How to Reveal the X-ray Universe, Make a Habitable Planet, and Catch Star-Blown Bubbles
As the Chandra and XMM-Newton X-ray observatories observe two decades in space this year, S&T News Editor Monica Young celebrates the field of X-ray astronomy in our cover story. Since astronomers learned to rise above our atmosphere with the coming of the Space Age, X-rays have opened a new window on the universe. Meanwhile, satellites have played just as large a role in discovering worlds around stars near and far. But how many of these — especially those around volatile but common M dwarfs — are habitable? While August's Perseid meteor shower will compete with a 95%-lit Moon, the shower is long-lived, so head out as early as late July to see it. Meanwhile, the sky holds plenty other treasures, from deep-sky wonders that you can behold even through small telescopes to planets in morning and evening skies, and even three asteroids that are nearing opposition and visible through binoculars. For those with bigger scopes, here's a challenge: spot supernovae before they happen in Wolf-Rayet stars, massive stars already shedding their outer layers. In this issue, you'll also find guides to the evening and morning skies, explorations of lunar craters, and an S&T Test Report on Nikon's mirrorless Z6 camera.
Pioneers of the Invisible Universe
Researchers seeking the X-ray sky revealed a hot, lively, and revolutionary cosmos.
By Monica Young
Embrace the constraints of a small instrument for deep-sky observing this season.
By Brian Ventrudo
Catch a Wind-blown Bubble
Mysterious in origin and ethereal in nature, Wolf-Rayet nebulae intrigue both observer and reader alike.
By Steve Gottlieb
Red Dwarf Habitability Recipe
Life on worlds around the smallest stars would cope with environments vastly different from our own.
By Igor Palubski & Aomawa Shields
Governing the Planets
This year marks the 400th anniversary of Kepler’s Third Law of Motion.
By F. Michael Witkoski
The ever-improving quality of cameras in smart devices makes nightscape astrophotography a snap.
By Jeff Dai
Beyond the Printed Page
New LIGO Results: The Full Story
Find out how amateurs can participate in LIGO research.
Two Decades of X-rays
Relive two decades on the frontier of discovery
with Chandra and XMM-Newton.
View the Ice Giants
Find Uranus and Neptune in the summer sky.
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE
Two Large, One Small
The two gas giants continue to enthrall us during the earlier part of the night, while plucky Mercury delights us in the morning.
By Fred Schaaf
Three for One
Three asteroids, traveling conveniently close to one another in the southern sky, come to opposition this month.
By S. N. Johnson-Roehr
Unruly Crater Rays
These long, bright streaks crisscross the lunar surface yet defy easy explanation.
By Charles Wood
The Glorious Eagle
Many lesser-known clusters and nebulae swarm around the mighty Eagle Nebula.
By Sue French
Table of Contents
See what else August's issue has to offer.