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N.B. COVID roundup: 5 possible exposures reported –



New Brunswick Public Health reported 18 news cases of COVID-19 over Saturday and Sunday in the Moncton and Saint John regions.

There are now 37 active cases in the province. 

The 18 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 include:

Moncton region, Zone 1, 17 cases:

  • Two people under 19.
  • 11 people 20 to 29.
  • Three people 30 to 39.
  • A person 40 to 49.

Nine of the cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases, six cases are under investigation and two are travel-related.

The one case in the Saint John region, Zone 2, is a person age 20 to 29 and is travel-related. 

“With the number of new cases over the weekend, the importance of getting vaccinated is stronger than ever,” Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said in a news release. 

“Getting vaccinated will not only reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 and of being seriously ill, it will also help to protect your family, friends and our health-care system.” 

Russell said New Brunswickers should continue to get tested even if they show mild symptoms. 

That have now been 2,383 cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick and 46 deaths. There are no hospitalizations of COVID-19 in the province. 

The entire province is now in the green alert level, a change that was made Friday at midnight.

Vaccination rate up to 67.9 per cent

A total of 67.9 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated, bumped up from 66.7 per cent. 

More than 82 per cent of the population over age 12 has at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Vaccination clinic are being held across the province this holiday weekend.

More will take place Monday:

  • Saint John, Exhibition Park, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Pfizer-BioNTech.
  • Moncton, Moncton Coliseum, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Pfizer-BioNTech.
  • Edmundston, St-Jacques Chevalier de Colomb, 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. – Pfizer-BioNTech.
  • Bathurst, Bathurst Public Heath, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Pfizer-BioNTech.
  • Fredericton, Crowne Plaza, noon to 5 p.m. – Pfizer-BioNTech.

New public exposures

Public Health has identified five new possible exposures of COVID-19. 

All of the new possible exposure locations are in the Saint John region. 

Saint John region, Zone 2:

  • Saint John Ale House, 1 Market Square, Saint John, July 27 between 5:30 p.m and 7:30 p.m. 
  • Hopscotch, 4 Canterbury St., Saint John, July 27 between 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. 
  • Italian By Night, 97 Germain  St., Saint John, July 27 between 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. 
  • Churchill’s Bar and Pub, 8 Grannan St., Saint John, July 27 between 10:15 p.m. and midnight.
  • Uptown Pub Down Under Bar, 88 Prince William St., Saint John, July 27 between 11:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m.  

Public Health identified exposures in the Moncton area earlier this week. 

Moncton region, Zone 1:

  • Maritime Bus, Coach 1908 – from Moncton to Fredericton, departed at 4:20 p.m., July 26
  • Tony’s Bistro & Patisserie, 137 McLaughlin Rd., Moncton, July 23, between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.
  • Tony’s Bakery (50 rue du Marché, Dieppe, July 20 between 12:45 p.m. and 1:20 p.m., July 26 between noon and 1 p.m. and July 27 between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m.
  • Carrabba’s Italian Grill Restaurant, 1000 Main St., Moncton, July 20 between 4 p.m. and 11:35 p.m., July 22 between 4 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., and July 23 between 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. 
  • The Third Glass Bar, 819 Main St., Moncton, July 21 between 7 p.m. and 1:30 a.m., July 22 between 4 p.m. and 1:30 a.m., July 23 between 6:30 p.m. and 3 a.m., July 24 between 2 p.m. and 3 a.m. and July 26 between 7:30 p.m. and 2:30 a.m.
  • Gusto’s Italian Grill and Bar, 130 Westmorland Dr., Moncton, July 22 between 6:15 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. 
  • Starbucks, 361 Champlain St., Dieppe, July 22 between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.

What to do if you have a symptom

People concerned they might have COVID-19 can take a self-assessment test online.

Public Health says symptoms of the illness have included a fever above 38 C, a new or worsening cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, a new onset of fatigue, and difficulty breathing.

In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.

People with one of those symptoms should stay at home, call 811 or their doctor and follow instructions.

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7 Amazing Dark Sky National Parks – AARP



James Ronan/Getty Images/Steve Burns

Great Basin, Arches, and Voyageurs National Park

Can’t afford to join a commercial space mission offered by Jeff Bezos or Richard Branson? Consider the next best thing: seeing a starry, starry night in a sea of darkness, unimpeded by artificial light, at one of the International Dark Sky Parks in the U.S. It’s a rare treat, since light pollution prevents nearly 80 percent of Americans from seeing the Milky Way from their homes.

The International Dark-Sky Association (IDSA) has certified 14 of the nation’s 63 national parks as dark sky destinations. So visitors can take full advantage of such visibility, many of them offer specialized after-dark programs, from astronomy festivals and ranger-led full-moon walks to star parties and astrophotography workshops. If you prefer to stargaze on your own at a park, the National Park Service recommends bringing a pair of 7-by-50 binoculars, a red flashlight, which enhances night vision, and a star chart, which shows the arrangement of stars in the sky.

Here are seven of the IDSA-certified parks where you can appreciate how the heavens looked from the Earth before the dawn of electric light.

AARP Membership -Join AARP for just $9 per year when you sign up for a 5-year term

Join today and save 43% off the standard annual rate. Get instant access to discounts, programs, services, and the information you need to benefit every area of your life. 

Award-winning travel writer Veronica Stoddart is the former travel editor of USA Today. She has written for dozens of travel publications and websites.​​

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A Mystery Rocket Left A Crater On The Moon – Forbes



While we think of the moon as a static place, sometimes an event happens that reminds us that things can change quickly.

On March 4, a human-made object (a rocket stage) slammed into the moon and left behind a double crater, as seen by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission.

Officials announced June 23 that they spotted a double crater associated with the event. But what’s really interesting is there’s no consensus about what kind of rocket caused it.

China has denied claims that the rocket was part of a Long March 3 rocket that launched the country’s Chang’e-5 T1 mission in October 2014, although the orbit appeared to match. Previous speculation suggested it might be from a SpaceX rocket launching the DISCOVR mission, but newer analysis has mostly discredited that.

On a broader scale, the value of LRO observations like this is showing how the moon can change even over a small span of time. The spacecraft has been in orbit there since 2009 and has spotted numerous new craters since its arrival.

It’s also a great spacecraft scout, having hunted down the Apollo landing sites from orbit and also having tracked down a few craters from other missions that slammed into the moon since the dawn of space exploration.

It may be that humans return to the moon for a closer-up look in the coming decade, as NASA is developing an Artemis program to send people to the surface no earlier than 2025.

LRO will also be a valuable scout for that set of missions, as the spacecraft’s maps will be used to develop plans for lunar bases or to help scout safe landing sites for astronauts.

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A new planet hunter awakens: NIRPS instrument sees first light – News | Institute for Research on Exoplanets



The Near InfraRed Planet Searcher (NIRPS) instrument, developed in part at the Université de Montréal and the Université Laval, has successfully performed its first observations. Mounted on ESO’s 3.6-m telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, NIRPS’s mission is to search for new exoplanets around stars in the solar neighbourhood.

This photograph shows the NIRPS instrument and its adaptive optics system, which is installed at ESO’s 3.6-metre telescope. The light collected from the telescope is aimed through a series of mirrors before being injected into an optical fibre. Thanks to this adaptive-optics system, disturbances in the Earth’s atmosphere can be corrected for, allowing for sharper observations. Credit: N. Blind (Observatoire de Genève)/NIRPS consortium/ESO.

“NIRPS has been a long time in the making, and I’m thrilled with how this mission has come together!” says René Doyon, Director of the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic and Institute for Research on Exoplanets, Université de Montréal, and co-Principal Investigator of NIRPS. “This incredible infrared instrument will help us find the closest habitable worlds to our own Solar System.”

The instrument will focus its search on rocky worlds, which are key targets for understanding how planets form and evolve, and are the most likely planets where life may develop. NIRPS will search for these rocky exoplanets around small, cool red dwarf stars — the most common type of stars in our Milky Way galaxy, which have masses from about two to ten times smaller than our Sun.

NIRPS will search for exoplanets using the radial velocity method. As a planet orbits a star, its gravitational attraction causes the star to “wobble” slightly, causing its light to be redshifted or blueshifted as it moves away from or towards Earth. By measuring the subtle changes in the light from the star, NIRPS will help astronomers measure the mass of the planet as well as other properties.

NIRPS will search for these spectral wobbles using near-infrared light as this is the main range of wavelengths emitted by such small, cool stars. It joins the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) in the hunt for new rocky worlds. HARPS, which has been installed on ESO’s 3.6-m telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile since 2003, also uses the radial velocity method, but operates using visible light. Using both instruments simultaneously will provide a more comprehensive analysis of these rocky worlds.

Another key difference between the two instruments is that NIRPS will rely on a powerful adaptive optics system. Adaptive optics is a technique that corrects for the effects of atmospheric turbulence, which cause stars to twinkle. By using it, NIRPS will more than double its efficiency in both finding and studying exoplanets.

“NIRPS joins a very small number of high-performance near-infrared spectrographs and is expected to be a key player for observations in synergy with space missions like the James Webb Space Telescope and ground-based observatories,” adds François Bouchy, from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and co-Principal Investigator of NIRPS.

Discoveries made with NIRPS and HARPS will be followed up by some of the most powerful observatories in the world, such as ESO’s Very Large Telescope and the upcoming Extremely Large Telescope in Chile (for which similar instruments are in development). By working together with both space- and ground-based observatories, NIRPS will be able to gather clues on an exoplanet’s composition and even look for signs of life in its atmosphere.

To be able to operate in the infrared, the Near Infrared Planet Searcher (NIRPS) instrument needs to be kept extremely cool, to prevent heat from interfering with the observations. Here we see the cylindrical cryogenic chamber within which the instrument’s optical parts are installed. The cryogenic chamber keeps the components in a vacuum environment and cooled down to a freezing -190 degrees Celsius. Credit: F. Bouchy (Observatoire de Genève)/NIRPS consortium/ESO.

NIRPS was built by an international collaboration led by the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic and the Institute for Research on Exoplanets team at the Université de Montréal in Canada and the Observatoire Astronomique de l’Université de Genève in Switzerland. Much of the mechanical and optical assembly and testing of the instrument was performed over the last few years at Université Laval’s Centre for Optics, Photonics and Lasers (COPL) laboratories by Prof. Simon Thibault and his team. The National Research Council of Canada’s Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre contributed to the conception and construction of the spectrograph.

“After two years of integrating and testing the instrument in the lab, it is amazing for the optical engineering team to see NIRPS on the sky.” mentions Prof. Simon Thibault who is affiliated with the COPL and iREx and who overviewed optical integration and test phases at Université Laval.

Here we see the first raw data from the NIRPS instrument, the spectrum of Barnard’s star. Each horizontal line corresponds to a narrow region of light where both the absorption lines from the star and the absorption from the Earth’s atmosphere are visible. The dotted lines correspond to the so-called comb spectrum, a “ruler” that is used as a reference for the horizontal lines, so scientists can know which wavelengths of light they correspond to. Credit: ESO/NIRPS consortium.

Many Canadian members of the NIRPS have been working on site at La Silla for the instrument’s commissioning period and will continue to do so over the next several months to ensure the NIRPS’s scientific operations. The NIRPS science team, which includes several Canadian astronomers, is guaranteed 720 nights on the instrument during its first 5 years of operations due to their important contribution to the project. While the whole team was excited for NIRPS’s first light, it is safe to say that the best is yet to come!

More Information

The institutes involved in the NIRPS consortium are the Université de Montréal, Canada; the Université de Genève, Observatoire Astronomique, Switzerland; the Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço, Porto, Portugal; the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Spain; the Université de Grenoble, France; and the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil.

The Canadian NIRPS team, led by Université de Montréal/The Institute for Research on Exoplanets/Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic and including Université Laval, the National Research Council of Canada’s Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre, and the Royal Military College, was awarded funding by the Canadian Fund for Innovation to build the NIRPS instrument.


René Doyon
Professor, NIRPS co-Principal Investigator
Institute for Research on Exoplanets and Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic — Université de Montréal
Tel: +1 514 343 6111 x3204

Frédérique Baron
NIRPS Deputy Project Manager
Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic — Université de Montréal
Tel: +1 514 277 2858

Simon Thibault
Professor, NIRPS optical engineering team
Centre for Optics, Photonics and Lasers — Université Laval
Tel: +1 418 656 2131 x 412766

Anne-Sophie Poulin-Girard
Research Associate, NIRPS optical engineering team
Centre for Optics, Photonics and Lasers — Université Laval
Tel: +1 418 656 2131 x 404646

Nathalie Ouellette
Institute for Research on Exoplanets — Université de Montréal
Tel: +1 613 531 1762


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