Solar research is currently one of the leading areas of space science, so Astronomy Now visited the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, which has a special division dedicated to studying the Sun, to get a first-hand account of the state of solar physics. Split into three phases of exploration, we first discuss the observations that took place on and above Earth, spearheaded by the SOHO mission. Then we head further into space with the STEREO spacecraft, which have a unique viewpoint on those storm emanations from the Sun – coronal mass ejections. Finally we get up close and personal with the Sun via NASA’s new Solar Dynamics Observatory that has the ability to see more on the Sun than any other solar telescope before it, heralding a new era wherein the Sun may finally give up its secrets.
In an Astronomy Now exclusive, Sir Patrick Moore tells of his life long career as a writer, which all began with a certain typewriter...; Emily Baldwin finds that although the lunar surface is one of the most barren lands in the Solar System, it could be hiding evidence of early life on Earth; Nick Howes tells of his observations with the Faulkes Telescope of the split that shook up comet C/2007 Q3 (Siding Spring) and Keith Cooper delves into the Heart and Soul nebulae.
In our regular sections Carole Stott introduces supernovae, the dramatic ending of a large star's life; Jeremy Perez explains how to sketch the Moon complete with Earthshine, Martin Mobberley discusses four decades of using his telescopes in Gearheads; image artefacts are explained in Tech Talk and Callum Potter finds out how to host a star party. We also present three CCD reviews – the Atik 383L+, the QSI 583wsg and the Orion deep sky mono imager III. All that plus the latest news and night sky guide, which this month introduces our new solar observing column!