You know those Greek stories you've heard about the constellations, like the one about Perseus, Andromeda, and the sea monster Cetus? Turns out the Greeks had a far more ancient source of inspiration for their poetry: the Mesopotamians. Read the fascinating story-behind-the-story of some of the most popular constellations. Then turn your eyes to the future and learn how telescopes have tunneled through the atmosphere to see the stars as Hubble would — and even better. Adaptive optics has already revolutionized astronomy but it's not done yet, so find out what the future has in store. Finally, turn to the present to relive one man's perfect night of clear seeing. Can you make out the details he saw amidst the spiral arms of M81 and M82? Plus, find out what optical illusions the Mercury transit holds in store for us on May 9th and learn how to shoot the Moon, whether it's with your smartphone or a full rig.
Two Cool Galaxies
A clear night gives the author a newfound awe for the incomparable M81 and M82.
By Howard Banich
Our Surprisingly Ancient "Greek" Constellations
Perseus the Wizard, Ursa Major the Dragon-Wagon — many of the classical Greek constellations were revamped from ages much earlier.
By Craig Crossen
Untwinkling the Stars
How did the world's largest telescopes conquer the tempestuous atmosphere?
By Shannon Hall
How will your observations of the Mercury transit stack up against the historical record?
By Thomas Dobbins
High-resolution close-ups of the Moon can be a satisfying challenge for modest apertures.
By Robert Reeves
Beyond the Printed Page
Two Cool Galaxies
Test yourself - how many details can you see when you look at galaxies M81 and M82?
Adaptive Optics: Before and After
See how adaptive optics has revolutionized astronomy in this image gallery.
Expert Tips for Basic Lunar Imaging
It's easy to take high-quality images of the lunar disk: find out how.
Detection of Gravitational Waves
Get the full story on LIGO's first-ever direct detection of gravitational waves.
Librations and other lunar data for May 2016.
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE
Mars Comes Close
Mars gives us our closest look in a decade, while Mercury puts on a show.
By Fred Schaaf
The May 9th Transit of Mercury
The littlest planet will cross the enormous Sun for viewers in most of the world.
By Alan MacRobert
S&T Test Report: Meade's 10-inch LX600-ACF Telescope
The value of the LX600 comes as much from its timing as from its advanced technology.
By Dennis di Cicco
Table of Contents
See what else May's issue has to offer.