Epic adventures await with the new generation of telescopes. Mighty behemoths such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), and the orbiting James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) provide the focus for our explorations this month. The SKA is set to be the biggest observatory in the world, both in terms of area covered and the amount of data it will collect. In just eight years time the E-ELT will provide new eyes on the Universe with three new optical telescopes boasting mirrors 24.5, 30 and 42 metres in diameter. Meanwhile, the most ambitious orbiting space observatory yet, the JWST, will launch in 2014.
Elsewhere this issue David Powell discovers that water isn't just prevalent on Earth; the Solar System is drenched in it, and has even been detected in distant stars, nebulae and other galaxies. Emily Baldwin digs the dirt on the mysterious magnetic swirls on the lunar surface such as Reiner Gamma, and Keith Cooper asks 'is dark energy real, or should we be dubious about claims for this phantom force?'
In Telescope Talk Martin Mobberley explains how to locate comets, and presents the pros and cons of different types of back garden observatories; Carole Stott introduces active galactic nuclei in Wonders of the Universe, and Jeremy Perez teaches us how to sketch comets. In our reviews section Steve Ringwood gets an eyeful of the new Speer-WALER range of wide field-of-view eyepieces, and Nick Howes finds that the Sky-Watcher EQ3 Pro SynScan GOTO mount lends itself to star-party portability. Plus our extensive night sky section, which includes details on how to observe the Perseids, as well as a sky tour of Aquila and Scutum, news, views and society listings.