The cover of the August 2021 issue

The Arecibo Telescope, Dark Constellations, and RW Aurigae

In the August 2021 issue of Sky & Telescope, we’re examining the social impacts of astronomy. We all faced many dark days last year, but for astronomers and the people of Puerto Rico, the day the Arecibo Telescope collapsed was particularly difficult. Arecibo Observatory participated in many important scientific discoveries. But to the people of Puerto Rico who lived in its shadow, it was also an inspirational monument to science and the country’s resilience. Now, both communities are committed to rebuilding the telescope once funds become available. In the meantime, we’re looking for shapes in the dark. While some ancient cultures were drawing lines between stars to navigate the night sky, others were telling stories about the dark, dusty clouds of the Milky Way. As our galaxy’s center appears to rise in the summer skies, we’re peering into those constellations to pick out the dark nebulae that dot those areas and their brighter counterparts. You may need a nice pair of binoculars to see these objects. If you’re buying your first pair or looking to replace an old one, check out our updated guide to purchasing binoculars for astronomy.


The Milky Way’s Dark Constellations

Many cultures draw patterns in the sky not with stars but with darkness.

By Steve Gullberg

Explore Summer’s Bright and Dark Nebulae

The Milky Way offers a profusion of nebulae.

By Richard P. Wilds

Alas, Babylon! When Mars Draws Near . . .

Mesopotamian astronomers pioneered astronomical computing.

By Douglas Mac Dougal

Deciphering the Mystery of RW Aurigae

Professional and amateur astronomers band together to study a young binary star.

By Kerry Hensley

Arecibo’s Legacy

The loss of the iconic radio telescope abruptly ended more than a half century of science and inspiration.

By Gerrit Verschuur

Buying Binoculars for Astronomy

Much of the sage advice of the past has become obsolete following recent changes in the equipment marketplace.

By Alan Dyer

Beyond the Printed Page:

Saturn’s Moons

Use Sky & Telescope’s interactive observing tool to locate Saturn’s moons.

Astrospheric: Weather Forecasting Tool

Avoid having your observing sessions interrupted by clouds with this weather forecasting tool.

Ronchi Test

Learn all about evaluating the parabolization of your hand-ground mirrors.

Next Generation Arecibo Telescope

Follow the story of the Arecibo Telescope as scientists get ready to rebuild.


The Queen Star of Summer

Brilliant Vega rules August evenings from the zenith.

By Fred Schaaf

A Near-Perfect Year for Perseids

Sit back, relax, and enjoy this summer meteor spectacle.

By Bob King

Hills in the Middle

The central peaks in larger lunar craters testify to the power of gravity in the moments after impact.

By Charles A. Wood

Four Tips for Better Astropics

Your first night-sky shots may not be perfect, but they can teach you a lot.  

By Greg Redfern

Table of Contents

See what else August's issue has to offer.


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