Astronomy December 2015

The world's best-selling astronomy magazine offers you the most exciting, visually stunning, and timely coverage of the heavens above. Each monthly issue includes expert science reporting, vivid color photography, complete sky coverage, spot-on observing tips, informative telescope reviews, and much more! All this in a user-friendly style that's perfect for astronomers at any level.

United States
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines
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3 minutos
the end of everything

This special issue of Astronomy has been a long time coming. Delivering stories that address the cosmic distance scale, the incredibly large size of the universe, has been a topic our editors have planned for some time. While we can all appreciate the immense size of it all, cosmic evolution brings up a related topic: What is the fate of the universe? This elegant question is not an easy one to answer. We know that as we look out in space, we’re looking back in time. The distant universe is a snapshot of what existed billions of years ago, and we do not have an accurate picture of many of the objects we see as they really are now, at this exact point in time. Knowing the status of objects in the…

1 minutos
could life exist on europa?

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE UNIVERSE THIS MONTH . . . HOT BYTES TRENDING TO THE TOP COSMIC SEEDS Once life takes hold, it may spread between star systems via cosmic seeds in a well-defined pattern like an epidemic, say Harvard astronomers. 10 TATOOINES Astronomers have now counted 10 planets known to orbit binary stars, similar to Luke Skywalker’s home planet in Star Wars. LIFE FROM COMETS Impacts don’t only cause extinctions. Experiments show early Earth-comet collisions could’ve made peptides, amino acid chains that are a key for life. Planetary scientists believe Europa has an extensive liquid water ocean beneath its icy crust. The sixth-largest moon in the solar system, Europa is rich in silicates, probably has an iron core, and possesses a tenuous atmosphere and an icy surface striated by cracks and faults. The extensive amounts of…

4 minutos
toys and compromises

The holiday season is here, and for us astro geeks that means toys. In the quarter century I’ve written these columns in Astronomy and previously Discover, I’ve never mentioned the equipment I use. Since I love naked-eye astronomy so much, maybe I give the impression I’m not into optics. So now for the first time let me mention what I have, what I recommend, and how this whole business is a bit complex. It’s true, naked-eye astronomy is awesome. Away from city lights, what’s more inspiring than the autumn Milky Way splitting the sky? When you think about it, the four greatest spectacles are all wonderful to the naked eye: total solar eclipses, major auroral displays, great comets, and brilliant meteor fireballs and bolides. None requires any equipment. But I’m a big fan…

1 minutos
from our inbox

Do you question? Editor David Eicher’s opinion piece on p. 9 of the September issue, “Part-time believers not needed,” will come back to haunt him, if he lives long enough. He disses those who question what is now in the realm of science fiction. Let’s remember Star Trek “replicators,” “cloaking,” “communicators,” and “lasers.” Or better yet, recall what the chairman of IBM reportedly stated in 1943, “There is a world market for maybe five computers.” Or the Digital Equipment president who commented, “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in his home.” Or even Lord Kelvin: “Heavier than air flying machines are impossible.” — Bob Found, Indian Harbour, Nova Scotia We welcome your comments at Astronomy Letters, P. O. Box 1612, Waukesha, WI 53187; or email to letters@astronomy.com. Please include…

2 minutos
nasa studies trip to an ice giant

A SLOW DEATH. A section of the cosmos produces just half the energy it did 2 billion years ago, according to the multiwavelength Galaxy And Mass Assembly project, which surveyed 200,000 galaxies using many telescopes. NASA made its one and only visit to Neptune more than a quartercentury ago. And for years, planetary scientists have bemoaned a predicted 50-year gap between that Voyager 2 flyby and any follow-up mission. Jim Green, NASA’s head of planetary sciences, took a step toward narrowing that gap in August at the Outer Planets Assessment Group meeting in Laurel, Maryland, by announcing that NASA will study a potential flagship mission to Uranus and/or Neptune. If approved, it would be the next big mission following Mars2020 and the Europa flyby. Past flagship missions include Cassini, Galileo, and Voyager. Neptune’s…

1 minutos

DOUBLE BLACK HOLE Astronomers found that Markarian 231, the closest galaxy to Earth that hosts a quasar — an actively feeding black hole — actually sports twins. Research published August 20 in The Astrophysical Journal shows that a smaller black hole circles the supermassive central one, carving out a doughnut hole around the galaxy’s core. Since most galaxies contain central black holes and galaxy mergers are common, astronomers suspect that binary black holes may be as well. Like their hosts, the black holes should eventually merge. LADEE FINDS NEON NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft confirmed the presence of neon on the Moon, which has been suspected since the Apollo days, but only proven in a study published May 28 in Geophysical Research Letters. The Moon’s atmosphere is extremely thin…