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Trump to attend Wednesday’s NASA astronaut launch in Florida – CityNews Edmonton

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STERLING, Va. — President Donald Trump plans to be on the Florida coast Wednesday to watch American astronauts blast into orbit from the Kennedy Space Center for the first time in more than a decade.

It will be the first time since the space shuttle program ended in 2011 that U.S. astronauts will launch into space aboard an American rocket from American soil.

Also new Wednesday: a private company — not NASA — is running the show.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is the conductor and NASA the customer as businesses begin chauffeuring astronauts to the International Space Station.

The NASA/SpaceX Commercial Crew flight test launch will carry NASA’s newest test pilots, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

They’re scheduled to blast off from launch pad 39A, the same one the Apollo astronauts used to get to the moon.

The shift to private companies allows NASA to zero in on deep space travel. The space agency is working to return astronauts to the moon by 2024 under orders from the White House, but that deadline appears increasingly unlikely even as three newly chosen commercial teams rush to develop lunar landers. Mars also beckons.

The White House portrayed the launch as an extension of Trump’s promise to reassert American dominance in space. He recently oversaw creation of the Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.

“Our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security,” Trump said in a statement.

Vice-President Mike Pence, who is chairman of the National Space Council, also plans to attend Wednesday’s launch.

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Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

Darlene Superville, The Associated Press

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Satellite-carrying rocket 'lost' after New Zealand launch – The Jakarta Post – Jakarta Post

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A commercial rocket carrying seven satellites was “lost” after take-off Sunday from a New Zealand launch pad, the owner Rocket Lab said.

“We lost the flight late into the mission,” Peter Beck, Rocket Lab’s founder and chief executive, tweeted. 

“I am incredibly sorry that we failed to deliver our customers’ satellites today. Rest assured we will find the issue, correct it and be back on the pad soon.”

Rocket Lab lists itself as a US company with headquarters at a wholly-owned New Zealand subsidiary and specializes in delivering small satellites to low Earth orbit.

Its backers include US companies Khosla Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Lockheed Martin, Promus Ventures and Data Collective.  

The failed mission, the company’s 13th payload launch, had been named “Pics Or It Didn’t Happen”.

In a statement on its website, Rocket Lab said it had experienced an “anomaly” four minutes into the flight and was working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States to identify the cause.

The rocket was carrying satellites for companies Spaceflight, Canon Electronics, Planet and In-Space Missions, Beck said.

“Today’s anomaly is a reminder that space launch can be unforgiving, but we will identify the issue, rectify it, and be safely back on the pad as soon as possible.”

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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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