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Science
Astronomy

Astronomy November 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.

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Country:
United States
Language:
English
Publisher:
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines
Frequency:
Monthly
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12 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
our little neighbor galaxies

Follow the Dave’s Universe blog: www.Astronomy.com/davesuniverse Follow Dave Eicher on Twitter: @deicherstar Travelers to the Southern Hemisphere know that the sky there is loaded with amazing sights, in some ways much richer than the sky we northerners are usually stuck with. The jewel of the southern sky, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is a tiny barred spiral galaxy that orbits our Milky Way, lying at a distance of 163,000 light-years. Found mostly in the constellation Dorado, it shines at 1st magnitude and is so bright that it appears to naked-eye viewers as a detached portion of the Milky Way. Lying relatively nearby in the sky is another little galaxy, the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), centered in the southern constellation Tucana. It is another barred spiral, some 200,000 light-years away, that also appears…

1 min.
astro letters

Getting ready for Mars I just want to let you know that I find Jake Parks’ articles in Astronomy to be some of the best written — the piece on the NASA’s Perseverance probe is absolutely fantastic! It’s clearly written, captures so many interesting asides, is beautifully illustrated, and was an absolute pleasure to read. — Mike Schimpf, Pacific Grove, CA Combining art and science As an artist, writer, and science aficionado, I loved the way Bob Berman wound scientific notions with poetry in his article, “A Tribute to Carbon.” Not only was I introduced to new information, it was done in such a beautiful, visual way. Good job! — Lynn Eckerle, Jackson, MI Hats off to Kaler The July special issue, “All About Stars,” was the best issue of Astronomy ever! I always look forward to…

1 min.
quantum gravity

SNAPSHOT CAMPFIRES ON THE SUN Solar Orbiter captures the closest photos of our star. On June 15, NASA and the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter made its first close pass of the Sun, coming within 48 million miles (77 million kilometers) of our star. During the pass, the spacecraft’s suite of 10 instruments went to work, snapping the closest images of the Sun ever taken. The shots were meant simply to confirm the instruments are working properly. But they also revealed a new discovery: an army of small bright spots, each about one-millionth to one-billionth the size of a regular solar flare, all over the Sun. Scientists are now calling them campfires. It’s possible campfires are miniature versions of the flares we spot from Earth. But they also may be related to nanoflares —…

2 min.
perseverance begins journey to the red planet

After years of anticipation, NASA’s latest robotic explorer, the Perseverance rover, blasted off for Mars July 30 at 7:50 A.M. EDT. Departing atop an Atlas V-541 rocket from the historic Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the ambitious rover is the latest in the space agency’s long lineage of Red Planet explorers. Perseverance is expected to land in Mars’ Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021. The $2.7-billion mission will seek out sites that were potentially habitable in the past, looking for signs of ancient microbes within rocks and collecting promising samples for a future return mission. But it also was designed with the intention of paving the way for human exploration. "With the launch of Perseverance, we begin another historic mission of exploration," NASA Administrator Jim…

1 min.
launching a mission to mars

PROPER LAUNCH WINDOW LAUNCHED TOO LATE OR TOO EARLY THE RIGHT TIMING. When sending a spacecraft to the Red Planet, efficiency is key. Since space travel isn’t cheap, any craft leaving Earth needs the perfect window of opportunity. The course between two circular orbits that uses the least energy is known as the Hohmann transfer orbit. In the case of travel between Earth and Mars, a rocket flings the object away from Earth and into an elliptical orbit around the Sun. The craft coasts around to meet Mars on the other side, arriving within seven to nine months. Mars and Earth don’t have perfectly circular orbits, so launch windows are also timed for when the planets are closest to each other. But this window only opens every 26 months, meaning delays can force…

1 min.
quick takes

JAMES WEBB DELAYED Due to technical challenges and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the target launch date for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has been pushed back from March 2021 to October 31, 2021. SENDING MARS HOPE In July, the United Arab Emirates became the first Arab nation to launch an interplanetary probe. The spacecraft, named al-Amal (Hope), will arrive at Mars in February 2021 for a two-year mission to study the Red Planet’s dynamic atmosphere. FILLING THE VOID New data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey has allowed astronomers to create the largest-yet 3D map of the universe, filling in gaps about how it expanded over the past 11 billion years. ULTIMATE TELESCOPE A 100-meter-wide telescope on the Moon would be powerful enough to detect the cosmos’ first generation of stars, says a team at the University…