BBC Sky at Night

BBC Sky at Night April 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...

Terena Bell Science writer Terena talks to priests at the Vatican Observatory who believe their scientific pursuits reinforce their religious beliefs. Page 74 Paul Money Reviews editor Paul enlists the help of a stepladder in order to review a monster of a Dobsonian – but does bigger mean better? Page 90 Elizabeth Pearson News editor Elizabeth investigates some of the coolest features of the Solar System, literally. Discover the secrets of ice volcanoes. Page 36 Chris Welch Space engineering expert Amidst all the media fanfare, Chris is left wondering whether Falcon Heavy really has a commercial future. Page 38…

2 min.

Ask a planetary biologist to list where in the Solar System is most likely to harbour life and occupying several of the top spots will be the icy moons. These frozen satellites of the gas and ice giants may appear to be the last place for life to gain a foothold, but all is not as it seems. On page 36, Elizabeth Pearson peers beneath their surfaces to uncover oceans of liquid water and speaks to the scientists planning missions to these strange cryovolcanic worlds. It’s only with space missions that we have gained such an understanding of the conditions on bodies hundreds of millions of kilometres from Earth. To understand the quality of observations astronomers achieved in the past, astro-adventurers Scott Lange and Nick Foster set off to the 19th-century…

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 iPHONE/iPAD 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.
out of the darkness

VLT SURVEY TELESCOPE, MPG/ESO 2.2-METRE TELESCOPE, 31 JANUARY 2018 Many celestial objects that capture our imagination are wondrously bright and colourful. But not always. Dark nebulae are dense clouds of dust that blot out the light from distant stars. Historically, they were mistaken as a mere absence of stars but today we know this is not the case. Most nebulae glow in multicolour because they are clouds of dust and gas illuminated by the intense radiation of hot stars, but dark nebulae are so cold and dense they scatter and absorb light as it passes through them; hence their other name – ‘absorption nebulae’. The inky cloud scarring this image is one such dark nebula, known as Lupus 3. Situated just 600 lightyears from Earth, it’s part of a larger complex called…

1 min.
spacex launches falcon heavy rocket

Spaceflight company SpaceX successfully launched its new Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time on 6 February 2018, and put its payload– a Tesla Roadster ‘driven’ by a mannequin named Starman – into orbit around the Sun. The rocket has the potential to revolutionise spaceflight. Not only is it the second most powerful space launch system ever built – only the Saturn V was greater – but its three booster rockets are designed to land after use and be reflown. On this test run the two side rockets returned to Earth as planned, but the middle booster ran out of fuel and crashed. The payload, however, was successfully delivered into orbit and coasted around the Earth for six hours before the secondary stage engines fired, sending the roadster and its passenger into…

1 min.

Put a car in space and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if it attracts the attention of astronomers. Observatories tracked the Falcon Heavy’s scarlet payload as it headed out into interplanetary space playing Bowie on repeat; the SOAR telescope in Chile measured periodic changes in brightness, and announced that the car is rotating once every 4.7589 minutes (plus or minus 0.36 seconds!). My favourite work was led by Professor Hanno Rein, who tried to work out what will happen to the car on its elliptical orbit. It will have a close encounter with Earth in the year 2091 – I wonder if anyone will look out for it? – but much beyond that repeated planetary encounters make its path very difficult to predict. The best Hanno can do is work out that there is…