BBC Sky at Night

BBC Sky at Night June 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...

Tim Jardine Astro imager Tim reviews the William Optics GT71 apo refractor, a 2.8-inch instrument that delivers great night-sky views. Page 94 Sandra Kropa Science journalist Sandra reviews Mars: The Pristine Beauty of the Red Planet – images that might make a Mars Golden Record. Page 102 Ben Skuse Astronomy writer Ben asks what the James Webb Space Telescope could tell us about our cosmic back yard – quite a lot, it seems. Page 32 Robert Lucas Amateur astronomer Robert explains how you can protect a pillar mounted scope with a simple mod to a plastic garden shed. Page 81…

2 min.

There’s a big contradiction in physics and astronomy, and it’s all to do with gravity. On the human scale it keeps our feet on the ground, yet on the cosmic scale astronomers observe an opposite effect, with the expansion of the Universe speeding up. From one point of view, no such force even exists! And it doesn’t end there – cosmology writer Marcus Chown uncovers more paradoxes in the confusing nature of this force on page 38. There’s another mystery explored on page 73, where astronomy author Govert Schilling looks at the quandary caused by intense bursts of radio waves observed thousands of times each day. The latest progress in explaining these fast radio bursts is revealing a Universe far weirder than we could have imagined. There are plenty of unanswered questions…

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.
the giant in opposition

On 7 April, the gas giant Jupiter reached opposition, placing it opposite the Sun in the sky from Earth’s perspective and putting our planet in the middle of the two largest bodies in our Solar System. This made for some fantastic opportunities to observe and image Jupiter, as the planet appeared brighter in the sky than at any other time in the year. Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 was used to take this incredible image of the planet, under the control of a team led by Amy Simon of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in the US. They were able to capture features in the planet’s atmosphere as small as about 129km across, and also managed to create a crisp, clear view of its bands. Jupiter’s upper atmosphere contains clouds of…

1 min.
a hidden habitat on enceladus

Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus could be primed for life. Hints that there may be hydrothermal vents on the floor of the subsurface ocean, around which life could be thriving, were found by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in October 2015 when it dove through the giant water plumes that erupt from the moon’s surface. The moon contains the right chemical mixture of water and elements necessary to create life, but until now there has been no known source of the energy needed to kick-start the process. “Hydrogen is a source of chemical energy for microbes that live in the Earth’s oceans near hydrothermal vents,” says Hunter Waite, principal investigator for Cassini’s Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS). “Our results indicate that the same chemical energy source is present in the ocean of Enceladus.” The probe’s…

1 min.

With such exciting results coming from the end of the Cassini mission, it’s depressing that neither NASA nor ESA are planning a return to the Saturnian system. The problem, of course, is finding funding – and part of the solution is tying every result together as being progress in a search for life. Yet the presence of hydrogen in Enceladus’s plumes need not point to a thriving colony of space weevils living a fine life around sea floor vents. Indeed, it may suggest the opposite – any thriving ecosystem would be efficient in using up hydrogen and so the fact we see it in the plumes is an argument for the absence of life. Which argument is right? I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. It’s clear that Enceladus is a fascinating,…