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Astronomy September 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.
what is life?

Follow the Dave’s Universe blog: www.Astronomy.com/davesuniverse Follow Dave Eicher on Twitter: @deicherstar It’s one of the oldest philosophical questions, and one that only in recent times have we come to acceptable scientific terms with. Living organisms display seven distinct characteristics: homeostasis (regulation of their internal environments), organization into one or more cells, metabolism, growth, adaptation, response to stimuli, and reproduction. Those properties have led to 8.7 million known living species on our planet. And scientists believe that may represent only 20 percent of the total. That also doesn’t include things like viruses: Our nemesis of recent days, the coronavirus, is not alive. It is merely an infectious agent that hijacks cells once within them to make copies of itself. Bob Naeye’s story, “How we’ll find life in the universe,” on page 18,…

2 min.
astro letters

A piece of Apollo history Richard Talcott’s interview of Jim Lovell in the April issue brought back memories. While the Apollo 13 capsule was in Paris, the control panels and seats ended up at the Kentucky Science Center (formerly known as the Museum of Natural History and Science). A decade after the mission, the Apollo 13 crew came to Louisville to celebrate and the lines to meet the astronauts went out the door. About five years later, I worked at the museum as the curator of science. One of my annual tasks was to enter the capsule and gently clean the interior. I could appreciate the claustrophobic nature the astronauts had worked in as I carefully sat in the same seats as Lovell, Haise, and Swigert. — Alan Goldstein, Louisville, KY The…

1 min.
location matters

Planets are commonplace throughout our galaxy, but some neighborhoods are tougher than others when it comes to planet formation. Astronomers looking at the properties of the disks of gas and dust from which planets ultimately form around nascent stars have found that environment plays a role in how well — and how long — those disks can stick around. In a region like the star cluster Westerlund 2, imaged here by the Hubble Space Telescope for its 25th anniversary, stars in the crowded inner portion of the cluster are less likely to have planet-forming disks than those on the sparser outskirts. That’s because in the cluster’s center, massive, hot stars blast out intense radiation and fast-moving winds that evaporate or blow away their neighbors’ circumstellar disks. Any dust that does…

1 min.
hot bytes

READY ROCKETS NASA has contracted California’s Aerojet Rocketdyne to produce 18 Space Launch System RS-25 rocket engines in preparation for upcoming Artemis Moon missions. FAREWELL, ANNIE Annie Glenn, a strong advocate for people with speech disorders and widow of astronaut John Glenn, died May 19 due to complications from COVID-19. She was 100 years old. GO FOR COLLECTION NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will attempt to collect its first sample from asteroid Bennu on October 20. The action was delayed two months due to the ongoing pandemic.…

4 min.
spacex’s crew dragon delivers nasa astronauts to iss

Private spaceflight company SpaceX made history on May 30, when its Crew Dragon capsule safely reached orbit with two NASA astronauts aboard. The next day, Crew Dragon went on to successfully dock with the International Space Station (ISS). The historic mission marks the first time NASA astronauts have blasted off from U.S. soil since the Space Shuttle Program ended in 2011. Appropriately, that final flight of space shuttle Atlantis was piloted by astronaut Doug Hurley, who commanded May’s Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission. He was accompanied by fellow astronaut Robert Behnken. LAUNCH AMERICA For nearly a decade, NASA has had to buy its astronauts seats on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to reach the ISS, which was built with some $200 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars, according to some estimates. To celebrate the return of crewed…

1 min.
quick takes

CLOTTING IN SPACE A study of 38 female astronauts with flights between 2000 and 2014 found that taking oral contraceptive pills while in space does not appear to increase the risk of potentially life-threating blood clots. INTERSTELLAR CENTAURS Researchers modeled and rewound the orbits of a group of Centaurs — icy asteroids that usually orbit between Jupiter and Neptune — and found that 19 were likely ripped from a nearby star system when our newborn Sun still lived in a stellar nursery. MOTHER OF HUBBLE NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope, set to launch in the mid-2020s, is now named the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope in honor of the space agency’s first chief astronomer, who was pivotal in making the Hubble Space Telescope a reality. PRESSURE RELIEF Pluto’s atmospheric pressure increased from 1988 to 2016, but…