Astronomy February 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.

United States
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines
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$9.20(Incl. tax)
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12 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
interstellar visitors

Well, it wasn’t an asteroid ship from a Star Trek episode or an Arthur C. Clarke novel, but that’s exactly what everyone thought at first. When the asteroid ‘Oumuamua was discovered in late 2017, it caused a furor. Orbital studies showed the space rock, which astronomer Robert Weryk found using the Pan-STARRS Telescope at Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii, to be the first interstellar object ever detected moving through our solar system. Research revealed that ‘Oumuamua, from the Hawaiian word for “scout,” is an elongated, cigar-shaped rock measuring between 330 feet (100 meters) and 1,310 feet (400 m) long and only 40 to 170 m wide. Similar to asteroids in the outer solar system, it is dark red in color, and only its orbit and high velocity gave it away as an…

2 min.
astro letters

Press coverage Bob Berman’s column in the October 2019 issue of Astronomy correctly elaborates on the “Gross Overstatement Syndrome” that infects our society. I hesitate to reveal my interest in astronomy in public. This usually leads to insane questions, which I must answer carefully to avoid insulting the questioner. The errors are usually directly traceable to an inaccuracy in the news coverage. On the plus side, the revival of the press coverage of “space” is gratifying, as it replaces headlines about people acting inhumane and stupid. — Jack Peterman, Lady Lake, FL Continuously classic Every issue of Astronomy magazine is a classic issue for me. Visually — full of stunning photos that leave us spellbound — as well as content-wise, the magazine is opulent. I always start by reading David J. Eicher’s inspiring words.…

1 min.
a cosmic pretzel

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array recently captured this image of two baby stars locked in a gravitational waltz that’s twisting the disks of material around them into a knot. Cumulatively, the intertwined disks contain about 260 Earth masses of dust, leading researchers to speculate the system may eventually form rocky, terrestrial planets. “This is a really important result,” Paola Caselli, co-author of the study and managing director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, said in a press release. “We have finally imaged the complex structure of young binary stars with their feeding filaments connecting them to the disk in which they were born. This provides important constraints for current models of star formation.” The research was published October 4 in the journal Science.…

1 min.
hot bytes

HIDDEN MONSTER An international team of astronomers has discovered the faint glow of dust, which obscures starlight, shrouding a massive “monster” galaxy that is rapidly forming stars in the early universe. NOBEL WINNERS James Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz received the Nobel Prize in physics in 2019 — Peebles for his work in cosmology, and Mayor and Queloz for their discovery of the planet 51 Pegasi b. NEW NAME Previously nicknamed Ultima Thule, the Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 has been officially named Arrokoth, which means “sky” in the Native American Powhatan/Algonquian language, by the IAU. ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), ALVES ET AL. BOTTOM FROM LEFT: JAMES JOSEPHIDES, SWINBURNE ASTRONOMY PRODUCTIONS, CHRISTINA WILLIAMS, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA AND IVO LABBÉ, SWINBURNE UNIVERSITY; FLORIAN PIRCHER (PIXABAY); NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI…

4 min.
creating the universe’s most powerful magnets

More than 60 years ago, astronomers realized that about 10 percent of massive stars have powerful magnetic fields bursting from their surfaces. But the exact origin of these magnetic fields — which can reach hundreds to thousands of times the strength of the Sun’s — has remained a mystery. The answer, it turns out, may be due to collisions between two normal stars. A German-British team of scientists recently used cutting-edge simulations to uncover an evolutionary path they think explains the formation of extremely magnetic stars. And as a cherry on top, their findings may also shed light on a slew of other astronomical oddities. These include magnetars (a rare type of hypermagnetic neutron star), blue stragglers (massive stars that appear too young for their age), and maybe even enigmatic cosmic events…

1 min.
quick takes

SHREDDED STAR Scientists using NASA’s planet-hunting TESS telescope witnessed a star getting torn apart as it passed too close to a supermassive black hole some 375 million light-years away. LUNAR ICE New research suggests water ice trapped in shadowy craters on the Moon’s south pole may come from more than one source — and some deposits may be relatively recent. RAVENOUS NEIGHBOR The Andromeda Galaxy has likely cannibalized numerous dwarf galaxies in at least two separate smorgasbords, set apart by billions of years. Astronomers found evidence of the meals in the form of star streams left over from the doomed dwarfs. GAS GUZZLER Astronomers spied gas flowing like a waterfall into gaps in the disk of material around a young star, which may provide insight into how nascent planets collect their atmospheric gas. TRANSFORMERS NASA is experimenting with small…