Sky & Telescope's May 2012 issue is now available to digital subscribers. Some print subscribers may have already received it, and it's officially on sale at newsstands starting April 3rd.
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I had a friend in college who was unnerved by stars. The stars in question were the glow-in-the-dark sticky ones I was considering putting on my ceiling, but her discomfort stemmed from a real experience. When she was young, her family moved from a densely populated area to a smaller town. One night she went outside. Much to her shock, the night sky was awash in pinpricks she'd never seen before. Instead of awe, the view filled her with fright. Yes, fright: she was scared by the night sky.
As Tyler Nordgren writes in this month's cover story, worldwide roughly half of children born in 2012 will likely never see the Milky Way. But before you're overcome by dismay, consider that there's a well-protected part of the dark-sky frontier helping to counter this loss: national parks. As Nordgren explains, national parks' pristine skies have become star-hopping havens. Many parks now host star parties and facilities designed specifically for observers, all ready and waiting to show children — and adults — the joys of stargazing.
In case you didn't catch the May eclipse preview in our February issue (or even if you did), there's also a guide to May 20th's annular eclipse. As I said in my February issue blog, this event particularly excites me because the eclipse path passes through my hometown.
In May Venus will plunge down the sky toward the Sun, ending its spellbinding foray into the celestial dome's higher reaches. Mars is also high after sunset, and Saturn's current tilt gives us a great view of its rings, so as the weather warms there's plenty for us to see.
From cooling your Newtonian scope with a jerry-rigged fan to discovering what caused Saturn's recent superstorm, you'll find loads to learn in May's issue. To find out more, read our online Table of Contents.