среда, 9 мая 2018 г.

Venus Through Water Drops

Discover the cosmos!

Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is

featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2017 January 27

See Explanation. Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

Explanation: Now

the brilliant “star”
in planet Earth’s evening skies,

Venus is captured in this

creative astrophotograph. Taken with a close-focusing lens on January 18 from

Milton Keynes, UK, it shows multiple images of the sky above the western

horizon shortly after sunset. The images were created by water drops on a glass pane fixed to a tree. Surface

has drawn the water drops into

simple lens-like shapes. Refracting

light, the drops create images that are upside-down,

so the scene has been rotated to allow comfortable right-side up

viewing of a


Source NASA blog

The ancient Indus civilization’s adaptation to climate change

With climate change in our own era becoming increasingly evident, it’s natural to wonder how our ancestors may have dealt with similar environmental circumstances. New research methods and technologies are able to shed light on climate patterns that took place thousands of years ago, giving us a new perspective on how cultures of the time coped with variable and changing environments.

The ancient Indus civilization's adaptation to climate change

On-site photography during the excavations at Masudpur I, Haryana, India [Credit: C. Petrie]

A new article in the February issue of Current Anthropology explores the dynamics of adaptation and resilience in the face of a diverse and varied environmental context, using the case study of South Asia’s Indus Civilization (c.3000-1300 BC).

Costa Rica’s Stone Spheres From what how and when created

Were discovered in the Diquis Delta of Costa Rica during the 1930s.

Diquis Spheres are smooth, round balls of hardened lava that range from murder weapon size to weapon of mass destruction size. Basically, a few inches to about eight feet ( 2 meter) in diameter. The largest that we know of weighs 24 tons. They’re polished to near-perfection, sometimes include surface carvings, and are obviously artificially created.

Most are sculpted from granodiorite, an igneous rock similar to granite.

The Museo Nacional de Costa Rica is a catch-all museum for the country.

Granodiorite is a phaneritic-textured intrusive igneous rock similar to granite, but containing more plagioclase feldspar than orthoclase feldspar. According to the QAPF diagram, granodiorite has a greater than 20% quartz by volume, and between 65% to 90% of the feldspar is plagioclase. A greater amount of plagioclase would designate the rock as tonalite.

On average, the upper continental crust has the same composition as granodiorite.

Granodiorite is a plutonic igneous rock, formed by an intrusion of silica-rich magma, which cools in batholiths or stocks below the Earth’s surface. It is usually only exposed at the surface after uplift and erosion have occurred.

Therefore, many believe that sphere of ideal formed by the explosion of magma during the eruption and spheres formed in the air.

Other stones were made of coquina, a limestone like material which is found on the beaches near the mouth of the Diquis river.

Coquina is mainly composed of the mineral calcite, often including some phosphate, in the form of seashells or coral. Coquinas dating from the Devonian period through to the much more recent Pleistocene are a common find all over the world, with the depositional requirements to form a coquina being a common thing in many marine facies

Spheres have been found buried in the ground at a shallow depth of 1- 2 meters. This indicates that the spheres have been created over a thousand years ago.

The stone spheres have been found in clusters of up to twenty, and often in geometric patterns such as triangles, rectangles or straight lines.

From Wiki

The spheres range in size from a few centimetres to over 2 metres (6.6 ft) in diameter, and weigh up to 15 tons. Most are sculpted from gabbro, the coarse-grained equivalent of basalt. There are a dozen or so made from shell-rich limestone, and another dozen made from a sandstone.

Gabbro often contains valuable amounts of chromium, nickel, cobalt, gold, silver, platinum, and copper sulfides.

Pre-Columbian Era

When Spanish explorers arrived in what is now Costa Rica at the dawn of the 16th century, they found the region populated by several poorly organized, autonomous tribes. In all, there were probably no more than 20,000 indigenous peoples on 18 September 1502, when Columbus put ashore near current-day Puerto Limón.

Although human habitation can be traced back at least 10,000 years, the region had remained a sparsely populated backwater separating the two areas of high civilization: Mesoamerica and the Andes. High mountains and swampy lowlands had impeded the migration of the advanced cultures.

Obviously prove or disprove how these stones were made, that is the main problem in the study of these stones.

Megalithic Spheres of Costa Rica – presented by Hugh Newman

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Alternative versions of earthiness origin.


Ancient Aliens Debunked is a 3 hour refutation of the theories proposed on the History Channel series Ancient Aliens.

It is essentially a point by point critique of the “ancient astronaut theory” which has been proposed by people like Erich von Däniken and Zecharia Sitchin as well as many others.


Человек-обезьяна Бразилии 1937 г.

Человек-обезьяна, найденный в джунглях Бразилии, 1937 г.


Человек-обезьяна, найденный в джунглях Бразилии, 1937 г.

Сообщается, что существо поймали в джунглях Амазонки, никаких других сведений нет, поэтому обсуждающие сразу разделились на три лагеря.

Одни видят в этом определенную работу гримера и, соответственно, подделку.

Другие уверены, что фотографии реальные.

Третьи выдвигают версию, что уродство реальное, что скорее всего это просто аномалия развития, а не пойманный в джунглях человек-обезьяна.

На неделе 28.10.2012  в сети появились фотографии человекообразного существа, сделанные в 1930-х годах прошлого века.

Как пишет издание Daily Mail, эти фото были первоначально опубликованы в голландском журнале Het Leven в 1937 году.

Сообщается, что существо поймали в джунглях Амазонки, никаких других сведений нет, поэтому обсуждающие сразу разделились на три лагеря. Одни видят в этом определенную работу гримера и, соответственно, подделку. Другие уверены, что фотографии реальные. Третьи выдвигают версию, что уродство реальное, что скорее всего это просто аномалия развития, а не пойманный в джунглях человек-обезьяна. На этой неделе в сети появились фотографии человекообразного существа, сделанные якобы в 1930-х годах прошлого века. Как пишет издание Daily Mail, эти фото были первоначально опубликованы в голландском журнале Het Leven в 1937 году.


Сообщается, что существо поймали в джунглях Амазонки, никаких других сведений нет, поэтому обсуждающие сразу разделились на три лагеря. Одни видят в этом определенную работу гримера и, соответственно, подделку. Другие уверены, что фотографии реальные. Третьи выдвигают версию, что уродство реальное, что скорее всего это просто аномалия развития, а не пойманный в джунглях человек-обезьяна. На этой неделе в сети появились фотографии человекообразного существа, сделанные якобы в 1930-х годах прошлого века. Как пишет издание Daily Mail, эти фото были первоначально опубликованы в голландском журнале Het Leven в 1937 году.

What is the Mysterious Sumerian Handbag

What is the Mysterious Handbag Seen in Ancient Carvings Across Cultures and Countries?

One of the more mysterious symbols that has been found in ancient carvings is an image that looks uncannily like a handbag. The shape appears in depictions made by the Sumerians of Iraq, in the ruins of ancient Turkish temples, in decorations of the Maori of New Zealand, and in crafts made by the Olmecs of Central America. Handbags can be seen in the art of disparate cultures from around the world and throughout time, with the first known instance of a handbag appearing at the end of the Ice Age. What is this mysterious symbol that can be found throughout the ancient world?

A Representation of the Cosmos?

The handbag image is so called because it looks very similar to the modern-day purse. The objects “typically feature a rounded handle-like top and a rectangular bottom, and may include varying degrees of additional details of texture or pattern” (Scranton, 2016). The images sometimes appear as stand-alone objects; sometimes they are depicted in the hand of a person, god, or mythical being in a manner similar to how one would hold a basket.

One possible theory for the proliferation of this image is its simple and straightforward representation of the cosmos. The semi-circle of the image (what would appear to be the bag’s strap) represents the hemisphere of the sky. Meanwhile, the solid square base represents the earth. “In ancient cultures from Africa to India to China, the figure of a circle was associated symbolically with concepts of spirituality or non-materiality, while that of a square was often associated with concepts of the Earth and of materiality” (Scranton, 2016). Thus, the image is used to symbolize the (re)unification of the earth and sky, of the material and the non-material elements of existence.

Your new moon is January 27 or 28


View larger. | Youngest possible lunar crescent, with the moon's age being exactly zero when this photo was taken — at the precise moment of the new moon - at 07:14 UTC on July 8, 2013. Image by Thierry Legault. Visit his website. Used with permission.

Youngest possible lunar crescent, with the moon’s age being exactly zero when this photo was taken — at the instant of new moon – 0714 UTC on July 8, 2013. Image by Thierry Legault. Visit his website.

The ghostly image at the top of this post is a new moon. When the moon is new, its lighted half is facing entirely away from Earth, and its night face is facing us. That’s why we can’t see the moon at this time.

New moon comes on January 28 at 00:07 UTC. Translate to your time zone. It’s a key new moon for much for the world, since it marks the beginning of the 2017 Chinese New Year.

On the day of any new moon, most of us can’t see the moon with the eye alone for several reasons. First, at new moon, the moon rises when the sun rises. It sets when the sun sets. It crosses the sky with the sun during the day. A new moon is too close to the sun’s glare to be visible with the eye. It’s only as the moon moves in orbit, as its lighted hemisphere begins to come into view from Earth, that we can see it in our sky.

So you likely won’t see the moon on January 27 or 28, unless – like Thierry Legault whose photo appears at the top of this post – you are using special equipment. Modern techniques – telescopes, filters, photography – have made it possible to see the moon even at the instant of new moon. That’s the case with Legault’s image, which he acquired in 2013. Read more about that image here.

A new moon is more or less between the Earth and sun. Its lighted half is turned entirely away from us. Image via memrise.com.

A new moon is more or less between the Earth and sun. Its lighted half is turned entirely away from us. Image via memrise.com.

Composite image of a 2006 solar eclipse by Fred Espenak. Read his article on the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse, first one visible from contiguous North America since 1979.

It is possible to see a new moon if a solar eclipse takes place. Composite image of a 2006 solar eclipse by Fred Espenak. Read his article on the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse, first one visible from contiguous North America since 1979.

We can’t see a new moon from Earth, except during the stirring moments of a solar eclipse. Then the moon passes in front of the sun, and the night side of the moon can be seen in silhouette against the disk of the sun. Meanwhile, if you could travel in a spaceship to the opposite side of the moon, you’d see it shining brightly in daylight.

Once each month, the moon comes all the way around in its orbit so that it is more or less between us and the sun. If the moon always passed directly between the sun and Earth at new moon, a solar eclipse would take place every month.

But that doesn’t happen every month. Instead, in most months, the moon passes above or below the sun as seen from our earthly vantage point.

Then a day or two later, the moon reappears, in the west after sunset. Then it’s a slim waxing crescent visible only briefly after sunset – what some call a young moon.

A typical young moon sighting, for most people with ordinary eyesight, comes when the moon is around 24 hours from new, or more.

The moon will sweep by Venus and Mars in late January, 2017. Read more.

As the moon orbits Earth, it changes phase in an orderly way. Follow these links to understand the various phases of the moon.

Four keys to understanding moon phases

Where’s the moon? Waxing crescent

Where’s the moon? First quarter

Where’s the moon? Waxing gibbous

What’s special about a full moon?

Where’s the moon? Waning gibbous

Where’s the moon? Last quarter

Where’s the moon? Waning crescent

Where’s the moon? New phase

Moon in 2017: Phases, cycles, eclipses, supermoons and more

Source earthsky

The Right Presciption After a visit to a doctor, we can often…

The Right Presciption

After a visit to a doctor, we can often pick up medication straight away from the chemist – it’s fast, but it could be faster – what if we could just eat the prescription? This purple-coloured Quick Response (QR) code is printed on an edible paper-like material – the ink is mixed with a drug. In a clinical situation, prescribing the right drugs is often delayed by the necessary checks of medical records, making sure each patient receives their recommended dose. In future this could be as simple as scanning the QR code with a smart phone, then passing the piece of paper soaked in the right dose (right) to the patient to eat. Each tiny square can be stored for weeks in humid conditions, but last for months if kept dry. Pharmacoprinting may help towards personalised medicine – allowing subtle changes in dose over the course of recovery.

Written by John Ankers

You can also follow BPoD on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Archive link


Exiled Asteroid Discovered in Outer Reaches of Solar System

ESO – European Southern Observatory logo.

9 May 2018

ESO telescopes find first confirmed carbon-rich asteroid in Kuiper Belt

Artist’s impression of exiled asteroid 2004 EW95

An international team of astronomers has used ESO telescopes to investigate a relic of the primordial Solar System. The team found that the unusual Kuiper Belt Object 2004 EW95 is a carbon-rich asteroid, the first of its kind to be confirmed in the cold outer reaches of the Solar System. This curious object likely formed in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and has been flung billions of kilometres from its origin to its current home in the Kuiper Belt.

The early days of our Solar System were a tempestuous time. Theoretical models of this period predict that after the gas giants formed they rampaged through the Solar System, ejecting small rocky bodies from the inner Solar System to far-flung orbits at great distances from the Sun [1]. In particular, these models suggest that the Kuiper Belt — a cold region beyond the orbit of Neptune — should contain a small fraction of rocky bodies from the inner Solar System, such as carbon-rich asteroids, referred to as carbonaceous asteroids [2].

Orbital exile

Now, a recent paper has presented evidence for the first reliably-observed carbonaceous asteroid in the Kuiper Belt, providing strong support for these theoretical models of our Solar System’s troubled youth. After painstaking measurements from multiple instruments at ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), a small team of astronomers led by Tom Seccull of Queen’s University Belfast in the UK was able to measure the composition of the anomalous Kuiper Belt Object 2004 EW95, and thus determine that it is a carbonaceous asteroid. This suggests that it originally formed in the inner Solar System and must have since migrated outwards [3].

The peculiar nature of 2004 EW95 first came to light during routine observations with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope by Wesley Fraser, an astronomer from Queen’s University Belfast who was also a member of the team behind this discovery. The asteroid’s reflectance spectrum — the specific pattern of wavelengths of light reflected from an object — was different to that of similar small Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs), which typically have uninteresting, featureless spectra that reveal little information about their composition.

Lost in space (artist’s impression)

“The reflectance spectrum of 2004 EW95 was clearly distinct from the other observed outer Solar System objects,” explains lead author Seccull. “It looked enough of a weirdo for us to take a closer look.”

The team observed 2004 EW95 with the X-Shooter and FORS2 instruments on the VLT. The sensitivity of these spectrographs allowed the team to obtain more detailed measurements of the pattern of light reflected from the asteroid and thus infer its composition.

Asteroid fly-by

However, even with the impressive light-collecting power of the VLT, 2004 EW95 was still difficult to observe. Though the object is 300 kilometres across, it is currently a colossal four billion kilometres from Earth, making gathering data from its dark, carbon-rich surface a demanding scientific challenge.

“It’s like observing a giant mountain of coal against the pitch-black canvas of the night sky,” says co-author Thomas Puzia from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

“Not only is 2004 EW95 moving, it’s also very faint,” adds Seccull. “We had to use a pretty advanced data processing technique to get as much out of the data as possible.”

Orbit in exile

Two features of the object’s spectra were particularly eye-catching and corresponded to the presence of ferric oxides and phyllosilicates. The presence of these materials had never before been confirmed in a KBO, and they strongly suggest that 2004 EW95 formed in the inner Solar System.

Seccull concludes: “Given 2004 EW95’s  present-day abode in the icy outer reaches of the Solar System, this implies that it has been flung out into its present orbit by a migratory planet in the early days of the Solar System.”

“While there have been previous reports of other ‘atypical’ Kuiper Belt Object spectra, none were confirmed to this level of quality,” comments Olivier Hainaut, an ESO astronomer who was not part of the team. “The discovery of a carbonaceous asteroid in the Kuiper Belt is a key verification of one of the fundamental predictions of dynamical models of the early Solar System.”


[1] Current dynamical models of the evolution of the early Solar System, such as the grand tack hypothesis and the Nice model, predict that the giant planets migrated first inward and then outward, disrupting and scattering objects from the inner Solar System. As a consequence, a small percentage of rocky asteroids are expected to have been ejected into orbits in the Oort Cloud and Kuiper belt.

[2] Carbonaceous asteroids are those containing the element carbon or its various compounds. Carbonaceous — or C-type — asteroids can be identified by their dark surfaces, caused by the presence of carbon molecules.

[3] Other inner Solar System objects have previously been detected in the outer reaches of the Solar System, but this is the first carbonaceous asteroid to be found far from home in the Kuiper Belt.

More information:

This research was presented in a paper entitled “2004 EW95: A Phyllosilicate-bearing Carbonaceous Asteroid in the Kuiper Belt” by T. Seccull et al., which appeared in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The team was composed of Tom Seccull (Astrophysics Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, UK), Wesley C. Fraser (Astrophysics Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, UK) , Thomas H. Puzia (Institute of Astrophysics, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile), Michael E. Brown (Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, USA) and Frederik Schönebeck (Astronomisches Rechen-Institut, Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg, Germany).

ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It has 15 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile and with Australia as a strategic partner. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope and its world-leading Very Large Telescope Interferometer as well as two survey telescopes, VISTA working in the infrared and the visible-light VLT Survey Telescope. ESO is also a major partner in two facilities on Chajnantor, APEX and ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope, the ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.


ESOcast 160 Light: Lost in Space: http://www.eso.org/public/videos/eso1814a/

Research paper: http://www.eso.org/public/archives/releases/sciencepapers/eso1814/eso1814a.pdf

Photos of the VLT: http://www.eso.org/public/images/archive/category/paranal/

ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT): https://www.eso.org/public/teles-instr/paranal-observatory/vlt/

X-Shooter: https://www.eso.org/public/teles-instr/paranal-observatory/vlt/vlt-instr/x-shooter/

FORS2: https://www.eso.org/public/teles-instr/paranal-observatory/vlt/vlt-instr/fors/

Images, Video, Text, Credits: ESO/M. Kornmesser/L. Calçada/Richard Hook/Calum Turner/Institute of Astrophysics, Pontificia Universidad Catolica Santiago/Thomas H. Puzia/Queen’s University, Belfast/Wesley C. Fraser/Tom Seccull.

Best regards, Orbiter.chArchive link


Lengths of lunar months in 2017


Simulated view of the cycle of the moon's phases from new moon to new moon. This cycle is known as the lunar month. From the years 1760 to 2200, the longest lunar month was 29 days 19 hours and 58 minutes and the shortest 29 days 6 hours and 34 minutes.

Simulated view of the moon’s phases.

What is a lunar month? It’s the duration between successive new moons. Also called a lunation or synodic month, it has a mean period of 29.53059 days (29 days 12 hours and 44 minutes). That’s the mean, but the the true length varies throughout the year. The longest lunar month of the 21st century (2001 to 2100) actually comes at the year’s end, starting on December 18, 2017 and ending on January 17, 2018, lasting for 29 days 19 hours and 47 minutes. The shortest lunar month of 2017 starts on May 25 and ends on June 24, lasting 29 days 6 hours and 46 minutes.

The longest lunar month (Dec 18, 2016 to Jan 17, 2018) is 7 hours and 3 minutes longer than the mean lunar month, and the shortest lunar month (May 25 to Jun 24) is 5 hours and 58 minutes shorter than the mean lunar month.

Added all up, the duration of the longest lunar month in this period of 13 lunar months is 13 hours and 01 minute greater than that of the shortest lunar month.

Follow the links below to learn more:

Lengths of the lunar months in 2017

Why are lunar months different lengths?

When are the longest and shortest lunar months of 21st century?

Lengths of the lunar months in 2017


Successive new moons Length of lunar month
Dec 29, 2016 to Jan 28, 2017 29 days 17 hours 14 min
Jan 28 to Feb 26 29 days 14 hours 51 min
Feb 26 to Mar 28 29 days 11 hours 59 min
Mar 28 to Apr 26 29 days 09 hours 19 minutes
Apr 26 to May 25 29 days 07 hours 28 min
May 25 to Jun 24 29 days 06 hours 46 min
Jun 24 to Jul 23 29 days 07 hours 15 min
Jul 23 to Aug 21 29 days 08 hours 45 min
Aug 21 to Sep 20 29 days 11 hours 00 min
Sep 20 to Oct 19 29 days 13 hours 42 min
Oct 19 to Nov 18 29 days 16 hours 30 min
Nov 18 to Dec 18 29 days 18 hours 48 min
Dec 18, 2017 to Jan 17, 2018 29 days 19 hours 47 min

Sources: Astropixels.com and TimeandDate.com

One lunar month is the period of time from new moon to new moon. As viewed from the north side of The Earth's and moon's orbital planes, the Earth goes counterclockwise around the sun and the moon goes counterclockwise around Earth. Image credit: Wikipedia

One lunar month is the period of time from new moon to new moon. As viewed from the north side of The Earth’s and moon’s orbital planes, the Earth goes counterclockwise around the sun and the moon goes counterclockwise around Earth. Image via Wikipedia

Why are the lunar months different lengths? In a nutshell, the longest lunar month occurs when the successive new moons coincide closely with lunar apogee – the moon’s farthest point from Earth in its orbit. The lunar month beginning December 18, 2017 starts at 6:30 UTC, with the instant of new moon (when the moon is most nearly between the Earth and sun for this month). Apogee is about 19 hours later, on December 19 at 1:27 UTC. Translate UTC to your time zone here.

In contrast, the year’s shortest lunar month takes place when the successive new moons fall appreciably close to lunar perigee – the moon’s closest point to Earth in its orbit.

On the average, the lunar month (new moon to new moon) is about 2.22 days longer than the sidereal month (one complete revolution of the moon relative to the background stars). However, if the moon is near apogee at the end of one sidereal month, the moon travels more slowly than average in its orbit. Therefore, the period of time between the end of the sidereal month and the end of the lunar month is longer than average.

The opposite is the case when the moon is near perigee. The moon travels more swiftly in its orbit at perigee, in which case the time period between the end of the sidereal month and the end of the lunar month is less than average.

Dates for the 13 perigees and 13 apogees in 2017

The most extreme longest lunar months happen when successive new moons occur near lunar apogee – and in addition, when Earth is near perihelion (its closest point to the sun). Because Earth is always closest to the sun in early January, the very longest lunar months take place in between December and January new moons.

On the other hand, extremely short lunar months happen when successive new moons fall near lunar perigee – and in addition, the Earth is near aphelion (Earth’s farthest point from the sun in its orbit). Because Earth is always at aphelion in early July, the very shortest lunar months take place in between June and July new moons.

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The moon's orbit around Earth is not a perfect circle. But it is very nearly circular, as the above diagram shows. Diagram by Brian Koberlein.

The variation in the length of lunar months happens because the moon’s orbit around Earth is not a perfect circle. However, it is very nearly circular, as the above diagram shows. Diagram by Brian Koberlein.

When are the longest and shortest lunar months of 21st century? The longest lunar month of the 21st century (2001 to 2100) occurs in between the December 2017 and January 2018 new moons. With a length of 29 days 19 hours and 47 minutes, this particular lunar month exceeds the mean by a whopping 7 hours and 3 minutes.

The century’s shortest lunar month takes place in between the new moons of June and July 2053, a period of 29 days 6 hours and 35 minutes. That’s 6 hours and 9 minutes shorter than the mean.

Incidentally, exceptionally long or short lunar months repeat in cycles of 9 years.

Phases of the moon, posted to EarthSky Facebook by our friend Jacob Baker.

Phases of the moon, posted to EarthSky Facebook by our friend Jacob Baker.

Bottom line: In 2017, the shortest lunar month happens in between the May 25 and June 24 new moons; and the longest one in between the December 18, 2017 and January 17, 2018 new moons. Click here for a complete listing for the length of each lunar month in the 21st century.

Source earthsky

Orion, from China’s Great Wall


Photo by Jeff Dai.

Jeff Dai captured this image of the constellation Orion on January 3, 2017. He wrote:

Orion the Hunter shines brightly above the Great Wall, the best-known of China’s landmarks. The ancient Chinese focused on the three lined-up prominent stars of Orion, which are regarded as the three gods of fortune, prosperity and longevity. When the three gods shine highly at the southern sky after sunset, that means it’s time for the spring festival, the traditional Chinese New Year.

Over a billion people in China and millions around the world will celebrate the the Chinese New Year – the most important of Chinese holidays – on January 28, 2017. It’s a lunar new year and so the date is based on the date of new moon. Festivities continuing for 15 days and culminating with the Lantern Festival. Each year is associated with one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. For 2017, it’s the Year of the Rooster.

Many countries in Southeast Asia celebrate the Chinese New Year, including China, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. It’s also celebrated in Chinatowns and Asian homes around the world. It’s considered a time to honor deities and ancestors.

Thank you, Jeff!

Source earthsky

See a faint star cluster near bright Sirius




Tonight, look for the sky’s brightest star, Sirius, and the faint star cluster near it. Sirius is easy to see because it’s so bright and because the three prominent Belt stars in the constellation Orion – three stars in a short, straight row – always point to it. A reader wrote:

I went to study the constellation Orion, but first I had to see the star Sirius. There was a glimmer below Sirius, and upon looking, it seemed to be a very nice comet. Has anyone else seen this? I am a newby … and would like someone to verify if they see this. I am quite up and excited.

That fuzzy spot near Sirius isn’t a comet. It’s the lovely star cluster called Messier 41 or M41. This cluster lies about four degrees almost exactly south of Sirius. So the identification as a comet was wrong, but it is a reasonable mistake. The nuclei of comets look like fuzzy patches, much like M41 in a small telescope.

M41 is sometimes also called the Little Beehive, after the other famous Beehive star cluster (M44), also an open cluster, in the constellation Cancer.

View larger. | The bright star is Sirius in the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog. The star cluster M41 can be seen as a fuzzy object below right of Sirius. Photo by EarthSky Facebook friend Stacy Oliver Bryant.

The confusion with a comet and this cluster is not a new one. In the late 1700s, Charles Messier gave this object the number 41 on his list of “objects to avoid.” He was a comet hunter who wanted others to realize that this object, which looks like a comet, really isn’t.

Giovanni Batista Hodierna is said to have discovered M41 sometime before 1654, but it may have been known to individuals with particularly good vision throughout human history. The cluster – whose true diameter in space covers about 25 light-years – contains about 100 stars including several red giants.

Like most open star clusters of this type, it is relatively young – probably between 190 and 240 million years old. By contrast, our sun is thought to be four-and-a-half billion years old.

At mid-northern latitudes, Sirius and M41 stay out until roughly 3 a.m. local time.

So enjoy Orion, the star Sirius and M41 on these cold winter evenings. There are over 100 of the so-called Messier objects or M-objects known today. Today’s amateur astronomers consider them among the most prized objects to be viewed through binoculars and small telescopes. Here’s a list of M-objects. Advanced amateurs can observe them all and can earn a Messier certificate from the Astronomical League.

Bottom line: No matter where you are on Earth, look for the sky’s brightest star, Sirius, in the month of January. If your sky is dark enough, notice the faint fuzzy object near the bright star Sirius. This object is called M41, and it’s a distant cluster of stars.

A planisphere is virtually indispensable for beginning stargazers. Order your EarthSky Planisphere today!

Source earthsky

When galaxies collide

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA


This delicate smudge in deep space is far more turbulent than it first appears. Known as IRAS 14348-1447 — a name  derived in part from that of its discoverer, the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS for short) — this celestial object is actually a combination of two gas-rich spiral galaxies. This doomed duo approached one another too closely in the past, gravity causing them to affect and tug at each other and slowly, destructively, merge into one. The image was taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS).

IRAS 14348-1447 is located over a billion light-years away from us. It is one of the most gas-rich examples known of an ultraluminous infrared galaxy, a class of cosmic objects that shine characteristically — and incredibly — brightly in the infrared part of the spectrum. Almost 95% of the energy emitted by IRAS 14348-1447 is in the far-infrared!

The huge amount of molecular gas within IRAS 14348-1447 fuels its emission, and undergoes a number of dynamical processes as it interacts and moves around; these very same mechanisms are responsible for IRAS 14348-1447’s own whirling and ethereal appearance, creating prominent tails and wisps extending away from the main body of the galaxy.


Source Astronomy Cmarchesin

Cosmic lenses support finding on faster than expected expansion of the Universe

Lensed quasar and its surroundings

PR Image heic1702b

Studied lensed quasars of H0LiCOW collaboration

PR Image heic1702c

Lensed quasar

PR Image heic1702d

Lensed quasar

PR Image heic1702e

Lensed quasar

PR Image heic1702f

Lensed quasar

PR Image heic1702g

Lensed quasar


Strong Gravitational lensing

Strong Gravitational lensing

Flickering quasar images

Flickering quasar images

By using galaxies as giant gravitational lenses, an international group of astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have made an independent measurement of how fast the Universe is expanding. The newly measured expansion rate for the local Universe is consistent with earlier findings. These are, however, in intriguing disagreement with measurements of the early Universe. This hints at a fundamental problem at the very heart of our understanding of the cosmos.

The Hubble constant — the rate at which the Universe is expanding — is one of the fundamental quantities describing our Universe. A group of astronomers from the H0LiCOW collaboration, led by Sherry Suyu (associated with the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Germany, the ASIAA in Taiwan and the Technical University of Munich), used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and other telescopes [1] in space and on the ground to observe five galaxies in order to arrive at an independent measurement of the Hubble constant [2].

The new measurement is completely independent of — but in excellent agreement with — other measurements of the Hubble constant in the local Universe that used Cepheid variable stars and supernovae as points of reference [heic1611].

However, the value measured by Suyu and her team, as well as those measured using Cepheids and supernovae, are different from the measurement made by the ESA Planck satellite. But there is an important distinction — Planck measured the Hubble constant for the early Universe by observing the cosmic microwave background.

While the value for the Hubble constant determined by Planck fits with our current understanding of the cosmos, the values obtained by the different groups of astronomers for the local Universe are in disagreement with our accepted theoretical model of the Universe. “The expansion rate of the Universe is now starting to be measured in different ways with such high precision that actual discrepancies may possibly point towards new physics beyond our current knowledge of the Universe,” elaborates Suyu.

The targets of the study were massive galaxies positioned between Earth and very distant quasars — incredibly luminous galaxy cores. The light from the more distant quasars is bent around the huge masses of the galaxies as a result of strong gravitational lensing [3]. This creates multiple images of the background quasar, some smeared into extended arcs.

Because galaxies do not create perfectly spherical distortions in the fabric of space and the lensing galaxies and quasars are not perfectly aligned, the light from the different images of the background quasar follows paths which have slightly different lengths. Since the brightness of quasars changes over time, astronomers can see the different images flicker at different times, the delays between them depending on the lengths of the paths the light has taken. These delays are directly related to the value of the Hubble constant. “Our method is the most simple and direct way to measure the Hubble constant as it only uses geometry and General Relativity, no other assumptions,” explains co-lead Frédéric Courbin from EPFL, Switzerland

Using the accurate measurements of the time delays between the multiple images, as well as computer models, has allowed the team to determine the Hubble constant to an impressively high precision: 3.8% [4]. “An accurate measurement of the Hubble constant is one of the most sought-after prizes in cosmological research today,” highlights team member Vivien Bonvin, from EPFL, Switzerland. And Suyu adds: “The Hubble constant is crucial for modern astronomy as it can help to confirm or refute whether our picture of the Universe — composed of dark energy, dark matter and normal matter — is actually correct, or if we are missing something fundamental.


[1] The study used, alongside the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the Keck Telescope, ESO’s Very Large Telescope, the Subaru Telescope, the Gemini Telescope, the Victor M. Blanco Telescope, the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope and the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope. In addition, data from the Swiss 1.2-metre Leonhard Euler Telescope and the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope were used.


[2] The gravitational lensing time-delay method that the astronomers used here to achieve a value for the Hubble constant is especially important owing to its near-independence of the three components our Universe consists of: normal matter, dark matter and dark energy. Though not completely separate, the method is only weakly dependent on these.


[3] Gravitational lensing was first predicted by Albert Einstein more than a century ago. All matter in the Universe warps the space around itself, with larger masses producing a more pronounced effect. Around very massive objects, such as galaxies, light that passes close by follows this warped space, appearing to bend away from its original path by a clearly visible amount. This is known as strong gravitational lensing.


[4] The H0LiCOW team determined a value for the Hubble constant of 71.9±2.7 kilometres per second per Megaparsec. In 2016 scientists using Hubble measured a value of 73.24±1.74 kilometres per second per Megaparsec. In 2015, the ESA Planck Satellite measured the constant with the highest precision so far and obtained a value of 66.93±0.62 kilometres per second per Megaparsec.

More Information

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.

This research was presented in a series of papers to appear in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.


The papers are entitled as follows: “H0LiCOW I. H0 Lenses in COSMOGRAIL’s Wellspring: Program Overview”, by Suyu et al., “H0LiCOW II. Spectroscopic survey and galaxy-group identification of the strong gravitational lens system HE 0435−1223”, by Sluse et al., “H0LiCOW III. Quantifying the effect of mass along the line of sight to the gravitational lens HE 0435−1223 through weighted galaxy counts”, by Rusu et al., “H0LiCOW IV. Lens mass model of HE 0435−1223 and blind measurement of its time-delay distance for cosmology”, by Wong et al., and “H0LiCOW V. New COSMOGRAIL time delays of HE 0435−1223: H0 to 3.8% precision from strong lensing in a flat ΛCDM model”, by Bonvin et al.


The international team consists of: S. H. Suyu (Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Germany; Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Taiwan; Technical University of Munich, Germany), V. Bonvin (Laboratory of Astrophysics, EPFL, Switzerland), F. Courbin (Laboratory of Astrophysics, EPFL, Switzerland), C. D. Fassnacht (University of California, Davis, USA), C. E. Rusu (University of California, Davis, USA), D. Sluse (STAR Institute, Belgium), T. Treu (University of California, Los Angeles, USA), K. C. Wong (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Japan; Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Taiwan), M. W. Auger (University of Cambridge, UK), X. Ding (University of California, Los Angeles, USA; Beijing Normal University, China), S. Hilbert (Exzellenzcluster Universe, Germany; Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, Germany), P. J. Marshall (Stanford University, USA), N. Rumbaugh (University of California, Davis, USA), A. Sonnenfeld (Kavli IPMU, the University of Tokyo, Japan; University of California, Los Angeles, USA; University of California, Santa Barbara, USA), M. Tewes (Argelander-Institut für Astronomie, Germany), O. Tihhonova (Laboratory of Astrophysics, EPFL, Switzerland), A. Agnello (ESO, Garching, Germany), R. D. Blandford (Stanford University, USA), G. C.-F. Chen (University of California, Davis, USA; Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Taiwan), T. Collett (University of Portsmouth, UK), L. V. E. Koopmans (University of Groningen, The Netherlands), K. Liao (University of California, Los Angeles, USA), G. Meylan (Laboratory of Astrophysics, EPFL, Switzerland), C. Spiniello (INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte, Italy; Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Garching, Germany) and A. Yıldırım (Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Garching, Germany)


Image credit: NASA, ESA, Suyu (Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics), Auger (University of Cambridge)



Sherry Suyu

Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics

Garching, Germany

Tel: +49 89 30000 2015


Vivien Bonvin

Institute of Physics, Laboratory of Astrophysics, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Observatory of Sauverny

Versoix, Switzerland

Tel: +41 22 3792420


Frederic Courbin

Institute of Physics, Laboratory of Astrophysics, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Observatory of Sauverny

Versoix, Switzerland

Tel: +41 22 3792418


Mathias Jäger

ESA/Hubble, Public Information Officer

Garching, Germany

Tel: +49 176 62397500

Email: hubble@eso.org

Source Astronomy Cmarchesin

Starbirth with a chance of winds?

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA


The lesser-known constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs), is home to a variety of deep-sky objects — including this beautiful galaxy, known as NGC 4861. Astronomers are still debating on how to classify it: While its physical properties — such as mass, size and rotational velocity — indicate it to be a spiral galaxy, its appearance looks more like a comet with its dense, luminous “head” and dimmer “tail” trailing behind. Features more fitting with a dwarf irregular galaxy.

Although small and messy, galaxies like NGC 4861 provide astronomers with interesting opportunities for study. Small galaxies have lower gravitational potentials, which simply means that it takes less energy to move stuff about inside them than it does in other galaxies. As a result, moving in, around, and through such a tiny galaxy is quite easy to do, making them far more likely to be suffused with streams and outflows of speedy charged particles known as galactic winds, which can flood such galaxies with little effort.

These galactic winds can be powered by the ongoing process of star formation, which involves huge amounts of energy. New stars are springing into life within the bright, colourful ‘head’ of NGC 4861 and ejecting streams of high-speed particles as they do so, which flood outwards to join the wider galactic wind. While NGC 4861 would be a perfect candidate to study such winds, recent studies did not find any galactic winds in it.


Source Astronomy Cmarchesin

Reed Flute Cave | #Geology #GeologyPage #Cave #China The Reed…

Reed Flute Cave | #Geology #GeologyPage #Cave #China

The Reed Flute Cave is a landmark and tourist attraction in Guilin, Guangxi, China. It is a natural limestone cave with multicolored lighting and has been one of Guilin’s most interesting attractions for over 1200 years.

It is over 180 million years old.

Read more & More Photos: http://www.geologypage.com/2016/05/reed-flute-cave.html

Geology Page



Apophyllite On Stilbite | #Geology #GeologyPage…

Apophyllite On Stilbite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral

Locality: Rahuri, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, India

Size: 5.1 × 9.7 × 7.4 cm

Photo Copyright © Sandro Bonfiglio /e-rocks.com

Geology Page



Wulfenite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral Locality: Red Cloud…

Wulfenite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral

Locality: Red Cloud Mine, La Paz County, Arizona, United States of America

Size: 2.2 × 3.3 × 1 cm

Photo Copyright © Mintreasure /e-rocks.com

Geology Page



Eyes on the Sky: Find & observe Messier 1, the Crab Nebula

http://www.eyesonthesky.com Being the first Messier object, one might think that the Crab Nebula would be easy to see. Under very dark skies? Somewhat. Under light pollution? Not so much! This video is to help people who have never seen Messier 1 (or have trouble finding it) learn how to locate this elusive remains of an exploded star near one horn of Taurus. See what's up in the night sky every week with "Eyes on the Sky" videos, astronomy made easy. From “First Light Guides” designed to help amateur astronomers find, locate and learn about interesting objects in the cosmos, to Telescope / Stargazing Basics videos, along with other “Here’s how to use your telescope” videos and reviews, Eyes on the Sky is dedicated to making it easier for everyone to access the great natural resource that exists over everyone’s head, just outside their door.

Eyes on the Sky: Super Star Elnath

http://www.eyesonthesky.com What do you know about the 27th brightest star in the night sky? Learn more about Elnath, the 2nd brightest star in Taurus the Bull, in this video. See what's up in the night sky every week with "Eyes on the Sky" videos, astronomy made easy. From “First Light Guides” designed to help amateur astronomers find, locate and learn about interesting objects in the cosmos, to Telescope / Stargazing Basics videos, along with other “Here’s how to use your telescope” videos and reviews, Eyes on the Sky is dedicated to making it easier for everyone to access the great natural resource that exists over everyone’s head, just outside their door.

Austin resident says she spotted UFO’s

Video link below

Austin resident says she spotted UFO’s:

26 January 2017

I believe they were UFO’s,” says Rachel Jensen, witness.

Jensen says it was an impressive show in the sky over East Austin.

On Monday night her roommate noticed three lights coming at him. They were somewhat in a triangle formation. He called Jensen outside to check it out.


Wulfenite & Mimetite | #Geology #GeologyPage…

Wulfenite & Mimetite | #Geology #GeologyPage #Mineral

Locality: San Francisco Mine, Cucurpe, Sonora, Mexico

Size: 3.2 × 3.2 × 2.7 cm

Photo Copyright © Piatek Minerals /e-rocks.com

Geology Page



Fine scale genetic affinities of Estonians and Finns

Open access at PLoS ONE:

Abstract: Ancestry information at the individual level can be a valuable resource for personalized medicine, medical, demographical and history research, as well as for tracing back personal history. We report a new method for quantitatively determining personal genetic ancestry based on genome-wide data. Numerical ancestry component scores are assigned to individuals based on comparisons with reference populations. These comparisons are conducted with an existing analytical pipeline making use of genotype phasing, similarity matrix computation and our addition—multidimensional best fitting by MixFit. The method is demonstrated by studying Estonian and Finnish populations in geographical context. We show the main differences in the genetic composition of these otherwise close European populations and how they have influenced each other. The components of our analytical pipeline are freely available computer programs and scripts one of which was developed in house (available at: www.geenivaramu.ee/en/tools/mixfit).

Haller T, Leitsalu L, Fischer K, Nuotio M-L, Esko T, Boomsma DI, et al. (2017) MixFit: Methodology for Computing Ancestry-Related Genetic Scores at the Individual Level and Its Application to the Estonian and Finnish Population Studies. PLoS ONE 12(1): e0170325. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0170325

Source Eurogenes Blog

Roman Town Houses Found in English City Park

England Roman Chichester

CHICHESTER, ENGLAND—The Chichester Observer reports that the foundations of three Roman buildings were discovered in a city park with ground-penetrating radar. The two large houses and a third masonry building with a rounded end are about 1,600 years old. “The only reason they have survived is because they are under a park that has never been built on,” said archaeologist James Kenny of the Chichester District Council. He thinks the houses, which have walls surrounding complete rooms set around courtyards or atriums, were owned by wealthy Romans living in southern England. The third building may have been a cellar or a bath house. A community excavation is scheduled for later this year. For more on the archaeology of Roman England, go to “What’s in a Name?

Source Archaeology Magazine

27 January 2017 Planets in the Making


Our Solar System formed out of a huge, primordial cloud of gas and dust. The vast majority of that cloud formed the Sun, while the leftover disc of rotating material around it eventually coalesced into the orbiting planets we know — and live on — today.

Astronomers can observe similar processes happening around other stars in the cosmos. This splendid picture shows a disc of rotating, leftover material surrounding the young star HD 163296. Using the observing power of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, astronomers have been able to discern specific features in the disc, including concentric rings of material surrounding the central star. They were even able to use ALMA to obtain high-resolution measurements of the gas and dust constituents of the disc. With these data they could infer key details of the formation history of this young stellar system.

The three gaps between the rings are likely due to a depletion of dust and in the middle and outer gaps astronomers also found a lower level of gas. The depletion of both dust and gas suggests the presence of newly formed planets, each around the mass of Saturn, carving out these gaps on their brand new orbits.

Click here for more EAPODs.

Want to join us in our quest to show the beauty of the universe to the world? Share this EAPOD with your friends and relatives!

Wildfire Revealed Thousands of Native American Artifacts

Beartooth Lake in Shoshoe National Forest

SHOSHONE NATIONAL FOREST, WYOMING—According to a report in Western Digs, a Shoshone campsite thought to have been used off and on for perhaps as long as 2,500 years has been found along Caldwell Creek in the Absaroka Range of the Rocky Mountains. The Norton Point fire of 2011 revealed the high-altitude site as a “carpet” of stone artifacts and pieces of chipped stone near what is now a popular trailhead. Laura Scheiber of Indiana University and her team have recovered arrow points, bone tools, bifacial knives, and grooved mauls, most of which are thought to date to within a few hundred years before the Mountain Shoshone first made contact with Europeans. Upstream from the site, the research team also found a series of hearths, a Shoshone knife, a grinding rock, and fragments of pottery characteristic of pre-contact Shoshone culture. “The recovery of more than 1,000 ceramic sherds is especially exciting,” she said, since it triples the number of samples available for study and analysis. For more, go to “Letter from Montana: The Buffalo Chasers.”

Source Archaeology Magazine

Inspire Preservation: Chris BeaganCultural landscapes take many…

Chris Beagan, historical landscape architect for the National Park Service, taking in the view. (Photo courtesy of C. Beagan)

Aerial perspective of Fort Monroe, which has been a National Historic Landmark since 1960. (NPS/Fort Monroe National Monument)

Inspire Preservation: Chris Beagan

Cultural landscapes take many forms. My

inspiration and interest in cultural landscapes comes from the most ordinary of

places, my hometown.

I grew up in Reston, Virginia, which

is one of the first modern, post-war planned communities in the country. Compared

to places cared for by the National Park Service, its 1960s infrastructure

isn’t particularly historic, but the idea behind the community is.

Before mixed-use development became popular,

Reston was designed as a place to live, work, learn, and play. The town has a

range of housing types and styles, public recreation facilities, natural areas,

businesses, and schools in proximity to each other, integrated into its fabric.


Apartments and a small lake in Reston, Virginia, a planned development not far from Dulles International Airport close to Washington, DC. (Photo: Carol Highsmith, between 1980 and 2006, Library of Congress

The diversity of housing types left people

of different means, backgrounds, and life stages to move to Reston, resulting

in remarkable heterogeneity. The town’s developers also prioritized the

“dignity of each individual,” creating a deeply rooted community in short time.

Thanks to good planning and design, Reston is socio-economically, culturally,

religiously, and generationally diverse.

Trailer for Another Way of Living: The Story of Reston, VA, a documentary created by Rebekah Winger-Jabi.

Reston is to credit for my

professional interest in landscape architecture; it instilled in me an

appreciation for the impact that good planning and design can have on quality

of life. Growing up in Reston also gave me an appreciation for outlooks and

life experiences that are different than my own.

I work for the National Park Service

as a historical landscape architect because I believe that history and the

environment bond society. We’re inextricably tied to both, and both should be

preserved. By preserving places that are important in our lives, past and

present, and welcoming visitors to learn about our national heritage, the

National Park Service enriches society.

 For this reason, two park landscapes that

inspire me are:


Escaped slaves, or “contraband of war,” sought refuge at Fort Monroe during the Civil War (NPS/Fort Monroe National Monument).

I love that I work for an agency that

encourages everyone to travel, explore the country around them, and gain

perspective on their lives and others. These things lead to a more peaceable



The Stonewall Inn is a National Historic Landmark across the street from the Stonewall National Monument. It was the scene of events in 1969 that began the modern struggle for the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans.

  • As 2017 begins, we are featuring a series of landscape preservation inspiration posts from members of the program. Missed anything? Check out the full series here


Полет на параплане с обрыва на мысу Куяльницкого лимана, соленого озера. Экстремальный развлекательный полет проводится для любителей. ...