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren. Each drizzled a few drops of dressing onto the precious produce, then popped it into their mouths. “That’s awesome, tastes good,” Lindgren said. The 2015 harvest was too scant for a proper space salad, especially since half the crop was sent back to Earth for analysis. But the munchies marked a milestone in human spaceflight. It was the first time an orbiting crop had been grown with NASA hardware and then eaten (though scientists suspect astronauts might have stolen a few bites from a previous sample). We now know that space lettuce doesn’t just taste good. It’s also safe to…

1 min.
curiosity views the martian horizon

Following the death of NASA’s Opportunity rover in 2018 due to a massive martian dust storm, Curiosity became the sole rover left exploring Mars’ surface. The car-sized scout has been churning out great science and images consistently for almost eight years, and it’s not done yet. Between November 24 and December 1, 2019, Curiosity used its Mastcam to capture more than 1,000 images that were later stitched together to create this highest-resolution panorama (almost 1.8 billion pixels) of Mars to date. Next year, Curiosity will get some new company when the Perseverance rover (and its more advanced Mastcam-Z camera) touches down in Jezero Crater.…

1 min.
quick takes

AURORAL SIGNAL Astronomers think they’ve found a terrestrial-mass exoplanet some 30 light-years away by spotting aurora-like radio signals in the star’s magnetic field, caused by the potential planet’s presence. FAREWELL, AL Al Worden, Command Module Pilot of Apollo 15, died March 18 at the age of 88. In 1971, Worden set the record for “most isolated human being” while orbiting the Moon some 2,235 miles (3,597 km) away from his crewmates on the lunar surface — greater than the separation between other Apollo crews. EX-THEORY? Astronomers searched the Milky Way for an X-ray signal seen in other galaxies and thought to come from dark matter. However, they saw no such signal in our own galaxy. The team says their result, which is still highly controversial, rules out the theory that these X-rays come from dark…