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SKY & TELESCOPE April 2019

Since the first issue was published in 1941, Sky & Telescope has become the go-to resource for all things star and space. This magazine is considered the complete resource for the astronomy enthusiast. Offering everything from product reviews, buyer's recommendations, and current events news to tips, how-to articles, and computer software, fascinated readers will find a wealth of information and suggestions on how to hone their hobby. Devoted amateurs, professionals, and academics would all find a subscription to Sky & Telescope magazine of interest.

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F+W Media, Inc. - Magazines
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southern charms

SKY & TELESCOPE is Northern Hemisphere–centric for one reason and one reason only: Most of our subscribers reside on that half of the globe, primarily in the U.S. or Canada. That’s why, when it comes to observing coverage, we focus largely on what you can see in northern skies and regretfully leave the southern heavens to our counterparts at Australian Sky & Telescope. But sometimes we can’t stand it anymore and just have to delve into those magnificent austral skies. All serious amateurs know that the firmament as seen from south of the equator has treasures unmatched in the North. The Carina nebula. 47 Tucanae. The Coalsack. The Magellanic Clouds. Northern Hemisphere observers salivate when they think of these and other southern treats. In this issue, we head south to scrutinize several…

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hunger for knowledge

This is what happens if Joe doesn’t get out of bed fast enough when I want my cat food: I torture him by ripping up his Sky & Telescope until he gives in. “Betsy” Bauman Salt Lake City, Utah Celestial Celebration Thank you for publishing Scott Levine’s “New Year’s Eve Celestial Celebration” (S&T: Dec. 2018, p. 22). Although I’m a longtime subscriber, I’ve spent little time observing the sky in my severely light-polluted urban backyard. Before reading this article, I was ignorant of the Summer Triangle, Winter Hexagon, and the names and distances of the brightest stars in the sky. But motivated to identify the brightest stars visible on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day morning, I woke up early in November and December to familiarize myself with the Winter Hexagon in…

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75, 50 & 25 years ago

April 1944 Maksutov Scope “In the Moscow News of September 11th and 22nd, 1943, [we read:] A new invention, not generally known as yet, will be the subject of a paper by Professor D. Maksutov. This scientist has designed a new type of reflector telescope with a correction lens, which, according to [conference organizer A. A.] Mikhailov, will effect a revolution in astronomical optics. Thanks to it, telescope lengths may now be reduced nearly eight times. Moreover, the quality of the images is even improved. “The reflectors proposed by Professor Maksutov are also said to be easier to produce than existing ones.” These claims weren’t too exaggerated, at least for small apertures. Soon after the war, Maksutov’s design appeared in the popular 3.5-inch Questar, and in 1956 a Maksutov craze took hold among…

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first views of distant object “ultima thule”

AT 5:33 UNIVERSAL TIME on January 1st, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft successfully flew past the tiny Kuiper Belt world 2014 MU69 , better known by the nickname “Ultima Thule” (pronounced UL-ti-muh THOO-lee, meaning “beyond the known world”). The highly anticipated event occurred some 6.6 billion km (4.1 billion miles) from Earth and 3½ years after the spacecraft’s historic encounter with Pluto in July 2015. In the days and weeks following the flyby, the slow trickle of observations radioed by the spacecraft’s 15-watt transmitter have morphed 2014 MU69 from a 26th-magnitude blip barely observable by the Hubble Space Telescope into a tiny, colorful, and intriguing two-lobed object. It’s made of two roundish worlds nestled against each other, with one lobe somewhat larger than the other, and has a combined length of 33…

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dying stars make glowing serpent

Astronomers discovered two dying stars spinning out coils of dust 8,000 light-years away. Although the system is officially known as 2XMM J160050.7-514245 (left), its snake-like appearance earned it the nickname “Apep,” after the serpentine god of ancient Egypt. At Apep’s center is a duo of massive Wolf-Rayet stars, which are blowing off their outer layers before they explode as supernovae. (The pair is unresolved at center; to their upper right is a fainter companion star.) The snake-like shape, which stretches almost half a light-year wide, arises as one of the stars carves its way through the other’s stellar wind. While one of the stars blows out material at a swift 3,400 km/s (7.6 million mph), the dusty pinwheel is expanding more slowly at only 570 km/s. That star might be…

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voyager 2 enters interstellar space

VOYAGER 2 HAS BECOME the second probe to break through to interstellar space, mission scientists announced December 10th at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington, D.C. A plasma detector onboard Voyager 2 recorded a sharp decline in the speed of the solar wind on November 5th. Around the same time, the spacecraft also saw a sharp uptick in cosmic rays — high-speed atomic particles that whiz around the galaxy — as well as an increase in the ambient magnetic field. This confluence of events gave mission scientists confidence that the probe had finally broken out of the heliosphere, a bubble of space surrounding the Sun in which the solar wind reigns supreme. This marks the second time that a spacecraft has crossed this threshold. Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause…