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Double Header: Perseid Meteor Shower And Solar Eclipse This Weekend



A Perseid meteor streaks across the sky above Inspiration Point early on August 12, 2016 in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. The annual display, known as the Perseid shower because the meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus in the northeastern sky, is a result of Earth’s orbit passing through debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Both the Perseid meteor shower and a solar eclipse will dazzle skywatchers this August 10th, 2018 weekend. Combine this with moonless, late summer nights and you’ll have no excuse not to watch this weekend’s astronomical double header.

Need any more reason to look up this weekend, Ethan Siegel notes that “you’ll have a chance to see the best meteor shower in years. They should be rapid, bright, and relatively frequent.” Who could resist a meteor shower in the evening and a partial solar eclipse the very next morning?

However, you likely didn’t land on this page to hear about how exciting this weekend is, you probably already have it marked on your calendar and underlined in bold sharpie. Hence, below we’ll cover all the specifics of how and when to see the Perseid meteor shower and solar eclipse, what they are, tips for viewing, and a few spectacular images.

When we look up into the starry night sky, we tend to see reflections of ourselves. – Trevor Paglen

In this night photo a Perseid meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower above a roadside silhouette of a Spanish fighting bull, in Reduena, Spain, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. Scientists say this year the Perseid meteor shower will be more intense than normal, predicting up to 200 meteors per hour caused by a trail of debris from a comet orbiting the Sun. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

Perseid Meteor Shower 2018: What, When, & Where To See It

This weekend’s Perseid meteor shower will likely be the most popular of the year, with expected rates of 60 to 70 meteors per hour. You can catch the meteor shower both the night of Saturday, August 11th, 2018 and Sunday, August 12th, 2018.

While those nights will be by far the most impressive, you will also be able to see the meteor shower before and afterward. Want to know which one night to watch it, most experts agree, the night of August 12th is the one to watch. This, of course, depends on your local weather and cloudiness. If Sunday is cloudy, while Saturday has clear skies that will be the better bet to see the shower.

My dad took me out to see a meteor shower when I was a little kid, and it was scary for me because he woke me up in the middle of the night. My heart was beating; I didn’t know what he wanted to do. He wouldn’t tell me, and he put me in the car and we went off, and I saw all these people lying on blankets, looking up at the sky. – Steven Spielberg

Perseid meteors named as ‘Orinoid’ streak across the sky over Kula town of Manisa, Turkey on October 21, 2017. (Soner Kilinc/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

What Is The Perseid Meteor Shower?

The meteor shower is the result of Earth passing through the Comet Swift-Tuttle, the parent body of the Perseid meteor shower. The word Perseid is derived from the constellation Perseus, where the meteors appear to come from in the night sky.

The meteor shower is the result of the Earth passing through a stream of debris that is associated with the orbit of the Swift-Tuttle comet. Each year around this time the meteor shower is visible with the exact date of peak meteors typically ranging from August 9th to 14th. Most Perseids will burn up in the atmosphere about 50 miles above Earth as the rain down at 37 miles per second, presenting to us a celestial fiery show. If a piece does make it to Earth’s surface, it graduates from a meteoroid to a meteor.

The orbital path of Comet Swift-Tuttle, which triggers the Perseid meteor shower.NASA / HOWARD OF TEACHING STARS

Where To See The Meteor Shower?

The bright and richly colored meteors of Perseid make it the best meteor shower in 2018. But to see them you’ll want to make sure you are in a dark enough sky to see as many stars as possible. If you live in a city, head out of the city for the night, maybe book a stay at a bed and breakfast in a small town. If you live nearby mountains, take a drive into the mountains. Find a cozy spot on a mountain with a clear sky, a bottle of wine, and a meteor shower overhead is as close to celestial magic here on Earth. For more ideas of where to head this weekend if you live in a large city, check out this great post by Active Junky.

As you look north the Perseid meteor shower will appear to come from Perseus.NASA

Another great coincidence is that there will be a near new moon during the Perseid meteor shower, meaning the crescent moon won’t get in the way much with the show. If you live in the southern hemisphere you will want to look northward to see the best view of the Perseids. Those living in the northern hemisphere will get the best show, depending of course on light pollution and how clear the skies are.

When To See The Meteor Shower?

The meteor shower will begin around 10 p.m. in your local time zone. The viewing isn’t time zone specific as the most important factor in starting to see the meteor shower is that the sky is dark enough. The Perseids will last through dawn with the rate of meteors gradually increasing as the evening progresses.

So if you’re going to pick one time to see the meteor shower, it would be the evening of August 12th.

Solar Eclipse 2018: When, Where & How to See It

As if the Perseid meteor shower wasn’t great enough, this weekend we’ll also have a solar eclipse. Just a quick note, this is when the alignment of the sun > moon > Earth means the moon will block out a portion of the sun.

As the three bodies align we will begin to see the solar eclipse as the sun darkens and a dark disc (the moon) passes across the sun.

The ancients often believed a celestial event like an eclipse to be a bad omen, that the sun or the moon vanishing from the sky was a harbinger of disaster, a sign of devastation or destruction to come. – Jenna Wortham

Last year around this time, on August 21, 2017, there was a total solar eclipse where the moon blocked the solar disk entirely. This year, we will experience a partial solar eclipse where the moon will only cover a part of the sun as it passes through. Unfortunately, 2018 will only give us partial solar eclipses, the next total solar eclipse visible in North America will be on April 8th, 2024.

A total solar eclipse with solar flares, Monmouth, Oregon, August 21, 2017 (David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

When To View The Solar Eclipse

The solar eclipse will be visible on Saturday, August 11, 2018. NASA figured you may want to know when the eclipse will occur where you live so they made this great animation below.

Solar eclipse animation for 2018NASA

The eclipse will begin when the moon first begins to pass over the sun’s disk at 4:02 a.m. EDT. The maximum extent of the solar eclipse will occur at 5:46 a.m. EDT.

Below is a table of the upcoming eclipses through the year 2020, it never hurts to be prepared!

Eclipses in 2018
Solar Eclipse
North/East Europe, North/West Asia, North in North America, Atlantic, Arctic
Eclipses in 2019
1/5/19 to 1/6/19
Solar Eclipse
East in Asia, Pacific
1/20/19 to 1/21/19
Lunar Eclipse
Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Arctic
Solar Eclipse
South in North America, Much of South America, Pacific
7/16/19 to 7/17/19
Lunar Eclipse
Much of Europe, Much of Asia, Australia, Africa, South/East North America, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Antarctica
South/West Europe, South/West Asia, Africa, Much of North America, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Antarctica
Solar Eclipse
East in Europe, Much of Asia, North/West Australia, East in Africa, Pacific, Indian Ocean
Eclipses in 2020
1/10/20 to 1/11/20
Lunar Eclipse
Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, Much of North America, East in South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Arctic
6/5/20 to 6/6/20
Lunar Eclipse
Much of Europe, Much of Asia, Australia, Africa, South/East South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Antarctica
Solar Eclipse
South/East Europe, Much of Asia, North in Australia, Much of Africa, Pacific, Indian Ocean
7/4/20 to 7/5/20
Lunar Eclipse
South/West Europe, Much of Africa, Much of North America, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Antarctica
11/29/20 to 11/30/20
Lunar Eclipse
Much of Europe, Much of Asia, Australia, North America, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic
Solar Eclipse
South in Africa, Much of South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Antarctica

Where To See The Solar Eclipse

Most countries in the northern hemisphere will be able to see the eclipse. It will begin over the northern Atlantic Ocean close to Greenland and move toward Iceland, Europe, the north pole, and onto Russia and China.

Unfortunately, for those of us living in North America, we will not get a good view of the solar eclipse. has made a great interactive map of the August 2018 solar eclipse, the visible path, and future eclipse paths.

2018 Solar eclipse

As you can see the next total solar eclipse to pass over North America is not until April 8, 2024. As with most astronomical events, parts of Earth get the best seats in the house and other places miss out entirely. Thankfully it all evens out in the long run.

How To See The Solar Eclipse

Whatever you do, don’t take your solar eclipse viewing advice from President Trump and DO NOT look directly at the sun during an eclipse.

President Donald Trump looks up toward the Solar Eclipse without glasses, with first lady Melania Trump by his side, from a balcony at the White House in Washington, DC on Monday, Aug 21, 2017. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Looking directly at the sun, even during an eclipse can cause partial to full blindness. Make sure you wear protective eyewear that is meant for viewing eclipses. Just ordinary sunglasses won’t cut it.

For the 2017 total solar eclipse, NASA created an excellent resource surrounding the safety of eclipse viewing. Please read through their safety tips, along with how to use a pinhole projection to view the eclipse and what glasses are acceptable. It’s important to not just simply buy a pair of eclipse glasses on Amazon or another online retailer without vetting that they are up to current safety standards.

Members of two vacationing families observe the partial solar eclipse at through some hand-improved solar glasses at Old Orchard Beach, Maine. From left: Paul Scango, Katie Vanlandingham (cq), Samantha Scango, Avery Vanlandingham, and Quinn Vanlandingham. Large. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

Now, if that wasn’t enough excitement in one weekend, I’ll give you a little cherry on top. You will also be able to see Mars until about 4 a.m. and Saturn before 2 a.m. local times. Let’s not waste this precious gift this weekend.

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Global warming 'pause' about to end, raise Earth's temperatures further




The past four years have been the hottest on record, but new research shows the Earth was actually in a global warming "hiatus" that is about to end. And when it does, natural factors are likely to help an already warming planet get even hotter over the next four years, according to a new forecasting model.

Rising CO2 levels have caused the temperature of the planet to rise, said lead author of the Nature Communications paper, Florian Sevellec, a professor of ocean and Earth science at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom and a scientist at France's National Centre for Scientific Research.

Records show 2017 marked the 41st consecutive year with global temperatures at least marginally above the 20th century average, with 2016 being the record-holder. And it's likely that global temperatures in 2018 will be another one for the record books.

However, Earth's natural cycles, which include events like El Nino and La Nina, can also influence global temperatures.

And while Earth seems to have been running a fever for almost a decade straight, the natural cycles have been in their "cooling" phase, Sevellec says — and that's about to shift, raising the global temperature further.

"It will be even warmer than the long-term global warming is inducing," Sevellac said. 

This cooler phase of the planet's natural variability is responsible for what is often referred to as a global warming "pause" or "hiatus." While the planet continued to warm, it seemed to plateau. 

But that had to end sometime.

John Fyfe, senior research scientist at the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis at Environment and Climate Change Canada, says that multiple issues were at play but mainly the natural variability of the planet.

"I'm not at all surprised by the results," Fyfe said of the new study, in which he was not involved. "And the reason for that is that we have gone down this long slowdown period primarily due to internal variability, and the expectation was that we'd come out of it."

With the Earth continuing to warm, the chances increase for events like heat waves. (Yves Herman/Reuters)

Though CO2 levels were still increasing in Earth's atmosphere, natural cycles like the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the Pacific Ocean were cooler than normal and offset rising global temperatures. 

But, Sevellac says, "the long-term trend was building up."

This doesn't mean, however, that we can point to a specific area and better forecast, say, heat waves. Instead, this is a global measurement. But with the Earth continuing to warm, the chances increase for these events.

And global warming doesn't mean that every location on the planet warms uniformly — there are some regions that can be colder than normal — nor does it mean that each year is hotter than the previous one. Instead, it's an overall trend that can play out within a decade or more, with the temperature of the entire planet rising over time.

Probability vs. certainty

In order to test the ability to predict future climate outcomes, the model employs a method that looks backward. In this case, it was able to predict with accuracy the climate slowdown that occurred around 1998 and onward to roughly 2014.

But it's important to note that this is a probability, not a certainty.

The model shows a higher temperature than what was predicted based just on the increased CO2: the probability is 58 per cent for global surface air temperature and 75 per cent for sea surface temperatures.

"Because we tested it over the last century, we know that we are accurate for the likelihood," Sevellac says. "But the likelihood doesn't mean it will occur … there exists a small chance of being cold."

We could already be seeing a shift: after a record-breaking El Nino year just two years ago in 2016 — which caused heat waves, coral bleaching, drought and flooding around the world — the U.S. Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a 70 per cent chance that another one is on its way this winter

There's no telling how long the cycle will last, if it does manifest: it could be five years or 10. But what's important to note, Sevellac says, is that rising CO2 is still the key player in the warming of the planet.

While the study shows that the Earth's natural variability can have an influence in the short term, Sevellac says, "I think it's also a demonstration that global warming will still be there after all this natural variability."

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Scientists Develop Lab-Made Mineral That Will Suck CO2 From The Atmosphere




Magnesite sample

A dream solution is that humans could develop a way to suck as much CO2 from the atmosphere as we release, and combined with greenhouse gas emission reductions, we could slow or reverse the tide of climate change.

Scientists have found a way to rapidly create the mineral magnesite in a lab both inexpensively and potentially at scale. This could be coupled with carbon sequestration, a process in which carbon is injected and stored underground, typically in depleted oil and gas fields. Reducing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere can be both a result of reducing input as well as increasing output of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The research was presented recently at the Goldschmidt conference in Boston by Professor Ian Power of Trent University, Ontario, Canada. Their findings outline a novel way to rapidly produce magnesite inexpensively and at room temperature, allowing for the expansion of the process to an industrial scale.

If implemented at scale, the potential for another tool of CO2 removal via magnesite becomes a possibility, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it long-term in the mineral magnesite.

Below is a breakdown of the potential chemical reaction by which carbon dioxide can be removed from the atmosphere to create magnesite.

CO2+ H2O→H2CO3→ H++ HCO3

Mg+2+HCO3− →MgCO3+H+

To explain the above equations, carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is injected into water, which is then dissociated to form carbonic acid. From there, elemental magnesium combines with the carbonic acid to form magnesite (MgCO3).

At this time, most carbon capture and storage options are difficult to implement at scale due to high costs and difficulties scaling. With this new method, however, the rate of magnesite formation goes from hundreds to thousands of years in nature to within 72 days in a lab and at low temperatures.

Based on previous studies, magnesite can remove about half its weight in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Estimates put our current CO2 emissions at about 40 billion tons per year. That would mean to remove the equivalent amount of carbon emitted per year solely through magnesite formation, 80 billion tons would have to be produced per year. It becomes increasingly apparent that this cannot be the only lever we pull in mitigating climate change.

By speeding up the process, magnesite could be a legitimate resource for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, the research is still in an experimental phase and will need to be continually tested before it could ever be implemented at industrial scales. In addition, the process will rely on the current price of carbon and financial incentives to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

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Royal Tyrrell research blows swimming dinosaur theory out of the water




A model of a Spinosaurus is displayed outside the entrance at the National Geographic Society in Washington.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

New research published by the Royal Tyrrell Museum on Thursday has sunk previous claims that a swimming dinosaur once paddled the rivers of the Earth.

The paper, published in scientific journal PeerJ, uses computer modelling to conclude the Spinosaurus was not adapted to swim as previously thought.

Research published in 2014 by Nizar Ibrahim and others in the journal Science proposed the dinosaur was partly aquatic, meaning it could both swim and walk on land, a first for any dinosaur.

But using different techniques that relied on physics-based testing methods, the Royal Tyrrell Museum’s curator of dinosaurs, Donald Henderson, found that the 95-million-year-old species would not have been able to survive living in water.

Henderson created three-dimensional, digital models of Spinosaurus and other predatory dinosaurs in order to test their centres of mass buoyancy and equilibrium when immersed in water. He also tested the software using models of semi-aquatic animals such as an alligator and emperor penguin, for comparison.

Henderson’s models showed that Spinosaurus could float with its head above water. However, models of other dinosaurs demonstrated similar results.

Courtesy Royal Tyrrell Museum

His models showed the Spinosaurus would have been able to float with its head above water and breath freely, just like other dinosaurs analyzed in the study.

But unlike semi-aquatic animals like alligators, which can easily self-right themselves when tipped to the side in water, the Spinosaurus rolled over onto its side when tipped slightly. The finding implied that the dinosaur species would have easily tipped over in water, forcing it to rely on its limbs to constantly maintain an upright position.

Its centre of mass was also found to be close to its hips, between its hind legs, as opposed to the centre of the torso, which had been proposed by Ibrahim’s 2014 research.

A digital model of the centre of mass of Spinosaurus (illustrated by the black plus symbol located at the hind legs), which is similar to that of other theropods, such as Tyrannosaurus rex.

Courtesy Royal Tyrrell Museum

Henderson’s model found the Spinosaurus to be unsinkable underwater, something that would have severely limited its ability to hunt aquatic prey. This differentiates it from traits commonly demonstrated by living aquatic birds, reptiles and mammals, which can submerse themselves to pursue prey underwater.

The combination of mass close to the hips, an inability to sink underwater, and a tendency to roll onto its side unless constantly resisted by limb use, suggest that Spinosaurus was not specialized for a semi-aquatic mode of life,” the researchers stated.

“Spinosaurus may have been specialized for a shoreline or shallow water mode of life, but it would have still have been a competent terrestrial animal,” added Henderson.

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