Astronomy: an antidote to self isolation

With much of the world in lockdown, astronomy is a great way of staying focussed on the bigger picture, says BBC Sky at Night Magazine's Reviews Editor.

IC 142 is a region of ionised hydrogen and a large stellar association in the Triangulum Galaxy. A stellar association is a very loose cluster of stars that share a common origin, but have become gravitationally unbound and are slowly moving apart. Associations are primarily identified by their common movement vectors and ages. The region IC 142 was discovered on 28 October 1889 by astronomer Guillaume Bigourdan. This image is only a tiny part of the large wide-field image of the Triangulum Galaxy created by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

We do indeed live in strange times, as we all cope in our own way with the effects of the COVID-19 virus sweeping the world. With some supply chains disrupted – nay even production significantly reduced – we at BBC Sky at Night Magazine are doing our best to carry on under the current lockdown guidelines.

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Fortunately I’d got our next sets of equipment reviews for upcoming issues of the mag ready with our resolute reviewers, so for the moment things can stay on track and we can provide you with excellent reading material while everyone has to maintain the lockdown and social distancing.

Speaking of which, this is where astronomy can play a big part, as it is both a solitary and yet social hobby.

You can explore the night sky either from your own property/garden or virtually by joining in with the many online groups that are springing up.

We astronomers may not be able to get out to our regular society meetings and national events, but many are now looking into online gatherings to stay in touch with fellow stargazers.

Although I myself cannot for the time being travel the country to give my usual talks at astronomy clubs and societies, we can all still meet up in the virtual world – although I’m not sure the world is ready for a virtual ‘me’!

It’s also a good time to take a look at your equipment and take stock of what needs updating, replacing or perhaps upgrading so you can continue to explore the frontiers of space.

And you can still share your images with the magazine and with your friends online.

So stay safe, keep well and we’ll all get through this and come out the other side.

In the meantime, the April issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine is out now with its 17-page Sky Guide, astronomy news and articles and, of course, our outstanding reviews section.

And if you’re having trouble getting your hands on a physical copy, visit our subscriptions page for various ways of getting the mag delivered to your door.

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Paul Money is BBC Sky at Night Magazine’s Reviews Editor.