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Your Guide to the Universe

StarDate magazine keeps you in touch with the universe with detailed skywatching information, in-depth features, the latest astronomy news, and more. Six issues per year, including the Sky Almanac issue in January! Subscribe today!

Current Issue: May/June 2021

Good Reads

After more than a year of coronavirus restrictions, you might be ready to head for the beach, the mountains, or some other beautiful destination this summer, or perhaps you just want to stay at home under the air conditioning. Either way, we have some books to help you pass the time more pleasantly in our summer reading issue. These tomes offer more confirmation for Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity, outline the life of a pioneering woman astronomer, recount NASA’s attempt to build nuclear rockets, and more.

Neutron Stars: The Quest to Understand the Zombies of the Cosmos, By Katie Moskvitch

Q&A with Jacqueline Mitton, author of Vera Rubin: A Life

NASA’s Nuclear Frontier: The Plum Brook Reactor Facility, By Mark D. Bowles and Robert S. Arrighi, one of many books available at no charge from NASA and other publishers

Keeping Einstein on a Pedestal

Keeping Einstein on a Pedestal
Astronomers use ‘dead’ stars to probe General Relativity and other theories of gravity

Nukes in Space

Nukes in Space
NASA is studying nuclear-powered rockets to propel spacecraft throughout the solar system, resurrecting research conducted with its own nuclear reactor half a century ago


Merlin offers his views on contacting extraterrestrial civilizations, discusses lightspeed, and explains the Sun’s orbit around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.

Pose your own questions for future issues.

Sky Highlights

Orion, Taurus, and Auriga, constellations that represent autumn and winter, vanish in the western evening twilight in May. Pairs of planets bracket the sky for much of the month: Jupiter and Saturn before dawn, and Venus and Mercury just after sunset. The Summer Triangle climbs into full view by nightfall during June. It’s in the east and northeast in early evening, with the brilliant star Vega at the top of the triangle.

We also have details on a total lunar eclipse and an annular solar eclipse.


The first supermassive black holes in the universe may have formed from the collapse of giant clouds of dark matter; a solar system body that’s truly ‘far out;’ preparing for the Moon in a cave in Iceland; a possible piece of an exoplanet visits the solar system.


There’s a link between the recent winter storms in Texas and storms on the Sun a century ago: electricity.

Embrace the DarknessEmbrace the Darkness

McDonald Observatory is helping fight a scourge of the night sky: light pollution. Watch videos and learn more.

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In the Next Issue

We’ll recall the accomplishments and discuss the legacy of the giant Arecibo radio telescope, which collapsed late last year. We’ll also tell you how scientists are helping prepare for future long-duration space missions.

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cover of May-June 2021 issue