Astronomy November 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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2 minutos
check out the real reality show

We now live in a culture permeated by pseudoscience. On the Internet — on Web pages, blogs, and social media — I see more misinformation about science than correct information. It’s a problem because sorting out the facts from fiction is not always an easy thing to do. Some have even described the anti-science movement as “The War on Science,” as with Joel Achenbach’s outstanding article in the March 2015 National Geographic. You’ve heard it all, I’m sure. “The Big Bang never happened.” “GMOs are bad for you, and there’s a huge conspiracy to push them at consumers.” “Global warming doesn’t exist.” “Vaccines are killing children.” Well, I’ve just spent two years writing an astrophysics book, The New Cosmos, that will be out this fall. I carefully worked my way through 16 major…

2 minutos
the awakening of astronomy

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE UNIVERSE THIS MONTH . . . HOT BYTES TRENDING TO THE TOP IN MEMORIAM Rosetta project scientist and longtime NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory employee Claudia Alexander died July 11 at the age of 56. BAD NEPTUNE Astronomers modeled Neptune’s magnetic field based on Voyager 2 data and found it to be both complicated and “badly behaved.” IT’S MAGNETIC Telescopes in Chile show that magnetars, tiny neutron stars with powerful magnetic fields, may be the cause of bright, long-lived gamma-ray bursts. Like all sciences, astronomy emerged from a primitive root that stunted progress for centuries — in this case, astrology. But as ideas emerged slowly and the astronomy of antiquity began to inch forward, astronomy was a science of classification. For centuries, the idea was simply to look at things and try to begin…

4 minutos
just a coincidence

Science-savvy people know that coincidences are part of life. Yet even the most rational among us sometimes see meaning in odd occurrences. If lightning strikes the steeple and stops the church clock just as your old Aunt Betty dies, wouldn’t you be tempted to link the two events? Indeed, as an exhippie friend likes to say, “There are no coincidences!” OK, but this morning just as he brushed his teeth, some tree in Maine got blown over by a wind gust. Does he really see a connection between his toothpaste and that particular pine? Statistical methodology helps researchers deal realistically with such simultaneous events. Still, coincidences are fun and fascinating. They’re also bothersome to scientists. Data become suspect when an anomaly appears. Case in point: the Andromeda Galaxy. That the nearest spiral…

3 minutos
from our inbox

My sunspot take I was quite intrigued by Stephen James O’Meara’s “A 12th-century sunspot enigma” (p. 18) in the June issue. From looking at the drawing, my first thought was of the red halos surrounding the spots as being the lighter granulation that occurs near sunspots. I also found a painting of the night sky, Sun, and Moon from the 12th or 13th century with similar red wavy halos framing the circular view. I think it is likely that this depicts the atmospheric haze of the horizon. If that is true, perhaps then the halos of the sunspots are granulation or even haziness from the atmosphere. I spoke with an artist knowledgeable in medieval art, and she said that it looked more like some kind of decoration rather than observation. She pointed…

2 minutos
ingredients for life on 67p

NEXT GENERATION. The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy unveiled a new study laying out plans for the High Definition Space Telescope, a 12-meter observatory that would launch in the mid-2030s. The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Philae lander touched down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on November 12, 2014, becoming the first spacecraft to accomplish such a feat. Within 30 minutes, Philae’s Cometary Sampling and Composition gas analyzer went to work. It sniffed out 16 organic compounds kicked up during the landing, including four not known to exist on comets. These carbon- and nitrogen-rich grains hold a complex mix of molecules considered precursors to life. But the little lander’s harpoons failed, and it couldn’t cling to the soft site. Philae lifted off almost as soon as it touched down, drifting for hours before reaching…

1 minutos
solar system moons by the numbers

FAST FACT Bucking the solar system’s otherwise mythological naming convention, Uranus’ moons are named after characters from the works of William Shakespeare or Alexander Pope.…