A Search for Cosmic Dust on Earth, Capturing the Depths of the Night Sky, and Kepler's Dream of a Moon Landing

In February’s issue of Sky & Telescope, amateurs hunt down meteorites, teach readers how to capture incredible nightscapes, discover exoplanets, and build their own spectrographs. Author Howard Banich describes his quest to visually track and sketch the changes in NGC 2261, or Hubble’s Variable Nebula, every night. Soon, observers will also be able to also see Comet PanSTARRS (C/2017 T2), which will be visible even small telescopes by this February. Join Bob King as he instructs readers on where to find it. Speaking of the solar system’s smaller worlds, scientists have discovered that many of them are double worlds known as contact binaries. We detail what scientists have learned about these connected bodies from when they were first hypothesized in the 1970s up until New Horizons captured an image of Arrokoth during the first morning of 2019. Then take a look back in time (and to the future) with Johannes Kepler. Did you know Kepler wrote science fiction? Well, it’s fiction no longer. We feature his Somnium and its prophetic description of space travel. Finally, learn how to capture images of the night sky from city balconies, no, it’s not impossible!

Feature Articles

fingertip micrometeorite
Can you see it? A human fingertip versus a micrometeorite.
Ryan Thompson

Micrometeorite Hunter
One man’s search for tiny cosmic visitors just underfoot turns up photogenic specimens.
By Ted Kinsman

Tracking Hubble's Variable Nebula
The author documents two decades of NGC 2261’s variability through sketches.
By Howard Banich

Shooting "Deepscapes"
Here’s how to capture striking nightscapes with deep-sky objects in a single exposure.
By Babak Tafreshi

Binary Worlds
The solar system’s surprising variety of binary objects is helping us understand the birth of planetary systems.
By Jeff Hecht

Dwarf Carbon Stars
Stars that shouldn’t even exist may soon offer new clues to the galaxy’s birth.
By Ken Croswell

Kepler's Dream, Today's Reality 
The great astronomer Johannes Kepler played a central role in the evolution of spaceflight.
By Jake Rosenthal

Beyond the Printed Page

Moth in the Night
Hubble's Variable Nebula, a.k.a. NGC 2261, is one of the best known young stellar objects with an associated nebula.

CD and DVD Solar Spectrograph
Visit Joe Gerencher’s website to learn more about how to build your own spectrograph.

Hubble's Variable Nebula Animation 
Look through the eyes of Edwin Hubble and watch as the nebula he studied, NGC 2261, shifts and changes.

Results from Voyager 2
Learn more about Voyager 2 and its findings past the edge of our solar system.

The End of a Half-century of Stargazing
Join us in reminiscing about the RTMC Astronomy Expo as it falls into retirement.


Multi-faceted beauty
M103 is one of the most distant Messier open clusters at 8,500 light years. The cluster measures about 14 light years wide.

A Month for Open Clusters
February’s night sky is awash with sparkling targets.
By Fred Schaaf

Five Ecliptic Crossings
All five bright planets arrive at either ascending or descending node this month, but the highlight for some lucky viewers might be the Moon’s occultation of Mars.
By Fred Schaaf

Comet on the Move
Viewers in the Northern Hemisphere have ample opportunities to spot a comet high in the northwestern sky.
By Bob King

Orion's Golden Shield
Remarkable clusters and nebulae encircle the giant’s torso.
By Sue French

Table of Contents
See what else February's issue has to offer.


Image of steve-callio


January 7, 2020 at 8:55 pm

Reading S&T on a web page With nxtbook is a very low quality and frustrating experience. It is difficult to expand and contract the print and to move around the page. You can do better!

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Image of Tom-Reiland


January 18, 2020 at 3:56 pm

I have not received my February Issue of S & T magazine. I have the January and I just got the March Issue in the mail today (Jan 18). It might have been lost in the holiday mail or my postal carrier might have lost it or delivered it to the wrong address or it get lost at your end. I would like to receive a replacement as soon as possible. Tom Reiland, Glenshaw, Pa.

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Image of Monica Young

Monica Young

January 20, 2020 at 7:54 pm

Dear Tom, We cannot effectively respond to customer service questions in either website comments or social media posts. If you have a question specific to your subscription, please email [email protected].

You must be logged in to post a comment.

You must be logged in to post a comment.