The skies of 2020 brought us solace despite a year packed with lockdowns and social distancing and fascinated us with a parade of eye-catching astronomical activities. This past year’s celestial calendar was filled with unforgettable sights, including the unexpected arrival of the brilliant comet NEOWISE, the finest images of Mars in the decade, the Halloween blue moon, and Jupiter and Saturn’s much-anticipated historically near encounter.
We all deserve a celestial spectacle after a traumatic 2020, to greet the New Year. The meteor shower has just the best sight in store for the Quadrantids. On Saturday night (January 2), the celestial shower peaks, bringing up to 90 shooting stars an hour streaking through the sky.
(Photo : Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images)
NIEDERHOLLABRUNN, AUSTRIA – APRIL 21: (EDITORS NOTE: Multiple exposures were combined to produce this image.) Startrails are seen during the Lyrids meteor shower over Michaelskapelle on April 21, 2020 in Niederhollabrunn, Austria. The clear skies created by the New Moon coincide with the Lyrid meteor shower, an annual display caused by the Earth passing through a cloud of debris from a comet called C/186 Thatcher.
The Quadrantids: Are They the Best Showers of the Year?
NASA calls the Quadrantids one of the best yearly meteor showers. They are known for vivid fireballs that leave vibrant streaks of light temporarily imprinted on the night sky.
The bulk of meteor showers originate from a comet’s dust (a ball of ice and rock), but the Quadrantids are the surviving asteroid pieces (a bare space rock).
It enters the elliptical orbit of asteroid 2003 EH1 every January as Earth circles the earth, plowing along the trail of debris that the asteroid has shed. In the atmosphere, these pieces of space rock flame up and release dazzling flares of fire.
Unfortunately, the fading gibbous moon would potentially outshine around half of Saturday’s meteors at about 84 percent full. The Quadrantids will create as many as 200 shooting stars in a single hour during years where the skies are darker.
Asteroid 2003 EH1
The shower attributes its reputation to Quadrans Muralis, a now-defunct star. A catalog of celestial bodies drawn up by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 1922 left the constellation off the list.
But since the shower was already called after Quadrans Muralis, it did not modify its meaning. The Quadrantids, after the modern star, Boötes, are often referred to as Bootids.
How to See the Quadrantids
Although other meteor showers peak over a few days, for only six hours, the Quadrantids send just their maximum. Bundle up and get as far away from the city lights as you can to capture the complete beauty. For an expansive view of the stars, find a nice place to lie on your back. (Pro tip: A reclining chair is the true buddy of a stargazer.)
Place yourself, if necessary, that the moon is out of your field of view. That will decrease its overpowering luminosity.
Wait 30 minutes to change your eyes to the gloom. When night falls, the celestial display can commence and last until dawn.
From the north, the shooting stars can radiate, so you should be able to see them all over the sky.
The next meteor shower to watch for would be the Lyrids, which peak on the night of April 21, following the Quadrantids.
Check out more news and information on Space on Science Times.
First full moon of 2021 might be tough to see this week | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source – iNFOnews
The first full moon of 2021 and the second one of the winter season will be viewable over Kamloops and the Okanagan later this week.
The second full moon of the season, known variously as the Wolf, Snow or Hunger Moon, will look visibly full on Jan. 27 and 28, but in astronomical terms it is at its fullest on Jan. 28 at 11:16 a.m., Pacific time, when daytime might make it a bit difficult to see.
Earthsky.org says to expect to see a full-looking moon in the east at dusk or early evening. The moon should appear full to the average viewer the night before and the night after its Jan. 28 peak.
Unfortunately for us in Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton, this month’s Wolf Moon might prove difficult to view at any time during the next few days.
Environment Canada is calling for mainly cloudy skies with periods of snow or flurries from Tuesday night, Jan. 26 through Friday, Jan. 29, with a hint of sun forecast for Friday, so keep an eye out for a break in the clouds.
The next full moon is the Snow Moon, expected on Feb. 27.
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Axiom Space Announces Ax1 – First All-Private Crew To Visit ISS – Forbes
When it comes to space, even the wildest ideas have a chance of becoming reality – especially when the timing and technology align just so. Four years ago, Axiom Space announced plans to build a private space station; like for many companies with similar plans before them, the news was generally well received but with a healthy dose of “we’ll believe it when we see it.” Over the intervening years, Houston-based Axiom has continued the steady march forward and today took a major step on the planned path to create a private space station – and prove the demand for those willing to pay to reach it.
Today, Axiom Space announced the four members selected for the first private crew to visit the International Space Station. The mission, dubbed Ax1, will be lead by former NASA astronaut and Axiom vice president Michael López-Alegría as commander. American entrepreneur and non-profit activist investor Larry Connor, Canadian investor and philanthropist Mark Pathy, and impact investor and philanthropist Eytan Stibbe of Israel will round out the crew as pilot and two mission specialists respectively.
Early reception was generally positive; while some pointed out that the crew lacks gender diversity, others countered that former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is currently slated as Ax1’s backup commander. (John Shoffner of Knoxville, Tenn. is the backup mission pilot.)
“This collection of pioneers – the first space crew of its kind – represents a defining moment in humanity’s eternal pursuit of exploration and progress,” López-Alegría said. “I look forward to leading this crew and to their next meaningful and productive contributions to the human story, both on orbit and back home.”
The four-member crew, which is currently scheduled to launch to the ISS no earlier than January 2022 aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, will spend eight days on the space station before returning to earth. They will participate in research and philanthropy projects during that period, similar to the work current governmental astronauts do during their longer tenures on ISS. Each man paid $55 million for their spot on the Ax1 crew and to cover costs of launch and accommodation aboard ISS.
This is in line with the sums past space tourists have paid for individual flights to the ISS. Eight private citizens traveled to space between 2001 and 2009, each paying between reportedly between $20-25 million. A successful Ax1 mission will increase the number of private citizens who have visited the ISS by 50%, and pave the way for a more comfortable ride (Crew Dragon was generally praised for being comfortable by DM-2 astronaut Bob Behnken; the Russian Soyuz that carried past space tourists is notoriously uncomfortable.)
“We sought to put together a crew for this historic mission that had demonstrated a lifelong commitment to improving the lives of the people on Earth, and I’m glad to say we’ve done that with this group,” Axiom Space President & CEO Michael Suffredini said. “This is just the first of several Axiom Space crews whose private missions to the International Space Station will truly inaugurate an expansive future for humans in space – and make a meaningful difference in the world when they return home.”
However, the flight and stay aboard ISS are not guaranteed: Axiom Space is still negotiating a Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA) with NASA to enable private astronaut missions like Ax1 and future planned missions. The eventual goal is to send two missions per year to the ISS while Axiom Space builds out a private space station, first as a series of attached modules to the existing ISS structure, then as a free-floating station of its own.
The crew announcement marks an important first step, as it puts names and faces to the private citizens who may make history as early as January next year.
'It honestly blows my mind': U of A student part of team that found baby tyrannosaurus fossil – Edmonton Journal
A baby tyrannosaurus fossil found in central Alberta is helping the scientific community get a better understanding of how the dinosaur species developed at an early age.
University of Alberta PhD student Mark Powers was a part of the research team that found a claw from an embryo near the village of Morrin, about 270 kilometres southeast of Edmonton, a few years ago. The fossil, which dated back roughly 71.5 million years ago, was notable as it captured the dinosaur while still in early development.
The claw, about a centimetre long, was paired with another fossil, a jawbone, which was discovered in the ’80s in the United States.
Powers said researchers have a good grasp of tyrannosaurus during its teenage to adult years but there are few records of what they were like while very young. He said the smallest identifiable tyrannosaur on record is usually already three to four years old.
“We didn’t know anything about them hatching or their first year,” Powers said. “Finding these two specimens shows that they are around, and it gives us a search image to search for more babies. It helps to fill in the entire sequence of growing for a tyrannosaurus. We had a good idea of teenagers and later, but we had no idea about the babies.”
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