BBC Sky at Night April 2020

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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12 Udgivelser

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1 min

Early in the morning of 14 April 1970, the Apollo 13 mission was four- fifths of the way to the Moon when astronaut Jack Swigert followed a routine instruction and flicked a switch to stir the spacecraft’s liquid oxygen tanks. Fifty years on from the explosion this caused, the rescue mission that followed has lost none of its fascination, and this issue we celebrate its anniversary. On page 30 Elizabeth Pearson looks at events in the spacecraft and tells the astronauts’ story, while on page 36, Rod Pyle examines events on the ground at Mission Control and how this team turned a crisis 300,000km away into a ‘successful failure’. Also don’t miss our interview with one of Apollo 13’s Mission Control engineers on page 98. Still at NASA, he is today…

1 min
sky at night – lots of ways to enjoy the night sky…

Television Find out what The Sky at Night team have been exploring in recent and past episodes on page 18 Online Visit our website for competitions, astrophoto galleries, observing guides and more Social Media Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for space news, astro images and website updates Podcasts Listen to our Radio Astronomy podcasts where the magazine team and guests discuss astro news Tablet/phone Get each month’s issue on your Apple or Android device, now with bonus image galleries eNewsletter The best targets to observe each week, delivered to your inbox. Visit bit.ly/ skynewsletter Find out more at: www.skyatnightmagazine.com…

1 min
this month’s contributors

Rod Pyle Author and journalist “The Apollo 13 emergency could have been NASA’s darkest hour, but thanks to the efforts of legions of devoted people, it became its finest. It’s been thrilling to relive this bit of history!” Rod looks at Mission Control’s role in Apollo 13. page 36 Helen O’Brien Solar scientist “The launch of Solar Orbiter marks a new era in the understanding of our neighbouring star. I look forward to what we can expect from this Sun explorer as it sets out on its journey of discovery”. Helen updates us about Solar Orbiter. page 18 Scott Levine Astronomy blogger “I really enjoyed looking into the history of today’s constellations, and giving people a way to make the sky their own by creating their own asterisms.” Scott gets to grips with the night sky’s patterns. page…

3 min
cosmic cluster combustion

CHANDRA X-RAY OBSERVATORY, XMM-NEWTON SPACE TELESCOPE, GIANT METREWAVE RADIO TELESCOPE, TWO MICRON ALL-SKY SURVEY, 27 FEBRUARY 2020 Around 390 million lightyears away a cosmic blast has occurred, generated by a supermassive black hole sitting at a galaxy’s heart. The explosion – the biggest ever recorded – was detected in one of the members of the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster. Clusters like these are the titans of the Universe, containing thousands of individual galaxies, dark matter and hot gas. While black holes are commonly known as the vacuum cleaners of the Universe, they are also known to expel energy and cosmic material in violent outbursts. This occurs when a small proportion of infalling matter is heated and blasted into space in the form of jets. Jets have carved out a cavity in this cluster’s hot gas,…

1 min
betelgeuse brightens up

Betelgeuse is brightening up again after a period of extreme dimming. The star reached its minimum measured brightness between 7–13 February, its magnitude dropping lower than mag. +1.6 – a third of its normal brightness. The star is a variable so its brightness does fluctuate according to a 430-day pattern, but in December 2019 the star began dipping to an unprecedented low. As it’s a red supergiant, Betelgeuse is expected to go supernova in the future. While some astronomers hoped the fainting could be a sign of imminent explosion, the star is not expected to die for another 100,000 years or so. Instead it appears that two cycles of dimming and brightening lined up to create the unusual low. Using these patterns, astronomers from Villanova University predicted the star would bounce back…

1 min

The world’s largest scopes rarely look at something as bright as Betelgeuse! The results were both stunning and intriguing, but they may not have happened without the contributions of thousands of amateurs, using the naked eye. As the star faded, there was debate about how unusual its behaviour was. The answer came from the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO). Its Betelgeuse observations stretch back to the 19th century. Red stars like Betelgeuse aren’t easy to monitor, and it’s so bright that there aren’t good, nearby comparison stars. But, thanks to the work of AAVSO, astronomers have moved quickly to investigate this dip. A triumph, perhaps, for the old-fashioned art of looking at the sky.…