It’s a sad day for the astronomy world. The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico — home to an epic 305-meter (1,000-foot) telescope dish — is saying goodbye. The observatory suffered serious structural damage when a cable failed in August, and the situation’s only gotten worse.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced on Thursday that it’ll begin plans to decommission the telescope, ending the device’s 57 years of service.
“The decision comes after NSF evaluated multiple assessments by independent engineering companies that found the telescope structure is in danger of a catastrophic failure and its cables may no longer be capable of carrying the loads they were designed to support,” the NSF said in a statement.
A second cable failed in early November. This one was a main cable and it broke and fell into the reflector dish, damaging both the dish and other cables nearby. The cables were designed to support a 900-ton platform that hangs 450 feet above the dish.
“Each of the structure’s remaining cables is now supporting more weight than before, increasing the likelihood of another cable failure, which would likely result in the collapse of the entire structure,” the University of Central Florida said in a statement on Nov. 13. UCF manages the facility for the National Science Foundation.
The observatory was the backdrop to a dramatic fight scene in the 1995 James Bond movie GoldenEye with Pierce Brosnan. It also appeared in the 1997 Jodie Foster movie Contact. But Arecibo’s true legacy lies in the many scientific discoveries it made possible. It explored pulsars, expanded our knowledge of Mercury, spotted exoplanets and found fast radio bursts.
Scientists took to Twitter to mourn the observatory. “This is such a huge scientific gut punch. The end of an era,” said planetary scientist Tanya Harrison.
Field geophysicist Mika McKinnon tweeted, “I’m stunned that we’re losing Arecibo. Even if you don’t pay much attention to ground-based astronomy, you know this telescope from pop culture & movies. It’s somewhere special.”
The NSF decommissioning plan will focus on the telescope while attempting to preserve surrounding observatory structures. “When all necessary preparations have been made, the telescope would be subject to a controlled disassembly,” the foundation said.
NOAA scientists discover new species of gelatinous animal near Puerto Rico – CTV News
Scientists have discovered a new species of ctenophore, or comb jelly, near Puerto Rico.
The newly named Duobrachium sparksae was discovered two and a half miles below sea level by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries research team. It was found during an underwater expedition using a remotely operated vehicle in 2015 and filmed by a high-definition camera.
NOAA Fisheries scientists Mike Ford and Allen Collins spotted the ctenophore and recognized it as a new species. This is the first time NOAA scientists have identified a new species using only high-definition video, according to NOAA.
“The cameras on the Deep Discoverer robot are able to get high-resolution images and measure structures less than a millimeter. We don’t have the same microscopes as we would in a lab, but the video can give us enough information to understand the morphology in detail, such as the location of their reproductive parts and other aspects,” Collins said.
The scientists also said there was another unique quality to the discovery. During the expedition, they were not able to gather any samples, so the video evidence is all they have.
“Naming of organisms is guided by international code, but some changes have allowed descriptions of new species based on video — certainly when species are rare and when collection is impossible,” Ford said. “When we made these observations, we were 4,000 metres down, using a remote vehicle, and we did not have the capabilities to take a sample.”
There are between 100 and 150 species of comb jellies, and despite their name, they are not related to jellyfish at all, according to the NOAA. The species is carnivorous, and many are highly efficient predators that eat small arthropods and many kinds of larvae.
The researchers said that there did not initially get a long look at the animal, so there is still a lot about this new species that they do not know yet. Their findings were recently published in the journal Plankton and Benthos Research.
“We’re not sure of their role in the ecosystem yet,” Ford said.
“We can consider that it serves similar roles to other ctenophores near the ocean floor and it also has some similarities to other ctenophores in open ocean areas,” he said.
The videos are now part of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Collection and publicly accessible.
You might want to stay up late: lunar eclipse to coincide with November’s Beaver full moon early Monday morning – Toronto Star
A special celestial event is set to grace Toronto skies early Monday morning.
The November full moon, which is traditionally called the Beaver moon, will coincide with a penumbral lunar eclipse.
This kind of eclipse event happens when the moon crosses Earth’s outer shadow, or penumbra, giving it a reddish brown hue.
Those in Toronto will be able to observe the phenomenon starting 2:29 a.m. ET. The eclipse will be at its peak at 4:42 a.m. ET.
Environment Canada predicts partly cloudy skies at that time, but stargazing enthusiasts may be able to get a glimpse of the moon.
Although the Canadian Space Agency notes lunar eclipses are usually among the most observable because you can see them — quite safely — with the naked eye, with the more subtle penumbral eclipse they recommend using binoculars or a small telescope for the best viewing experience.
Fourth and last lunar eclipse of 2020 to occur on Monday – Geo News
The fourth and last lunar eclipse of 2020, a penumbral eclipse, will occur on November 30 (Monday).
According to Prof Dr Javed Iqbal, of the Institute of Space and Planetary Astrophysics (ISPA), University of Karachi, the eclipse will take place at 12:32pm according to Pakistan Standard Time.
The lunar eclipse will be seen in South and North America, Australia and Asian countries and will not be seen anywhere in Pakistan.
It will reach its peak at 2:42pm, Dr Iqbal said, adding that the shadow of the eclipse will be removed from the moon at 4:53pm.
The total duration of the eclipse will last 4 hours and 21 minutes, Dr Iqbal said.
The last three lunar eclipses occurred on January 10, June 5, and July 4.
A penumbral eclipse occurs when the Earth blocks some of the sun’s light from directly reaching the moon’s surface. All or part of the moon is covered with the outer part of its shadow, also known as the penumbra.
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