Sky & Telescope's April 2011 issue is now available to digital subscribers. It will ship to print subscribers during the next week, and is officially on-sale at newsstands starting March 1st.
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As a hiker, former mountain climber, and frequent visitor to South Asia, my favorite article in this issue is Babak Tafreshi's stunning pictorial of the night sky over Nepal's Himalayas, the highest mountains in the world. But there's more to this article than pretty pictures. Babak isn't just the motive force behind The World at Night website. He's also a founding member of Astronomers Without Borders, which aims to bring people together all over the world through a common appreciation of the night sky. The star parties that Babak gave in Nepal's towns and cities are as fascinating as the skies over its mountains.
The cover article is equally interesting, in a completely different way. You surely know that exoplanets are now being discovered in record numbers. But do you know that not all stars are alike when it comes to making planets? Find out which kinds of stars are most likely to host planets, and what this tells us about the process through which planets are formed.
Yet another article with personal interest for me is "Photometry for All in the Digital Age", by Brian Kloppenburg and Tom Pearson. I have long thought that the scientific potential of the humble digital camera has been grossly neglected. See, for instance my article Measuring Skyglow with Digital Cameras in the February 2006 issue, page 99. Now Kloppenburg and Pearson explain how to use a digital SLR to measure the fluctuations of variable stars with exquisite precision.
Click here to see more about the April issue.