BBC Sky at Night

BBC Sky at Night January 2018

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.

United Kingdom
Immediate Media Company London Limited
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12 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
this month’s contributors include...

Paul Abel Astronomer Paul explains how you can accurately estimate the brightness of variable stars in this month’s How To. Page 79 Maggie Aderin-Pocock Sky at Night presenter Maggie revels in her first sighting of the aurora borealis, and explains the science behind this stunning celestial light show. Page 21 Shaoni Bhattacharya Science writer Shaoni reviews A Galaxy of Her Own, a glimpse into the travails and triumphs of women in space and astronomy. Page 102 Marcus Chown Science author Marcus guides us through some of the most mindboggling things we’ve learnt about space. Page 38…

2 min.

As we welcome in the New Year there’s one aspect of the night sky that many of you will be familiar with – the constellation of Orion. It is a rich treasure trove of photography targets, both for beginners getting their bearings and longstanding observers keen to delve deeper into the night sky. Will Gater looks at the best of them on page 32. While we must content ourselves with looking out at space from the ground, many missions will be launching directly for it in 2018. On page 67, Elizabeth Pearson is your guide to these coming in the next 12 months. Will they include a manned launch from US soil? Another question for 2018 is whether it will be the year in which we find a second Earth. I won’t…

1 min.
skyatnight 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 reviews, competitions, astrophotos, observing guides and our forum FACEBOOK All the details of our latest issue, plus news from the magazine and updates to our website PODCAST The BBC Sky at Night Magazine team discuss the latest astro news in our podcast iPad/iPhone Get each month’s issue on your iPad or iPhone, now with bonus image galleries TWITTER Follow @skyatnightmag to keep up with the latest space stories and tell us what you think…

3 min.
mystery of the one-armed galaxy

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE, 13 NOVEMBER 2017 The classic image of a spiral galaxy is of a crisp, symmetrical structure with two arms swirling around a bright core. NGC 4625 bucks the galactic trend as it has just one spiral arm, giving it an odd asymmetry. This galaxy is about 30 million lightyears away in the constellation of Canes Venatici, close to a dwarf galaxy called NGC 4618. Astronomers are studying NGC 4625 to try and work out why it has such an unusual shape. Could the galaxy have formed this way, or did something happen to it that caused it to lose one of its arms? One theory is that NGC 4625 came into close contact with its nearby dwarf companion at some point in the past, and the interacting gravitational forces…

1 min.
interstellar asteroid visits our solar system

In mid-October humankind spotted its first interstellar asteroid – a space rock that had travelled from beyond the bounds of our Solar System. The cigar-shaped object, thought to be 10 times as long as it is wide, was first detected by the Pan-STARRS1 telescope on the Hawaiian island of Maui, and passed within 24 million km of Earth. It’s since been named ‘Oumuamua, a Hawaiian word meaning ‘a messenger from afar arriving first’. Astronomers began observing the object thinking that it was a comet, but its steep trajectory and rapid speed (up to 87.3km/s), combined with the fact that it didn’t produce a tail as it passed the Sun, convinced them that the body was not only an asteroid, but one that originated far from our cosmic backyard. “Needless to say, we…

1 min.

Our theories of how planetary systems form tell us that much material must be ejected early on – our own Kuiper belt, for example, is expected to have only 1/1,000th of the mass it once did – and so the presence of ‘Oumuamua is not a complete surprise. What is strange is how odd this visitor is. Most people would have expected an interstellar comet, not an asteroid – it’s easier to fling material out from the icy edge of a planetary system, where comets lurk – and that shape is completely unprecedented. Astronomers react to mysteries by proposing ideas. Some want to send a mission chasing after it (they would need a very big rocket) while others half-jokingly decided it was a spacecraft (that slow rotation is not enough to produce…