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All About Space

All About Space

No. 119

Every issue All About Space delivers fascinating articles and features on all aspects of space and space travel with mind-blowing photography and full-colour illustrations that bring the amazing universe around us to life.

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United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd
R 56,95
R 470,90
13 Issues

in this issue

2 min
what’s in the sky?

“DURING OPPOSITION, AN OBJECT IS VISIBLE FOR THE WHOLE NIGHT” JARGON BUSTER Conjunction A conjunction is an alignment of objects at the same celestial longitude. The conjunction of the Moon and the planets is determined with reference to the Sun. A planet is in conjunction with the Sun when it and Earth are aligned on opposite sides of the Sun. Right Ascension (RA) Right Ascension is to the sky what longitude is to the surface of the Earth, corresponding to east and west directions. It is measured in hours, minutes and seconds since, as the Earth rotates on its axis, we see different parts of the sky throughout the night. Declination (Dec) This tells you how high an object will rise in the sky. Like Earth’s latitude, Dec measures north and south. It’s measured in degrees, arcminutes…

2 min
astroshots of the month

Samuel Bleyen Location: Dublin, Ireland Telescope: Solarscope SV-60 Solarview H-alpha “My interest in astronomy began when I was a teenager. Although I do a great deal of astronomy during the night – observing galaxies, nebulae, star clusters, planets and the constellations – my real passion lies with solar astronomy. Using my solar telescope and a Canon EOS 600D DLSR camera, I imaged a large prominence lifting off the solar limb back in July. The Sun was about to set behind the rooftops and some clouds were gathering on the western horizon as well. The prominence lifted off quite suddenly, and it was over in a few minutes – luckily I was in the right place at the right time.” “THE PROMINENCE LIFTED OFF QUITE SUDDENLY, AND IT WAS OVER IN A FEW MINUTES” Warren Keller Location:…

3 min
dr george carruthers

Carruthers’ distinguished career gifted the scientific community with bold new instruments and many firsts. He is famed for his outstanding contributions to science and technology, inventing an ultraviolet observatory that would eventually take pride of place on the Moon. His fascination with science began at an early age, having built his first telescope at the age of ten. He earned his PhD in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from the University of Illinois in 1964. He then went on to work at the US Naval Research Laboratory, where he was involved in projects spanning Apollo to the Space Shuttle era and beyond. In 1969 Carruthers secured a patent for his ‘Image Converter for Detecting Electromagnetic Radiation Especially in Short Wave Lengths’ – an instrument that would soon revolutionise the way we viewed the…

1 min
an envolving system

Although today’s Solar System seems stable, it represents just a snapshot in a long history of change and evolution. Asteroids and comets in planet-crossing orbits are doomed to suffer disruption of some kind on astronomical timescales, and so their supplies must continuously be replenished. In the first billion years of Solar System history, however, changes were far more dramatic. It’s increasingly clear that the giant planets formed closer to the Sun – and to each other – than they are now, and a subsequent gravitational tug of war saw their orbits evolve and change. Jupiter may have first migrated even closer to the Sun, scattering vast numbers of icy objects from the outer edge of today’s asteroid belt and beyond into extreme elliptical orbits to form the Oort Cloud, before…

1 min
minding the gap

1 AN INCREASE IN NUMBERS Astronomers have found thousands of exoplanets since 1992, and it stands to reason that they are able to discover them more easily when they are larger, hence the greater number of gas giants. 2 RISING SIZES As you would expect, when comparing other planets to the radius of Earth, super Earths – by nature of their name – are going to be larger than our planet, and mini-Neptunes are going to be larger still. 3 THE GAP You’ll hear, however, that there are relatively few discoveries of exoplanets that are between 1.5 and two times Earth’s radius. It is this gap that scientists have sought to explain. 4 OLD AND YOUNG The largest observed super-Earth planets – those between 1.6 and 1.8 Earth radii – don’t seem to be found around younger…

1 min
earth’s aurora origin mystery solved by ‘surfing’ electrons

Earth’s aurorae are caused when electrons emitted from the Sun hurtle towards Earth and are funnelled down Earth’s magnetic field lines, where they collide with oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the ionosphere – the upper atmosphere between 80 and 600 kilometres (50 and 370 miles). The absorption of energy by these ions causes them to move to an ‘excited’ high-energy state. To relax, the molecules reradiate the energy as light, producing impressive auroral displays. Though scientists understand what causes aurorae, a mystery remains – just how do these electrons accelerate to speeds of up to 72 million kilometres (45 million miles) per hour on the last stretch of their journey into the ionosphere? Scientists have now discovered that the electrons catch a wave – specifically Alfvén waves – that travel along…