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New to-scale solar system model in Lethbridge is out of this world – CTV News Calgary



The Lethbridge Astronomy Society, along with multiple local partners, have come together to create a new, to-scale model of the solar system.

It’s only the second one of its kind in Canada.

According to the organization, it’s nearly impossible to truly understand the size and magnitude of our solar system, which is why they decided to shrink it down.

“It’s one of the largest models like this in the world, but the nice thing about it is its still small enough that you can see the whole thing in a day pretty easily,” said society president Tom Anderson.

The downtown clock tower was used as the initial scale for the model and starts moving its way out from there, using locations across Lethbridge and area to host the models:

  • The Sun at the Downtown Post Office Clock Tower;
  • Mercury at the Lethbridge Public Library’s Main Branch;
  • Venus at the Old Courthouse;
  • Earth & Moon at the Downtown Fire Station;
  • Mars at the Galt Museum & Archives;
  • Jupiter at the University of Lethbridge Science Commons Building;
  • Saturn at Chinook High School;
  • Uranus at Broxburn Vegetables & Café; and
  • Neptune at Park Lake Provincial Park.

Plaques at each site give information about the planets with a QR code you can scan to dive even deeper into the cosmos.

“The interest I think is out there, and I think people will want to come here and see this model because the next closest one is in Quebec,” said Anderson.

“The other ones are mostly in Europe and in the U.S.”

The model was unveiled at Chinook Regional High School.

Reid Decillia, a student at the school, was asked by the Astronomy Society and School Division to make a video highlighting the model.

“It was actually really fun to visit the different locations and see areas of Lethbridge that I wouldn’t normally visit,” Decillia told CTV News.

“Areas like out in Broxburn or just randomly a trip to Park Lake on a Tuesday.”

The solar system model cost more than $40,000.

The money came from funding from the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta, TELUS, Richardson Oilseed, the U of L, Lethbridge School Division and Ward Bros. Construction.

The initial idea came about back in 2004, but took close to 15 years to get off the ground.

Once it received the funding in 2019, it took over two years to complete.

In total, the model stretches over 20 kilometres with a scale ratio of 1:253,000,000.

The mayor hopes it will help attract visitors to town.

“It’s exciting, it’s a tourism thing,” said Blaine Hyggen, mayor of Lethbridge.

“This is just another tourism thing that we can put into our tool chest for tourist activities when you come to Lethbridge. So this is exciting.”

For more information, you can visit the Lethbridge Astronomy Society’s website.

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NASA discovers double crater on the moon – CTV News



The moon has a new double crater after a rocket body collided with its surface on March 4.

New images shared by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been circling the moon since 2009, have revealed the location of the unusual crater.

The impact created two craters that overlap, an eastern crater measuring 59 feet (18 metres) across and a western crater spanning 52.5 feet (16 metres). Together, they create a depression that is roughly 91.8 feet (28 metres) wide in the longest dimension.

Although astronomers expected the impact after discovering that the rocket part was on track to collide with the moon, the double crater it created was a surprise.

Typically, spent rockets have the most mass at the motor end because the rest of the rocket is largely just an empty fuel tank. But the double crater suggests that this object had large masses at both ends when it hit the moon.

The exact origin of the rocket body, a piece of space junk that had been careening around for years, is unclear, so the double crater could help astronomers determine what it was.

The moon lacks a protective atmosphere, so it’s littered with craters created when objects like asteroids regularly slam into the surface.

This was the first time a piece of space junk unintentionally hit the lunar surface that experts know of. But craters have resulted from spacecraft being deliberately crashed into the moon.

For example, four large moon craters attributed to the Apollo 13, 14, 15 and 17 missions are all much larger than each of the overlapping craters created during the March 4 impact. However, the maximum width of the new double crater is similar to the Apollo craters.


Bill Gray, an independent researcher focused on orbital dynamics and the developer of astronomical software, was first to spot the trajectory of the rocket booster.

Gray had initially identified it as the SpaceX Falcon rocket stage that launched the US Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, in 2015 but later said he’d gotten that wrong and it was likely from a 2014 Chinese lunar mission — an assessment NASA agreed with.

However, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied the booster was from its Chang’e-5 moon mission, saying that the rocket in question burned up on reentry to Earth’s atmosphere.

No agencies systematically track space debris so far away from Earth, and the confusion over the origin of the rocket stage has underscored the need for official agencies to monitor deep-space junk more closely, rather than relying on the limited resources of private individuals and academics.

However, experts say that the bigger challenge is the space debris in low-Earth orbit, an area where it can collide with functioning satellites, create more junk and threaten human life on crewed spacecraft.

There are at least 26,000 pieces of space junk orbiting Earth that are the size of a softball or larger and could destroy a satellite on impact; over 500,000 objects the size of a marble — big enough to cause damage to spacecraft or satellites; and over 100 million pieces the size of a grain of salt, tiny debris that could nonetheless puncture a spacesuit, according to a NASA report issued last year.

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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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