This month – and to mark the new year – we're presenting a 10-page guide to some of the top astronomical sights of 2012. Learn how to see Saturn's rings, Jupiter's red spot and when to catch Mars at its best. Witness the 'Mega-Moon', the transit of Venus and the year's meteor showers. Watch as Jupiter hides behind the Moon, discover America's annular eclipse and when the UK's star parties are, and much more. We also have our regular night sky section with details of the month's observing opportunities, plus a sky tour of Monoceros and how to sketch Mars in motion – so there's plenty to keep you busy over the coming month!
Our cloudy night reading this month includes Joseph Baneth Allen's summary of the race to find a planet orbiting in the double star system alpha Centauri a mere 4.3 light years away, while Keith Cooper asks would it be possible to send a spacecraft to alpha Centauri, in his complementary article. Stephen Clark has the lowdown on the James Webb Space Telescope – it may have been saved from budgetary culling but this will likely come at a cost to planetary missions. Gemma Lavender reports on how to listen to the songs of the stars to probe their interiors and Keith Cooper finds out why the Crab Nebula is behaving badly.
In our regular section Telescope Talk Martin Mobberley shows you how to do the meridian flip and Ninian Boyle offers advice for looking after your telescope and eyepieces, and our reviews include two six-inch triplet apo refractors – Istar's all-new 152mm f/8 Phantom triplet, and Sky-Watcher's Esprit-150ED. Plus all the latest news, views and society news, plus details of the forthcoming AstroFest and a free 2012 wall planner, it's another bumper-packed issue!