EXPLOREMY LIBRARY
Science
BBC Sky at Night

BBC Sky at Night March 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.

Country:
United Kingdom
Language:
English
Publisher:
Immediate Media Company London Limited
Frequency:
Monthly
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12 Issues

in this issue

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

Michele Bannister Planetary scientist Michele relives last year’s scramble to gather info on `Oumuamua, the first interstellar visitor to our Solar System. Page 21 Lucie Green Solar astronomer Lucie explains why we have Earth’s magnetic field to thank for the aurorae and our very existence. Page 32 Govert Schilling Science journalist Let Govert introduce you to TESS, the new exoplanethunting satellite scheduled to launch this month. Page 68 Will Gater Astronomy writer Will tells the story of how astronomers joined forces to bring about multi-messenger astronomy’s first success. Page 38…

2 min.
welcome

What do these things have in common: old TVs, loudspeakers and life on Earth? Answer: they all depend on magnetism. In our cover feature this month, Professor Lucie Green shows that it’s not just on our home planet that this invisible force plays a decisive role. Right across the Universe, magnetic fields drive some of the cosmos’s most dynamic processes. Turn to page 32 to find out more. One of the most awe-inspiring effects of magnetic fields on Earth is the aurorae. But for many of us, the only way to see them is online. Not content with this, engineer Stuart Green built and installed his own magnetometer to record the solar wind’s effect on his local magnetic field, giving him a constant record of auroral activity. Discover how he set…

1 min.
skyat night lots of ways to enjoy the night sky...

TELEVISION There’s no episode on TV in March but you can catch up on old episodes online 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.
raising the bar

In this image taken by the Very Large Telescope, the galaxy NGC 1398 sits face-on to us, revealing its intricate structure perfectly. Dark lanes of cosmic dust within its spiral arms feed the pink star-forming regions dotted throughout, and at the heart of the galaxy lies a huge bar of stars. NGC 1398 is a perfect example of a barred spiral galaxy, so-called because its spiralling arms originate not from the centre, as with other spiral galaxies, but from this bar-like structure. It’s thought that most spiral galaxies in today’s Universe are barred, but this wasn’t always the case. A 2008 study using the Hubble Space Telescope revealed that seven billion years ago, barred spiral galaxies were less common. Since then the proportion has more than tripled: while just 20…

1 min.
neutron stars could cause fast radio bursts

The cause of intense flashes of radio emissions known as fast radio bursts (FRBs) could soon be revealed. A team of researchers, including some from the Breakthrough Listen project searching for signs of alien life, have recently found that radio signals from FRB 121102 probably passed through an intense magnetic field, such as those found around neutron stars. FRB 121102 is unusual in that it has been seen bursting over 200 times, whereas all other FRBs have only burst once. This has allowed researchers to study the bursts and find that the emissions from FRB 121102 are not only highly polarised but that the polarisation is twisted, an effect usually caused by an exceptionally strong magnetic field. As neutron stars are known to have strong magnetic fields, the discovery lends weight…

1 min.
comment

I first heard about this result from the press and instead of being intrigued it made me want to throw things! Not because the result isn’t fascinating but because of how the news was reported. The new measurements are highly significant. In addition to measuring the magnetic fields, they also show that the source is coming from a star-forming region, displaced from the centre of the dwarf galaxy that hosts it. That clue is priceless in hunting for the cause of these things. Yet, because of the involvement of astronomers from SETI, the story all too easily gets reduced to a disappointing search for aliens. Instead of thinking about the excitement of this detective work, we become disappointed alien hunters. Don’t get me wrong, SETI is an important project with real scientific value.…