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Astronomy April 16, 2010
By: Charles Rector | Newsletter | 5:52pm, April 19, 2010
Astronomy Newsletter
April 16, 2010
Back in college, browsing binders of Astronomy magazines in the library was one way of enjoying my spare time. I especially liked the way the monthly all-sky map looked in the 1980s. In fact, it has not changed much, which is a good thing. Some things are just good the way they are.

My favorite is always "Reader Gallery." Apart from checking the gallery pages if there is anything "familiar," looking at how others see and image the sky is inspirational.

These days, I also like receiving the weekly newsletter. Having fresh news on a regular basis is one reason. One other good thing is that I remember it is Friday (again), so the weekend has arrived.

- Tunç Tezel, astroimager
News: This week's astronomy headlines

NASA-JPL/Caltech/T. Pyle (SSC)
Watery, rocky planets may be common in the Milky Way
Scientists surveyed white dwarfs and found that many show signs of contamination by heavier elements and possibly even water, improving the prospects for extraterrestrial life.
Read more.

ESO/A. C. Cameron
Orbits of some exoplanets turn planetary theory upside down
New data combined with older observations indicates that more than half of all the hot Jupiters studied have orbits that are actually misaligned with the rotation axis of their parent stars, and some are even rotating their host sun in the "wrong direction" compared to our solar system. Read more.

Cluster spacecraft takes first look at acceleration processes driving aurorae
Aurorae are caused by highly energetic charged particles normally held in space by Earth's magnetic field, colliding with Earth's upper atmosphere. Read more.

Venus is alive, geologically speaking
Scientists suggest the planet remains capable of volcanic eruptions. Read more.

Astronomers capture rare stellar eclipse in opening scene of yearlong show
Scientists obtained the Epsilon Aurigae image using the interferometric technique, an old idea that incorporates computer control and laser connections among multiple telescopes to achieve a signal equivalent to one giant telescope. Read more.

 Sponsored by ATATA

QuasarChile/ATATA offers classic or custom tours designed by astronomers so that visitors can experience incredibly dark skies from an ideal terrestrial platform in Chile's Atacama region. Nighttime hands on observing sessions are complemented by daytime cultural and natural history excursions. For sample itineraries, prices, and a downloadable brochure please visit our Web. Special group pricing. We will be present at the NorthEast Astronomy Forum NEAF on April 17 and 18.
 Inside Astronomy's May 2010 issue

The May 2010 Astronomy magazine, on newsstands now, probes the likely relationship between massive galaxies and the enormous black holes at their cores, examines astronomers' latest efforts searching for life beyond Earth, reviews Vixen's AX103S refractor telescope, provides a beautiful poster displaying our Milky Way Galaxy in tremendous detail, and more.

Get a sneak peek inside the issue here.

Watch Editor David J. Eicher's video tour of the May 2010 issue.

 Sponsored by Sierra la Rana

In 2009, the community of Sierra la Rana located in Alpine, Texas was designated as a Dark Sky Friendly Development of Distinction through the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), becoming the second community in the US to receive this prestigious award. The Dark Sky mission statement of Sierra la Rana "is to preserve the Dark Skies for the residents of Sierra la Rana, the McDonald Observatory, and the Big Bend Region today and for future generations."

Click here for more information.
Springtime observing for small telescopes

Astronomy magazine Senior Editor Michael E. Bakich highlights the objects you can see this spring using a small telescope. Highlights include the star Mizar, spiral galaxy M101, open cluster M67, and the Sombrero Galaxy (M104). Watch the video.

More videos:
Videos with the A+ symbol are only available to Astronomy magazine subscribers. Renew your subscription today to ensure you never miss out on's great subscriber benefits.

Watch more videos from Astronomy magazine.
 New special issue!

Observing tools: This week's sky, StarDome, podcast

April sky highlights
Astronomy: Roen Kelly
For many in the Northern Hemisphere, early April ushers in the first warm days of spring. This year, the warmer weather heralds excellent views of Mercury and Venus together in the evening twilight. High in the south, Mars commands attention as the brightest object in Cancer the Crab. And as the sky darkens, Saturn climbs in the eastern sky and remains visible all night.

After morning twilight commences, Saturn dips low in the west and Jupiter rises in the east. Toward the end of April, Capricornus rises early enough for a binocular view of Neptune. You won't want to miss it because this year the outer planet returns to the approximate spot where it was discovered in 1846.

Astronomy magazine subscribers have access to the full version of The Sky this Month at Magazine subscribers also have access to advanced features with StarDome PLUS.

To find out when more observable objects will appear in your sky, visit's sky events calendar.

Each week, Astronomy magazine Senior Editor Michael Bakich, a master at explaining how to observe, posts a podcast about three objects or events you can see in the sky.

Targets for April 16-23, 2010
Naked eye: The Ursa Major Moving Cluster
Small telescope: Elliptical galaxy M105
Large telescope: The Little Pinwheel Galaxy

Listen to podcast.

This week's podcast is sponsored by Celestron.

The weekly podcast is available to registered members of Registration is FREE, so sign up at to make sure you don't miss an episode!
 Renew your subscription today!

Community: Blogs, reader gallery, forums, polls

A Venus and Mercury movie
Posted by Michael E. Bakich, senior editor

Steve Cullen, president of LightBuckets Online Telescope Rental, sent me a cool video he took Thursday night. It shows Venus and Mercury setting behind the Chiricahua Mountains April 8, 2010, from the LightBuckets facility in Rodeo, New Mexico. Read more.

Read all of the editors' blog posts here.

Planets Gallery:
Venus and Mercury
Dave Mitsky captured this image March 7, 2010.

Picture of the day:
The Helix Nebula (NGC 7293)
Chris Schur took this image from Payson, Arizona.

Other Gallery:
Bogue Sound sunset
Tim Kerr captured this image April 11, 2010, from Emerald Isle, North Carolina

Check out all our galleries:
Which do you use most to observe the sky? Vote here.

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