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The con­found­ing na­ture of grav­ity ex­plained – kind of

Sky at Night Magazine - - LETTER FROM THE EDITOR -

There’s a big con­tra­dic­tion in physics and as­tron­omy, and it’s all to do with grav­ity. On the hu­man scale it keeps our feet on the ground, yet on the cos­mic scale as­tronomers ob­serve an op­po­site ef­fect, with the ex­pan­sion of the Uni­verse speed­ing up. From one point of view, no such force even ex­ists! And it doesn’t end there – cos­mol­ogy writer Mar­cus Chown un­cov­ers more para­doxes in the con­fus­ing na­ture of this force on page 38.

There’s an­other mys­tery ex­plored on page 73, where as­tron­omy au­thor Govert Schilling looks at the quandary caused by in­tense bursts of ra­dio waves ob­served thou­sands of times each day. The lat­est progress in ex­plain­ing these fast ra­dio bursts is re­veal­ing a Uni­verse far weirder than we could have imag­ined.

There are plenty of unan­swered ques­tions in our own So­lar Sys­tem, too. On page 32 sci­ence writer Ben Skuse de­scribes what the James Webb Space Tele­scope will do to shed

light on the puz­zles of the plan­ets. And we look to the cen­tre of the So­lar Sys­tem with our guide to ob­serv­ing the Sun in white light on page 67. There are many ways to get safe views of sunspots and other de­tails on our near­est star – whether you de­cide to buy the kit or make it your­self, we’ve got it cov­ered.

En­joy the is­sue!

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