The new year has finally arrived, and 2021 kicks off with a nice light show for those willing to head outside in the early morning hours Sunday to see the Quadrantid meteor shower. The Quadrantids aren’t nearly as well known as the or , but they have the potential to be one of the strongest meteor showers of the year.
The challenge is that these shooting stars and bright fireballs risk getting washed out by the bright moon that won’t be far off its full phase Saturday night and Sunday morning. Also, the peak of the Quadrantids is quite narrow, with a window of just a few hours rather than a few days like other showers.
But with a little planning, you might be able to catch the display, which has been known to produce over 100 meteors per hour, including a fair amount of bright fireballs.
The International Meteor Organization predicts that the Quadrantids will officially peak in the hour before sunrise on the Pacific coast of much of North America, or a few hours after the sun is up on the East Coast. However, such predictions aren’t always accurate, so your best bet is simply to venture out sometime in the hours between about 2 a.m. and sunrise on Sunday.
You’ll want to avoid light pollution as much as possible and find a place to watch with good weather, a broad view of the sky and the ability to orient your gaze away from the bright moon as much as you can. Keep in mind that the show is generally better in the northern hemisphere, where you’re probably going to want to bundle up to brave winter temperatures in most locations.
The Quadrantids will seem to emanate from the region of the sky near Polaris, the North Star, but will zip across all parts of the sky.
This is because what’s really going on is that Earth is drifting through a cloud of debris tied to the asteroid 2003EH1, which might have once been a comet. While the origins of these meteors might be somewhat mysterious, they will nonetheless be colliding with our atmosphere and burning up in spectacular fashion.
Enjoy the first big night sky show of 2021!
Report says Ontario planning to open hospital dedicated to COVID-19 patients – Newstalk 610 CKTB (iHeartRadio)
Ontario is preparing to open its first hospital dedicated to treating COVID-19 patients.
The Globe and Mail is reporting that Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital will open next month as COVID-19 infections continue to surge in the province.
This hospital was scheduled to open as part of the Mackenzie Health Network and would be the first brand new hospital in the province in three decades.
With hospitals stretched to the limit, the province reportedly asked Mackenzie health about using the site for COVID-19 patients.
An unnamed official tells the Globe the hospital will initially be staffed by existing Mackenzie workers, with a plan to hire more as capacity increases.
Crucial NASA Moon Megarocket Test Shuts Down Earlier Than Planned – Forbes
NASA is trying to puzzle out why the engines shut down only one minute into an eight-minute crucial rocket test on Saturday (Jan. 16), ahead of a planned test launch to the moon in November or so.
The agency was wrapping up a lengthy and complicated set of tests on the Space Launch System rocket, with this “hot fire” test being the last of eight. Some of the previous tests have been delayed due to weather or technical issues, putting schedule pressure on the agency as it seeks to send the rocket from its testing grounds in Mississippi to its launching zone at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“The team successfully completed the countdown and ignited the engines, but the engines shut down a little more than one minute into the hot fire,” NASA said in a statement. “Teams are assessing the data to determine what caused the early shutdown, and will determine a path forward.”
The workers are doing their best to meet their deadlines and NASA hasn’t officially moved the test launch yet, so there is still hope they will get everything done safely and on time. The agency is also adept at adaptations when the situation calls for it. That said, NASA needs to certify the SLS not only for a test mission, but also for a human mission in 2023 to circle the moon. And the milestones will need to check off in good time to reach the moon’s surface with astronauts in 2024, as NASA hopes to do.
Figuring out what happened will take a little time, as the teams will be inspecting the core stage of the rocket that underwent the test, the associated equipment, and the data generated; the data will still be useful for mission work even though the run didn’t quite complete, NASA said.
“We will learn from today’s early shutdown, identify any corrections if needed, and move forward,” Rick Gilbrech, Stennis Center director, said in the same NASA statement.
The hot fire test took place just days before another big change is coming to NASA, which is the arrival of the Joe Biden administration in office Wednesday (Jan. 20) and international interest in the first 100 days of his mandate. With the new administration will eventually come a new NASA administrator (replacing the current administrator, Jim Bridenstine) and likely a new mandate for the agency (as most presidents like to put their stamp on space), although it may be longer than 100 days before these are announced.
It’s unclear, given the current economic environment induced by the pandemic, how much money the new administration will allocate for moon missions and whether they will continue to shoot for 2024 to land — or to wait a few years. But NASA did sign several memoranda of agreement for the Artemis moon program with other nations, providing more fuel to keep the program going due to international participation and commitment.
Scientists Are Figuring Out Why Some People Can 'Hear' The Voices of The Dead – ScienceAlert
Scientists have identified the traits that may make a person more likely to claim they hear the voices of the dead.
According to new research, a predisposition to high levels of absorption in tasks, unusual auditory experiences in childhood, and a high susceptibility to auditory hallucinations all occur more strongly in self-described clairaudient mediums than the general population.
The finding could help us to better understand the upsetting auditory hallucinations that accompany mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, the researchers say.
The Spiritualist experiences of clairvoyance and clairaudience – the experience of seeing or hearing something in the absence of an external stimulus, and attributed to the spirits of the dead – is of great scientific interest, both for anthropologists studying religious and spiritual experiences, and scientists studying pathological hallucinatory experiences.
In particular, researchers would like to better understand why some people with auditory experiences report a Spiritualist experience, while others find them more distressing, and receive a mental health diagnosis.
“Spiritualists tend to report unusual auditory experiences which are positive, start early in life and which they are often then able to control,” explained psychologist Peter Moseley of Northumbria University in the UK.
“Understanding how these develop is important because it could help us understand more about distressing or non-controllable experiences of hearing voices too.”
He and his colleague psychologist Adam Powell of Durham University in the UK recruited and surveyed 65 clairaudient mediums from the UK’s Spiritualists’ National Union, and 143 members of the general population recruited through social media, to determine what differentiated Spiritualists from the general public, who don’t (usually) report hearing the voices of the dead.
Overall, 44.6 percent of the Spiritualists reported hearing voices daily, and 79 percent said the experiences were part of their daily lives. And while most reported hearing the voices inside their head, 31.7 percent reported that the voices were external, too.
The results of the survey were striking.
Compared to the general population, the Spiritualists reported much higher belief in the paranormal, and were less likely to care what other people thought of them.
The Spiritualists on the whole had their first auditory experience young, at an average age of 21.7 years, and reported a high level of absorption. That’s a term that describes total immersion in mental tasks and activities or altered states, and how effective the individual is at tuning out the world around them.
In addition, they reported that they were more prone to hallucination-like experiences. The researchers noted that they hadn’t usually heard of Spiritualism prior to their experiences; rather, they had come across it while looking for answers.
In the general population, high levels of absorption were also strongly correlated with belief in the paranormal – but little or no susceptibility to auditory hallucinations. And in both groups, there were no differences in the levels of belief in the paranormal and susceptibility to visual hallucinations.
These results, the researchers say, suggest that experiencing the ‘voices of the dead’ is therefore unlikely to be a result of peer pressure, a positive social context, or suggestibility due to belief in the paranormal. Instead, these individuals adopt Spiritualism because it aligns with their experience and is personally meaningful to them.
“Our findings say a lot about ‘learning and yearning’. For our participants, the tenets of Spiritualism seem to make sense of both extraordinary childhood experiences as well as the frequent auditory phenomena they experience as practising mediums,” Powell said.
“But all of those experiences may result more from having certain tendencies or early abilities than from simply believing in the possibility of contacting the dead if one tries hard enough.”
Future research, they concluded, should explore a variety of cultural context to better understand the relationship between absorption, belief, and the strange, spiritual experience of ghosts whispering in one’s ear.
The research has been published in Mental Health, Religion and Culture.
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