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How to watch this week’s rare “ring of fire” solar eclipse

The moon moves in front of the sun in a rare “ring of fire” solar eclipse as seen from Tanjung Piai, Malaysia on December 26, 2019.SADIQ ASYRAF / AFP / GETTY IMAGES

How to watch this week’s rare “ring of fire” solar eclipse

Last month’s “super flower blood moon” lunar eclipse was hardly the only exciting celestial event of the season. This week brings an even bigger spectacle — a rare “ring of fire” solar eclipse.

Thursday morning, June 10, makes the new moon, which will eclipse the sun at 6:53 a.m. ET. To see it, look to the east. 

On June 10, skywatchers all over the world will be able to view the eclipse.

What is an annular solar eclipse? 

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun, completely blocking the sun’s light. During an annular solar eclipse, the moon does not completely cover the sun as it passes, leaving a glowing ring of sunlight visible.

An annular eclipse can only occur under specific conditions, NASA says. The moon must be in its first lunar phase, and it must also be farther away from Earth in its elliptical orbit, appearing smaller in the sky than it usually would. 

Because the moon appears smaller under these circumstances, it cannot fully block out the sun, forming what’s called a “ring of fire” or “ring of light.” 

“As the pair rises higher in the sky, the silhouette of the Moon will gradually shift off the sun to the lower left, allowing more of the Sun to show until the eclipse ends,” NASA said. 

How to watch the annular solar eclipse

The narrow path of the eclipse will be completely visible in parts of Canada, Greenland, the Arctic Ocean and Siberia. It will be partially visible for much of the rest of northeastern North America, Greenland, Northern Europe and northern Asia. 

From the Washington, D.C. area, the moon will block about 80% of the left side of the sun as they rise together in the east-northeast at 5:42 a.m. The sun will appear as a crescent during this time, NASA says. 

“From any one point along this annular solar eclipse path, the middle or annular or ‘ring of fire’ stage of the eclipse lasts a maximum of 3 minutes 51 seconds,” according to EarthSky

The event will conclude around 6:29 a.m. ET. 

It is essential to wear special solar eclipse glasses to protect your eyes while viewing the celestial phenomenon. Looking directly at the sun is dangerous and can damage your eyes.

This is just one of two solar eclipses in 2021. A total solar eclipse will be visible on December 4. 

And don’t worry if you miss it — you can just catch up with a livestream instead. 

NASA releases stunning new pic of Milky Way’s ‘downtown’

NASA releases stunning new pic of Milky Way’s ‘downtown’

This false-color X-ray and radio frequency image made available by NASA on Friday, May 28, 2021 shows threads of superheated gas and magnetic fields at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. X-rays detected by the NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory are in orange, green, blue and purple, and radio data from the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa are shown in lilac and gray. The plane of the galazy is horizontal, in the center of this vertical image. Astronomer Daniel Wang of the University of Massachusetts Amherst said Friday he spent a year working on this, while stuck at home during the pandemic. (NASA/CXC/UMass/Q.D. Wang, NRF/SARAO/MeerKAT via AP)
This false-color X-ray and radio frequency image made available by NASA on Friday, May 28, 2021 shows threads of superheated gas and magnetic fields at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. X-rays detected by the NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory are in orange, green, blue and purple, and radio data from the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa are shown in lilac and gray. The plane of the galazy is horizontal, in the center of this vertical image. Astronomer Daniel Wang of the University of Massachusetts Amherst said Friday he spent a year working on this, while stuck at home during the pandemic. (NASA/CXC/UMass/Q.D. Wang, NRF/SARAO/MeerKAT via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA has released a stunning new picture of our galaxy’s violent, super-energized “downtown.”

It’s a composite of 370 observations over the past two decades by the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory, depicting billions of stars and countless black holes in the center, or heart, of the Milky Way. A radio telescope in South Africa also contributed to the image, for contrast.

Astronomer Daniel Wang of the University of Massachusetts Amherst said Friday he spent a year working on this while stuck at home during the pandemic.

‘Ring of fire’ solar eclipse will be visible in North America on June 10

‘Ring of fire’ solar eclipse will be visible in North America on June 10

  • The full eclipse will last for roughly an hour and 40 minutes. No part of the U.S. will see the full eclipse.
  • The most ideally situated metropolitan areas to view the partial eclipse at sunrise are Toronto, Philadelphia and New York.
  • Solar eclipse glasses must be worn at all times during an annular or partial solar eclipse to avoid the threat of blindness.
The moon appears to cover the sun during an annular eclipse of the sun on May 20, 2012 as seen from Chaco Culture National Historical Park in Nageezi, Ariz.STAN HONDA, AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The moon blocked out the sun for part of the Earth on Dec. 14, plunging southern Argentina and Chile into darkness.

Just two weeks after a lunar eclipse, skywatchers are in for another treat in June: A “ring of fire” annular solar eclipse will be visible in parts of North America on June 10. 

The path of the eclipse starts at sunrise in Ontario, Canada (on the north side of Lake Superior), then circles across the northern reaches of the globe, EarthSky’s Bruce McClure said. “Midway along the path, the greatest eclipse occurs at local noon in northern Greenland and then swings by the Earth’s North Pole, and finally ends at sunset over northeastern Siberia,” he said.

The full eclipse will last for roughly an hour and 40 minutes. No part of the U.S. will see the full eclipse.

While the U.S. will miss out on the “ring of fire” part of the eclipse, folks who live along the East Coast and in the Upper Midwest will get a chance to see a partial solar eclipse just after sunrise.

How to see the ‘Super Flower Blood Moon,’ 1st lunar eclipse of this decade

In a once in a lifetime event, the night sky on Wednesday will be both the brightest and darkest ever seen.

This week’s full moon will be the second supermoon of the season, appearing brighter and larger than usual. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the “Flower Blood Moon” will be roughly 222,000 miles away from the Earth early Wednesday morning.

May’s full moon is known as the “Flower Moon,” and because a total lunar eclipse — also known as a “blood moon” as it gives the moon a reddish hue — is also set to happen at the same time, it’s being called the “Super Flower Blood Moon.”https://d-15986500134082916044.ampproject.net/2105072136000/frame.html

The moon will be at its brightest and largest at 4:14 a.m. PT, according to astronomers.

PHOTO: The full moon, known as the 'Super Pink Moon', rises over the skyline of New York City, seen from West Orange, in New Jersey, April 26, 2021. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters, FILE)
PHOTO: The full moon, known as the ‘Super Pink Moon’, rises over the skyline of New York City, seen from West Orange, in New Jersey, April 26, 2021. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters, FILE)

With the moon this close to the planet, stargazers in certain parts of the world will get to see an impressive sight.

MORE: Pink moon is 1st supermoon of 2021: When to see it

People who live in western North America, western South America, eastern Asia, and Oceania, will have the best view of the “Flower Blood Moon,” according to astronomers.

“In the U.S., those who are located east of the Mississippi will experience a partial lunar eclipse before the moon sets below the horizon, and those along the East Coast won’t see much of anything, unfortunately,” the Farmer’s Almanac said.

PHOTO: A total lunar eclipse, known as the 'super blood wolf moon,' rises over San Francisco, Jan. 20, 2019. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: A total lunar eclipse, known as the ‘super blood wolf moon,’ rises over San Francisco, Jan. 20, 2019. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE)

MORE: Supermoon seen from around the world

This will mark the first lunar eclipse of the decade. The last one was recorded on Jan. 21, 2019.

A partial lunar eclipse is also scheduled for Nov. 19, according to astronomers.

Scientists Fired Tardigrades Out of a Gun to See if They Can Survive Space Impacts

Steve Gschmeissner/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Scientists Fired Tardigrades Out of a Gun to See if They Can Survive Space Impacts

We can now add “being fired out of a gun at high speeds” to the growing list of weird things tardigrades can survive.

By MICHELLE STARR via Science Alert

How do we know? Scientists actually did it – and, believe it or not, it’s for a good cause. They wanted to know if tardigrade-like organisms could survive certain conditions in space, in order to place constraints on where and how we might be able to find extraterrestrial life in the Solar System – and how we might avoid contaminating it.

Tardigrades, microscopic invertebrates also known as water bears and moss piglets, are globally ubiquitous, found both in terrestrial and water ecosystems pretty much everywhere. That’s hardly a surprise, really: the tiny creatures are able to survive some insane conditions.

When conditions get nasty, they can dry out, reconfigure their bodies and enter suspended animation – called desiccation – for years. You can throw virtually anything at them: frozen temperatures, zero oxygen, high pressures, the vacuum of spacecosmic radiation, and even being boiled.

These so-called “indestructible” beasties made global headlines in 2019, when a spacecraft carrying some crash-landed on the Moon, prompting speculation about the tardigrades’ survival on our satellite.

It certainly raised some interesting questions. How violent an impact can tardigrades survive? The answer would have implications for astrobiology, including the panspermia model, which proposes life can be distributed throughout the cosmos via asteroids and comets that crash into planets.

It can also tell us how likely tardigrades are to survive in places like the Moon or the Martian moon Phobos, which could have been impacted by ejecta from Earth and Mars respectively, potentially carrying microscopic life.

Finally, it can help us gauge the survival rate of tardigrade-like organisms in the saltwater plumes ejected from icy ocean worlds like Europa and Enceladus.

So, astrochemist Alejandra Traspas and astrophysicist Mark Burchell, both of the University of Kent in the UK, designed an experiment to find out.

Burchell specializes in hypervelocity impacts, and his department has a two-stage light-gas gun, which uses a two-step process to accelerate projectiles. First gunpowder, then a light gas such as hydrogen or helium placed under rapid pressurization, are used to achieve velocities up to 8 kilometers (5 miles) per second.

The researchers loaded two or three individuals of Hypsibius dujardini, a species of freshwater tardigrade, each into a number of nylon sabots, which were frozen to induce the creatures’ hibernation state, known as tun.

These sabots were then loaded into the gun, and fired at sand targets in a vacuum chamber at a range of velocities from 0.556 to 1.00 kilometers per second.

The sand target was then poured into a water column to isolate the tardigrades, which were separated and observed to determine how long it took them to revive from the tun state. As a control, 20 tardigrades were frozen and not shot out of a gun.

All of the control tardigrades recovered after about 8 or 9 hours. The impacted tardigrades survived up to and including an impact velocity of 825 meters per second; but they took longer to recover, suggesting internal damage. The next highest velocity, 901 meters per second, resulted in tardigrade jam. (That’s still higher than many handgun muzzle velocities.)

“In the shots up to and including 0.825 kilometers per second, intact tardigrades were recovered post shot, but in the higher-speed shots only fragments of tardigrades were recovered,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

“Thus, shortly after the onset of lethality, the tardigrades were also physically broken apart as impact speed increased.”

This suggests that the impact velocity survivability threshold is between these two numbers, equivalent to a shock pressure of 1.14 gigapascals – which places some serious constraints on their impact survivability.

While the study doesn’t directly answer the question on whether the Beresheet tardigrades made it alive after the Moon crash, we do know that the final data received from the spacecraft indicated a vertical velocity 134.3 m/sec and horizontal velocity of 946.7 m/sec.

Some of the material ejected from Earth, kicked up from meteorite impacts, then impacts the Moon within the range of tardigrade survivability. So… it’s possible that tardigrades could survive that voyage.

For Phobos, the scenario is grimmer: material from Mars is estimated to impact Phobos at velocities between 1 and 4.5 kilometers per second; and, in the unlikely event that any tardigrades did survive, harsh solar and cosmic radiation would ensure they didn’t survive long.

For icy moon plumes, the flyby speed of any spacecraft sampling the ejected water would produce high velocities, but that just means we might need to get creative. The shock pressures generated thereby could be mitigated by an aerogel collector or using an orbiter to reduce the relative velocities of the spacecraft and the plumes, the researchers suggest.

“That complex structures undergo damage in shock events is not a surprise,” the researchers wrote. “The peculiarity here may be that recovery and survival is still possible until just before the impact events begin to break the tardigrades apart.”

They suggest that future research perform ongoing observations of the tardigrades, to determine how being fired out of a gun affects their long-term survival.

The research has been published in Astrobiology.

H/T: Science Magazine

From Texas to Hawaii: SpaceX plans first orbital Starship test

SpaceX plans to have its first Starship test flight to orbit launch from Texas and splash down off the coast of an island in Hawaii, according to a document the company filed with the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday. The orbital flight test would mark the first time SpaceX stacks both elements of its massive Starship system together, the next key development step in its attempt to build a rocket that could one day land on Mars.

A Starship prototype in March carries out its complex landing-flip maneuver before attempting to land — a technique similar to how it would land off the coast of Hawaii. – SpaceX

By Joey Roulette via TheVirge

As outlined in the document, a super heavy booster stage will launch Starship from SpaceX’s Boca Chica, Texas, facilities and separate in midair nearly three minutes into flight. About five minutes later, that booster stage will return back to Earth and splash down in the Gulf of Mexico — or as SpaceX puts it: it will “perform a partial return and land in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 20 miles from the shore.”

Meanwhile, Starship (the top half of the entire rocket system) will continue into orbit, nearly completing a full trip around Earth before plunging back through the atmosphere over Hawaii roughly 90 minutes after launching from Texas. Starship will aim to nail a “powered, targeted landing” on the ocean about 62 miles off the northwest coast of Kauai, the state’s northernmost island.

The document didn’t name a specific date for Starship’s orbital flight. CEO Elon Musk and SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell have said it could happen by the end of 2021, but an email that accompanied Thursday’s filing indicated it could happen any time in the next year, before March 1st, 2022. That email also says the maximum altitude for Starship is 72 miles — an extremely low orbital altitude sitting just north of the boundary between space and Earth’s atmosphere.

SpaceX’s Starship system is the centerpiece of Musk’s goal to enable routine interplanetary travel. The system, designed to send humans and up to 100 tons of cargo to the Moon and Mars, recently won a $2.9 billion contract to serve as NASA’s first ride to the Moon carrying astronauts since 1972. SpaceX has launched five high-altitude Starship prototypes from its south Texas rocket facilities since December, nailing a successful landing on its fifth test flight earlier this month. A few more of those suborbital “hop” tests are planned in the next month or so.

Whenever it happens, the orbital test will demonstrate Starship maneuvers that can’t be simulated using computers, SpaceX says in the document. “SpaceX intends to collect as much data as possible during flight to quantify entry dynamics and better understand what the vehicle experiences in a flight regime that is extremely difficult to accurately predict or replicate computationally.” The flight data gleaned from Starship’s test “will anchor any changes in vehicle design… and build better models for us to use in our internal simulations,” SpaceX said.

Musk has envisioned using Starship for rapid orbit-based transportation between any two cities on Earth, an ambitious (or pretty wild) idea called point-to-point travel. A Starship trip (Startrip?) between New York and London, for example, would take an hour. The 90-minute trip from Texas to Hawaii somewhat mirrors the idea, though it’s just a test, and it’s been a while since SpaceX or Musk have discussed any updates on point-to-point travel plans.

With its new Moon lander contract from NASA — which has stirred quite a bit of FOMO in the space industry, likely to NASA’s ire — SpaceX is racing to test Starship for deep-space missions with a deadline to put humans on the lunar surface by 2024.

https://www.theverge.com/2021/5/13/22434825/elon-musk-spacex-first-orbital-starship-test-texas-hawaii

Aurora sighted in northern U.S. as powerful geomagnetic storm continues

Aurora sighted in northern U.S. as powerful geomagnetic storm continues

There’s an outside chance the northern lights could appear once again Wednesday night

Northern lights Wednesday morning in the Sandhill Crane Marsh, Alberta, Canada. (John David McKinnon/SpaceWeather.com)

A surprise storm rocking Earth’s magnetic field brought a rare display of the northern lights to parts of the northern United States early Wednesday, sending skywatchers staring upward at pastel hues. There’s a chance that observers could be treated once again Wednesday night as the display potentially continues courtesy of energetic particles striking the planet’s upper atmosphere.

NASA’s Human Research Program: Three Steps to Mars

NASA’s Human Research Program: Three Steps to Mars

HRP Exploration Themed Bookmark

Sending astronauts to Mars is the next giant leap of human space travel. In preparation for a trip to the Red Planet, NASA is taking a stepping stone approach to studying the health effects of human spaceflight using Earth-based analogs , the International Space Station, and lunar missions under the agency’s Artemis program.

NASA’s Human Research Program, or HRP, conducts research and develops countermeasures for five of the hazards of human spaceflight: radiation, isolation and confinement, distance from Earth, microgravity, and hostile/closed environments. These hazards pose risks to astronaut health and performance, and NASA aims to understand and manage those risks through research at each step, gradually moving farther from Earth using analog, space station, and lunar mission studies.