Astronomy October 2017

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.
voyager’s great legacy

The end of the 1970s was a magical time for astronomy enthusiasts. We were still coming off the afterglow of the Apollo program. Comet West had recently dazzled skygazers. Astronomers had discovered rings around Uranus and a moon of Pluto. With all that we now know about the solar system, it’s hard to step back into that era and realize how incredibly important the Voyager program was to science. Launched in 1977, Voyagers 1 and 2 sped outward toward flyby encounters with Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, comprising a “Grand Tour” of the outer solar system. The original mission focused on Jupiter and Saturn — Voyager 2 visiting Uranus and Neptune came as a bonus. On August 20, 1977, Voyager 2 launched first, followed two weeks later by Voyager 1. The twin…

3 min.
reflections on voyager

SNAPSHOT EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE UNIVERSE THIS MONTH... HOT BYTES >> TRENDING TO THE TOP IN REVIEW NASA has established an independent committee to review costs and scheduling associated with the flagship Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST). TEAMWORK The European Space Agency announced its intention to develop LISA, the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, in collaboration with NASA. BLACK HOLE ANALOG Researchers at the University of Nottingham used a water bath to simulate the space around a black hole. endless. It’s now tempting to compare Researchers at the University of Nottingham used a water bath to simulate the space around a black hole. In 1977, when the twin Voyager spacecraft launched, our knowledge of the solar system was pretty primitive. Twelve years later, after Voyager 2’s exploration of Neptune, the first stage in understanding our family of…

4 min.
say betelgeuse

Gibberish is nobody’s fault. Betelgeuse is returning to the morning sky, but few can pronounce it. That’s because almost none of our friends know the stars and constellations, so we rarely hear them spoken. But even during star parties, mispronunciations abound. Gibberish is nobody’s fault. In the case of Orion’s alpha star, the movie Beetlejuice, starring Michael Keaton, permanently implanted that pronunciation in everyone’s mind. Looking it up in the dictionary is of little help — even its meaning varies with each reference book. Grab the nearest dictionary, and you’ll find that the word Betelgeuse means “the shoulder of the giant,” “the armpit of the sheep,” “the House of the Twins,” or one of several other contradictory things. The final judge? My favorite authority was the late George Davis of Buffalo, New York,…

2 min.

Fourth time’s the charm There’s one astronomy event I latched onto when I got my 58x telescope in the spring of 1980. About every 15 years, Earth’s viewpoint crosses Saturn’s rings, and they appear edge-on, or even disappear. I am 65 now and have seen this three times in a row. The second time was January 25, 1996, using the same telescope. That time, the rings appeared as a thin, misty line. The third time was April 4, 2009, at a public gathering on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory. On that occasion, the rings looked like a thick, bright line. I recently emailed Geoff Chester at the observatory and he said the next Earth crossing will be March 23, 2025, when I will be 73. Four times in a row — it…

3 min.
hubble weighs a white dwarf

RULED OUT. Physicists looking to explain the cosmic inflation that happened shortly after the Big Bang have ruled out the presence of the light inflaton, a particle with properties similar to the Higgs boson but a lower mass. According to the theory of general relativity, mass bends space-time like a bowling ball depressing a mattress, causing light to follow a curved path. In 1919, Sir Arthur Eddington measured the deflection of background stars caused by our Sun during a total solar eclipse. Nearly a century later, astronomers have used the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to observe this effect caused by a star outside our solar system for the first time. Kailash Sahu of the Space Telescope Science Institute announced the result at the 230th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Sahu’s team…

1 min.

COSMIC MAGNIFYING GLASS A team led by James Lowenthal of Smith College has discovered that gravitational lensing may be responsible for the brightest galaxies in the sky. Of a sample of 31 of the brightest galaxies at infrared wavelengths, 11 have been observed with the Hubble Space Telescope. All of them are gravitationally lensed star-forming galaxies seen 8 billion to 11.5 billion years ago birthing stars at a rate 1,000 or more times that of the Milky Way. Despite the distorted images created by the lenses, the team can use these new, clearer images to reconstruct the galaxies and better understand their high rates of star formation. OUR LOCAL VOID Researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have discovered evidence that the Milky Way and its Local Group may exist inside a large void.…