Astronomy January 2018

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.
45 years of astronomy

This year, our magazine marks an anniversary — 45 years of publication, and still going strong. In August 1973, the title’s founder, Steve Walther, produced the first issue, which offered 48 pages and five feature articles, plus information about what to see in the night sky that month. As the ’70s transformed into the ’80s, and the Voyager spacecraft began exploring Jupiter and Saturn, Astronomy became the world’s largest publication on the subject, a status it has not relinquished. Walther died in 1977, but the company he started — AstroMedia Corp. — brought in Richard Berry to become editor and Bob Maas to take the publisher’s helm. Together, Berry and Maas forged Astronomy into a solid, respectable, and exhilarating package showcasing the best astronomy had to offer throughout the late 1970s…

2 min.
the beauty of nebulous space

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE UNIVERSE THIS MONTH . . . HOT BYTES TRENDING TO THE TOP LIKE CLOCKWORK An all-mechanical Venus rover could operate without succumbing to instrument degradation as quickly as previous landers. RESTING PLACE Lunar probe SMART-1’s 2006 crash site was recently discovered in data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. NONE MORE BLACK The exoplanet WASP- 12b’s atmosphere traps so much light that the planet is blisteringly hot and appears pitch black. Go under a really dark sky, and you can see a vast array of glowing clouds of gas littering the Milky Way Galaxy. Some are visible with the naked eye, others in binoculars, and most require a telescope and a moonless night for visibility. The most famous nebula of all, the Orion Nebula, stands as a case study in what the cosmos…

4 min.
earth’s gravity: a downer?

Every seashore demonstrates the influence of celestial bodies. It’s vivid but old news: Ancient cultures knew that tides are mainly controlled by the Moon, not the Sun. Yet nowadays, many are mystified by this supposed disparity Ask your smartest friends, “The Sun’s gravity is much greater than the Moon’s — we even orbit it, right? Yet the Moon controls the tides, so it boasts a greater tidal influence on us. This means tidal and gravitational pulls are different animals. But how?” You’ll find no one who can tell you. Maybe you yourself know, since you’re into astronomy. Yes, the Sun pulls on Earth about 175 times more forcefully than the Moon. But its effect on the oceans isn’t even half that of the Moon. That’s because gravity alone won’t make water move.…

2 min.
astro letters

Beautiful cloudshine I read Stephen James O’Meara’s article about cloudshine in Astronomy’s July 2017 issue. I witnessed the phenomenon one evening leaving the gliderport at Harris Hill near Elmira, New York. I snapped this photo, but it pales in comparison to reality. A rainbow was forming in the glare of the reflection, and the under-cloud landscape stretched into the horizon. I thought I’d send this image and let you know how much I appreciate the observation of planetary science all around us. I’ve been learning soaring the past three summers at the gliderport. It’s been said that weather and wind patterns are fingerprints of Earth’s primordial atmosphere after the planet’s formation. Learning to sail on these wind currents is fascinating and thrilling, and a direct connection to the forces of the…

2 min.
young galaxies may have old magnetic fields

CHIMING IN. The new Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) will probe nearly the entire observable universe in 3-D while studying dark energy and gravitational waves. MAGNETIC FINGERPRINTS. The Hubble Space Telescope captured two gravitationally lensed images of a distant quasar behind a young foreground galaxy. The two images are light that has traveled through opposite ends of the galaxy, picking up information about its magnetic field along the way. MAO ET AL., NASA F rom prompting star formation to driving accretion around supermassive black holes, magnetic fields influence nearly every astrophysical process. However, one of the biggest hurdles in studying the magnetic fields that pervade galaxies is their lack of strength. Millions of times weaker than Earth’s magnetic field, galactic magnetic fields are difficult to measure at great distances. But in an August…

1 min.
future north stars

POLAR EXPRESS. Because of gravitational influences from the Sun and Moon, our planet wobbles like a top with a period of 25,772 years. That means the point above the North Pole (the North Celestial Pole, or NCP) traces a circle in that span. Currently, the closest bright star to the NCP is Polaris, the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor the Bear Cub. But 10 other relatively bright stars will lie closer to the NCP before Polaris once again assumes the mantle of North Star. FAST FACT Polaris, currently 0.77° from the North Celestial Pole, will be closest to that point in 2102, when it will lie 0.46° away.…