Sky & Telescope's April 2012 issue is now available to digital subscribers. Some print subscribers have already received it, and it's officially on-sale at newsstands starting March 6th.
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The cover story this month is, I admit, based on speculation. By speculation I don’t mean mere imagination, though. We’re not asking if the Man in the Moon popped down and knock a hole in the Titanic’s hull. What the trio of authors investigated was whether a confluence of astronomical events may have sent the fateful iceberg into the ship’s path.
The gist is this: What happens when you have a full Moon when the Moon is at its closest approach to Earth and Earth is at its closest to the Sun? Answer: Really big tides.
The full story has complications, but all good stories do.
April is also the month of Saturn’s foray into the early evening sky. On April 15th the planet will reach opposition — it’ll be exactly opposite the Sun in the sky, rising around sunset and setting around sunrise. April 15th is a Sunday, so you may want to set aside that weekend to take advantage of Saturn’s lovely full face and high altitude above the horizon. That Sunday is also the night Mars stops moving west and starts wandering east again.
If that hasn’t whetted your appetite, there’s also Charles Wood’s guide to peering around the Moon’s edges, a preview of November’s total solar eclipse, and a new view of galaxies across the sky, all in one small volume. To find out more, read our online Table of Contents.