Pre­par­ing to ex­plore our So­lar Sys­tem’s ice moons

Sky at Night Magazine - - LETTER FROM THE EDITOR - Chris Bram­ley Edi­tor PS Our next is­sue goes on sale 19 April.

Ask a plan­e­tary bi­ol­o­gist to list where in the So­lar Sys­tem is most likely to har­bour life and oc­cu­py­ing sev­eral of the top spots will be the icy moons. These frozen satel­lites of the gas and ice gi­ants may ap­pear to be the last place for life to gain a foothold, but all is not as it seems. On page 36, El­iz­a­beth Pear­son peers be­neath their sur­faces to un­cover oceans of liq­uid water and speaks to the sci­en­tists plan­ning mis­sions to these strange cry­o­vol­canic worlds.

It’s only with space mis­sions that we have gained such an un­der­stand­ing of the con­di­tions on bod­ies hun­dreds of mil­lions of kilo­me­tres from Earth. To un­der­stand the qual­ity of ob­ser­va­tions as­tronomers achieved in the past, astro-ad­ven­tur­ers Scott Lange and Nick Foster set off to the 19th­cen­tury Lick Ob­ser­va­tory in Cal­i­for­nia. See what views of Europa and its par­ent planet Jupiter greeted them on page 67.

For your own astro-ad­ven­ture this spring, look no fur­ther than page 30. As­tronomer Will Gater has six of the best projects for all ex­pe­ri­ences, tak­ing in views at the eye­piece, ob­jects to sketch and tar­gets to im­age. There’s sure to be some­thing for ev­ery­one.

It’s a con­cern­ing fact that for more and more of us, ob­jects like those in Will’s fea­ture are harder to see be­cause of light pol­lu­tion. As Earth Hour on 24 March asks us to switch our lights off for an hour to high­light the prob­lem, on page 42 light­ing en­gi­neer Al­lan Howard is our ex­pert guide to light­ing units that will pre­serve your dark skies.

En­joy the is­sue.

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