6 Meteor Showers to Watch For in the Next Month



Each summer, amateur astronomers from all over the world look forward to observing the famous Perseid meteor shower, but often overlook six lesser celestial fireworks displays that reach their peak between July 28 and Aug. 20.

This year, a bright nearly-full moon will seriously interfere with Perseid meteor observing, so why not take this opportunity to try and view the other six, all but one of which will enjoy dark skies. That minor meteor shower sextet begins on July 28, with the peak of the Delta Aquarid meteor shower.

The online Slooh community observatory will stream live views of the Delta Aquarids in a webcast on July 28 at 10 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. PDT/2 a.m. GMT) featuring views from observatories in Arizona and the Canary Islands. NASA, meanwhile, will provide a follow-up webcast on Tuesday night via all-sky cameras at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Read more…

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Buzz Aldrin: We’ll Be on Mars ‘Before 2040′



Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin has walked on the moon, and now he’s touched down in Menlo Park.

Aldrin, one of three astronauts who were part of the historic Apollo 11 space mission that successfully landed on our gravitational neighbor on July 20, 1969, stopped by Facebook headquarters for a Q&A on Friday.

Aldrin responded to all sorts of questions from Facebook users — ranging from technical questions regarding NASA’s past and current space endeavors to the future of traveling to Mars to what his favorite sandwich is (note to Buzz: we’re not sure a quesadilla really counts as a sandwich, but they are definitely the most delicious). Read more…

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Russia’s Experimental Sex Geckos Are Lost in Space



Talk about space oddity

Russian scientists have lost contact with a biosatellite containing five geckos as part of a sex study on living organisms. The flight was intended to be a 60-day mission which launched last week on July 19 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reports. Communication with the spacecraft was lost the same day it launched.

The geckos, four females and one very lucky male, were packed into the Foton-M4 spacecraft so that scientist could study the effects of weightlessness on sex life and the ability to reproduce. Read more…

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How a Solar Storm Two Years Ago Nearly Caused a Catastrophe On Earth

schwit1 writes: On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth’s atmosphere. These plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), comprised a solar storm thought to be the most powerful in at least 150 years. “If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,” physicist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado tells NASA. Fortunately, the blast site of the CMEs was not directed at Earth. Had this event occurred a week earlier when the point of eruption was Earth-facing, a potentially disastrous outcome would have unfolded. “Analysts believe that a direct hit could cause widespread power blackouts, disabling everything that plugs into a wall socket. Most people wouldn’t even be able to flush their toilet because urban water supplies largely rely on electric pumps. … According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, the total economic impact could exceed $2 trillion, or 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina. Multi-ton transformers damaged by such a storm might take years to repair.” Steve Tracton put it this way in his frightening overview of the risks of a severe solar storm: “The consequences could be devastating for commerce, transportation, agriculture and food stocks, fuel and water supplies, human health and medical facilities, national security, and daily life in general.”

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Black Holes Not Black After All, Theorize Physicists

KentuckyFC (1144503) writes Black holes are singularities in spacetime formed by stars that have collapsed at the end of their lives. But while black holes are one of the best known ideas in cosmology, physicists have never been entirely comfortable with the idea that regions of the universe can become infinitely dense. Indeed, they only accept this because they can’t think of any reason why it shouldn’t happen. But in the last few months, just such a reason has emerged as a result of intense debate about one of cosmology’s greatest problems — the information paradox. This is the fundamental tenet in quantum mechanics that all the information about a system is encoded in its wave function and this always evolves in a way that conserves information. The paradox arises when this system falls into a black hole causing the information to devolve into a single state. So information must be lost. Earlier this year, Stephen Hawking proposed a solution. His idea is that gravitational collapse can never continue beyond the so-called event horizon of a black hole beyond which information is lost. Gravitational collapse would approach the boundary but never go beyond it. That solves the information paradox but raises another question instead: if not a black hole, then what? Now one physicist has worked out the answer. His conclusion is that the collapsed star should end up about twice the radius of a conventional black hole but would not be dense enough to trap light forever and therefore would not be black. Indeed, to all intents and purposes, it would look like a large neutron star.

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The Methane-Sniffing Supercomputer That’s Looking for Aliens



Biologically speaking, methane’s kind of a big deal. When it comes to finding life on other planets, it’s an even bigger deal

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed an absorption spectrum (i.e. supercomputer) that’s able to detect methane, via light absorption on other planets, at temperatures of up to 2,228 degrees Fahrenheit — more than 2,000 times more powerful than any devices before it

Elliott’s super pumped about it in the latest episode of Mashable Minute

Earlier this week, we took a look at an immersive theater company in London that’s recreating the setting of Back to the Future: Read more…

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Obama Meets Apollo 11 Astronauts to Mark Moon Landing’s 45th Anniversary



To celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission, U.S. President Barack Obama met with members of the crew on Tuesday, including Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, Michael Collins and Carol Armstrong, the widow of Neil Armstrong

On July 20, 1969, Armstrong and Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moonSpending about two hours and 31 minutes on its surface, the astronauts collected some 47 pounds of samples and conducted four experiments, before returning to their spacecraft

Mike Collins & I met with President Obama today in honor of our #Apollo11 landing. I stressed to him the need for mi…

— Buzz Aldrin (@TheRealBuzz) July 23, 2014 Read more…

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Finding Life In Space By Looking For Extraterrestrial Pollution

coondoggie writes: If what we know as advanced life exists anywhere other than Earth, then perhaps they are dirtying their atmosphere as much as we are. We could use such pollution components to perhaps more easily spot such planets. That’s the basis of new research published this week by researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. They say that if we could spot the fingerprints of certain pollutants under ideal conditions (PDF), it would offer a new approach in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.”

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‘My Saddest Photo Yet’: Astronaut Sees Israel and Gaza Rocket Fire From Space



The rapid-fire rocket exchange between Israel and Hamas on Wednesday evening was so bright it could be seen from space.

German astronaut Alexander Gerst tweeted two images on Wednesday that he took from more than 200 miles above the Earth as the International Space Station was flying over Israel and Gaza

The rocket fire and explosions crisscrossing between the two areas appear to be visible in the photos. (Mashable reached out to NASA for further clarification on where the explosions are located in the images. We will update shortly.)

My saddest photo yet. From #ISS we can actually see explosions and rockets flying over #Gaza & #Israel

— Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) July 23, 2014 Read more…

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SpaceX Releases Video of Falcon Rocket’s Splashdown

First time accepted submitter cowdung (702933) writes In spite of Elon Musk’s characterization of the landing as a KABOOM event. Judging by this video SpaceX has managed to land the first stage rocket booster nicely on the ocean after their Orbcomm launch on July 14th. It seems we’re one step closer to a landing on dry land. Both this and the previous landing seem to have gone well. Hopefully the next landing test camera has something to deice the camera lens.

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