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Print edition: March 2009


Brave new worlds

The abundance of Earth-like planets will be determined in the next five years, with profound implications for the prevalence of life in the universe. Alan Boss describes the coming revolution in extrasolar planetology

Up close and personal

Mark Williamson describes how space technology has allowed planetary astronomy to develop from a science of entirely remote observation to one of immersive experimentation

Another giant leap for mankind

The Moon has been neglected by space scientists and astronomers alike since the Apollo days, but now we want to go back. Paul D Spudis explains what motivates the new vision of lunar exploration

Sites for sore eyes

Astronomers are planning a new generation of extra-large telescopes that will provide fascinating insights into the universe. But as Robert P Crease finds out, choosing where to locate these and other big facilities can require close interaction with the local communities involved

The Galileo affair

Maurice A Finocchiaro discusses the lessons and the cultural repercussions of Galileo’s telescopic discoveries


Hanks for the memory

Traveller's tales

Calculators at the ready

Spooky Einstein

Cheers to Galileo


Teleportation goes the distance

Chameleons weigh in

New light on the farside of the Moon

Device developed to reverse the Doppler effect

Anti-reflective films look to moth eyes

News & Analysis

World's biggest laser powers up

Top scientists join Stephen Hawking at Perimeter Institute

Detecting new Earths

New reactor to destroy nuclear waste

Sweden seeks U-turn on nuclear power

Italy seeks geothermal renaissance

Sloan Digital Sky Survey tops astronomy citation list

New probe plots Earth's gravity field

Joint mission planned for Jupiter

Satellites measure CO₂ levels

Who's Galileo?

A new frontier awaits for US particle-physics lab

Physical science receives stimulus boost

CERN hold-up hurts graduate students

Delayed LHC leaves some students without data for theses


In Galileo's footsteps


Cosmic visions

With the International Year of Astronomy now in full swing, leading figures from the world of astronomy reveal what they think are the biggest challenges for the subject


A year of astronomy

FAST success

Funding open access

Light omission

The last word on fusion

Comments from

Imagine all the units

Off to the pub

Quiz results


A pale orange dot

Agustin Chicarro surveys a new account of Saturn's largest moon

Web life: Cosmic Diary

The official blog of IYA2009

Ancient astronomy revealed

Telescopes on parade

Scientific sleuthing

For all eyes only

Sky guide


Living life on 'Mars'

The quest for clear, dark skies has led astronomers to build telescopes far away from the lights and smog of modern civilization, but what is it like to live and work in such places? Elena Mason describes her career at one of the world’s most remote observatories

Once a physicist: David Florence

The Nottingham University graduate who won a silver medal in canoeing at the Beijing Olympics

'Lifetime award' for stellar research

US astronomers honoured

Pair share quantum prize

Women who are worth it

Another gong for graphene

Movers and shakers

Lateral Thoughts

Clutching at dark straws