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Partial Solar Eclipse Occurs Saturday! What to Expect

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What a difference a year makes! Just over a year ago, millions across North America were anxiously awaiting the "Great American Solar Eclipse" of Aug. 21. Now, on Saturday (Aug. 11), another eclipse of the sun will take place, but it's quite likely that the prospective viewing audience will be considerably smaller.

This weekend's solar eclipse will be a partial eclipse of the sun, not the spectacular total solar eclipse that thrilled millions last year. It will be visible from most of Asia, far northern Europe, Iceland and Greenland, as well as from a slice of northern and eastern Canada.

In fact, parts of Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec (along the lower north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence) will get a brief glimpse of a tiny "dent" out of the sun's upper-left edge for some minutes immediately after sunrise. [Solar Eclipses 2018: When and How to See Them]

You can find local viewing details for 29 locations in the visibility area here, courtesy of veteran NASA eclipse scientist Fred Espenak of EclipseWise.com.)

You can see the viewing times for a few locations in Newfoundland and Quebec in the table below. The eclipse begins before sunrise.

Location Time Zone Max. Eclipse % of Obscuration Eclipse Ends
Blanc Sablon, QC Atlantic Standard 4:27 a.m. 3-percent 4:47 a.m.
St. Anthony, NL NFLD Daylight 5:56 a.m. 3-percent 6:06 a.m.
Btl. Harbour, NL NFLD Daylight 5:56 a.m. 4-percent 6:19 a.m.

Of course, if you happen to be in the zone of visibility for this eclipse, NEVER look directly at the sun (unless you are using approved filters or eclipse glasses). Staring directly at the sun can damage your eyesight.  

The time of greatest eclipse, with nearly 75 percent of the sun hidden, will occur at local sunset in Russia from Kolyuchinskaya Bay in far northeast Siberia — a large, usually ice-covered bay in the Chukchi Sea on the northern shore of the Chukotka Peninsula. Cape Vankarem is to the west, and Neskynpil'gyn Lagoon and Cape Serdtse-Kamen are to the east.

It's not the kind of place to take your family on a weekend adventure!

Solar eclipses occur when the moon passes across the face of the sun, as viewed from Earth.

When the moon completely covers the sun, it creates a total solar eclipse, casting a shadow of the moon across the Earth's surface. Sometimes, the moon only partially covers the sun, creating a partial solar eclipse, or doesn't completely obscure the sun (an annular, or "ring of fire," eclipse). Because the moon's orbit is tilted, it does not always block the sun as it circles the Earth each month.

[embedded content]

(The video above was created by Larry Koehn of ShadowsandSubstance.com.)

In case you haven't been keeping track, this will be the third eclipse in less than a month. 

On July 27, we had a stunning eclipse of the moon — the longest total lunar eclipse of the century. And flanking that lunar eclipse (two weeks before, and now two weeks after) are two partial eclipses of the sun. [See amazing photos of the July 27 lunar eclipse]

During the lunar eclipse, the moon crossed the ecliptic — the apparent path of the sun in our sky — while at full phase on July 27, resulting in our natural satellite passing through the shadow of the Earth (hence the total lunar eclipse). We call that crossing point a "node." Also during that eclipse, the moon crossed the ecliptic going from north to south, the descending node of its orbit. 

Because of the moon's orbit, either two weeks before or after a total lunar eclipse, the moon reaches the opposite side of its orbit and crosses the ecliptic again — this time, at new-moon phase — resulting in an eclipse of the sun. So that's two eclipses, one solar and one lunar, linked by the moon's orbit. [The Phases of the Moon Explained]

We call this an eclipse season.

But so central was the July 27 lunar eclipse, with the moon passing almost directly through the middle of Earth's shadow, that it allowed for not just one, but two partial solar eclipses: one that occurred two weeks before the lunar eclipse, and another on Aug. 11 (two weeks afterward).  

So we get three eclipses occurring during this 29.53-day synodic lunar month, where normally we would have only two.

Being in the same eclipse season, both solar eclipses occur at the same node (the ascending one) of the moon’s orbit. Having arrived at the ascending node almost too late for the partial solar eclipse on July 13, the moon now passes the same node almost too early.

That is, 20 hours after crossing the ecliptic, the moon arrives at new phase. But by then, the axis of its shadow passes well to the north of Earth. Because the moon is near perigee (the point closest to Earth in the moon's orbit), the dark shadow cone of the moon — called the umbra — tapers to well beyond us (by a distance of approximately three times Earth's radius), but also completely misses touching our planet, passing 4,500 miles (7,300 kilometers) above the North Pole.

So, unlike last year, no place on Earth will see the glorious spectacle of a total solar eclipse. Instead, the moon's outer shadow (the penumbra) will brush the top of our globe, creating a far more modest partial eclipse.

There is one sun-related coincidence during Saturday's partial solar eclipse: By sheer luck, the solar eclipse will occur on the same day that NASA will launch the Parker Solar Probe to the sun.

The Parker Solar Probe will fly faster and closer to the sun than any other spacecraft. It will actually "touch" the sun, flying through the star's outer atmosphere, called the corona. The corona is the brilliant ring of light that is visible around the moon during a total solar eclipse, and scientists hope the Parker Solar Probe will help answer long-standing mysteries about the region.

The spacecraft will launch early Saturday morning at 3:33 a.m. EDT (0733 GMT) atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket. You can watch the launch live here, beginning at 3 a.m. EDT (0700 GMT), courtesy of NASA TV.

In addition, the annual Perseid meteor shower is peaking this weekend. So, if you miss the eclipse, you can always look for meteors from Comet Swift-Tuttle. Here's our handy 2018 Perseid meteor shower guide.

Editor's note:If you live in the visibility zone for the partial solar eclipse of Aug. 11 and you snap a photo of the event, let us know! You can send your images and comments to spacephotos@space.com.

Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, the Farmers’ Almanac and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for Verizon FiOS1 News in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley. Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebookand Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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Selection of Stephen Hawking's personal items to be sold at auction

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[unable to retrieve full-text content]

  1. Selection of Stephen Hawking’s personal items to be sold at auction  Belfast Telegraph
  2. Stephen Hawking’s jacket, thesis and high-tech wheelchair up for auction  CBC.ca
  3. Stephen Hawking’s Wheelchair, Simpson’s Script and More Now up for Sale  News18
  4. In his last book, Stephen Hawking tries to provide an FAQ  The Straits Times
  5. Full coverage



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Curbside organics program approved, funding still up in air

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Saskatoon will be implementing a curbside organics collection program, but how it will be funded is still to be decided.

City council voted 7-4 Monday afternoon in favour of supplying green carts to homeowners after four hours of debate over how it would be paid for.

Councillors wandered back and forth during discussions on whether to fund organics and a new format for garbage collection through a monthly utility bill to homeowners, or to increase property taxes to pay for it.

Ultimately, a 6-5 vote pushed a decision on the funding model back to council’s Nov. 19 meeting as councillors asked for more clarity surrounding costs.

City administration first suggested the organics bin in June, along with a garbage collection system with different sized black bins, in a bid to increase waste diversion in Saskatoon.

Currently, the Bridge City ranks near the bottom of major Canadian cities with a 23 per cent waste diversion rate. City council has established a goal to increase the diversion rate to 70 per cent.

Administration reports have indicated nearly 60 per cent of the waste going from homes to the landfill could be placed in an organics bin instead.

The goal would be to extend the life of Saskatoon’s landfill by 23 years. A new landfill would cost the city approximately $160 million.

City staff have advised council action is required even if a waste utility wasn’t approved, because waste management is currently underfunded by at least $2 million annually and a reserve filling the funding gap has been depleted.

“We have a funding problem and an environmental problem,” Ward 7 Coun. Mairin Loewen said.

She also challenged councillors opposed to the proposed programs.

“Okay, then what?” she asked.

If funded through a monthly utility bill, waste collection costs would be removed from property taxes – resulting in a 3.5 per cent reduction for homeowners as well as businesses and multi-family units.

The reduction would translate to a savings of $75 for the average home valued at $371,000.

However, the combined costs of organics and waste would result in a minimum monthly bill of $18 for residents, if they chose a black bin half the size of the current one supplied by the city.

The current size – which would be considered a “large” cart in the new program – would start at a cost of $22.80 per month and increase to $36.50 a month by 2023 to encourage downsizing to other cart sizes.

Ward 6 Coun. Cynthia Block questioned the rationale of giving businesses a tax break while asking residents to pay more.

“I’m really struggling with the fairness of this,” she said, noting she supports the idea behind a waste utility but needed to establish a fairer solution.

Councillors had delayed a decision on the proposed waste utility in September, asking for more information from administration on what the program would look like if it were funded through property taxes.

A report submitted to council Monday indicated funding both organics and waste collection through property taxes would translate to an increase of between 3.9 and 4.9 per cent, a cost of $85.20 on the average residential tax bill.

Ward 1 Coun. Darren Hill put forward motions to separate the two programs, having organics funded through property taxes and garbage collection paid for through a monthly utility, but none of his colleagues supported the bid.

Administration advised against funding organics through a property tax, saying research from other cities indicated residents would view the green bin as “free” and there would be more non-organic garbage thrown in the bin – thus contaminating the contents.

Ward 3 Coun. Ann Iwanchuk challenged that notion, saying citizens speak to her often about what they’re paying for through property taxes.

“I find that an offensive comment and it doesn’t give our citizens due credit,” she said.

Iwanchuk opposed the establishment of the curbside organics program, saying she didn’t believe it would provide enough waste diversion for the cost.

“It would take my family six to eight months to fill,” she said, noting there are worries about the smell organics bins would produce.

Councillors Bev Dubois, Troy Davies and Darren Hill also voted against the organics program – though Hill noted he only opposed it based on questions surrounding funding.

Mayor Charlie Clark voted in favour of the green bin program along with councillors Mairin Loewen, Zach Jeffries, Cynthia Block, Sarina Gersher, Randy Donauer and Hilary Gough.

Hill’s motion to defer a vote on how to fund the organics program and waste collection was supported by Mayor Charlie Clark and councillors Block, Loewen, Gough and Gersher.

Davies, Iwanchuk, Donauer, Dubois and Jeffries voted against the deferral.

Councillors also edged towards including multi-family units like apartment and condo buildings into the organics program, approving a motion to include the intention of implementing multi-family unit organics collection by 2020 into any private sector request for proposal. The vote passed 8-3, with Davies, Iwanchuk and Dubois against.

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Life cycle of sulphur predicts location of valuable minerals

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A team of researchers from The University of Western Australia and two Canadian universities has applied a first-of-its-kind technique that measures the long-term life cycle of sulphur, helping to explain the preferential location of high-value mineral deposits at the edges of ancient continents.

The study, published today in Nature Communications, charts the life cycle of sulphur over hundreds of millions of years, from its origins as a volcanic gas emitted into the primordial atmosphere and oceans, and all the way throughout its journey across the earth’s deep crust.

Sulphur plays a critical role in a variety of fundamental earth processes as it regulates the global climate, is essential to the living cell, and is the primary molecule necessary to transport and concentrate precious metals such as gold and platinum.

The team, which included researchers from Canada’s Université Laval and McGill University, initially set out to better understand the behaviour of sulphur in the ancient earth. During the process the researchers were able to create a technique using sophisticated technology based at UWA that could help explorers identify new mineral-rich provinces in Australia and around the world.

Co-author Associate Professor Marco Fiorentini, from UWA’s School of Earth Sciences, said that the largest and richest deposits of precious metals in Australia and on Earth were generally associated with large concentrations of sulphur-rich minerals.

“By understanding how and where sulphur is stored researchers can make predictions about the location of mineral deposits,” Professor Fiorentini said. “Just as a medical dye may be used to unveil the intricate pathways of the inner human body, we have developed a technique to illuminate the cryptic pathway of sulphur through the crust of our planet more than two billion years ago.”

The technique presents a new way to engage with the minerals industry, helping them to explore vast areas of the planet that may host valuable resources.

The research team, based in Western Australia and Canada, has fostered a strategic alliance to engage with several industry partners, applying this technique to multiple areas to predict the localisation of precious metals on other continents.

The research was supported by the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia, Science and Industry Endowment Fund, the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Core to Crust Fluid Systems and the Geological Survey of Western Australia.

Image caption: Dr Crystal LaFlamme (Laval, UWA) and Associate Professor Marco Fiorentini (UWA) collaborate to unravel the cryptic link between the global sulfur cycle and the genesis of world-class mineral deposits.

/Univeristy Public Release. View in full here.

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