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Russia space agency applauds SpaceX launch but calls Trump's reaction 'hysteria' – National Post

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Russia’s space agency criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s “hysteria” about the first spaceflight of NASA astronauts from U.S. soil in nine years, but also said on Sunday it was pleased there was now another way to travel into space.

SpaceX, the private rocket company of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, launched two Americans into orbit on Saturday en route to the International Space Station (ISS), a landmark mission that ended Russia’s monopoly on flights there.

Trump, who observed the launch, said the United States had regained its place as the world’s leader in space, that U.S. astronauts would soon land on Mars, and that Washington would soon have “the greatest weapons ever imagined in history.”

NASA had had to rely on Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, to get to the ISS since its final space shuttle flight in 2011, and Trump hailed what he said was the end of being at the mercy of foreign nations.

The U.S. success will potentially deprive Roscosmos, which has suffered corruption scandals and a number of malfunctions, of the lucrative fees it charged to take U.S. astronauts to the ISS.

“The hysteria raised after the successful launch of the Crew Dragon spacecraft is hard to understand,” Vladimir Ustimenko, spokesman for Roscosmos, wrote on Twitter after citing Trump’s statement.

“What has happened should have happened long ago. Now it’s not only the Russians flying to the ISS, but also the Americans. Well that’s wonderful!”

SpaceX’s capsule docked with the ISS on Sunday.

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin congratulated NASA chief Jim Bridenstine for the success.

“Bravo! I know how anxious you were for this major event to become a success,” Rogozin wrote on Twitter.

Rogozin said he had appreciated a barbed joke by Musk referencing his own 2014 barb that the United States should try using a trampoline to get to the ISS. Musk told a post-launch news conference “the trampoline is working.”

Ustimenko said Russia planned to test two new rockets this year and to resume its lunar program next year.

“It will be interesting,” said Ustimenko.

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July's full 'Buck Moon' wows skywatchers despite lackluster lunar eclipse – Space.com

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Macy’s fireworks go off on the top of the Empire State Building as the full buck moon rises in the sky on July 4, 2020 as seen from Weehawken, New Jersey. (Image credit: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

Some skywatchers may have seen more than mere fireworks in the night sky during their Fourth of July celebrations on Saturday: the full moon.

Overnight on Saturday and Sunday (July 4 and 5), July’s full “Buck Moon” dipped through the outermost edges in a penumbral lunar eclipse. While the lunar eclipse was subtle and difficult to see — one eclipse expert said it would “invisible” — the full moon was still a spectacular sight for skywatchers around the world. 

This weekend’s eclipse was the third of four penumbral lunar eclipses in lunar eclipses. During a lunar eclipse, Earth comes between the moon and the sun, and the three align exactly (or almost exactly.) Because of this alignment, Earth casts a shadow on the moon’s face. 

Related: Lunar eclipse 2020 guide: When, where & how to see them

In a total lunar eclipse, the moon is complete in Earth’s shadow and can take on a blood-red hue. But during a penumbral lunar eclipse, only the diffuse outer shadow of the Earth, known as the penumbra, falls onto the face of the moon. This means  the darkening effect is very slight. 

You can see how imperceptible the effect was in July’s lunar eclipse in the photos of July’s full Buck Moon below.

The full Buck Moon of July 2020 rises over the Empire State Building in New York City, United States on July 4, 2020 (Image credit: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

All lunar eclipses occur when the moon is full. Interestingly enough, during eclipses (but also during every full and new moon), gravitational forces on Earth are particularly strong because of the sun’s influence when it aligns with the moon and our planet. That makes our planet’s oceans bulge and causes high tides to be higher and low tides to be lower. 

After this weekend’s firework-filled eclipse fun, the next lunar eclipse, which will also be a penumbral eclipse, will be this fall, on Nov. 29-30.

While this weekend’s lunar eclipse was nearly imperceptible for many us, it was theoretically visible to people in Southern and Western Europe, most of Africa, most of North America, South America, the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions and Antarctica. Those in the U.S. may have even spotted the eclipse while looking up to enjoy fireworks displays, as the lunar eclipse fell on July 4, which is Independence Day in the country. 

The eclipse’s many nicknames come from a variety of sources. Penumbral lunar eclipses that occur in July are given the “Thunder Moon” moniker, which comes from the summer storms that happen around the time of July’s full moon, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac

Indigenous American tribes have also called this moon the “Buck Moon” because this event also usually coincides with the time when male deer begin to grow new, velvety antlers. Some also know it as the “Hay Moon” because it usually comes at a time when farmers are stocking their barns with hay, according to Earthsky.org

Also, in addition to simply looking up, enjoying the sight and learning more about our rocky satellite, throughout history, many cultures around the world have adopted customs in accordance with lunar eclipses. For example, many have viewed lunar eclipses as times or portents of danger. 

Email Chelsea Gohd at cgohd@space.com or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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White-throated sparrows' new tune 'going viral' – ABC News

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Researchers speculate that female sparrows may be attracted to it.

This is an Inside Science story.

When researchers first noticed white-throated sparrows singing a strange song in the Canadian province of British Columbia, they figured it was a regional dialect. Dialects are common among birds and other singing animals living in isolated populations.

Then the song began to spread.

“It was very exciting to sort of see this wave going across the country,” said Ken Otter, a biologist at the University of Northern British Columbia. “It basically is like it’s going viral.”

Traditional white-throated sparrow songs begin with three long whistles and end with a series of rapid notes in sets of three. Canadian birdwatchers liken the rhythm to “Oh, my sweet Canada, Canada, Canada.” With the new song, birds drop the third note from some of the triplet phrases, turning the song into “Oh, my sweet Cana Cana Canada.”

Using recordings from a variety of sources, the researchers saw that the new doublet song spread eastward in the last two decades. By 2019, only the birds on the country’s far eastern edge still sang the classic triplet song. The new song spread much like a disease — in fact, the researchers used disease-tracking statistical techniques to analyze their data. But as a behavioral phenomenon, it resembled human trends and fads, said Otter. He and his colleagues published their findings July 2 in the journal Current Biology.

How did this happen? The sparrows’ movements offer clues.

Historically, white-throated sparrows bred east of the Rocky Mountains in Canada and spent winters in the central and eastern U.S. But in the mid-20th century, a breeding population appeared west of the Rockies in British Columbia. Around the same time, sparrows began showing up in California during the winter.

Researchers initially assumed the birds on either side of the Rockies were isolated from each other, with western birds overwintering in California and eastern birds overwintering in the other parts of the U.S. But genetic testing and data from tracking devices revealed that birds from both regions were intermingling.

Otter and his colleagues found that some of the British Columbia birds overwintered in California, while the rest overwintered in Texas and Oklahoma — part of the birds’ historical winter range that is also used by sparrows from the Canadian prairies. White-throated sparrows sing during winter, so birds from both sides of the Rockies would have a chance to learn from each other.

Otter and his colleagues aren’t sure why the doublet song became so popular, but they speculate that female sparrows may be attracted to the novelty. Indeed, a third song variant that adjusts the volume mid-note has recently turned up in the West, and it appears to be spreading even faster than the doublet song.

Citizen science projects such as eBird and Xeno-canto make it possible to study such phenomena more effectively than ever before.

“Suddenly, you have people all across North America uploading songs,” Otter said. “There’s no way that we could look at this kind of spread if we didn’t have that massive proliferation of citizen scientists.”

Inside Science is an editorially independent nonprofit print, electronic and video journalism news service owned and operated by the American Institute of Physics.

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How sparrows from B.C. spread a new song to the rest of North America – CTV News

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VANCOUVER —
A team of biologists spent 14 years tracking how a group of birds from B.C. became song influencers, eventually changing how the white-throated sparrow warbles from the Rocky Mountains all the way to the border of Quebec.

“It hasn’t been reported on this kind of magnitude or scale before, and that’s why it was interesting project to do, to look at how quickly the song is actually spreading,” Ken Otter, a biology professor at the University of Northern B.C., told CTV News.

The original sparrow song included an introductory phrase, and then three notes at the end, something like, “Oh my sweet Canada Canada Canada,” Otter explained.

The new song has just two notes at the end, resulting in something more like, “Oh my sweet Cana Cana Cana.” (Watch the video to see a full interview with Otter, and to hear the two different types of birdsong.)

Otter and other researchers initially noticed the change in birdsong in 2005 in central B.C., and assumed it was contained to just one small population of white-throated sparrow.

“But in about 2010 to 2014, we realized the song seemed to be spreading eastward, so we’ve been enlisting people to help us track this and found that the song has spread right into Ontario and is bordering right around Quebec,” Otter explained.

Birdsong does change over time, Otter said, but typically a new song type doesn’t completely replace an older song. It’s also very unusual for it to happen so quickly.

The researchers tracked the migration patterns of the birds, and the song’s spread, by attaching geolocators to certain birds from Prince George, B.C. and tracking their migration to other parts of Canada and the United States.

“They have to learn their songs from adult tutors, and so what you would expect is that most of the birds would learn the song that’s common to their environment or their neighbourhood,” Otter said.

“And so when the new song type emerges, you’d expect it to peter out, but what’s happening is these birds seem to be adopting the new song type.”

No one knows for sure why the birds changed their tune, but in a paper Otter and the research team published, they hypothesize that it could help the males attract female mates.

“Within white-throated sparrows, females prefer songs that include the terminal phrase over those that simply have the introductory notes, suggesting that females are attentive to the terminal portion of the song,” according to the researchers.

“But if female response to song variants wanes slightly over time… males may integrate novelty to maintain female interest.”

With files from CTV News.

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