The future of astronomical research and space exploration lies with the young men and women at universities around the globe who are just starting out on a career in science. In this Focus, we meet five young post-docs who are already making names for themselves in their given fields. There’s Dr Veronica Bray, who spends her days imaging the Moon with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or exploring craters on Jupiter’s moons. Dr Leigh Fletcher at the University of Oxford has his hands in the pie of the biggest interplanetary spacecraft ever planned, the joint NASA/ESA Jupiter–Europa–Ganymede mission. Dr David Jess of Queen’s University Belfast also has his attention on an object within our Solar System, at the very centre of it in fact: our Sun, and its mysteriously hot corona. Reaching out beyond our planetary neighbourhood, Dr Jim Geach of the University of Durham is seeking to answer the riddle of galaxy formation, while similarly Dr Ben Davies of the University of Leeds and the Rochester Institute of Technology is looking to solve the problem of how the most massive stars form.
It’s hard to believe that Galaxy Zoo has only been around for three years, given the huge amount of discoveries the online community science project has made. Alice Sheppard, who runs the Galaxy Zoo forum, fills us in on the details. Meanwhile, Gemma Lavender investigates where the Gould Belt came from, the giant ring of star formation that the Solar System finds itself trapped in, and Keith Cooper finds a gas giant planet 63 light years away that is orbiting its star so closely that it has developed a tail, much like a comet, which is streaming away into space on the stellar wind.
Over the next few months our fellow Local Group spiral galaxies, the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and the Triangulum Galaxy (M33) will be at their annual best – Neil English spies on the neighbours. Closer to home, world-renowned astrophotographer Damian Peach describes how to make the most of Jupiter's closest opposition in over 40 years, and Nick Howes takes us on an imaging tour of Cepheus. In our new Telescope Talk section Martin Mobberley explains how to make the most of your eyesight and Neil English puts a refractor and a reflector through their paces to ask, which is best suited to your needs? And in our reviews section this month Nick Howes takes a look through the Intes Micro M606 Maksutov-Cassegrain astrograph while Nik Szymanek checks out the HiTec Astro Mount Hub Pro.
All that plus the usual regulars: in Drawn to the Universe Jeremy Perez sketches the delicate veil nebula; in Wonders of our Universe Carole Stott introduces neutron stars, and Callum Potter runs through how to create a newsletter for your society in Grassroots astronomy.