BBC Sky at Night

BBC Sky at Night November 2019

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.

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United Kingdom
Immediate Media Company London Limited
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12 Udgivelser

i denne udgave

1 min
seeing the world as one

The overview effect is a term used to describe the profound cognitive shift in awareness and worldview as a result of seeing the Earth from and in space. It was first coined by Frank White in his 1987 book The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution. White undertook interviews with 25 astronauts and cosmonauts, and discovered a similar response that came from their experience in space. His interviewees described the beauty and fragility of the planet and, with their view of our planet as a whole, the concept of nations and conflicts were in turn minimised. What’s more, this change in perspective remained with astronauts and cosmonauts during their life. Although he died before the term was coined, the words of the first human in space, Yuri Gagarin, provide a profound…

1 min
are saturn’s rings ancient after all?

The age of Saturn’s rings has been called back into question, as a new study suggests they could be older than they appear. Information from NASA’s Cassini space probe taken in 2017, during its dive between the planet and rings, allowed astronomers to measure how much dust had ‘polluted’ the ice they’re made of. By working out how long this must have taken to build up, astronomers estimated that the rings are only a few million years old, much younger than the planet’s 4.5 billion-year age. The measurement, however, assumed all the pollutants stayed within the rings, but other Cassini results find the dust is falling onto the planet. “These results suggest that the rings are ‘cleaning’ themselves of pollutants… thus the rings may appear artificially young,” says Hsiang-Wen Hsu from the Laboratory…

1 min
rockets to explore aurora’s mysteries

The mysterious mechanisms behind the aurora could soon be revealed, as NASA has now awarded a $1.7 million grant for a set of rocket-borne experiments, run by Clemson University in South Carolina. Its Ion-neutral Coupling during Active Aurora (INCAA) project will launch a series of rockets in 2021 and 2022, each containing a suite of instruments that will directly investigate the region of the upper atmosphere where aurorae form. “One of the things my group will look at, in particular, is how the flow of energy from distant space enters the atmosphere and where it goes from there,” says Stephen Kaeppler of Clemson University and principal investigator of INCAA. “Our research will probe deeper into how the Earth’s atmosphere regulates this energy transfer and also what effects this energy input has on…

4 min
sir william herschel

Discoverer of the planet Uranus, pioneer of sidereal astronomy and designer of what was the world’s biggest reflector from 1789 to 1845, William Herschel is certainly a name for anyone interested in astronomy to know. William Herschel was born in Hanover (in modern-day Germany) on 15 November 1738. His was a large, poor, musical family with aspirations. His father was a self-taught musician, who earned his living playing with a local military band; his mother a busy, illiterate, matriarch who took on sewing to make ends meet. At home William and his brothers received an intensive musical education; at school they were the beneficiaries of reforms that ensured they, unlike their parents, received an academic education that included reading, writing, arithmetic and even French. When William was 19, his parents sent him…

3 min

A new perspective The community of amateur astronomers will not need reminding of the frustrations of this great hobby but we will always return to the telescope because of one awe-inspiring view. As a young boy, two simple lenses, some postal tubes and a cotton reel enabled me to build a rather crude refractor with which to observe Jupiter and the Medici moons just as my hero, Galileo, had done. Following this revelatory experience, a series of second- hand refractor, reflector and Cassegrain telescopes have provided a lifetime of astronomical interest. While these instruments gave me satisfactory views of the Moon and planets, the majority of deep-sky objects remained invisible or at best faint smudges of light. This long-standing frustration has been alleviated through my ownership of a new Stellina telescope,…

6 min
apollo 12

On 14 November 1969, the skies were grey over Florida as the crew of Apollo 12 readied to launch to the Moon. It was raining, it was windy, and the weather was getting worse. Though the crowd that had gathered on the coast was far smaller than the one for Apollo 11, there was one vital person in the audience – President Richard Nixon. Whether his presence or the threat of a month-long delay until the next launch window pushed them on, the mission controllers decided to launch despite the bad weather. At 11:22am local time, the Saturn V bearing Charles ‘Pete’ Conrad, Alan Bean and Richard Gordon launched and began to climb into the overcast sky. Thirty-six seconds later, a flash of white light surrounded the rocket. Inside the cockpit,…