BBC Sky at Night

BBC Sky at Night August 2017

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...

Will Gater Astronomer and imager Will gives us eight ways to fall back in love with the full Moon, with projects for observers and imagers alike. Page 32 Chris Lintott Sky at Night presenter Chris ponders the nature of the large, faint systems known as ultra-diffuse galaxies in this month’s Cutting Edge. Page 14 Elizabeth Pearson News editor Elizabeth previews the total solar eclipse visible from the US this month, likely to be the most observed in history. Page 66 Govert Schilling Science writer Govert charts 50 years of pulsars – the collapsed remnants of massive stars that strafe our Galaxy with beams of radiation. Page 72…

2 min.

Within the past decade, there’s been something of a revolution in the world of rocketry. Today, there are reusable versions of what has always been a one-use system, with SpaceX and Blue Horizon both landing first stages that had previously propelled a cargo to orbit. On page 43 spacecraft engineer Ash Dove-Jay looks at how commercial rocket companies have achieved a pace of development within the past 10 years unseen since the Apollo era. The Apollo programme had the Moon in its sights, and so do we on page 32. Here, Will Gater turns around the bad reputation our nearest celestial neighbour has when it’s in its full phases. While its brightness makes faint targets temporarily hard to see, when the Moon is shining there are opportunities to get absorbed in…

1 min.
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 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 monthly podcast iPad/iPhone Get each month’s issue on your iPad or iPhone, now with bonus video and images TWITTER Follow @skyatnightmag to keep up with the latest space stories and tell us what you think…

4 min.
eagle-eyed observations

It’s not often you see three nebulae captured in one image, but that is exactly what ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope in Chile has managed to do, with a little help from image processors. On the left is the Omega Nebula, in the middle the Eagle Nebula and on the right the lesser-known Sharpless 2-54. All three are located about 7,000 lightyears away: the latter two in the constellation of Serpens and the Omega Nebula in the constellation of Sagittarius. This region is of particular interest to astronomers because of the active star formation occurring, as stars burst into life and light up the gas clouds to create the nebulae. Nebulae are some of the most beautiful objects in the cosmos. Like meteorological clouds on Earth, observers often see in them distinct shapes…

1 min.
martian valleys caused by rocky rain

Showers of hot rocks falling to the Martian surface after a meteor impact may have created a giant flood billions of years after Mars is supposed to have frozen solid. A recent study came to the conclusion while trying to explain the formation of valleys surrounding the 1.5- to three-billion-year-old impact crater, Lyot. These channels appear to have been created around the same time as the crater, carved out by flowing water. However, three billion years ago, Mars began its Amazonian era when the planet became a cold and arid desert. Other scenarios for the presence of enough water to create the valleys, such as the impact rupturing a subsurface well of water or temporarily raising the temperature enough to cause rain, were all discounted. Scientists arrived at the apparent solution to this riddle…

1 min.

This result made no sense to me when I first saw it. I can see how, if there’s lots of ice under the surface, a dramatic impact might produce channels like those surrounding Lyot. But the crater is at mid-latitudes, not equatorial but not polar. What was the ice doing there? It turns out geologists have the answer. Mars shifts its ice around reasonably frequently, unlike the Earth. Whereas our planet’s axis is stabilised by the presence of the Moon, Mars wobbles all over the place. That wobble can shift ice down towards the equator, making it available for pounding by conveniently placed meteorites. This mechanism is needed during the long, dry Amazonian period. But meteorites would have been more common earlier in the history of the Solar System, and so if…