Astronomy March 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.
requiem for a spacecraft

Launched in 1997, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft sped toward Saturn and its moons for nearly seven years, entering orbit in 2004. Last September, Cassini ended its journey by plummeting into the saturnian atmosphere, burning up. Those 13 years in between gave us some of the most incredible planetary science in recent memory. With Cassini in mind, this issue carries a special theme of giving you everything you need to know about this historic mission. Four special stories deliver the goods: Liz Kruesi reports on the major scientific findings of the Cassini spacecraft at Saturn itself; Frank Reddy describes the incredible findings the mission made at Saturn’s moons; Korey Haynes details the Huygens lander’s extraordinary touchdown on Saturn’s big moon Titan; and Rich Talcott gives us an “exploded” view of the spacecraft and its…

2 min.
what cassini taught us

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE UNIVERSE THIS MONTH... The Cassini-Huygens mission, which came to an end in late 2017, rewrote the book on Saturn and its moons. Arguably the loveliest planet, at least from an observational standpoint, Saturn is now better understood by orders of magnitude, thanks to the spacecraft that visited it for 14 years beginning in 2004. There’s no doubt that Cassini took us to some weird new heights. The closest ever examination of Saturn’s rings, storms on the planet, lakes on Titan, flybys of incredibly strange moons like Hyperion and Phoebe, and close-ups of many otherworldly surfaces are just a few of the countless milestones. But Cassini also told us a little something about ourselves. The spacecraft imaged watery jets emanating from the moon Enceladus. The strange moon…

4 min.
lessons learned

The Great American Eclipse is long over. But there’s always a “next time” for super celestial events — and lessons to learn. I recall the big events that lay ahead when I completed school in the ’60s. I vividly remember the sky spectacles that beckoned, dreamlike, in the distant future. I ached to see them. Comet Halley’s return in 1986. The longest upcoming totality in 1991. The expected Leonid meteor storm in 1999. The transits of Venus in 2004 and 2012. The mysterious eclipse of Epsilon Aurigae in 2009. The Great American Eclipse in 2017. I’ve not been entirely lucky. When I took a group to the equator to optimally see Halley, its tail fell off. Earth and the famous comet were on opposite sides of the Sun during its February 1986…

4 min.
astro letters

CCD challenge accepted I often look for challenges when it comes to CCD imaging. One of the main places I go to is my monthly Astronomy magazine. In the November issue, I read “Fall into autumn galaxies” by Stephen James O’Meara, which covered my favorite subject: galaxies. The challenge here was to image NGC 7814, which looks great in the magazine but through a 130mm scope? I said, “Why not?” So I took ten 15-minute exposures using my Starlight Xpress SX694C camera, and this is the result. Thank you, Mr. O’Meara. — Eugene Faulkner, Whiting, NJ Latin pronunciations In the October issue, there was a fascinating article about pronunciation errors in stars and constellations by Bob Berman. It was a very interesting read, and I too can be very picky about correct pronunciations. However, Mr.…

3 min.
our solar system receives an interstellar visitor

IT ANTI-MATTERS. Researchers at JILA in Colorado are exploring whether the electron is more egg-shaped than round, which could explain why there’s more matter than antimatter in the universe. On October 19, University of Hawaii astronomer Rob Weryk noticed an unusual 20th-magnitude streak in images taken with the 1.8-meter Pan- STARRS 1 telescope. After spotting the same object in images taken the previous night, he contacted European Space Agency astronomer Marco Micheli. Sure enough, his telescope in the Canary Islands had caught it, too. “Its motion could not be explained using either a normal solar system asteroid or comet orbit,” Weryk said. “When both our datasets were fit together, it became clear that the only explanation was a hyperbolic trajectory.” The object was an “interstellar interloper,” an asteroid from outside our solar…

2 min.
early results of nasa’s twins study

NIGHT SKY THREAT. The adoption of LED lighting led to a 2 percent per year increase in light pollution between 2012 and 2016, according to research published November 22 in Science Advances. As part of NASA’s Twins Study, astronaut Scott Kelly spent a year in zero gravity on the International Space Station. In the meantime, his identical twin brother, former astronaut Mark Kelly, went about his daily life on Earth. When Scott returned, he was temporarily two inches taller, but his height wasn’t the only thing that changed. According to preliminary results from the study, Scott’s year in space also drastically increased his rate of DNA methylation, the process responsible for turning genes on and off. By regulating gene expression, DNA methylation is essential for normal human development, but it is also…