Astronomy July 2014

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
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2 minutos
from the editor

Imagine a gathering where the greatest minds in space exploration, astronomy, cosmology, and planetary science get together for incredible talks, sharing of information, and appreciation of the knowledge we have of space and the universe. And imagine the event takes place at one of the most beautiful places in the world, the Canary Islands, Spain, in the shadow of the world’s largest telescope, and involves making new friends and renewing old acquaintances. Well, that’s the formula for the Starmus Festival. And it really happened in 2011. Plus, thanks to the vision of organizer Garik Israelian, an astronomer at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, it will happen again. Garik and his advisors — Queen guitarist and Ph.D. astronomer Brian May and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov — have announced the 2014…

1 minutos
galaxies discovered

Our knowledge of “island universes” is a recent thing. Galaxies exist in an array of shapes, sizes, and structures. Bound by the gravity that keeps their contents together, they offer astronomers an infinite variety of architecture to study. Only recently, however, has the picture begun to come into sharp focus. In the 19th century, several astronomers noticed that what appeared to be glowing gas clouds visible through their telescopes seemed to show spiral shapes. These unusual “spiral nebulae” intrigued early observers, particularly William Parsons, aka Lord Rosse, whose 72-inch telescope in rural Ireland was then the world’s largest. Rosse, an Irish nobleman and amateur scientist, was never able to resolve the mystery of his fascinating spiral nebulae. Nearly a century later, American astronomer Edwin P. Hubble, working at Mount Wilson Observatory near Los…

1 minutos
spiral’s gas blows away

Bluish tentacles dangle from ESO 137-001, a massive spiral galaxy that lies 220 million light-years away in the constellation Triangulum Australe. The blue threads are streams of gas stripped from the galaxy as it plows through the much hotter gas that permeates the enormous Norma cluster to which it belongs. ESO 137-001 blasts through this intracluster gas, which seethes at 180 million degrees Fahrenheit (100 million degrees Celsius), at nearly 4.5 million mph (7.2 million km/h). The tendrils of stripped gas glow blue from the light of hot massive stars that recently formed in them. NASA/ESA/THE HUBBLE HERITAGE TEAM (STSCI/AURA)…

4 minutos
the animated universe

Natural motion dominates the cosmos. Nothing in the universe, small or large, is stationary. Everything moves. In many cases, the motion is as fascinating as the object itself. During early July, the Sun lopes through Gemini 3 percent more sluggishly than it passed through Sagittarius last winter. That’s because Earth now moves at its slowest pace of the year. We’ve been braking for six months. We’ve lost a whopping Mach 3. Meanwhile, the Moon spins so slowly that an elite lunar marathoner could keep the Sun from setting. And our sister planet, Venus, boasts the most lethargic rotation in the known universe, a mere 4 mph (6 km/h). By comparison, most U.S. cities whiz at very nearly the speed of sound. All this squirms through my mind because Little, Brown and Company is just…

1 minutos
from our inbox

Astronomy for kids A few months ago, I did something I never thought I would do: I got rid of eight years of my beloved Astronomy magazines! But don’t worry — they found a new home. I donated them to my older daughter’s school library, where they will continue to challenge the minds of young readers for years to come. — César Rodrigues, Slough, United Kingdom Praise for Bob Berman When each issue of Astronomy magazine arrives, I immediately read “Strange Universe.” I am impressed — sometimes stunned — by the almost unbelievable facts and insightful comments about the interconnected universe and the very nature of reality itself. I find this wondrous and exciting! Thank you for your work. — Jerry Richter, Warrensburg, Missouri Correction The main image on p. 65 of the March issue…

1 minutos
ring around a … centaur?

When scientists planned an exhaustive campaign to observe the asteroid-like object 10199 Chariklo as it passed in front of a distant star from Earth’s vantage point, their goal was to refine the solar system body’s size and determine its shape. Chariklo, the largest member of a class of objects known as centaurs, which have unstable orbits in the region of the giant planets, lies between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus. While the astronomers did learn more about this 155-milewide (250 kilometers) minor planet, their results, which appeared in the April 3 issue of Nature, came as a surprise: Two dense rings encircle Chariklo. “We weren’t looking for a ring and didn’t think small bodies like Chariklo had them at all, so the discovery … came as a complete surprise!” says…