Step outside around 45 minutes after sunset on Saturday evening (Aug. 21) and in a single glance you’ll be able to partake in a gathering of the moon and the biggest planet of our solar system, very low in the east-southeast sky.
Assuming your skies are reasonably clear, you’ll be able to see the moon passing near to the planet Jupiter. By about 10:30 p.m. local daylight time, the eye-catching celestial duo will be visible, roughly one-quarter up from the southeast horizon to the point directly overhead (called the zenith). The moon will be less than 12 hours from officially turning full and will be situated to the lower right of Jupiter, a distance of roughly 5 degrees.
That’s equal to about ten times the apparent size of the moon, and that means you should be able to fit at least 10 full moons in the gap between them in Saturday’s evening sky. And yet when you see them in the sky, they’ll be seemingly much closer together because the moon appears normally twice as big to our eyes compared to what its half-degree size would otherwise suggest; indeed, an incredible illusion!
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Point this “dynamic duo” out to your friends on Saturday evening and ask them to estimate how many moons would fit in the gap between Jupiter and the moon. Likely their response will be something like “Four … maybe five.” Then watch the look of incredulity that spreads across their face when you reveal that the correct answer is closer to 10.
An Illusion of perspective
Keep in mind that what you’ll be seeing on Saturday evening is all a matter of perspective. Jupiter is 373 million miles (600 million kilometers) away from Earth, while the moon is only 233,000 miles (375,000 km) distant. As a result, the moon appears to move much faster (its own diameter per hour) against the starry background compared to the giant planet.
But on Saturday night, they will be aligned as seen from our Earthly perspective to make them appear as eye-catching sights in our sky
And as a result of its more rapid movement, on Saturday evening, the moon will change its position rather noticeably relative to Jupiter. Right after sunset, Jupiter will appear to the upper left of the moon. By 1 a.m. local time, Jupiter will “top” the moon, appearing almost directly above it. And by 5 a.m. Sunday morning, as both are about ready to call it a night low in the west-southwest sky, Jupiter will have shifted to a position to the upper right of the moon.
A red spot and four other moons to view
If you have a telescope or high-power binoculars, make sure to train your sights on Jupiter, a prime attraction best observed between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. when it’s high in the sky and its image reasonably calm.
Jupiter was at opposition to the sun during the overnight hours of Aug. 19-20, meaning it was at its biggest and brightest of the year. As such, you can observe Jupiter from dusk to dawn throughout the remainder of this month. Dark belts, light bands and many other features (sometimes referred to as “garlands” and “festoons”).
Over the past 30 years or so, Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot has gone from oval to a more circular shape, while displaying a plush orange-red coloration. It will appear nearly dead-center on Jupiter’s disk at around 11 p.m. EDT on Saturday night (0300 on Sunday, Aug. 22 GMT).
And Jupiter’s four bright Galilean moons are always performing. They seem like small stars, though two of them are really larger than our own moon. It’s indeed possible to watch them change their positions relative to each other from hour to hour and from night to night.
In fact, if you look at Jupiter with a small telescope or even steadily held binoculars on Saturday evening, you’ll see all four of those big satellites. On one side of Jupiter will be the moons Callisto and Io (much closer to Jupiter), while on the other side you’ll be able to see the biggest of the four (Ganymede) and the smallest (Europa) engaged in an incredibly tight conjunction. The two will appear closest together at around 11:30 p.m. EDT (0330 GMT), when Europa will be passing less than 3 arc seconds above Ganymede — so closely spaced that binoculars and low-power telescopes will likely show them as a single object. But only a couple of hours before and after this time, both should be readily visible in smaller instruments.
And if clouds hide your view of Jupiter and the moon, you’ll have another chance to see them near each other again on Sept. 17-18.
Editor’s note: If you snap an amazing photo of the Jupiter and the moon in August 2021 and would like to share it for a story or photo gallery, send images and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, the Farmers’ Almanac and other publications. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.
SpaceX Crew Dragon cupola provides awe-inspiring view of the Earth from space – Californianewstimes.com
Give a few seconds (or a minute or two if needed) to startle and gaze at the Earth’s scenery from the recently launched SpaceX Crew Dragon above.
on Wednesday,Tied to the SpaceX Crew Dragon with one of the upgrades: Cupola. The transparent dome at the top of the Dragon Capsule provides the Inspiration 4 crew with the best views of the Earth that up-and-coming astronauts can dream of. This is the first time a cupola has been installed on a dragon. Dragons typically carry astronauts and cargo to the ISS, with docking ports at the top instead of windows.
A short video posted to the SpaceX Twitter account hours after the launch shows the cupola’s transparent dome against the Earth, which is a pale blue marble.
As the Crew Dragon orbits from a height of 585 kilometers (more than 360 miles), our planet is exposed to the sun and slowly roams around the orbs.
Inspiration 4’s crew (commander Jared Isaacman, doctor’s assistant, childhood cancer survivor Haley Arseno, aerospace engineer Chris Sembroski, African-American geology professor Sian Proctor) are in orbit for three days. Ride and stare at the cupola and the earth.
And did you say that the cupola is right next to the dragon’s toilet? Yeah, the view of the earth should be visible from the crew dragon’s bathroom. Isaacman told insiders Toilets are one of the few places where you can separate yourself from others with privacy curtains and have the best toilet windows of mankind. “When people inevitably have to use the bathroom, they will see one view of hell,” he said.
Astronauts who have been to space often talk about a phenomenon called the “overview effect.” Looking at the planet from above, the idea is that the way we think about the planet and the mass of humankind that depends on it will change. There may be a lot of revelation at the end of the Inspiration 4 journey, as I don’t know if they thought of it while sitting in the can.
The mission is the first mission to take off from the Florida coast on Wednesday night and be launched with four civilians. It is expected to return to Earth on Saturday and land in the Atlantic Ocean.
SpaceX Crew Dragon cupola provides awe-inspiring view of the Earth from space Source link SpaceX Crew Dragon cupola provides awe-inspiring view of the Earth from space
Oldest human footprints in North America found in New Mexico – Al Jazeera English
Fossilised footprints dating 23,000 years push back the known date the continent was colonised by thousands of years.
Footprints dating back 23,000 years have been discovered in the United States, suggesting humans settled North America long before the end of the last Ice Age, according to researchers.
The findings announced on Thursday push back the date at which the continent was colonised by its first inhabitants by thousands of years.
The footprints were left in mud on the banks of a long-since dried up lake, which is now part of a New Mexico desert.
Sediment filled the indentations and hardened into rock, protecting evidence of our ancient relatives, and giving scientists a detailed insight into their lives.
The first footprints were found in a dry lake bed in White Sands National Park in 2009. Scientists at the United States Geological Survey recently analysed seeds stuck in the footprints to determine their approximate age, ranging from 22,800 to 21,130 years ago.
“Many tracks appear to be those of teenagers and children; large adult footprints are less frequent,” write the authors of the study published in the American journal Science.
“One hypothesis for this is the division of labour, in which adults are involved in skilled tasks whereas ‘fetching and carrying’ are delegated to teenagers.
“Children accompany the teenagers, and collectively they leave a higher number of footprints.”
Researchers also found tracks left by mammoths, prehistoric wolves, and even giant sloths, which appear to have been approximately at the same time as the humans visited the lake.
The Americas were the last continent to be reached by humanity.
For decades, the most commonly accepted theory has been that settlers came to North America from eastern Siberia across a land bridge – the present-day Bering Strait.
From Alaska, they headed south to kinder climes.
Archaeological evidence, including spearheads used to kill mammoths, has long suggested a 13,500-year-old settlement associated with so-called Clovis culture – named after a town in New Mexico.
This was considered the continent’s first civilisation, and the forerunner of groups that became known as Native Americans.
However, the notion of Clovis culture has been challenged over the past 20 years, with new discoveries that have pushed back the age of the first settlements.
Generally, even this pushed-back estimate of the age of the first settlements had not been more than 16,000 years, after the end of the so-called “last glacial maximum” – the period when ice sheets were at their most widespread.
This episode, which lasted until about 20,000 years ago, is crucial because it is believed that with ice covering much of the northern parts of the continent, human migration from Asia into North America and beyond would have been very difficult.
Oldest human footprints in North America found in New Mexico – CTV News
Fossilized footprints discovered in New Mexico indicate that early humans were walking across North America around 23,000 years ago, researchers reported Thursday.
The first footprints were found in a dry lake bed in White Sands National Park in 2009. Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey recently analyzed seeds stuck in the footprints to determine their approximate age, ranging from around 22,800 and 21,130 years ago.
The findings may shed light on a mystery that has long intrigued scientists: When did people first arrive in the Americas, after dispersing from Africa and Asia?
Most scientists believe ancient migration came by way of a now-submerged land bridge that connected Asia to Alaska. Based on various evidence — including stone tools, fossil bones and genetic analysis — other researchers have offered a range of possible dates for human arrival in the Americas, from 13,000 to 26,000 years ago or more.
The current study provides a more solid baseline for when humans definitely were in North America, although they could have arrived even earlier, the authors say. Fossil footprints are more indisputable and direct evidence than “cultural artifacts, modified bones, or other more conventional fossils,” they wrote in the journal Science, which published the study Thursday.
“What we present here is evidence of a firm time and location,” they said.
Based on the size of the footprints, researchers believe that at least some were made by children and teenagers who lived during the last ice age.
David Bustos, the park’s resource program manager, spotted the first footprints in ancient wetlands in 2009. He and others found more in the park over the years.
“We knew they were old, but we had no way to date the prints before we discovered some with (seeds) on top,” he said Thursday.
Made of fine silt and clay, the footprints are fragile, so the researchers had to work quickly to gather samples, Bustos said.
“The only way we can save them is to record them — to take a lot of photos and make 3D models,” he said.
Earlier excavations in White Sands National Park have uncovered fossilized tracks left by a saber-toothed cat, dire wolf, Columbian mammoth and other ice age animals.
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
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