October 2012: 100 Greatest Pictures of the Universe

This month’s issue of Astronomy magazine features 36 pages of spectacular astrophotography from professional observatories and amateur astronomers alike, columnists’ takes on astroimaging, your monthly observing guide, and more.
By | Published: August 28, 2012 | Last updated on May 18, 2023

WAUKESHA, Wis. — The universe abounds with astounding objects, making astronomy the most beautiful science. And the past year proved that statement true, with thousands of stunning images from world-class observatories to small amateur telescopes coming across the desk of Astronomy’s photo editor, Michael E. Bakich. To celebrate such beauty, he, with the help of his fellow editors, collected the 100 best to share with readers of the magazine.

In 36 pages of photographs, you can relive some great discoveries from the science as well as special observing events from the past 12 months. In mission science, for example, the Dawn spacecraft completed its study of the large asteroid Vesta and provided the first stunning images of the world’s varied surface features while the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment captured snapshots of dust devils spanning hundreds of feet across the Red Planet’s face. Closer to home, the Suomi NPP satellite created the “2012 Blue Marble” montage of Earth.

Meanwhile, many amateur astrophotographers focused on the big celestial events of the past year, from the total lunar eclipse of December 10, 2011, to the May 20, 2012, annular solar eclipse. Even professional observatories got involved with some of them, including the June 5, 2012, transit of Venus — the last instance of this rare phenomenon visible from Earth until 2117.

This special collector’s issue includes images of a whole array of celestial objects, from the Sun, planets, and meteors to nebulae, galaxies, and star clusters. To see all of these 100 spectacular photographs, pick up the October issue of Astronomy, on newsstands September 4.

October sky events visible without optical aid

  • October 5/6 — Jupiter and a gibbous Moon form a pretty pair in the night sky.
  • October 19 — Mars meets its rival when it passes near the bright star Antares, which also glows with a ruddy hue.
  • October 20/21 — The Orionid meteor shower peaks.

Also in the October 2012 Astronomy

  • The Sky this Month” — Exclusive star charts will guide you through the night sky.
  • Bob Berman’s Strange Universe: “True colors” — How do you capture exciting celestial images without creating something that’s not real?
  • Glenn Chaple’s Observing Basics: “Cellphone digiscoping” — Using your phone’s camera though a telescope’s eyepiece is a simple and inexpensive foray into astroimaging.
  • Stephen James O’Meara’s Secret Sky: “Capturing celestial crinoline” — Learn how to photograph one of the sky’s more colorful phenomena: atmospheric coronae.
  • Tony Hallas’ Imaging the Cosmos: “Taming a bright star” — Follow these steps to reduce any overly bright and big stars.
  • The October issue of Astronomy also includes Astro News, Ask Astro, The Cosmic Grid, New Products, Web Talk, and Letters.