March 2019 Bonus Content

Access March's Bonus Content

The Sky at Night, January 2019

Catch the special episode when the team visits NASA to witness the moment the New Horizons spacecraft flies by Ultima Thule on the edge of the Solar System. Pete Lawrence reveals how to observe another Kuiper Belt object: the dwarf planet Eris.

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Virtual Planetarium, March 2019

Interview: completing the dark-sky survey

Telescope scientist Tim Abbott gives us the latest from a mission to find out what’s accelerating the expansion of the Universe.

Binocular and deep-sky tours

Download this month’s binocular and deep-sky tour charts. The charts are printed in black on white so they can be viewed under red light at your telescope.

Binocular tour (PDF)

Deep-sky tour (PDF)

Hotshots gallery

Equipment review guide

See the results of every test we’ve ever carried out in our equipment review guide.

Observing forms

Jupiter (PDF)

Mars (PDF)

Saturn (PDF)

Venus (PDF)

The Sun (PDF)

Wallpaper

This month’s wallpaper shows the total lunar eclipse of 21 January 2019.

Copyright: Pete Lawrence

Download in ratios 4:3, 5:4, 16:9 and 16:10 for your computer desktop.

Wallpaper 4:3

Wallpaper 5:4

Wallpaper 16:9

Wallpaper 16:10

Wallpaper 4K

Eye on the sky

A selection of the astroimages that caught our attention this month.

01 - Gas drag on Galaxy D100
Gas drag on Galaxy D100, Hubble Space Telescope, Subaru Telescope, 28 January 2019. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Cramer et al.
The faint, ephemeral glow emanating from the planetary nebula ESO 577-24 persists for only a short time — around 10,000 years, a blink of an eye in astronomical terms. ESO’s Very Large Telescope captured this shell of glowing ionised gas — the last breath of the dying star whose simmering remains are visible at the heart of this image. As the gaseous shell of this planetary nebula expands and grows dimmer, it will slowly disappear from sight. This stunning planetary nebula was imaged by one of the VLT’s most versatile instruments, FORS2. The instrument captured the bright, central star, Abell 36, as well as the surrounding planetary nebula. The red and blue portions of this image correspond to optical emission at red and blue wavelengths, respectively. An object much closer to home is also visible in this image — an asteroid wandering across the field of view has left a faint track below and to the left of the central star. And in the far distance behind the nebula a glittering host of background galaxies can be seen.
Planetary nebula ESO 577-25, Very Large Telescope, 22 January 2019. Credit: ESO
This gigantic image of the Triangulum Galaxy — also known as Messier 33 — is a composite of about 54 different pointings with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. With a staggering size of 34 372 times 19 345 pixels, it is the second-largest image ever released by Hubble. It is only dwarfed by the image of the Andromeda Galaxy, released in 2015. The mosaic of the Triangulum Galaxy showcases the central region of the galaxy and its inner spiral arms. Millions of stars, hundreds of star clusters and bright nebulae are visible. This image is too large to be easily displayed at full resolution and is best appreciated using the zoom tool.
The Triangulum Galaxy, Hubble Space Telescope, 7 January 2019. Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Durbin, J. Dalcanton, and B. F. Williams (University of Washington)
04 - Galaxy Cygnus A
Galaxy Cygnus A, Chandra X-ray Observatory, 9 January 2019. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Columbia Univ./A. Johnson et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI
ALMA radio image of NGC 4321
Carbon monoxide in Messier 100, Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, 9 January 2019. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); NRAO/AUI/NSF, B. Saxton
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.
Stellar association IC 142, Hubble Space Telescope, 7 January 2019. Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Durbin, J. Dalcanton, and B. F. Williams (University of Washington)
converted PNM file
Martian crater in Terra Cimmeria, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, 23 January 2019. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
While testing a new subsystem on the SPHERE planet-hunting instrument on ESO’s Very Large telescope, astronomers were able to capture dramatic details of the turbulent stellar relationship in the binary star R Aquarii with unprecedented clarity — even compared to observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. This image is from the SPHERE/ZIMPOL observations of R Aquarii, and shows the binary star itself, as well as the jets of material spewing from the stellar couple.
Binary star R Aquarii, Very Large Telescope, 12 December 2018. Credit: ESO/Schmid et al.

Software

Argo Navis Deep-Sky Tour

Deep-Sky Planner

EQTOUR

Sky Safari

Argo Navis Deep-Sky Tour

This month’s deep-sky tour plan file can be imported into the Argo Navis Digital Telescope Computer using Argonaut software, a free utility available from Wildcard Innovations.

Using Argo Navis with this month’s deep-sky tour plan file, you can:

•   display essential information from the Argo Navis database for each object

•   slew your telescope to each object in the plan – requires a compatible mount.

•   push your telescope to each object in the plan using the coordinates provided on the Argo Navis display.

To import this month’s deep-sky tour plan file into Argo Navis using Argonaut software:

Download and save the file to your hard drive.

Run the Argonaut utility program and transfer the plan into your Argo Navis DTC.

This month’s Deep-Sky Tour plan file is produced by Deep-Sky Planner 7 (see knightware.biz/dsp).

Copyright Wildcard Innovations Pty Ltd.


Deep-Sky Planner

License type: Full software

Platform: Windows

Versions: 7, 8
, 10

Deep-Sky Planner 7 astronomy software for Windows provides the tools you need to make your time at the telescope more efficient and enjoyable.

•   sort the objects in the plan according to the best time and order to view each object.

•   slew your ASCOM-compatible Go-To mount to each object in the plan – requires ASCOM software (free).

•   show a sky chart centered on each object in the plan using one of the top planetarium software titles – requires TheSky, Starry Night, Redshift or Cartes du Ciel (free).

•   record your observation in the open, non-proprietary observing log.

Details about Deep-Sky Planner and how to purchase can be found here.

Download the Deep-Sky Planner compatible file of this month’s deep-sky tour observing plan file so that you can visit each object directly with Deep-Sky Planner. Save the file to your hard drive and double click it to open it in Deep-Sky Planner.


EQTOUR

If you are one of the many astronomers who use the ASCOM driver EQMOD to control your ASCOM-compatible Go-To mount, you can use an add-on application called EQTOUR to call up various sets of sky tours like Messier, Caldwell, Globular Clusters and simply click on an object name to slew to it.

Details about the application and how to download it free of charge can be found here.

Download the EQTOUR compatible file of our monthly Deep-sky tour, so that you can visit each object directly from your EQMod control panel. We’ve also included a PDF document that explains the system and how to get it installed with your telescope setup.

Copy the .lst file from the folder that appears into the same directory as the EQTOUR application file, EQTOUR.exe, and follow the instructions in the link above.


SkySafari

License type: Full software

Platform: iOS, Android

Versions: 4 or later (Plus or Pro editions)

This month’s deep-sky tour plan file can be imported into SkySafari software, available from Simulation Curriculum.

Using this month’s deep-sky tour plan file on SkySafari, you can:

• view each object in SkySafari’s night sky simulation view

• display essential information from the SkySafari database for each object

• slew your telescope to each object in the plan – requires a compatible mount.

To import this month’s deep-sky tour plan file into SkySafari, please see the SkySafari user manual for your device platform and version of SkySafari.

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This month’s Deep-Sky Tour plan file is produced by Deep-Sky Planner 7.