The cover of the February 2021 issue

Photographing Planetary Nebulae and the Magic at McDonald Observatory

In the February 2021 issue of Sky & Telescope, we reveal the final member of our bevy of new columns: First Exposure. To introduce this column, Sean Walker covers the basics of astrophotography for anyone who wants to start the craft. For more experienced astrophotographers, we have tips for photographing a whole collection of planetary nebulae, including a few with some fun nicknames. While planetary nebulae are the remnants of certain stars’ deaths, the wild story of the star T Tauri takes us back to their formative years. T Tauri has an entire class of stars named after it that it doesn’t quite match. Originally thought to be one star, then two, and now three, it’s discovery led directly to the historical realization that the universe is still creating new stars. But for every answer, astronomy has several more questions to take its place. For instance, how did our galaxy come to have two “bubbles” of high-energy radiation seemingly emanating from its center? While scientists are still debating what created these structures, they are starting to lean toward the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole as the culprit. 


The Story of T Tauri

An infant star in Taurus helped reveal a truth once thought radical: The universe still makes new stars.

By Ken Croswell

Catching Celestial Butterflies

Hone your imaging techniques on these fascinating beauties.

By Ronald Brecher

Orion’s Club District

Going off the beaten track in Orion brings pleasant surprises.

By Ken Hewitt-White

Magic Nights on Mount Locke

McDonald Observatory in Texas is a mecca for research astronomers . . . and for lucky amateurs.

By John Sealander

Double Bubble Toil

Astronomers may be closing in on the culprit behind the structure that sprouts from our galaxy’s center.

By Camille M. Carlisle

Beyond the Printed Page:

Photographing ISS Transits

Read this guide to taking astrophotos of the International Space Station crossing the Moon and Sun.

Bright Star Occultations

Predict exactly when occultations begin in an area using this interactive tool.  

Heavens Above

Use Heavens Above to find out when satellites and certain astronomical events are crossing your skies.

Everyone Can Do Astronomy

Learn about how this company is working to make astronomy available to everyone through accessible design.  


In Praise of Procyon

Alpha Canis Minoris is a serious underdog.

By Fred Schaaf

Catch an ISS Transit

Being in the right place at (exactly) the right time pays exciting dividends.

By Bob King

A Lunar Main Sequence

Understanding lunar crater formation based on appearances.

By Charles Wood

So You Want To Take an Astrophoto . . .

Let us help you enter the world of astrophotography.

By Sean Walker

Table of Contents

See what else February's issue has to offer.


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