BBC Sky at Night

BBC Sky at Night December 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...

Stuart McIntyre Astrophotographer 2016 IAPY shortlisted entrant Stuart reveals how to blend land and sky in his stunning image of the Milky Way. Page 84 Elizabeth Pearson News editor Elizabeth presents our wrap-up of 2017, featuring Cassini’s end, China’s ambitions and SpaceX’s successes. Page 33 Niamh Shaw Science communicator What’s it like living in microgravity on the ? ISS Niamh reviews Tim Peake’s new book Ask An Astronaut to find out. Page 102 Nick Spall Science writer Nick reflects on the remarkable Arthur C Clarke, the sci-fi author and futurist whose predictions often came true. Page 44…

2 min.

We’ve been looking back over the past 12 months. It’s been quite a year for space and astronomy: a total solar eclipse traversed the continental US, China pressed on with its plans for a space station, SpaceX announced a bigger rocket to get to Mars by 2024, and astronomers matched gravitational wave readings to an observable event for the first time ever. Elizabeth Pearson looks at more of the biggest stories to have happened this year on page 33. Looking further back, on page 67 we celebrate the 50th anniversary of UK’s Isaac Newton Telescope. It had its first, first light at Herstmonceux, East Sussex, back in 1967 and is one of the few telescopes to have had a second. Also, on page 44 we mark the 100th birthday of sci-fi…

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 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.
when galaxies collide

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE, 28 SEPTEMBER 2017 This active, glowing object is NGC 4490, a galaxy that is still recovering from a collision with a smaller galactic neighbour. It was once a barred spiral, probably similar to the Milky Way, but its shape has been deformed due to its encounter with irregular galaxy NGC 4485, not seen here. In this Hubble image, the most intense, destructive period of the collision is already over; the two galaxies have passed through each other and are speeding apart once more. NGC 4490, having lost its former spiral shape, is nicknamed the Cocoon Galaxy. Such collisions don’t simply result in destruction and distortion, however. The sheer force and energy created in the galactic crash is enough to generate bursts of star formation out of the interstellar dust and…

1 min.
first light linked to a gravitational wave

The first ever light from the source of a detected gravitational wave has been observed. The light, believed to have been created by two neutron stars crashing together, was picked up by the Laser Interferometry Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) on 17 August 2017, and located somewhere in a 30 square degree area of southern sky. “We knew this wave was special as soon as it was announced,” says Stephen Smartt of Queen’s University Belfast, who led part of the follow up observations. “It lasted 60 seconds in the detectors, but the previous signals from black hole mergers lasted less than a second. Then two seconds after it finished we had a gamma-ray detection, which immediately alerted the LIGO team that this was something quite different.” Earthbound and space-based telescopes began tracking down a…

1 min.

The announcement of the detection of a neutron star merger, not only by gravitational wave experiments but also by myriad observatories, revealed what must have been the field’s worst kept secret. Between LIGO and VIRGO team members, observers following up on the gamma-ray burst detected by Fermi and those scrambling to look for optical counterparts of the gravitational wave, half of astronomy has been talking about this for months. That’s the point, really. It’s by combining information from different observatories that we really get to understand what’s going on. In a single set of observations, we’ve seen an event never before observed, got clues into where the precious metals on Earth come from, bolstered explanations of gamma-ray bursts (but also raised new questions), found a new way of measuring the expansion…