Astronomy October 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.
dark stars and dark matter

Eighty-five years after Fritz Zwicky raised the possibility of the existence of a type of unseen matter in the cosmos, we still don’t know what it is. Following the observational work of Vera Rubin and her colleagues in the 1970s, and the cosmological probes since the 1980s, we know dark matter is out there. The Planck spacecraft’s most recent data suggest some 26 percent of the mass-energy of the cosmos exists in the form of dark matter. But we don’t know what it’s made of. This month, science writer Mara Johnson-Groh gives us an overview of an intriguing line of research that’s shining some light on dark matter. One possibility suggests it could exist in the form of WIMPs — weakly interacting massive particles. Mind you, these are hypothetical creatures. No such…

3 min.
astro letters

Lessons from Andromeda The article “Sizing Up Andromeda” in the June 2018 Astro News section continues the tradition of astronomers, both professional and amateur, using the Andromeda Galaxy to study the formation and evolution of galaxies. We are fortunate to have a not-so-distant example to study, develop, and confirm theories. In 2004, Rodrigo Ibata and others used the Keck telescope to map and measure the speeds of 2,800 red giant stars in the outskirts of Andromeda. Since these stars were not randomly moving but orbiting in the galaxy’s plane, they argued that this movement makes the red giants part of the disk, and this tripled the size of the galaxy. This, of course, greatly affected the calculations of Andromeda’s mass. New research uses the escape velocity of selected stars, along with dark…

1 min.
a space spider

Astronomers at Chile’s Paranal Observatory used the VLT Survey Telescope to peer deep into the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, and captured this new photograph of its most famous resident: the Tarantula Nebula. The colorful image was created by combining four separate shots from the telescope’s wide-field, 256-megapixel camera, OmegaCAM. Seen at the top of the image, the nebula sits about 160,000 light-years from Earth and is the most active star producer in the Local Group of galaxies. The Tarantula’s core hosts NGC 2070, a massive star cluster that births some of the brightest and most massive stars ever discovered. The image also captures NGC 2074, a smaller cluster rich in star formation, seen at bottom; and NGC 2100, a luminous open cluster to the left…

6 min.
apollo 7

On January 27, 1967, Apollo 1 crew members Roger Chaffee, Ed White, and Gus Grissom were killed in a fire during a test of the spacecraft while on the launchpad. Twenty-one months later, the three men who had originally served as their backup crew — Walter Schirra Jr., Donn Eisele, and Walter Cunningham — flew on Apollo 7, the first manned American spaceflight since the accident. Their mission was a resounding success, speeding the Apollo program ahead to reach the Moon by the end of the decade. Apollo 7 launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida, October 11, 1968. Onboard was a three-man crew of commander (Schirra), command module pilot (Eisele), and lunar module pilot (Cunningham). They remained in orbit for 10 days, 20 hours before splashing down October 22. The mission aimed…

2 min.
astronomers identify universe’s missing matter

Our universe is made up of three major components: normal matter (5 percent), dark matter (26 percent), and dark energy (69 percent). Normal matter, also called baryonic matter or baryons, includes everything from stars and planets to black holes and interstellar gas. Even though 5 percent of the universe might seem comparatively tiny, astronomers have been able to identify only about two-thirds of the normal matter that exists. Now, in a paper that appeared June 20 in Nature, an international team of researchers announced it had found the missing one-third, finally accounting for all the normal matter in our universe. The previously missing matter is found between galaxies, making up a “cosmic web” of gas filaments known as the warm-hot intergalactic medium (WHIM). The WHIM is made of ionized oxygen gas…

1 min.
e.t., phone home

WHERE CAN I DIRECT YOUR CALL? Over the past quarter-century, astronomers have discovered thousands of planets beyond our solar system. As of July 1, 2018, the number of confirmed exoworlds has grown to 3,735. The neighboring constellations Cygnus and Lyra make up about 60 percent of the total because the planet-hunting Kepler space telescope targeted that region, but every constellation can claim at least one world. FAST FACT Circinus sits at the bottom of the exoplanet totem pole, with only one known world calling this southern constellation home.…