Astronomy May 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.

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2 minutos
the northeast astronomy forum

Once again, Astronomy magazine will be a proud sponsor this year of the largest telescope show and amateur astronomy expo in the United States, the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF). Tis year’s NEAF will be held April 12–13 at Rockland Community College in Suffern, New York, about an hour’s drive northwest of New York City. The event features exhibitors showing their telescopes, binoculars, cameras, and accessories and boasts more than 115 manufacturers and retailers. Astronomy magazine will have a display booth on hand, and I encourage you to stop by and say hello. Each year, NEAF is organized and coordinated by members of the Rockland Astronomy Club, including Ed Siemenn and Al Nagler, the latter president of Tele Vue Optics. Several thousand people are expected to attend this year’s event, which is…

1 minutos
snapshot portrait of a weird moon

Often called a “cantaloupe” for its weirdly variegated surface, marked by twisting, crumpled ridges, Triton is a bizarre world. The most distant of the major moons in the solar system, Triton has characteristics of both classes of satellites — the big spherical ones and the tiny irregular ones. Triton is spherical and spans 1,682 miles (2,707 kilometers), making it one of the largest moons known. The moon orbits Neptune in a retrograde motion — that is, it travels in a direction opposite that of the planet’s rotation at all times. What makes Triton even stranger is its surface. It is young, contains geysers that vent nitrogen and dust, and has few craters. The twisting cantaloupe terrain seems to have formed from cold ammoniarich material seeping upward. Look for a story about Triton…

1 minutos
the archer’s baby boom

Although the spiral arms of the Milky Way harbor many impressive clouds of gas and dust, few rival the Lagoon Nebula (M8) in Sagittarius the Archer. During the past few million years, the Lagoon has spawned thousands of stars as dense pockets of gas collapsed under their own weight. The hottest of these suns excite the surrounding hydrogen atoms and cause them to glow with a characteristic reddish color. M8 spans approximately 100 lightyears and lies roughly 5,000 light-years from Earth. Astronomers captured this image with the 2.6-meter VLT Survey Telescope on Cerro Paranal in northern Chile. ESO/VPHAS+ TEAM…

4 minutos
hunting for the glorious

Some of life’s greatest experiences need no narration. They are stand-alone glories. Rent a houseboat on the Southwest’s Lake Powell, and lose yourself in a random side canyon. A tour guide with knowledge of geology could enhance the experience, but you’ll be in heaven even if no one says a word. Same with the sky. Even if your Aunt Betty doesn’t know the difference between an asteroid and a hemorrhoid, she’ll still “ooh and aah” at the gibbous Moon through your eyepiece. She doesn’t have to know the big terraced crater is named Copernicus. It’s gorgeous even in anonymity. Saturn, its rings displayed better than they’ve appeared for the past nine years, is another winner these nights. You can boost someone’s intellectual enjoyment by mentioning that those rings are so thin relative…

1 minutos
from our inbox

Warm, fuzzy names for comets By now, Comet PANSTARRS (C/2011 L4) is well on its way back out to the distant, icy Oort Cloud. Comet ISON (C/2012 S1), meanwhile, is toast. Roasted. For all the anticipatory hoopla and predictive fanfare, neither of these comets was very bright. Maybe if we name the next comets after humans, they will become the crowd-pleasing great ones we look forward to. — Brian Ward, Beverly Hills, California We welcome your comments at Astronomy Letters, P. O. Box 1612, Waukesha, WI 53187; or email to letters@astronomy.com. Please include your name, city, state, and country. Letters may be edited for space and clarity.…

7 minutos
herschel finds water vapor at ceres

Ceres, both a dwarf planet and the largest asteroid in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter, doesn’t often reveal its mysteries to astronomers on Earth. That’s why scientists currently have a spacecraft called Dawn en route to the object to study it up close. In advance of that rendezvous, though, researchers have been able to make a definitive detection of water vapor at Ceres, according to a paper published in the January 23 issue of Nature. Using the advanced sensitivity of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Herschel Space Observatory, scientists identified wisps of water vapor during three of four observation periods. “This is the first time water vapor has been unequivocally detected on Ceres or any other object in the asteroid belt and provides proof that Ceres has an icy…