Unravelling a rotational riddle

Balls of gas could explain exoplanets with strange orbits and the galaxy’s missing mass

Credit: NASA/NOAO/ESA/the Hubble Helix Nebula Team/M. Meixner (STScI and T.A. Rector (NRAO)

Hot gas ejected from the Helix Nebula as imaged by Hubble in 2003

A Universe of possibilities

Paul Money discusses the latest astro equipment news

You can enjoy practicing astronomy in many different ways, from simple visual observations with the naked eye, to viewing with veritable light buckets like the big Dobsonians. Then there’s astrophotography, which ranges from simply pointing a camera up at the sky to delving deeper with autoguiding systems and capturing far-flung galaxies or even pushing the planetary limit with the latest webcams.

Seeds from space

Complex organic molecules in interstellar dust clouds could have sparked life on Earth


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (SSC/Caltech)

Genesis: space-borne complex carbon molecules may have spawned life on Earth. 

Search for the Avatar world

With the release of James Cameron’s blockbuster film Avatar, we look at the likelihood of finding a moon like Pandora



Imagine this. In the not too distant future, planetary explorers discover another Earth-like world, a perfect home away from home. And – by an astounding stroke of luck – this world, christened Pandora, resides within the closest star-system to us and so can be reached within just a few years of starship voyage.

The search for a second Earth

Lewis Dartnell sums up the progress so far in the hunt for a planet just like home


Credit: Oliver Burston

Are there Earth-like planets throughout the Universe? We may soon find out. 


Life on Mars

With NASA's Phoenix mission landing on the Red Planet this month, Lewis Dartnell investigates whether it will find evidence that the world is, or ever has been, suitable for life...


Credit: Art: Kees Veenenbos/Data: Mola Science Team

This artist’s impression by renowned planetary artist Kees Veenenbos depicts the view to the east of the proposed Phoenix landing site, just west of the Heimdall Crater in the northern polar regions.

Life...but not as we know it

Could strange life-forms exist in space? Lewis Dartnell investigates.

Credit: Oliver Burston

One of the main difficulties of astrobiology, the search for life beyond Earth, is in knowing just what to look for. Focus your attention too narrowly, by concentrating only on terrestrial-like life, and you could overlook alien organisms; consider too many possibilities and you could waste both effort and money looking for nigh-on unrecognisable variations in unlikely locations.

Tried and Tested

Paul Money discusses the latest astro equipment news

With new telescopes and mounts being announced on a regular basis, we’re certainly kept busy here in the reviews department of Sky at Night Magazine. But over the years, both optical tube assemblies and mounts do seem to have stuck around variations of just a few basic and fundamental designs.

Under instruction

Paul Money discusses the latest astro equipment news

Instruction manuals, you can't live with them, you can't live without them (or so the saying goes). They accompany most, but it has to be said, not all equipment and it’s usually in their absence that you find you need them. A starter telescope for example does require a well written and thought out instruction manual otherwise a beginner could quickly become unstuck. This is especially true if references are made to specific parts of the telescope that it is assumed the reader already has some technical knowledge of.

Collimation conundrum

Paul Money discusses the latest astro equipment news

In many cases, when buying a reflecting telescope you’ll quickly discover that the mirrors are out of alignment. It's called being out of collimation and causes the view to be distorted, which is of course a very undesirable effect.

We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here