Earth news stories
The Great American Solar Eclipse is almost upon us and if you’re planning to see it, timing is everything. From start to finish, the entire solar eclipse of August 21 runs about four hours, but exactly what you can see and when depends on where you are.
Unlike most eclipse-watchers in the United States, Eric Schmitt wouldn’t mind seeing a few clouds in the sky when the moon starts blotting out the sun on Monday August 21. “A cloudy morning might even be helpful for us,” he said. That’s because, as the vice president for operations at the California Independent System Operator, which oversees the state’s electric grid, he will be dealing with an unusual challenge.
While the upcoming total solar eclipse in the US will be a once-in-a-lifetime sky show for millions, there’s a small group of people who have experienced it all before and can’t get enough of it. Veteran eclipse chasers spend lots of money and craft intricate plans all to experience another mid-day darkening of the sky. Many of them work in science and related fields and travel around the world, even to Antarctica, just to see one more.
The nearly 11-square-mile (28-square-kilometer) wildfire in the Deschutes National Forest was about six miles (9 kilometers) west of the town of Sisters, Oregon, which sits on the southern edge of the 70-mile swath where the moon will completely blot out the sun on Monday, 21 August. So far fire crews have not been able to contain any part of the wildfire, and highways are closed.
According to an analysis by Michael Zeiler, a mapping cartographer and eclipse chaser of 26 years. Approximately 7.4 million Americans may travel to the path of totality, where the moon’s darkest shadow will cut across the country on Monday, 21 August. But this mass migration may overwhelm small towns and cities with record tourism — and choke key roadways with gridlock traffic.
Astronomy is made possible in part by the shadows that span the stars. Standing on the celestial seashore, let’s pace out our universe, starting from the world we see by day to the stars we see at night. At each step, we will learn where we are and how far we’ve come.
Typically a saros period lasts between 1244 and 1514 years. Over time, eclipse paths migrate north to south from pole to pole, and the period begins and ends with partial eclipses. This article explains the rather complicated science and mathematical computations behind the fact that after three saros periods, the longitude of an eclipse path has shifted 600 miles to the north or south.
An astrophysicist explains that the tidal interactions between the Earth and the moon aren’t very big — we are separating at the snail-like pace of 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) a year. But with every decade, century and millennium, the moon’s apparent size in the sky shrinks, making total solar eclipses ever rarer.
Solar eclipse events are transient by their very nature, so permanent monuments to such celestial events are scarce. But in the East African country of Uganda, there are two monuments that honor important eclipses from the area’s past, one recent and one hundreds of years old.
Xochimilco is an idyllic network of lakes, canals and artificial islands improbably tucked into the urban sprawl of Mexico City, and it is a green lung vital to the health of smog-choked Mexico City. Without fishermen the whole ecosystem would collapse. One little salamander, whose name means “water monster” in the native Nahuatl language, was considered sacred by the Aztecs, who believed it was the last incarnation of their god Xolotl. According to local legend, the day those aoxolotl salamanders disappear would be the end of Xochimilco.
Americans need not look too far to find evidence of their country’s own early history. In fact, the remains of mounds built by Native American cultures almost 5,000 years ago can still be found today. The exhibit “Moundbuilders: Ancient Architects of North America,” which is on view at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia through July 2018, explores this lesser-known history, tracing the similarities and differences found among America’s very own ancient monuments—some of which even predate Stonehenge.
Attempts to scientifically categorise and understand the depth of personal psychedelic experience, (particularly the more decadent and visionary states that can be attained through high doses or skillful use), are often left severely lacking in regard to an appreciation of the otherworldly grandiose, eerie and often cartoonishly comical tricks and turns that can be visited upon the voyager. In a manner similar to the attempts of early anthropologists, attempting to really grasp or grapple with the fullness and rich texture of the subject is an impossible feat to achieve from the sidelines. In this article a scientist explains his personal experiences with the compounds found in Morning Glory Seeds.
Details the history and geology of Kartchner Caverns in Arizona. Studying, mapping, and opening the caves to the public was a major undertaking for the state of Arizona. It took 11 years and cost $28 million. In 1999 — 25 years after discoverers first entered Xanadu in 1974 — two rooms of Kartchner Caverns State Park opened for public view for the first time. Today, visitors to Kartchner Caverns can go on tours of many of the rooms, including the Throne Room (which contains one of the world’s longest soda straws), and the Big Room, which is closed each year from April through October to accommodate nursery roosting for cave bats.
Written by an astrophysics professor and self-described ‘evangelist of science’. Here is an excerpt: In the end, however, it’s all worth it (unless I get eaten by a bear). As a scientist, I’ve spent my whole life trying to get closer to the world and understand its ways more deeply. That means going to the source. But there is no greater source for science, for the inspiration to do science, than the wild. That’s where the sense of sacredness — that I think lives at the root of science’s aspiration — lives. As the great John Muir put it, “Keep close to Nature’s heart and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” Now, if only the bears have read Muir.
The mere thought of a supervolcano eruption could be enough to send a chill right down your spine. But according to new research, the remnants from catastrophic volcanic events of the past may be a much sought-after source of clean energy for the US. A study found that large quantities of lithium, used for the lithium-ion batteries that power modern devices, exist in the lakes that formed in the huge holes left behind by ancient eruptions, becoming concentrated in clay over thousands of years.
A fantastic new map from webcomic artist Randall Munroe shows the relative surface areas of all the rocky planets and moons in the solar system as though they were continents branching off from the oceans of Earth. The map, entitled “Surface Area”, provides a wonderful visualization of the relative sizes of all the major solid bodies in the solar system presented in the familiar form of a world map.