If you’re willing to get up early this week, you’re in for a magnificent sight: an early morning comet.
Comet NEOWISE, named for the space telescope that discovered it on March 27, was at first only visible through powerful telescopes. But it has recently brightened enough to be seen through binoculars.
At the moment it’s only visible in the early morning. But the good news is, this won’t be the case for long.
The comet formally known as C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) rises in the northeast around 3:30 a.m. local time and climbs until sunrise.
You can find it by looking northeast toward the constellation Auriga.
The comet will eventually sink below the early morning horizon and return to view in the evening sky on July 12 — just after sunset, roughly 10 degrees above the northwest horizon. Look to the bowl of the Big Dipper and follow it toward the horizon.
Over time, the comet will continue rising. On July 20 it will be roughly 20 degrees above the horizon at around 10 p.m., when the sky will be significantly darker, though not completely dark.
There’s a word of warning, however: All this hinges on whether the comet at least maintains its current brightness and stays together.
As comets round the sun, they become brighter as they warm, causing ice to sublimate (going directly from a solid to a gas) and releasing other trapped gases. This is what gives comets their tails.
Comet NEOWISE and the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada 🍁! I was up really early for this shot. It’s not often that we get the opportunity to see or photograph a comet of this brightness and with a tail. I hope you like it!🤩 <a href=”https://t.co/BFyxFFw2DE”>https://t.co/BFyxFFw2DE</a> <a href=”https://t.co/sGZBiEVryM”>pic.twitter.com/sGZBiEVryM</a>
During the next revolution I tried to capture the C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) comet a bit closer, the brightest one over the last 7 years. <br><br>Its tail is quite clearly visible from the <a href=”https://twitter.com/Space_Station?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Space_Station</a>!<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/ISS?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#ISS</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/comet?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#comet</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/NEOWISE?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#NEOWISE</a> <a href=”https://t.co/FnWkCummD6″>pic.twitter.com/FnWkCummD6</a>
But there’s a chance the warming will cause a comet to break apart, as was most recently witnessed with Comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS). That comet was discovered in December 2019 and continued to brighten until March. It then began to dim and was found to have broken apart into more than a dozen pieces.
As for Comet NEOWISE, it will make its closest approach to Earth on July 22 at a distance of 103 million kilometres.
Science News Roundup: NASA astronauts cap historic aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon; 'Gnarly' tumor shows dinosaurs got cancer and more – Devdiscourse
Following is a summary of current science news briefs.
NASA astronauts cap historic ‘odyssey’ aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule
U.S. astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who flew to the International Space Station in SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon, splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday after a two-month voyage that was NASA’s first crewed mission from home soil in nine years. Behnken and Hurley, tallying 64 days in space, undocked from the station on Saturday and returned home to land their capsule in calm waters off Florida’s Pensacola coast on schedule at 2:48 p.m. ET following a 21-hour overnight journey aboard Crew Dragon “Endeavor.”
‘Gnarly’ tumor shows dinosaurs got cancer, too
When scientists first unearthed fossils of a horned dinosaur called Centrosaurus in the badlands of Dinosaur Provincial Park in Canada’s Alberta province in 1989, they spotted a badly malformed leg bone they figured was a healed fracture. A fresh examination, researchers said on Monday, shows something different. The malformation was a manifestation of osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer, making this Centrosaurus, which lived 76 million years ago, the first known example of a dinosaur afflicted by malignant cancer.
Virgin Galactic’s Branson to fly into space in early 2021
Billionaire Richard Branson will fly into space on a Virgin Galactic rocket ship early next year, the space tourism company he founded said on Monday, adding that it would raise new funds with a share offering. Branson’s trip to space hinges on the success of two upcoming test flight programs, Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc said, with the first powered spaceflight scheduled for this fall from Spaceport America.
Scientists inspired by ‘Star Wars’ create artificial skin able to feel
Singapore researchers have developed “electronic skin” capable of recreating a sense of touch, an innovation they hope will allow people with prosthetic limbs to detect objects, as well as feel texture, or even temperature and pain. The device, dubbed ACES, or Asynchronous Coded Electronic Skin, is made up of 100 small sensors and is about 1 sq cm (0.16 square inch) in size.
Dinosaurs got cancer too, say scientists – Bangkok Post
OTTAWA – Dinosaurs loom in the imagination as forces of nature, but a new study that identifies the first known case of cancer in the creatures shows they suffered from the debilitating disease too.
A badly malformed Centrosaurus leg bone unearthed in the Alberta, Canada badlands in 1989 had originally been thought by paleontologists to be a healed fracture.
But a fresh examination of the growth under a microscope and using a technique also employed in human cancer care determined it was actually a malignant tumor.
“The cancer discovery makes dinosaurs more real,” study co-author Mark Crowther told AFP.
“We often think of them as mythical creatures, robust and stomping around, but (the diagnosis shows) they suffered from diseases just like people.”
The findings were published in the August issue of The Lancet Oncology.
Most cancers occur in soft tissues, which are not well-preserved in fossil records, noted Crowther, a dinosaur enthusiast and chair of McMaster University’s medical faculty in Canada.
“Oddly enough, under a microscope it looked a lot like human Osteosarcoma,” he said.
“It’s fascinating that this cancer existed tens of millions of years ago and still exists today.”
Osteosarcoma is an aggressive bone cancer that still afflicts about three out of one million people each year.
– ‘Just part of life’ –
In this horned herbivore that lived 76 million to 77 million years ago it had metastasised and likely hobbled the giant lizard, the researchers said in the study.
But neither the late-stage cancer nor a predator looking to make a meal out of slow and weak prey is believed to have killed it.
Because its bones were discovered with more than 100 others from the same herd, the researchers said, it’s more likely they all died in a sudden disaster such as a flood, and that prior to this catastrophe the herd protected the lame dinosaur, extending its life.
Lead researchers Crowther and David Evans, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, and their team sifted through hundreds of samples of abnormal bones at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta, to find the bone with a tumour, which is about the size of an apple.
The team also used high-resolution computed tomography (CT) scans, a multidisciplinary diagnostic technique used in human cancer care.
Crowther said dinosaurs would probably have been at higher risk of Osteosarcoma, which affects youths with fast-growing bones, because they grew very quickly and big.
“In terms of the biology of cancer,” he said, “you often hear about environmental, dietary and other causes of cancer. Finding a case from more than 75 million years ago you realize it’s just a part of life.”
“You have an animal that surely wasn’t smoking (a leading cause of cancer in humans) and so it shows that cancer is not a recent invention, and that it’s not exclusively linked to our environment.”
‘Mars is looking real’ after SpaceX test rocket sticks 1st upright landing: Elon Musk – Global News
The flight lasted barely 45 seconds and reached just 500 feet (150 metres) Tuesday night at the southeastern tip of Texas near Brownsville, but was an important first for SpaceX’s Starship. Some earlier tests ended in explosions on the pad.
“Mars is looking real,” SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk tweeted after the short hop. “Progress is accelerating.”
Musk said several more short hops are planned before a test version of Starship aims for a high altitude. The latest test model is relatively plain: It stands a full-scale 100 feet (30 metres) tall and resembles a steel silo — or stretched-out can — with a cap on top.
The private company plans to launch reusable Starships atop still-in-the-works rockets, carrying cargo or crew not only to low-Earth orbit but also the moon and Musk’s most desirable destination, Mars. The entire stack will stretch nearly 400 feet (120 metres).
On Sunday, SpaceX safely returned two NASA astronauts from the International Space Station following a two-month test flight. Their Dragon capsule splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the Pensacola, Florida, coast.
‘Quite an odyssey’: NASA astronauts speak after historic splashdown in SpaceX capsule
SpaceX is now the only private company to fly people to and from orbit.
“We’re going to go to the moon. We’re going to have a base on the moon. We’re going to send people to Mars and make life multi-planetary,” Musk said following splashdown. “This day heralds a new age of space exploration. That’s what it’s all about.”
—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.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
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