Tag: Science

Winter’s Long Night Moon and the Ursids

Winter Solstice was special this year. The Northern Hemisphere’s shortest day and longest night was graced with a full moon and meteor showers. The final and thirteenth full moon of 2018 occurred at 12:29 PM ET. Tonight the moon rose at 4:47 PM ET and sets tomorrow morning at 6:55 AM ET. The last time …

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The Only Super Moon of 2017

Tomorrow’s full moon, also called the cold moon by Native Americans, is the only super moon of 2017. Moon rise is at  4:59 PM ET just shortly after sunset. So put on you coat, grab a camp chair,  your favorite beverage, hot or cold and enjoy the view. Supermoon 2017: Biggest, Brightest Moon of the …

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Let Me Explain: Partial Birth Abortion Does NOT Exist

During the final debate, there was a discussion about abortion that took a mythical and ugly turn when Donald Trump claimed that women can abort a pregnancy in the ninth month. As a medical professional let me say this – that does not happen. Nor is there any procedure called a partial birth abortion, a …

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Autumnal Equinox 2016

It is the summer’s great last heat, It is the fall’s first chill: They meet. Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt Autumn arrived this morning at 10:21 AM EDT as the sun passes over the equator heading south to give the Earth’s Southern Hemisphere its turn at Summer. The Autumnal Equinox is also known as: Alban Elfed, …

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The Super Blood Moon

Tonight most of North America, especially the east coast, will enjoy the site of a full lunar eclipse. The full moon of September is also the Harvest Moon, the full moon closest to the Vernal Equinox. It’s also a super moon, when the moon’s closest to the earth in its orbit, thus the moon will appear brighter and larger than usual. Because of its proximity during the eclipse, the moon will take on a reddish hue as the earth’s shadow passes across its surface. This is known as a “blood moon.” This is the fourth blood moon over the last 2 years which is called a “tetrad” in astronomical circles. The last time this occurred was in 1982 and will not happen again until 2033.

Needless to say, the event has also brought out the religious fringes, who believe the event is a signal for the end of time. However, according to NASA, there is no current threat of the earth being destroyed by a comet or asteroid for the “next several hundred years.”

For those of you who are camera buffs, Huffington Post Science has some helpful tricks for photographing tonight eclipse

Smartphones have made it easy to capture all sorts of fleeting moments — from a seal riding a whale to the pontiff gliding past in his popemobile.

But if you’re hoping to capture an Instagram-perfect shot of this weekend’s supermoon lunar eclipse, it will take a bit of preparation. After all, you’ll be shooting a darkened moon against the night sky. [..]

Keep your camera steady and your exposure long.

Whether you’re using a smartphone, a point-and-shoot or a DSLR, keeping it steady is essential. As Andreo explains, “Taking photos at night almost always drives up the exposure time, which means you need a stable tripod to mount your camera to in order to keep your pictures from turning out blurry.” If you don’t have a tripod, try resting your camera on a stool, or just try this hack that uses a piece of string.

Once your lens is steady, long exposure will help capture details of the moon’s surface despite the darkness. [..]

Get some magnification.

There are two kinds of zoom. One is desirable for this purpose, and the other is not. With a point-and-shoot camera, zoom until your lens is fully extended toward your subject. But then stop. After the lens is fully extended, your camera switches over to ‘digital zoom’ — which makes your photo look pixelated. It “just crops into your picture to make your subject take up more of the frame, but it isn’t true telephoto,” Leuchter explains. [..]

Pay attention to composition.

Unless you’re able to capture all the tiny details on the surface of the moon, you’ll need other objects in the shot to make it interesting. Snap while the moon is low on the horizon, and “try to find interesting objects to juxtapose with the full moon, like shooting through trees, or using silhouettes and other objects to show size contrast,” says Gerard. [..]

Use a self-timer

Sometimes you set up the perfect shot, but the act of actually pressing the button to snap the picture ruins it. A self-timer allows you to take a hands-off shot — you can even download an app that does it for you! Gerard explains that “using a self-timing feature helps to prevent vibrations in the camera by allowing it to settle before it takes the picture.”

Moon rise in the East at 6:36 p.m. The first shadow on the moon’s “face” will begin around 8:11 p.m. However, the total eclipse starts at 10:11 p.m. and peak at 10:47 p.m.  The process then reverses itself and the moon will be back in full view after midnight.

Check your local paper for community events for watching the eclipse. If the weather is overcast in your area, you can watch it here with NASA starting at 8 PM EDT, or you can join us here at 8 PM.

Autumnal Equinox 2015

At 4:21 AM EDT, the Northern Hemisphere passed from Summer into Autumn as the sun passes over the equator heading south to give the Earth’s Southern Hemisphere its turn at Summer. The Autumnal Equinox is also known as: Alban Elfed, Autumn Equinox, Fall Equinox, Cornucopia, Feast of Avilon, Festival of Dionysus, Harvest Home, Harvest Tide, Mabon, Night of the Hunter, Second Harvest Festival, Wine Harvest, Witch’s Thanksgiving, and the first day of autumn. It is the second harvest, a time for gathering the Summer’s last fruits, giving thanks for the harvest and marking a celebration in gratitude as the soil and plants die away.

This year’s Harvest Moon happens on September 27 – 28 depending on your location on the globe. In North America, the crest of the moon’s full phase comes on September 27, at 10:51 p.m. EDT, 9:51 p.m CDT, 8:51 p.m. MDT or 7:51 p.m. PDT. The “Harvest Moon” is another name for the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox, which marks the change of seasons. The moon gets its name from the amount of light it emits, allowing farmers to continue harvesting the summer’s crops through the evening. This years harvest Moon is unique since it is also a super moon, when the moon’s orbit is closest to the earth. There is also full lunar eclipse that will give the moon a reddish hue as the earth’s shadow passes over its surface, thus the term “Blood Moon.”

On the night of Sept. 27 and into the early hours of Sept. 28, the full Moon will glide through the shadow of Earth, turning the Harvest Moon a golden-red color akin to autumn leaves.

The action begins at 9:07 PM Eastern Time on the evening of Sept 27th when the edge of the Moon first enters the amber core of Earth’s shadow.  For the next three hours and 18 minutes, Earth’s shadow will move across the lunar disk.

Totality begins at 10:11 PM Eastern Time.  That’s when the Moon is completely enveloped by the shadow of our planet.  Totality lasts for an hour and 12 minutes so there is plenty of time to soak up the suddenly-red moonlight.

he reason the Moon turns red may be found on the surface of the Moon itself. Using your imagination, fly to the Moon and stand inside a dusty lunar crater.  Look up. Overhead hangs Earth, nightside facing you, completely hiding the sun behind it. The eclipse is underway.

You might suppose that the Earth overhead would be completely dark.  After all, you’re looking at the nightside of our planet. Instead, something amazing happens.  When the sun is located directly behind Earth, the rim of the planet seems to catch fire! The darkened terrestrial disk is ringed by every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all at once. This light filters into the heart of Earth’s shadow, suffusing it with a coppery glow.

Back on Earth, the shadowed Moon becomes a great red orb.

A scientific myth is that day and night are equal around the entire world, not really:

Most Northern Hemisphere locations, however, do not see an exact 12-hour day until a few days after the fall equinox (and a few days before the spring equinox).

The main reason is atmospheric refraction: This bending of the sun’s light allows us to see the entire sun before and after it crosses the horizon. (By definition, actual sunrise occurs as soon as the upper edge of the solar disk appears above the horizon, while sunset occurs the moment the sun’s trailing edge disappears below it – though that’s not how our eyes see it.)

This helps explain why the day is slightly more than 12 hours long on the equinox. It also explains why places on the equator always see just over 12 hours of daylight year-round: It’s because of the angle from which they observe the sun.

Another of the myths connected to this celebration/time of year is the myth of Demeter and Persephone.  The Autumn Equinox signals the descent of Persephone back to the underworld to be with her husband, Hades and the Harvest Mother, Demeter’s mourning for her daughter…thus, the explanation of the dying back of plant life.  This myth gave explanation to our ancient ancestors for the changing of the seasons.  The symbolism that is present for us today is the letting go of our youth, child-bearing years and moving closer to the crone/elder part of our lives.  But it is only a preparation, the opening to what needs to be prepared when the Winter inevitably comes.

I Am The Autumnal Sun ~ by Henry David Thoreau

Sometimes a mortal feels in himself Nature

— not his Father but his Mother stirs

within him, and he becomes immortal with her

immortality. From time to time she claims

kindredship with us, and some globule

from her veins steals up into our own.

I am the autumnal sun,

With autumn gales my race is run;

When will the hazel put forth its flowers,

Or the grape ripen under my bowers?

When will the harvest or the hunter’s moon

Turn my midnight into mid-noon?

I am all sere and yellow,

And to my core mellow.

The mast is dropping within my woods,

The winter is lurking within my moods,

And the rustling of the withered leaf

Is the constant music of my grief….

Harvest Super Moon

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The full moon will rise tonight over the east coast at 6:55 PM EDT. It is the third consecutive super moon and the 5th this year.

We in astronomy used to call them perigean new moons or perigean full moons, that is, new or full moons closely coinciding with perigee – the moon’s closest point to Earth in its orbit. But, like almost everyone else, now we enjoy calling them supermoons. The name supermoon was coined by an astrologer, Richard Nolle, over 30 years ago. It was popularized and came to be the accepted term for most people only in the past few years. Are supermoons hype? In our opinion … gosh, no, just modern folklore. And they can cause real physical effects, such as larger-than-usual tides. The year 2014 has a total of five supermoons. They are the two new moons of January, and the full moons of July, August and September.

It’s also the Harvest Moon which is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox which falls (punny) on September 22 this year.

The super Harvest Moon and Mid-Autumn Festival of September 8-9 are early in 2014, but September equinox isn’t until September 23 at 2:29 UTC. Although the equinox happens at the same moment worldwide, the clock times vary by time zone.

In the U.S. this equinox comes on September 22 at 10:29 p.m. EDT, 9:29 p.m. CDT, 8:29 p.m. MDT or 7:29 p.m. PDT.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is rising later now, and nightfall comes sooner. This is our autumn equinox, when the days are getting shorter in the Northern Hemisphere. At this equinox, day and night are approximately equal in length. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, people are enjoying the cooler days of autumn even as preparations for winter are underway. South of the equator, spring begins.

Depending on where you live the Super Harvest Moon can be on either tonight, September 8 or September 9

It happens on September 9 at 1:38 Universal Time. In North America, the crest of the moon’s full phase comes on September 8, at 9:38 p.m. EDT, 8:38 p.m CDT, 7:38 p.m. MDT or 6:38 p.m. PDT.

So the night of September 8-9 has the brightest, fullest moon for the Americas. Meanwhile, for the most of Asia, the moon turns precisely full during the daylight hours on September 9. For all of us, by the night of September 9-10, the moon will be waning. In fact, September 8, 2014 is the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival in Asia, which is linked to this full moon.

For modern Pagans and Wiccans, this moon marks the start of the second harvest which culminates on the Autumnal Equinox. The third and final harvest then begins as the nights are longer than the days and we start to prepare in earnest for winter. Samhein, or Halloween, marks the final harvest celebration with bond fires, feasts and music marking the passing of another year and the beginning of winter.

Wherever you are tonight, step outside, stand barefoot on the earth, reach up to touch the moon and breath.

Super Moon and Meteor Showers

Tonight’s Full Moon is the fourth Super Moon of the 2014 and in case you miss it, you’ll have another chance on September 9. A “super moon” occurs when the moon is new or full “at or near its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit.” Tonight’s moon is at its closest for the year, only 221,765 miles from Earth. Because of its close proximity, tides will be higher than usual, which could cause flooding in some low lying coastal areas. The National Weather Service has issues a coastal flood warning for the eastern seaboard extending from parts of New York City down to Delaware

The uniqueness of this Super Moon is that occurs in conjunction with the first night of Perseid Meteor showers:

The Perseids are a prolific meteor shower associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle. The Perseids are so-called because the point from which they appear to come, called the radiant, lies in the constellation Perseus. The name derives in part from the word Perseides, a term found in Greek mythology referring to the sons of Perseus.

The stream of debris is called the Perseid cloud and stretches along the orbit of the comet Swift-Tuttle. The cloud consists of particles ejected by the comet as it travels on its 133-year orbit. Most of the particles have been part of the cloud for around a thousand years. However, there is also a relatively young filament of dust in the stream that was pulled off the comet in 1865, which can give an early mini-peak the day before the maximum shower. [..]

The shower is visible from mid-July each year, with the peak in activity between 9 and 14 August, depending on the particular location of the stream. During the peak, the rate of meteors reaches 60 or more per hour. They can be seen all across the sky; but, because of the path of Swift-Tuttle’s orbit, Perseids are primarily visible in the northern hemisphere. As with many meteor showers, the visible rate is greatest in the pre-dawn hours, since the side of the Earth nearest to turning into the sun scoops up more meteors as the Earth moves through space. Most Perseids disappear while at heights above 80 kilometres (50 mi).

This year the showers will peak around dawn on on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. However, they may be hard to see because of the brightness of the super moon

Your best views are between midnight and a few hours before sunrise (around 6:30 a.m.) as Earth rotates into the stream of debris left behind by comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. The view improves as the moon sets around 3 a.m. Wednesday morning. The moon will set about an hour later each subsequent day.

Beginning Monday, your best chances are at a more family friendly evening time from shortly after sunset (around 8:45 p.m.) through moonrise about an hour later. The moon also rises about an hour later each subsequent evening, giving more opportunity to see meteors before the nearly full moon washes out the sky. Also take a moment to look low on the southwest horizon for Saturn and just below and to the right for Mars.

Perseid Meteors vs the Supermoon

Cosmic Man, Neil deGrasse Tyson Speaks

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

All this week on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes,” the host of the series “Cosmos,” Neil deGrasse Tyson sat down with Chris to talk about life, the universe and everything. Here are the first three segments.

Cosmic, man

Chris talks with renowned astrophysicist and host of “Cosmos,” Neil deGrasse Tyson, about the future of science and the possibility of extra-terrestrial life.

Neil deGrasse Tyson on climate change

Chris Hayes speaks with legendary astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson about the rhetoric and reality of climate change.

Neil deGrasse Tyson on ‘Cosmos’ and creationists

Chris Hayes and renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson discuss the often heated responses to the television show “Cosmos” from creationists.

Shorter Armando

Progressives should vote for Clinton because she will in no way be viewed as a progressive/liberal, therefore she cannot suck the oxygen out of the progressives’ air in the way Obama did  (for eight precious years), while betraying those he pretended to represent.  Thusly, by voting for Hillary “We Came, We Saw, He Died” Clinton in 2016, an obvious anti-progressive war monger, progressives can freely grow like shadowed mushrooms on the rotting log of neoliberal wealth-pumping via wars and debt-disciplined austerity for the peripheral poors, including vast regions of the United States.

That’s what I read.

Fourteen years  plus after the Event Horizon I (Bush v. Gore), and nearly six years after Event Horizon II (Lehman),  never mind the multiple event horizon markers along the way, Armando is still imagining “long-term strategies” for progressives.  Awesome.  In its blank stupidity, imho, given the fact that if the economy doesn’t get you (global debt now 40% above 2008 levels), climate will (CO2 levels at 143% of Pleistocene, and rapidly climbing into positive feedback territory).

Obviously, you could look back in time to re-define Event Horizon I, such as, US peak oil in 1971, or “human agriculture” 12,000 yonks past.  But turning Hillary into a pro-progressive argument is something only a bone-headed lawyer or academic could do at this late date.  

Am I surprised by this level of argument?  Huh.   I s’pose not really after everything I’ve seen.  However, my disdain for people routinely ignoring reality is solid as a rock.  It’s like they should make a new place on the periodic table for pure, solid, elemental disdain.  It would be amongst the metals, I think.  I’d have to ask Translator Doc to be sure.

Warmest Regards.

Life, the Universe and Everything

In a multi-part series, the host of Moyers and Company, Bill Moyers and the popular astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson discussed the universe, higher beings and science literacy.



Transcript can be read here



Transcript can be read here



Transcript can be read here

The Cosmos

Neil deGrasse Tyson on the New Cosmos



Transcript can be read here

n a multi-part series with the popular astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill explores a variety of topics, including the nature of an expanding, accelerating universe (and how it might end), the difference between “dark energy” and “dark matter,” the concept of God in cosmology and why science matters. [..]

Starting in March, Tyson will host a new, updated version of the hit PBS television series Cosmos, which made the late Carl Sagan a household name. This time the new series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, comes courtesy of the National Geographic Channel and Fox TV.

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