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The backyard astronomer: Starbirth, and how to see it – Straight.com

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The stars we see on a clear night have been burning for millions or billions of years. But how did they come to be?

Stars, like our sun, are created from vast interstellar clouds of gas and dust called nebulae. These stellar objects can measure more than 100 light years across. (A light year is the distance light travels in one year; because light moves at a speed of approximately 300,000 kilometres per second, a light year is almost 9.5 trillion kilometres.) Over time, smaller clouds in the nebula might rub against each other, or the shockwave of a nearby supernova might disturb the cloud to start a slight spinning motion.

As the cloud rotates, it picks up speed as more gas starts condensing and collapsing toward the middle, and as gravity accelerates the process. The core continually gets hotter and grows, much like the snowball effect. Over time, the star grows to a critical mass, temperatures in the core reach about 15,000,000 °C, and the star lights up. It took our sun about 50 million years to grow.

These regions of starbirth are also called “stellar nurseries”, and you can easily see one tonight. It is called the Orion Nebula, or M42. The constellation Orion the Hunter now rises in the east a couple of hours after sunset. Locate the iconic three stars in a row that form his belt. Look down the imaginary sword hanging off the belt and you will see a hazy patch of light. This is where thousands of stars will eventually be born, but the process will still take millions of years.

The Orion Nebula is located about 1,500 light years from us and measures about 30 light years across. The Hubble Space Telescope has imaged small cocoons of material showing the baby stars forming in the swirling cloud of dust and gas. As with many stars, possible exoplanets will be born from the leftover dusty material. This is the same process our solar system followed in the early stages of its birth.

Our Milky Way contains hundreds of these emission nebulae, but a telescope is required to locate and observe them. M42 is an easy target for the unaided eye or binoculars. It is also well placed on the celestial equator, allowing both the northern and southern hemispheres to see it.

Till next time, clear skies.

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NASA astronaut plans to cast her ballot from space station – 570 News

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ATLANTA — NASA astronaut Kate Rubins told The Associated Press on Friday that she plans to cast her next vote from space – more than 200 miles above Earth.

Rubins is just outside Moscow in Star City, Russia, preparing with two cosmonauts for a mid-October launch and a six-month stay at the International Space Station.

“I think it’s really important for everybody to vote,” Rubins said. “If we can do it from space, then I believe folks can do it from the ground, too.”

Most U.S. astronauts live in Houston. Texas law allows them to vote from space using a secure electronic ballot. Mission Control forwards the ballot to the space station and relays the completed ballot back to the county clerk.

“It’s critical to participate in our democracy,” Rubins said. “We consider it an honour to be able to vote from space.”

NASA astronauts have voted from space before. Rubins and Shane Kimbrough cast their votes from the International Space Station.

Rubins, the first person to sequence DNA in space, plans to work on a cardiovascular experiment and conduct research using the space station’s Cold Atom Lab.

While she’s there, she’ll celebrate the 20th anniversary of continuous human presence on the space station, and welcome the crew of the second SpaceX commercial crew mission, expected to arrive in late October.

_____

Follow Alex Sanz on Twitter at @AlexSanz.

Alex Sanz, The Associated Press

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Teenage British activist stages climate protest on Arctic ice floe – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Natalie Thomas

ABOARD ‘ARCTIC SUNRISE’ (Reuters) – Like many of her generation, Mya-Rose Craig feels strongly that adults have failed to take the urgent action needed to tackle global warming and so she has headed to the Arctic Ocean to protest.

Armed with a placard reading ‘Youth Strike for Climate”, the 18-year-old British activist is staging the most northerly protest in a series of youth strikes worldwide.

The strikes, made famous by Swedish campaigner Greta Thunberg, are resuming after a lull caused by the global coronavirus pandemic to draw public attention back to the threat posed by climate change.

“I’m here to… try and make a statement about how temporary this amazing landscape is and how our leaders have to make a decision now in order to save it,” she told Reuters Television as she stood with her placard on the edge of the Arctic sea ice.

“I absolutely think that my generation has always had to think about climate change… which is why as we’ve got older there’s been this massive wave of just this need for change, this demand for change when we realised the grown-ups aren’t going to solve this so we have to do it ourselves.”

Craig, from southwest England, is known as “Birdgirl” online, where her blog chronicling her bird-watching experiences has attracted thousands of followers.

She has travelled hundreds of miles above the Arctic Circle aboard a Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise.

Climate data shows the Arctic is one of the fastest changing ecosystems on the planet, with serious consequences for wildlife from polar bears and seals to plankton and algae, while the melting sea ice contributes to rising sea levels worldwide.

Warming in the Arctic shrank the ice covering the polar ocean this year to its second-lowest extent in four decades, scientists said on Monday.

For Craig, getting to the ice floe involved a two-week quarantine in Germany, followed by a three-week voyage to the edge of the sea ice.

Craig said those who dismiss the youth protests as just a rebellious phase by her generation are wrong, and she wants those in power to stop treating climate change as a low-priority issue, raised only to appease “the lefties in the corner”.

“It’s everything now and it has to be treated like that,” she said.  

(Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Gareth Jones; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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Park City Men's Shed weathers storm – Winnipeg Free Press

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With no end in sight for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Park City Men’s Shed is doing what it can to keep its doors open.

After shutting down in March in light of the pandemic, the Park City Men’s Shed group began meeting again in late June. 

“We’ve been able to open things up on a limited basis,” explained organizer Fred Bobrowski. “With winter coming up, there aren’t many outdoor activities. So coming to visit and socializing, that’s big.”

Bobrowski got involved in Men’s Shed after hearing a presentation that Doug Mackie, chair of the Canadian Men’s Shed Association, made to the Transcona Council for Seniors. Park City Men’s Shed has been meeting at the Elmwood/EK Active Living Centre (180 Poplar Ave.) now for over two years. The group now meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Membership in the group costs $35, $20 of which pays for a membership in the Elmwood/EK Active Living Centre, which offers a number of other programs throughout the week. 

“Guys come and do their own thing,” Bobrowski said. “A lot of guys do walking sticks or canes. Some are still doing cottonwood carving. Some guys are making some good sized Christmas table ornaments. Stuff like that. We hope to get some guys in who can provide some instruction.”

The group has moved from the back room where members worked closely together, chatting or taking a break from projects to play crib, to the larger front room of the Active Living Centre. 

“It may be a while before we can do that again, the way things are going,” Bobrowski admitted. “But mostly, the guys come to have a coffee, visit, socialize and have some quiet time to work. It’s not complicated, that’s the beauty.”

While operating with a limited capacity, the space provides plenty of room for members to work on their projects.

“We practise social distancing,” Bobrowski said. “Some guys feel more comfortable with a mask, some don’t, so they make sure they social distance. There’s lots of room. We do whatever it takes.”

Maurice Williamson, an East Kildonan resident, joined the group a couple of years ago. Taking a break from carving walking sticks, he said he enjoys coming out to the group each week, when he can.

Phil Veness, another EK resident, was attending his first meeting on Sept. 21 after hearing about Men’s Shed on the radio. 

“I was looking for something to do,” he said. “Thought I’d try it out.” 

While the woodworking projects are what anchors the group, it’s the fellowship that keeps members coming back each week. The social isolation that resulted during the lockdown in response to the COVID-19 reinforced how important the group is to many members.

“The guys were eager to meet,” Bobrowski said. “It’s good to see them all again.”

However, Bobrowski added that there are a number of members who aren’t comfortable meeting up again just yet.

“It’s just not for them until things are a little safer,” he said.

The Park City Men’s Shed are hosting a tool sale on Sat., Oct. 3.

“If people want some half-decent tools at a good price, we’re here,” Bobrowski said.

The sale, which takes place at 180 Poplar Ave. from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and also includes garden tools, acts as a fundraiser for the group. 

“It helps pay for our costs, wood and stuff like that,” Bobrowski added.

With no end in sight for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Park City Men’s Shed is doing what it can to keep its doors open.

After shutting down in March in light of the pandemic, the Park City Men’s Shed group began meeting again in late June. 

“We’ve been able to open things up on a limited basis,” explained organizer Fred Bobrowski. “With winter coming up, there aren’t many outdoor activities. So coming to visit and socializing, that’s big.”

Bobrowski got involved in Men’s Shed after hearing a presentation that Doug Mackie, chair of the Canadian Men’s Shed Association, made to the Transcona Council for Seniors. Park City Men’s Shed has been meeting at the Elmwood/EK Active Living Centre (180 Poplar Ave.) now for over two years. The group now meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Membership in the group costs $35, $20 of which pays for a membership in the Elmwood/EK Active Living Centre, which offers a number of other programs throughout the week. 

“Guys come and do their own thing,” Bobrowski said. “A lot of guys do walking sticks or canes. Some are still doing cottonwood carving. Some guys are making some good sized Christmas table ornaments. Stuff like that. We hope to get some guys in who can provide some instruction.”

The group has moved from the back room where members worked closely together, chatting or taking a break from projects to play crib, to the larger front room of the Active Living Centre. 

“It may be a while before we can do that again, the way things are going,” Bobrowski admitted. “But mostly, the guys come to have a coffee, visit, socialize and have some quiet time to work. It’s not complicated, that’s the beauty.”

While operating with a limited capacity, the space provides plenty of room for members to work on their projects.

“We practise social distancing,” Bobrowski said. “Some guys feel more comfortable with a mask, some don’t, so they make sure they social distance. There’s lots of room. We do whatever it takes.”

Maurice Williamson, an East Kildonan resident, joined the group a couple of years ago. Taking a break from carving walking sticks, he said he enjoys coming out to the group each week, when he can.

Phil Veness, another EK resident, was attending his first meeting on Sept. 21 after hearing about Men’s Shed on the radio. 

“I was looking for something to do,” he said. “Thought I’d try it out.” 

While the woodworking projects are what anchors the group, it’s the fellowship that keeps members coming back each week. The social isolation that resulted during the lockdown in response to the COVID-19 reinforced how important the group is to many members.

“The guys were eager to meet,” Bobrowski said. “It’s good to see them all again.”

However, Bobrowski added that there are a number of members who aren’t comfortable meeting up again just yet.

“It’s just not for them until things are a little safer,” he said.

The Park City Men’s Shed are hosting a tool sale on Sat., Oct. 3.

“If people want some half-decent tools at a good price, we’re here,” Bobrowski said.

The sale, which takes place at 180 Poplar Ave. from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and also includes garden tools, acts as a fundraiser for the group. 

“It helps pay for our costs, wood and stuff like that,” Bobrowski added.

Sheldon Birnie
Community journalist — The Herald

Sheldon Birnie is the community journalist for The Herald
Email him at sheldon.birnie@canstarnews.com
Call him at 204-697-7112

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