Monday, August 27, 2007

Cool Stuff

See the Moon turn red

On August 28, the Moon will plunge through Earth's shadow, and the United States' West Coast sees the best show.

August 23, 2007
The spectacular eclipse occurs the morning of August 28. Circumstances favor observers west of the Mississippi, who missed out on the March lunar eclipse. Better still, this event marks the first central lunar eclipse since 2000.

A central eclipse is one where part of the Moon passes through the center of Earth's shadow. This results in a longer-lasting eclipse, and it likely will result in a more darkly colored Moon at totality. The Moon's northern edge passes through the shadow's center, which means its northern half will look noticeably darker than its southern half.

The penumbral part of the eclipse begins at 3:54 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The first hint of shadow won't be visible to East Coast observers until at least 4:30 a.m. Watch the Moon low in the southwest as the limb near Oceanus Procellarum gradually darkens.

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Check out an Unusually cool video.

More cool stuff-

Huge hole in universe surprises astronomers
It's the biggest known void in the cosmos

Two views of the hole in the universe: The left view shows a “cold spot” within the circle on a color-coded image of the full-sky cosmic microwave background, as seen by NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe. The right view shows the same region on the Very Large Array Sky Survey, with blue indicating low radio emissions.

The universe has a huge hole in it that dwarfs anything else of its kind. The discovery caught astronomers by surprise.

The hole is nearly a billion light-years across. It is not a black hole, which is a small sphere of densely packed matter. Rather, this one is mostly devoid of stars, gas and other normal matter, and it's also strangely empty of the mysterious "dark matter" that permeates the cosmos. Other space voids have been found before, but nothing on this scale.

Astronomers don't know why the hole is there.

"Not only has no one ever found a void this big, but we never even expected to find one this size," said researcher Lawrence Rudnick of the University of Minnesota.

Rudnick's colleague Liliya R. Williams also had not anticipated this finding.

"What we've found is not normal, based on either observational studies or on computer simulations of the large-scale evolution of the universe," said Williams, also of the University of Minnesota.

The finding will be detailed in the Astrophysical Journal.

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Scientists found life on Mars back in the 70s

Mars could be home to “extremophiles”

The soil on Mars may indeed be teeming with microbes, according to a new interpretation of data first collected more than 30 years ago.

The search for life on Mars appeared to hit a dead end in 1976 when Viking landers touched down on the red planet and failed to detect biological activity.

There was another flurry of excitement a decade later, when Nasa thought it had found evidence of life in a Mars meteorite but doubts have since been cast on that finding.

Today, Joop Houtkooper from Justus-Liebig-University in Giessen, Germany, will claim the Viking spacecraft may in fact have encountered signs of a weird life form based on hydrogen peroxide on the subfreezing, arid Martian surface.

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Death-Defying Mars Rovers: Riders in the Storm

The martian rovers Spirit and Opportunity continue to successfully weather a series of severe dust storms that threaten to cut power to their solar panels, but it's still a day-to-day battle for survival, scientists say.

The pervasive dust in the martian atmosphere, as well as dust settling onto the machinery, impedes the ability of the rovers' solar panels to convert sunlight into enough electricity to supply the their needs. One critical need is to protect each rover's "vital organs" of internal computer, electronics, heaters and batteries from becoming so cold that something might, quite literally, snap.

Both robots are in position to pounce on exciting science targets: Spirit is ready to gather more evidence for long-past explosive volcanic activity in an area dubbed Home Plate; Opportunity is a mere 130 feet (40 meters) from the point where it will enter Victoria Crater.

Ride out the storm

The twin rovers landed on the planet in January 2004. They have wheeled across Mars for far longer than their original 90-day warranties. There's no doubt that the long-lived robots have a special connection to their operators.

"There is a very strong attachment. It has been for many of us our everyday work for years. There's a tremendous bond with them," said John Callas, project manager for the Mars Exploration Rovers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. "We're just going to try to ride out this storm, he emphasized.

Read more.


RT said...

The video was cool. Philly has an awesome planetarium. My dad used to take me to it a lot.

My grandmother woke me up one night to watch a lunar eclipse. It is so cool.

The West lucks out this time. They get the best view.

Uber said...

Those @*&^%$#@!

Ah well, I don't have the lens I need to capture an image anyhow. Still, can't wait to see what they manage to capture.

Stew Magoo said...

I always get confused when people talk of life on other plants.

Uber said...


I always get confused when they use words like “extremophiles”.

I think maybe I've met a few of "those". I may even BE one. Oo


Ssssteve said...

"Astronomers don't know why the hole is there"

Duh, they are not as smart as they think they are!

Captain America said...

That whole Martian thing with the robots is just way cooool.