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BBC Sky at NightBBC Sky at Night

BBC Sky at Night

November 2019

Sky at Night magazine is your practical guide to astronomy. Each issue features the world’s biggest and best night sky guide complete with star charts, observing tutorials and in-depth equipment reviews to ensure that amateur astronomers never miss those must-see events.

Country:
United Kingdom
Language:
English
Publisher:
Immediate Media Company London Limited
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12 Issues

IN THIS ISSUE

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welcome

As Monday afternoons go, I’m more excited than usual about the postprandial period of 11 November. The reason? This is when the transit of Mercury is taking place! Train a suitably solar-filtered telescope on the Sun from a little after midday and you’ll see the disc of the innermost planet move slowly across the face of our star. One of the rarest of orbital events, this particular Monday afternoon represents the last chance to observe any form of inner planet transit – whether of Mercury or Venus – until the 2030s, and a rare opportunity to gaze upon a world that’s normally lost in the Sun’s glare. You’ll find background to the event in Jamie Carter’s fascinating feature on page 30, helpful observing advice in the Sky Guide on page 46,…

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sky at night – lots of ways to enjoy the night sky…

Television Find out what The Sky at Night team will be exploring in this month’s episode on page 19 Online Visit our website for competitions, astrophoto galleries, observing guides and more Social Media All the details of our latest issue on Twitter and Facebook, plus website and news updates Podcasts Listen to our Radio Astronomy podcasts where the magazine team and guests discuss astro news iPhone/iPad Get each month’s issue on your iPad or iPhone, now with bonus image galleries eNewsletter The best targets to observe each week, delivered to your inbox. Visit our website to sign up Find out more at: www.skyatnightmagazine.com…

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this month’s contributors

Callum Potter President of the BAA In time for Fireworks Night, Callum picks out the best celestial explosions in the night sky. See page 36 Mary McIntyre Astronomer and astro imager Mary shows us why making a model Moon crater can help us learn more about a lunar region. See page 73 Emily Winterburn Historian, physicist and writer Emily explores the life of astronomer William Herschel – who discovered Uranus. See page 70 Darryl Quantz Public health consultant Darryl explains how astronomers can use their skills to help save our planet. Turn to page 61…

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what’s going on next door?

VISTA, EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY, 13 SEPTEMBER 2019 There’s a lot going on in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), one of our nearest galactic neighbours. And the astronomers at the European Southern Observatory have been tasked with figuring out exactly what’s happening. They’re using the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy, or VISTA (a modified Ritchey-Chrétien telescope with a 4.1m-wide main mirror, at the Cerro Paranal site in Chile), to keep a close eye on the LMC and, in the process, have captured this magnificent image. The LMC floats around 200,000 lightyears from the Milky Way and the constant activity inside is due to it being home to vast clouds of dust and gas that are combining and collapsing to form new stars. VISTA allows astronomers to observe the LMC, and its sibling the…

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interstellar comet speeds through solar system

An interstellar interloper has been spotted entering our Solar System, the second time such a distant visitor has been discovered. The space rock, now named 2I/Borisov was discovered on 30 August 2019 by astronomer Gennady Borisov at the MARGO observatory in Nauchnij, Crimea. As the object was observed coming in at an extreme angle to the plane of the planets – later measurements would put it at around 40° – the space rock was quickly flagged as a potential interstellar visitor. A bulletin was soon sent round, urging the world’s telescopes to take a closer look. “The comet’s current velocity is high, about 150,000 km/h, which is well above the typical velocities of objects orbiting the Sun at that distance,” says Davide Farnocchia of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), who…

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comment

Although the unusual delights and surprises us, sometimes it’s nice to witness the familiar, and so far, that’s what our second interstellar visitor is providing. ‘Oumuamua was weird, with its elongated shape and its refusal to behave like a proper comet. In contrast, Borisov looks like a normal comet. Apart from its trajectory, which reveals its interstellar origins, it could be a run-of-the-mill denizen of our Solar System, and now the question is whether we should be surprised our visitors are so different? Maybe. Though they’re different in size, several theories cooked up to explain ‘Oumuamua may not account for Borisov. Sometimes even normality can be surprising! Chris Lintott co-presents The Sky at Night…

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