space mystery

All Eyes on the Sky for the August 21 Total Solar Eclipse

Just two months from now, the moon will completely block the sun’s face, treating part of the US to a total solar eclipse.

Everyone in North America will have the chance to see an eclipse of some kind if skies are clear. Anyone within a 70-mile-wide swath of land — called the path of totality — that stretches from Oregon to South Carolina will have the chance to see a total eclipse.

Throughout the rest of the continent, including all 50 United States — and even in parts of South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia — the moon will partially obscure the sun, creating a partial eclipse.

Photo credit: NASA/Cruikshank

An eclipse is one of nature’s most awesome sights, but safety comes first! When any part of the sun’s surface is exposed, use proper eclipse glasses (not sunglasses) or an indirect viewing method, like a pinhole projector. In the path of totality, it’s safe to look directly at the eclipse ONLY during the brief moments of totality.

During a solar eclipse, the moon passes between the sun and Earth, casting a shadow down on Earth’s surface. We’ve been studying the moon with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and its precise mapping helped NASA build the most accurate eclipse map to date.

During a total solar eclipse, the moon blocks out the sun’s bright face, revealing the otherwise hidden solar atmosphere, called the corona. The corona is one of the sun’s most interesting regions — key to understanding the root of space weather events that shape Earth’s space environment, and mysteries such as why the sun’s atmosphere is so much hotter than its surface far below.

This is the first time in nearly 100 years that a solar eclipse has crossed the United States from coast to coast. We’re taking advantage of this long eclipse path by collecting data that’s not usually accessible — including studying the solar corona, testing new corona-observing instruments, and tracking how our planet’s atmosphere, plants, and animals respond to the sudden loss of light and heat from the sun.

We’ll be studying the eclipse from the ground, from airplanes, with research balloons, and of course, from space.

Three of our sun-watchers — the Solar Dynamics Observatory, IRIS, and Hinode, a joint mission led by JAXA — will see a partial eclipse from space. Several of our Earth-observing satellites will use the eclipse to study Earth under uncommon conditions. For example, both Terra and DSCOVR, a joint mission led by NOAA, will capture images of the moon’s shadow from space. Our Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will also turn its instruments to face Earth and attempt to track the moon’s shadow as it moves across the planet.

There’s just two months to go until August 21, so make your plans now for the big day! No matter where you are, you can follow the eclipse as it crosses the country with live footage from NASA TV.

Learn more about the upcoming total solar eclipse — including where, when, and how to safely experience it — at eclipse2017.nasa.gov and follow along on Twitter @NASASun.  

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

4

I’m very convinced that my apartment complex is a liminal space or some sort of place you’d hear about in welcome to nightvale

I’ve lived here twice now, the first time I couldn’t wait to get out, but the longer I was away the more I missed it, now here I am and I can’t imagine that anywhere else outside of this place exists or why I would ever want to leave

when I walk at night, sometimes to pick up the mail, it’s completely silent except for the pool filter running that I can somehow hear no matter how far I am away from it

the coke machine by the pool always says it’s out of stock but if you feed it coins, not what’s stickered on the options, just feed it coins until it’s satisfied you’ll get a NuGrape and never any other flavor of soda even though NuGrape isn’t a flavor option

the snack machine is always empty and there’s a colony of moths that live in it

at night there’s always a lit cigarette in the ash tray on one of the patio tables by the pool, the pool is still and the surface of the water is like glass and even though it’s clean and perfect you can’t see the bottom 

the dog park is sort of there, on a good day you’re welcome, on other days you can sort of see it out of the corner of your eye but when you look straight at it, it’s not there. when you look away you see the shine of a chain link fence and a small white dog with his owner, but only for a brief moment

staying in the dog park for an extended period of time, if you manage to get into it, makes you feel sort of like you took a lot of xanax, suddenly everything is warm and fuzzy and you’re so calm and oh wow the wooden bench feels so good and comfortable and the sun is pleasant on your skin even in the 96 degree Mississippi summer, then you wake up and it’s almost dark and your skin is buzzing and you’ve slept through the day so you go back inside and drink a cold glass of sweet tea and try not to think about it

the mailboxes are in front of the main office, the little rectangular area is covered in faded astro turf and reaching into your tiny mailbox feels sort of like reaching into a void, you’re never really sure what you’re going to pull out but there’s a trash can especially for junk mail next to it that’s always full and sometimes you can get coupons out of it but they’re always just a day away from expiring

the apartment next to my first is never inhabited longer than the minimum 6 month lease, I called the police on the old man there because one day I didn’t hear his TV and his little dog never stopped barking and there was this smell seeping through our walls and he had passed away in his recliner but no one can stand to live there and the apartment is always being moved in and out of

the baseball field across the road, just in front of my balcony, sometimes around midnight when I’m sitting outside restless drinking a sweet wine and pruning my pepper plants, the field lights kick on and they’re brighter than the sun and they startle me but there’s no one on the field, it’s a school night, nobody could possibly be at the school and after only a few minutes they cut off and the world is much darker and I have to go inside because I can’t see without the porch light on

there was a murder just a couple weeks ago, near the front of the complexes but somehow no one heard the shotgun go off and the police never explained the situation, the apartment was almost immediately back up for rent and no one but the old lady in the townhouse behind my apartment ever spoke about it

the old lady who knew about the murder is my friend, sometimes we sit outside and talk and listen to the cicadas while she smokes and walks her dogs, all her dogs are blind and old but somehow they know me and even from my balcony they smell me and bark until I come down to pet them, why she’s out at 1am I’m not sure but I only ever see her raking up pine straw and walking her dogs and she’s always making sure I’m safe in storms, I don’t even know her name

the soft sea-green colored laundromat has no clocks and only one barred window, the magazines are years old and there’s a copy of a book about WWII that seems to have appeared out of nowhere over the past couple of weeks. there’s no concept of time, the color of the walls reminds you of the beach and it feels like 1992 and even though there’s nobody ever in the laundromat there’s always wet clothes in the washers and only 2 open on the far side near a broken water cooler and a ponytail palm tree that hasn’t moved or been watered in years, the only dryer that really dries your clothes is old and marked 1984 and smells like propane. if you encounter anyone in the laundromat you may pass completely through them; they can’t see you, you try to greet them but when you expect to bump into them in the close quarters you feel as if you’ve passed through a wall of static and your body buzzes and they go about their business as if they’re alone as well

the maintenance man is ancient an has a tiny dog named Trixie and his name is Ham, he wanders around aimlessly and supposedly goes around and changes the air conditioner filters and smoke alarm batteries but I’ve lived here a total of three years and haven’t had a job so I’m here 24/7 and I’ve never had him ring my doorbell a single time. the filters are always clean though, and the smoke alarm light is blinking green again instead of red, I only ever see him on the patio of the office, looking out over the pool and sipping a NuGrape and feeding his tiny dog pieces of bologna

there’s a man who wanders the grounds at night with a hand-crank radio but there’s nothing on the radio but static and sometimes someone repeating numbers with a strange accent that you can’t make out

stairwells always feel like you’re walking through another dimension and at night it seems like they’re endless, it feels like you’re walking and walking and walking even though I’ve counted and there’s 14 steps it feels like you’re walking up 1000 steps and when you get to the top and look down it feels like you’re on the top floor of a high rise even though there’s no building here with more than two floors

the pine trees creak and groan at night trying to speak to you as you walk by but you can never make it out, I make a note of listening to them but sometimes I feel like it’s something important that I’m missing so I go inside and sip a Riesling until I forget about it

Earth is Space Australia/Humans are Weird

Ok, so I was reminded of Spontaneous Human Combustion and was imagining how aliens would react to how humans are not 100% why it happens.

Alien: What is this term that you used the death report? Spontaneous Human Combustion? What does that even mean?

Human: Well spontaneous means it is a reaction that occurs easily, you know what a human is, and combu-

A: Yes, I know what the words mean. I don’t understand how a human can spontaneously combust though. Surely there was a source of ignition nearby.

H: If there was, it left no trace we could find in the area.

A: This obviously happens often enough to have its own term, so how long has it been going on?

H: Some historians think it has been going on since we started making permanent settlements, possibly longer.

A: There has to have been research into it then! There is no way for there to no information on it!

H: Yeah, there are some commonalities of the victims and causes ranging from ignition sources omitted in reports, to ball lightning. But, there are some cases where a source of ignition that can be identified is, for lack of a better term, nonexistent. This case seems to be one of them.

A: So…Earth can produce conditions where things can just burst into plasma within moments?

H: Yeah? I mean, it isn’t that co-

A: That’s it! As soon as I can, I’m transferring to anywhere else! I am done dealing with this forsaken rock!

Exoplanets: Strange New Worlds

Super Saturn

Around a distant star 420 light years away is a planet with such huge rings that they’re 200 times larger than the rings of Saturn, J1407b. The rings are about 74,560,000 miles in diameter and contain about as much mass as Earth itself. Gaps in the rings, like we see in Saturn’s rings, are likely created by exomoons orbiting around the planet, clearing out paths between the rings and keeping them distinct.

(Image credit: Ron Miller)

The Planet of Burning Ice

The most remarkable things happen when you push physics to extremes.

Far away in the Gliese star system is a Neptune-sized planet called Gliese 436 b. This world is covered in ice that burns constantly at 822.2˚ Fahrenheit (439˚ C).

The reason why the water doesn’t liquify and then turn into steam is due to the massive gravity of the planet - it exerts so much force on the water that the atoms are bound tightly together as a solid: burning ice.

(Image credit: ABC Science)

The Diamond Planet

At about 7.8 times the mass of Earth, 55 Cancri e is an extremely carbon-rich planet orbiting a carbon-rich star. The intense density of the planet means that about 2/3rds of this planet’s core is made up of diamond. It’s literally a giant diamond (larger than Earth).

(Image credit: CfA)

Tatooine

Hd 188753 Ab is a planet candidate with three suns. That’s more than even Luke Skywalker got! It turns out that binary star systems are actually quite common, however, and there are many worlds out there where the sunsets would happen twice (or more) a day. Maybe one day a lucky couple will sit beneath a pair of setting suns, holding hands as each star dips below the alien horizon.

(Image credit: NASA/Ames Research Center/Kepler Mission)

The Water World (Miller’s Planet?)

GJ 1214b is 42 light years away from Earth. It’s 25% rock surrounded by 75% water. Its surface is an endless ocean not too dissimilar from what you’d see floating on a boat in the middle of the ocean on Earth.

As you go deeper below the surface though, you’d eventually hit ice. The water surrounding the core isn’t ice because of temperature though: the pressure of the water above it is so intense that it crushes the water below from a liquid into a solid form known as “ice VII”.

(Image credit: Found on Kurir)

Earth 2.0

Kepler-438b orbits a star 470 light years away. It receives a similar amount of energy from its sun as does Earth. Its surface temperature is perfect for liquid water. 

On the Earth Similarity Index it’s received a 0.88, the highest score of any world (except of course Earth). Liquid water almost certainly exists there and with it, the best chance for alien life.

This is the sort of planet that makes me wonder when I look up at the stars, if somewhere far away, there isn’t someone looking back.

(Image credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech)

10

film meme {½} decades ☰ 1960s

Hundreds of full-length films were produced in the 1960s. Historical drama films continued to include epics. Psychological horror films extended beyond the typical monster horror into more twisted films. Comedy films became more elaborate, setting in more comedy-dramas and welcomed a new form of satire because of the success of Kubrick’s 1964 film Dr. Stangelove. Spy films welcomed more tech. And fantasy and sci-fi films were made with a more wider range of special effects.  Beginning in the middle of the decade due to the start of the cultural revolution and the abolition of the Hays Code, films became increasingly experimental and daring and were taking shape of what was to define the 1970s.

Air Less Traveled is a steampunk podcast set in a historically revisioned, mid-1800s America. In the beginning, it follows a Byron Crawford - the son of a local mayor - as he goes about his day: and he is the typical, spoiled rich kid you would expect. However, things take a turn when an all-female pirate crew - lead by Nettie Atkins - kidnaps him for a ransom. If you are at all interested in auditioning, information to do so is under the cut.

Keep reading

big family dinner at the burrow

(based on this glorious post)

James: *trying to pay attention to the conversation at the table*

Teddy: *glances at James, touches his lips absent-mindedly, remembering something*

James: *failing to pay attention to anything except Teddy*

Ron: -well, all I’m going to say is you don’t need to go to Trelawney to know that all potters marry redheads in the end!

Teddy: *while everyone is laughing, morphs his hair to red and stares at James *

James: *looks over at Teddy and chokes on his water*

Ginny: *worried* James, love, you okay?

James: *clears throat* Yep. Fine. Absolutely brilliant.

Teddy: *looks away as if nothing happened*

James: /why do you do these things, and why do i still like you so much omg/

Teddy: /♥/

James Sirius played by my mystery crush @space-marauder

You know where the veil between worlds is truly thin? 1990′s - early 2000′s documentary programs

There are a lot of posts about liminal spaces and to be fair they’re a fascinating concept, but while highway rest stops are a good example, I feel we are all missing a great deal by not exploring the liminal dimensions present in made-for-tv documentaries from the 1990′s and early 2000′s.

For Instance:

When I was a child, my bed time was 8:00. Unfortunately for me, the weekly program about dinosaurs I wanted to watch on.. the Discovery Channel I think it was(?) happened at 9:00. My mom would tape them for me every week, because VHS was still a thing back then.

Eventually however, the series ended without either of us noticing. She taped the timeslot anyway and gave it to me to watch the next afternoon, like usual, which is how I, a 7 or 8 year old child, ended up watching a half-hour long program about people who had died by spontaneous human combustion.

I watched, enraptured, as the program explored the puzzling and horrific cases of people who, for seemingly no reason, had burst into intensely hot flames which reduced them to mere ashes, with no discernible source of ignition and which left nearby flammables curiously untouched. “Could this happen to anyone? Could this happen to you?” the program asked me, flashing yet another grisly black and white photograph of an incinerated body across the screen. “Yes, and I must fear it” I thought in reply, and continued to think about constantly for the next several years.

In time though, I forgot. Until my friend Paloma recommended me some short stories she had read for one of her classes, because I needed some new reading material for the train to class. One of them was about a character whose parents had died by SHC (Blowing Up on the Spot by Kevin Wilson). Suddenly, I remembered.

“I have to find this program,” I thought. “There must be a reason I have this specific, persistent fear, and for some reason I bet watching it again will make it less awful,” I continued, because I am an idiot and I don’t know what’s good for me.

After hours of scouring the internet, I have found exactly one copy of this show that so scarred me. It has subtitles in Greek, the audio unsyncs from the narrator’s lips and becomes steadily fuzzier as the video goes on until it is nearly indecipherable, and searching the actual name of the show yields not even a Wikipedia article. A few sites have episode lists but that’s about it, and those with dates list them all as being released on the same day in 2009, so I am forced to conclude that no one knows when these programs came into existence. They seem to exist in neither this time nor space, and attempts to keep them tied to this dimension result in warping of sound and language.

They are trying to escape, and after rewatching this awful barrage of burned bodies and early 2000s CGI simulations of people on fire, I think we should let them. The veil is thin between universes which are so close to touching as to allow hints of passage. These are moving away from us. Let them go.

This is the final vestige of a world not our own. (tw for fairly graphic images of dead bodies, I am serious here)