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Astronomy October 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.
gazing toward a monster

Mark Zastro Senior Editor ASTRONOMY: WILLIAM ZUBACK Caitlyn Buongiorno Associate Editor ESO Follow the Dave’s Universe blog: www.Astronomy.com/davesuniverse Follow Dave Eicher on Twitter: @deicherstar Many of Astronomy’s readers are very experienced skywatchers, trekking out into the darkness with binoculars or telescopes whenever they can, so you may already know the direction of the center of our galaxy in the sky. It’s toward the constellation Sagittarius; if you draw an imaginary line between the open cluster M6 and the Lagoon Nebula, about midway along that line is the direction of the center of the Milky Way. Galaxies are full of all kinds of stuff, and one major component is dust. So when we gaze toward this area, we’re really only seeing material about one-quarter of the way toward the galactic center, more than 26,000 light-years off. But it’s a…

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. Kudos to Bob I have been reading Bob Berman’s Strange Universe column for many years, but never have I seen a better use of language than the June 2020 column, “Strange Moon Rising,” in which Mr. Berman waxes eloquent about viewing the Moon in its Last Quarter phase at dawn: “Accompanied by birdsong, it’s a scene woven of earthly and celestial threads, a tapestry of timeless design that floats balanced and motionless — until life snaps out of its crepuscular reverie to resume its customary frenzy.” Never has such an idyllic and captivating scene been described better. — Joseph…

1 min.
behold the x-ray sky

This spectacular all-sky view reveals what the cosmos looks like when observed in X-rays — the high-energy light produced by hot stars and gas. Released June 19, it combines 182 days of observations by the extended ROentgen Survey with an Imaging Telescope Array (or eROSITA) X-ray telescope aboard the joint German-Russian Spectrum-Roentgen-Gamma mission. Extremely hot stars appear among the dust lanes of the Milky Way in the center of the image. The C-shaped feature on the left is the Cygnus Superbubble — an expanding region of gas blown outward by stellar winds and supernovae. The feature on the right is the Vela supernova remnant — the embers of a single stellar explosion that occurred just 11,400 years ago and only 900 light-years away. Because X-rays would go right through conventional…

4 min.
comet c/2020 f3 (neowise) lights up july skies

After two previous comets failed to live up to their billing, July 2020 finally brought skywatchers the first naked-eye comet in years: C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE), also called Comet NEOWISE. It sprang into unaided view over the Independence Day weekend after making its closest pass to the Sun on Friday, July 3, which brought it just within the average distance of Mercury from our star. NASA’s Near Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) spacecraft discovered the comet on March 27. The craft, which has been repurposed from the completed Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission, currently searches out objects such as comets and asteroids with orbits that bring them near Earth to determine whether they are hazardous. Comet NEOWISE has a period of about 6,766 years and its orbit takes it out to…

2 min.
pluto may have formed hot and fast

When early Earth was still a molten mass swimming in magma, Pluto and its underground ocean were just forming. Ever since, liquid water has remained inside the distant dwarf planet, providing a potential abode for life. At least that’s the conclusion of a new study published June 22 in the journal Nature Geoscience. The study redefines scientists’ theories about the earliest history of Pluto, as well as suggests that other liquid oceans — once thought to be unique to Earth — are common on dwarf planets throughout the outer solar system. “This is a fundamental sea change in the way we view the solar system,” says study co-author S. Alan Stern, an astronomer at the Southwest Research Institute and head of NASA’s New Horizons mission. Until now, astronomers assumed that Pluto formed “cold,”…

1 min.
a jewel of a nebula

For hundreds of millions to billions of years, stars live relatively calm lives. But as they approach their end, they become more active. Ultimately, some stars shoot off jets and bubbles of hot gas as a planetary nebula. One such nebula is the Jewel Bug Nebula (NGC 7027), captured here by the Hubble Space Telescope. NGC 7027 is one of the dustiest planetary nebulae known and also contains an unexpectedly large amount of gas. Scientists theorize that two stars — a dying star and its binary companion — once lay at the heart of this buggy nebula and created the bizarre shape we see today. This new image provides scientists with the most comprehensive view of the nebula to date, showing in vivid detail how NGC 7027 is splitting itself…