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VIDEO: What’s that light in the sky? – Trail Times

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Every evening, a little after the sun sets, a light creeps across the sky above Elephant Mountain before disappearing into the trees near the flagpole.

The light is too big to be a star, too quiet to be a helicopter, too slow to be a plane. It is not a UFO, it is not Superman and it is definitely not anything to do with 5G.

Last week a reader sent the Star a video of a bright light in the sky, which you can see for yourself in the online version of this story. Take a look for yourself below:

We reached out to local astronomer Wayne Holmes, who didn’t even need to look at the video before providing an answer — it’s Venus, obviously.

The solar system’s second planet from the sun appears brightest in the sky in April and May.

Holmes noted the way Venus appears to flicker in the sky and behind the trees.

“This is due to Venus’ light having to penetrate much more of Earth’s atmosphere than when it is high in the sky and turbulence of the atmosphere causes the scattered light to jump around,” Holmes said in an email.

“This is the same effect that makes stars, especially ones close to the horizon, twinkle. Planets are not usually affected by atmospheric turbulence unless they are quite close to the horizon and the atmosphere is especially turbulent.”

According to space.com, this year Venus was brightest in our sky on April 27 when it was approximately 67-million kilometres away from Planet Pandemic.

Venus will be a mere 46-million kilometres away from Earth today, but it is more difficult to spot with every passing day as it aligns with the sun and gradually becomes easier to see in the morning.

Venus will pass perigee, its closest distance to Nelson on June 3, according to in-the-sky.org. So if you want to see Venus, step outside in the early evening and look northwest close to where the sun is setting.

You’ll also be able to see Mercury nearby, but Mercury is no Venus.

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

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SpaceX prototype Starship rocket explodes after test in Texas – CNBC

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A fourth prototype of SpaceX’s next-generation Starship rocket exploded Friday after a test at the company’s development facility in Texas.

The company was conducting a trial of the rocket’s engine, in a test on the ground known as a static fire. A few minutes after the test, which initially appeared successful, the Starship prototype identified as Serial Number 4 ruptured in a fiery explosion.

This prototype is distinct from the company’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft, which this weekend is set to launch NASA astronauts from Florida. That rocket system has previously launched satellites and cargo to space successfully dozens of times, after years of development and testing.

The rocket is called Starship, which the company is developing with the goal of launching people and cargo to the moon and Mars. The rocket is designed to be reusable so SpaceX can launch and land it multiple times, like a commercial airplane. Starship’s shiny external appearance is because of the type of stainless steel that SpaceX is using to build the rocket.

This latest Starship prototype is the fourth that SpaceX has built. While it made it the furthest along in tests, passing several critical milestones, the company has yet to begin flight testing its most recent design. A previous iteration, known as Starhopper, completed a short launch and landing flight test in October.

The SN4 prototype had passed several critical milestones during development, including a pressurization test that had foiled previous version of the rocket. So far SpaceX has built and destroyed four Starship prototypes, due to a variety of different failures during testing. SpaceX has been aggressively developing Starship, with the company’s leadership setting the goal of reaching space later this year – and the moon by 2022.

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Take two for SpaceX's 1st astronaut launch with more storms – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – SpaceX pressed ahead with its second attempt to launch astronauts for NASA – a historic first for a private company – but more stormy weather threatened more delays.

Elon Musk’s company came within 17 minutes Wednesday of launching a pair of NASA astronauts for the first time in nearly a decade from the U.S., before the threat of lightning forced a delay.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said managers were debating whether to bump the next launch attempt from Saturday to Sunday to take advantage of a slightly improved forecast at Kennedy Space Center.

At an outdoor news conference Friday, Bridenstine stressed the need for safety for astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken – no matter how many times it takes to launch them in a SpaceX Dragon capsule atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station.

“We cannot forget this is a test flight. This – is – a – test – flight,” he repeated. “We will go when everything is as safe as we can possibly make it.”

Forecasters put the odds of acceptable weather conditions Saturday at 50-50, with the outlook improving to 60% favourable on Sunday. Rain and clouds were the main concerns for both days.

Hurley and Behnken, veterans of two space shuttle flights, said they’ve both faced launch delays before. In a tweet Friday, Hurley said his first shuttle flight was scrubbed five times for weather and technical issues.

“We’re ready for the next launch opportunity!” Behnken tweeted.

While NASA urged spectators to stay home Wednesday because of the pandemic, prime viewing spots at area parks and beaches were packed. A weekend launch could draw even bigger crowds. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex reopened Thursday, after a 2 1/2-month shutdown, and within a few hours, all 4,000 tickets were snapped up for Saturday’s launch attempt.

President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence were expected to return Saturday to watch from inside Kennedy. The number of employees, journalists and guests allowed inside the space centre remained extremely limited because of the pandemic.

Whether an attempt is made Saturday or Sunday, “There will be no pressure. We will launch when we’re ready,” Bridenstine said.

The last time astronauts launched to orbit from the U.S. was in 2011 when Atlantis closed out the 30-year space shuttle program. Hurley was on that mission as well.

NASA hired SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 to get the ball rolling again – kicking off a commercial revolution for getting people to low-Earth orbit, according to officials. In the meantime, NASA has spent billions of dollars to buy seats on Russian Soyuz capsules for U.S. astronauts, in order to keep the space station staffed.

Boeing’s first astronaut flight, on the company’s Starliner capsule, is not expected until next year.

Bridenstine offered high praise for Musk on Friday and all his personal touches: spiffy spacesuits, Tesla rides to the launch pad, a colour-co-ordinated rocket and capsule – and more.

Musk has brought “vision and inspiration” to the American space program, Bridenstine said. While there’s occasionally a little tension between NASA and SpaceX, “he gives me a commitment and he delivers on that commitment. That has happened every single time.”

The California-based SpaceX is also developing a rocket and spaceship designed to go to the moon and Mars.

On Friday, a prototype of its Starship exploded while undergoing a routine engine test at the company’s Texas site. The ship vented large amount of gases and was engulfed in a tremendous fireball.

SpaceX did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

NASA, which has a contract with SpaceX to develop Starship for its lunar landing program, has no problems going ahead with this weekend’s unrelated launch of astronauts from Cape Canaveral, agency spokesman Bob Jacobs.

“That’s a test program. That’s why they test,” Jacobs said.

AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein in Kensington, Maryland, contributed to this report.

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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COVID-19: Fanshawe team studies possible way to stop virus's spread in body – London Free Press (Blogs)

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Fanshawe College researchers in London are studying a process that could lead to an effective treatment for COVID-19.

“When a virus enters the body, its ability to produce devastating effects is due to its capacity to make copies of itself while evading the body’s immune system,” said Abdulla Mahboob, manager of Fanshawe’s Centre for Applied Research and Innovation in Biotechnology (CARIB) labs, where the study is underway.

The college team is testing a custom inhibitor they hope will block virus proteins from binding together to help the virus’s genetic material get past cell defences, he said. “If we stop the proteins from binding together, we can expose the virus to the cell’s immunity, which in turn will stop the spread of the virus itself in the patient.”

Scientists are testing the inhibitor using mammalian cells containing the specific proteins targeted in the study, with promising results, the college said.

If effective, the inhibitors would then be tested on the virus in lab-grown cells and work would begin to turn it into a viable treatment for the respiratory disease.

It’s the latest in a number of studies by college scientists, including one looking at the potential benefits of cannabis extract in treating blood clots and inflammation in life-threatening COVID-19 cases.

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