Here comes the Sun, so embrace its observing opportunities
Last month we had the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, but this month the whole planet marks another important date of the summer season: aphelion day. On 6 July, Earth reaches the furthest point in its orbit from the Sun. Turn to page 51 to discover what impact the extra 5 million km distance between us and our star will have.
What better way to celebrate than by taking the chance to observe the Sun? On page 78, Pete Lawrence guides you through the detail you can see on the Sun’s disc and the best equipment to reveal it in safety.
Despite the short nights, there’s still loads to observe this month – with Mars at its brightest and largest since 2003 (though frustratingly low to the horizon for UK observers) and a total eclipse of the Moon. More on these events and other top picks for July in the Sky Guide, starting on page 47.
Staying with the Sun, on page 30 Marcus Chown looks at research into exoplanets and their host stars which suggests that many G-type stars, like our Sun, are wildly more unstable than previously thought. They exhibit immense outbursts of radiation more damaging than the largest yet recorded on Earth with perturbing regularity.
It is perhaps timely, then, that this month sees the launch of the Parker Solar Probe, a mission that will travel closer to the Sun than any other before it. News editor Elizabeth Pearson reveals how its data will increase our knowledge of the ferocious solar processes on page 37.
Enjoy the issue!
PS Our next issue goes on sale 19 August.