Sky & Telescope January 2012
This issue's cover story deals with a question central to the search for extraterrestrial life: if an advanced civilization found signs of life, could it tell what kind of life it was? Besides bread crumbs such as the Voyager spacecraft, humans don't leave striking cosmic signs of our presence. Radio astronomer Joseph Lazio describes various ways we could signal our presence to aliens outside the solar system.
The two brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, share the twilight sky this month. Venus starts reasonably high on New Year's Day and will climb even higher up the sky's dome over the course of January, reaching more than 25° above the horizon at the end of January (for skywatchers at latitude 40° north). It's a perfect opportunity to guide nascent observers in distinguishing between the two "bright stars."
Catching asteroids occulting stars, finding gems in Orion, and spotting the first member of the Messier Catalog with binoculars — that's just a taste of what you can do with the January 2012 issue in hand. To find out more, read our online Table of Contents.