“For human beings, living now, this is the moment. We’re not going to see it again.”
Few occasions are so rare that they happen once every six millennia or so, but seeing comet NEOWISE is one of those gems.
While comets pass by Earth all the time, this one is able to be viewed with the naked eye.
That’s according to Brian McNamara, a professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo, and chair of that department.
“They’re notoriously hard to predict how bright they’ll be, but every once in a while, we get one that just looks gorgeous, and I gather that this is a good one,” he said in an interview.
“To see it, now it’s swung around the sun and you can see it in the evening. So, you have to wait until the sky dims three quarters of an hour to an hour after sunset. Look to the West, toward the sun, then to the North. If you can see the Big Dipper, which is an obvious thing, it will be hanging in the sky with the Dipper, below. Look down from the Dipper.”
McNamara also recommends averting your eyes a little bit rather than staring straight-on, as your eyes will be more sensitive to seeing it.
He also recommends binoculars over a telescope.
This is the brightest comet since Hale-Bop, which flew by Earth some 23 years ago according to McNamara. He added that NEOWISE will peak in visibility sometime in the next week.
“In ancient times, it evoked terror. Often times, it was thought to be a premonition of hard times. It’s not such thing, it’s just one of the spectacular aspects of astronomy that we get to see. It’s just debris that’s left over from the formation of the sun, the formation of the Earth and other planets. From a scientific point of view, they’re fascinating objects because they represent that elemental material out of which we all emerged. So, scientifically we enjoy it, but it’s a wonderful sight to see for anybody.”
McNamara noted that you have until the beginning of August to see NEOWISE, unless you plan on sticking around for another 6,800 years.
“Just go out an hour after sunset, if it doesn’t work tonight, try tomorrow. Try the next night. Over the next couple of weeks, maybe you’ll get lucky. Pull out your binoculars.”
New Carnivorous Dinosaur Unearthed on Isle of Wight | Paleontology – Sci-News.com
A new genus and species of theropod dinosaur from the Cretaceous period has been identified from bones found on the Isle of Wight, the United Kingdom.
The newly-discovered dinosaur roamed the Earth approximately 115 million years ago (Cretaceous period).
It belongs to Tetanurae, a group that includes most theropod dinosaurs, including megalosauroids, allosauroids, tyrannosauroids, ornithomimosaurs, maniraptorans, and birds.
Named Vectaerovenator inopinatus, the ancient creature is estimated to have been up to 4 m (13.1 feet) long.
The fossilized bones from the neck, back and tail of the new dinosaur were found over a period of weeks in 2019 in three separate discoveries, two by individuals and one by a family group, on the foreshore near Knock Cliff on the Isle of Wight.
“The joy of finding the bones we discovered was absolutely fantastic. I thought they were special and so took them along when we visited Dinosaur Isle Museum,” said Robin Ward, a fossil hunter who was with his family visiting the Isle of Wight when they made their discovery.
“They immediately knew these were something rare and asked if we could donate them to the museum to be fully researched.”
“It looked different from marine reptile vertebrae I have come across in the past,” said regular fossil hunter James Lockyer.
“I was walking along the beach, kicking stones and came across what looked like a bone from a dinosaur,” added regular fossil hunter Paul Farrell.
“I was really shocked to find out it could be a new species.”
Vectaerovenator inopinatus had large air spaces in some of the bones, one of the traits that helped the paleontologists identify its theropod origins.
These air sacs, also seen in modern birds, were extensions of the lung, and it is likely they helped fuel an efficient breathing system while also making the skeleton lighter.
“We were struck by just how hollow this animal was — it’s riddled with air spaces. Parts of its skeleton must have been rather delicate,” said lead author Chris Barker, a Ph.D. student at the University of Southampton.
“The record of theropod dinosaurs from the mid Cretaceous period in Europe isn’t that great, so it’s been really exciting to be able to increase our understanding of the diversity of dinosaur species from this time.”
“It is likely that Vectaerovenator inopinatus lived in an area just north of where its remains were found, with the carcass having washed out into the shallow sea nearby.”
The team’s paper will be published in the journal Papers in Palaeontology.
Chris Barker et al. 2020. A highly pneumatic ‘mid Cretaceous’ theropod from the British Lower Greensand. Papers in Palaeontology, in press
Broken cable damages giant radio telescope in Puerto Rico – CBC.ca
A broken cable caused severe damage at Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory, causing a suspension of operations for one of the world’s largest single-dish radio telescopes, officials said Tuesday.
The University of Central Florida, which manages the National Science Foundation facility, said in a statement that a cable that helps support a metal platform broke and caused a 30-metre gash on a reflector dish. The university said eight panels in the dome also were damaged and the platform used to access the dome is now twisted.
The statement said it was unclear why the cable broke. The cost of the damage wasn’t immediately known.
Scientists worldwide use the telescope to detect radio emissions emitted by objects such as stars and galaxies. It was featured in the Jodie Foster film Contact and the James Bond movie GoldenEye.
British fossil hunters find bones of new dinosaur species, cousin to T.Rex – TheChronicleHerald.ca
LONDON (Reuters) – Four bones found on a beach on the Isle of Wight, off England’s south coast, belong to a new species of theropod dinosaur, the group that includes Tyrannosaurus rex, researchers at the University of Southampton said on Wednesday.
The new dinosaur, which has been named Vectaerovenator inopinatus, lived in the Cretaceous period 115 million years ago and was estimated to have been up to four metres long, the palaeontologists said.
The name refers to the large air spaces found in the bones, which were discovered on the foreshore at Shanklin, a seaside resort on the island, last year.
The air sacs, which are also seen in modern birds, were extensions of the lung, the researchers said, and it is likely they helped fuel an efficient breathing system while also making the skeleton lighter.
One of the finders, Robin Ward, a regular fossil hunter from Stratford-upon-Avon in central England, said: “The joy of finding the bones we discovered was absolutely fantastic.”
“I thought they were special and so took them along when we visited Dinosaur Isle Museum,” he said. “They immediately knew these were something rare and asked if we could donate them to the museum to be fully researched.”
James Lockyer, from Spalding, Lincolnshire, in east England, was also visiting the island when he found another of the bones.
“I was searching a spot at Shanklin and had been told and read that I wouldn’t find much there,” he said. “However, I always make sure I search the areas others do not, and on this occasion it paid off.”
Chris Barker, a doctoral student who led the study, said: “We were struck by just how hollow the animal was – it’s riddled with air spaces. Parts of its skeleton must have been rather delicate.”
It is likely that the Vectaerovenator lived in an area just north of where its remains were found, with the carcass having washed out into the shallow sea nearby, the researchers said.
(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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