Here comes the Sun, so em­brace its ob­serv­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties

Sky at Night Magazine - - LETTER FROM THE EDITOR - Chris Bram­ley Ed­i­tor

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.

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