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Your Guide to the Universe
Current Issue: November/December 2020
Making the Cut
Long before NASA sends a probe into space, scientists and engineers spend years making the case to the agency, their fellow scientists, and even the accountants. And like a minor-league baseball player waiting to hear from the big club, team leaders yearn to get “the call” from headquarters.
Bringing Exoplanets to Life
It takes more than just astronomers to ponder questions of life on other planets. Today, teams of scientists from many disciplines are working together to define what it means for a world to be “habitable.”
November and December are all about the planets. Jupiter and Saturn stage a spectacular close encounter in the west as night falls, Venus and Mercury highlight the eastern sky as night fades, and Mars rolls along between them.
Merlin explains why the Moon sometimes looks so big, what starts the process of starbirth, and why meteor showers repeat. Pose your own question for future issues.
Scientists ponder the possibility of life in the clouds of Venus, conflicting reasons for the recent dimming of the supergiant star Betelgeuse, whipping up a medium-sized black hole, and other recent discoveries.
A new book talks about our fascination with Mars, another ponders the many ways the universe may die, and a new project helps us “listen” to the universe.
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In the Next Issue
We’ll set you up for an entire year of skywatching with our 2021 Sky Almanac. It lets you know when to look for meteor showers, eclipses, close encounters, and many other beautiful events. And it highlights some of the most intriguing stars around—some alive, some dead.
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