The Spring 2021 issue (Vol. 50 No. 2) of Mercury magazine is now available for our members! This issue marks the second in Volume 50 of Mercury. To celebrate, and to reflect on the time that has passed since the magazine launched in 1972, this issue and the other three in this year each include several columns and feature articles that focus on discoveries and other ways astronomy has changed in the past five decades.
Featured in this issue:
- A new column launches with this issue. In “Faces of Astronomy,” you’ll meet a different astronomy professional: a researcher, an educator, an astrophotographer, or someone connected to astronomy in another way. This column highlights those who aren’t always the “public face” of astronomy, but who are doing fascinating and important work.
- Black holes are no longer a mere astrophysical curiosity. They have gone from mathematical oddity to sci-fi staple to mainstream media darling. In fact, we now believe there are likely 100 million stellar-mass black holes in our galaxy alone and that every galaxy plays host to a supermassive black hole at its center.
- For decades, Pluto was thought to sail alone through the ocean of space, a lonely wanderer with only a single moon as a companion. Now scientists know Pluto was the first object spotted in a disk of icy material known as the Kuiper Belt, a band of small, rocky objects making up a surprisingly complex third zone to the Solar System.
- Every human culture on Earth has seen, known, and wondered about the Milky Way’s path above — a bright strip of stars set against the darker night sky. Detailed observations across the full range of light have enabled astronomers to learn details of the Milky Way’s structure and contents, our location within that structure, and even how the Milky Way came to be.
- We also have our regular columnists providing recommendations to help students navigate their academic journeys, describing the story of astronomy’s (possible) patron saint, introducing an early and lesser-known gamma-ray burst detector, encouraging awareness of the impact of human activities on Earth systems, and more. Download your copy of Mercury today to read all the latest space news and opinion!
Liz Kruesi is the editor of Mercury magazine and Mercury Online. She has shared the stories of astronomy since 2005. Read more articles by Liz.