BBC Sky at Night

BBC Sky at Night June 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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United Kingdom
Immediate Media Company London Limited
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15 Udgivelser

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1 min

As the editorial team puts the finishing touches to our second issue produced during lockdown, I hope you are finding ways to cope with the changes to everyday life. For me the night sky has been a source of solace during this time, reassuring in its permanence and fascinating in its detail. As we move into summer and dark nights depart for the season, the good news is that this consolation does not disappear – and this issue we’re showing that it’s still possible to study the sky. On page 26, Stuart Atkinson introduces us to noctilucent clouds, those bewitching iridescent displays at the very edge of our atmosphere. Their appearance provides drama to twilight northerly horizons from this month throughout the summer, but can often pass overlooked; be sure to…

1 min
this month’s contributors

Jamie Carter Science Journalist “I’ve always loved the idea of the astronomical expedition in history, so I enjoyed delving into plans for some eclipse chasers to visit Tibet to watch a 99.5 per cent ring of fire. Jamie looks forward to the annular solar eclipse, page 60 Paul Money Reviews editor “It’s incredible how much astronomy you can actually do while the Sun is up. Spotting stars during the daytime is a real eye-opener.” Paul points the way to finding planets and stars during daylight hours, page 55 Ezzy Pearson News editor “As I wrote this piece about Starlink, several bright satellite passes happened. It left me wondering whether or not such sights would soon be commonplace.” Ezzy investigates satellite constellations, page 32…

2 min
birthday beauty

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE, 24 APRIL 2020 A life and death tussle never looked so beautiful. This is the remarkable ‘Cosmic Reef’, part of the vast Large Magellanic Cloud, the third closest galaxy to the Milky Way. On the right is NGC 2014, a glowing red cloud of mostly hydrogen gas blown apart by a cluster of hot, newborn stars, unleashing fierce winds and creating structures reminiscent of brain coral. On the left is its distinctive blue sibling, NGC 2020, formed when a single star – a monster 15 times more massive and 200,000 times more luminous than the Sun – was ejected from the stellar nursery. This short-lived colossus, Wolf–Rayet star HD 269748, is shedding its external envelope in a superbubble of blue gas. In a relatively short time, it will end its…

1 min
‘planet’ actually rare cosmic collision

What astronomers had previously thought to be an exoplanet might be something rarer – the remains of two comet-like objects which have crashed together. The former planet, Fomalhaut b, was first announced in 2008 after four years of Hubble observations tracked a bright point moving through the planetary disc of a distant star. At the time, astronomers thought this was a newly formed exoplanet, making it the first one to be detected directly through visual observations. Researchers continued to observe the ‘planet’ every few years as it made its way around the star but were shocked in 2014 to discover that it had vanished. After looking back at the last decade of observations, a team of exoplanet astronomers realised that Fomalhaut b had actually been fading for several years. They now believe that…

1 min

So long, then, Fomalhaut b, a planet that never was. Never one to follow convention you confused astronomers, refusing to follow a conventional orbit, and fading slowly over time in an unplanetary fashion. You also appeared to be getting larger as you got older, another sign that you were something other than an ordinary planet. The scientific literature now regards you as an ex-planet. You will be forgotten as we’re distracted by the glittering presence of thousands of unusual systems that actually exist. But I’ll remember when we thrilled at those Hubble images which, for the first time, showed something moving in orbit around a star other than the Sun.…

1 min
earth-sized planet found in habitable zone

One of the most Earth-like exoplanets ever found has been pulled from anonymity after almost being overlooked. In a recent paper, a team of astronomers re-evaluated data from the Kepler Space Telescope, looking for potential planetary signals that had mistakenly been thrown out as an unwanted artefact. The uncovered planet, Kepler-1649c, is a world around 6 per cent larger than Earth in the habitable zone of a red dwarf star 300 lightyears away. “In terms of size and likely temperature, this is the most similar planet to Earth that has ever been found with Kepler,” says Jeff Coughlin from SETI Institute, who took part in the study. “The more data we get, the more signs we see pointing to the notion that potentially habitable and Earth-sized planets are common around these kinds of…