Gravity is the most familiar of the natural forces of the Universe, but it has taken 400 years since Galileo to really understand it. Keith Cooper gets to grips with the force that keeps your feet on the ground in this month's Focus. He looks at space-time distortions and giant four-kilometre long detectors – these are all part of life for the scientists hunting for elusive gravitational waves – and asks what is space-time, and why does it do these terrible things to me? The interaction of space-time with gravity can unleash deadly forces on any unsuspecting astronaut venturing too close to a black hole. And gravity isn’t always so good for the black hole either.
Our features take on an international feel this month: Nick Howes travelled to Suffern in New York State for the world’s biggest astronomy show, the North-East Astronomy Forum, to scope out the latest astronomical kit on offer, while Deputy Editor Emily Baldwin headed Stateside for the launch of shuttle Discovery in February and to visit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, which proved to be an outstanding tourist attraction for holidaymakers. And we all convened for the annual National Astronomy Meeting held in Llandudno, Wales in April, to report in force on the four-day long event.
Elsewhere in the magazine Emily Baldwin goes in hunt of Earth's hidden asterioids – an asteroid recently detected "stalking" Earth in a ‘horseshoe’ orbit could be the tip of the iceberg of a population of asteroids hidden in Earth’s gravitational voids. We also get the inside story on Patrick Moore's new Data Book of Astronomy with an exclusive interview with the man himself. Spiders of the telescope vane variety are tackled in Telescope Talk, the Istar Perseus AT 150mm refractor is reviewed, and our extensive night sky section includes two stellar sky tours, how to draw the Sun, and the return of the planets en masse.