Wrap up warm and step outside – the skies await
There can be a real chill in the air when you’re out under clear night-time skies at this time of year, so what’s on your observing list better be worth it. Luckily, on page 32 we have Will Gater to take us on a tour of 12 of the most exciting star clusters to see in this month’s skies. Whether you have a scope or a pair of binoculars, there’ll be something for you.
Once you’ve seen those, you’ll find the rest of the month’s best observing in the Sky Guide, from page 49. Pete Lawrence and Stephen Tonkin are your guides to this month’s planets, stars, asteroids, artificial satellites and more. Don’t forget to wrap up warm!
It’s doubtful that you’d need winter clothing on the exoplanets that are the topic of our feature on page 39: all seven worlds around the star TRAPPIST-1 orbit closer than Mercury does to the Sun. One year on from the discovery, Louisa Preston considers what we’ve learnt about surface conditions and the possibility of life in this remarkable planetary system.
Although we’re unlikely to get to TRAPPIST-1 in person (it’s 40 lightyears from Earth), judging by the progress of virtual technologies we may well be able to visit an imagining of it soon. On page 70, Elizabeth Pearson explores the virtual reality experiences out there for astronomers today – everything from VR tours of the International Space Station and documentaries of the Apollo 11 landings to star charts you can fly through to visit the planets of the Solar System.
Enjoy the issue!
Chris Bramley Editor
PS Our next issue goes on sale on 15 February.