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E.g., 08/19/2017
E.g., 08/19/2017
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  • News

    Does the corona look different when solar activity is high versus when it’s low?

    Some cities have all the luck.

    Carbondale, Ill., is just a few kilometers north of the point where this year’s total solar eclipse will linger longest — the city will get two minutes and 38 seconds of total darkness when the moon blocks out the sun. And it’s the only city in the United States that will also be in the path of totality when the next total solar eclipse crosses North...

    08/19/2017 - 07:00 Astronomy, Physics, Science & Society, Earth
  • News

    Cosmic lens lets astronomers zoom in on a black hole’s burps

    Astronomers have caught their best look ever at blobs of hot gas fleeing a supermassive black hole, thanks to a new kind of cosmic magnifying glass.

    Anthony Readhead of the Owens Valley Radio Observatory at Caltech and colleagues caught two small, hot bursts traveling away from a bright galaxy called J1415+1320 at near the speed of light. Although the galaxy is billions of light-years...

    08/18/2017 - 17:01 Astronomy
  • Science Visualized

    Here are the paths of the next 15 total solar eclipses

    August's total solar eclipse won’t be the last time the moon cloaks the sun’s light. From now to 2040, for example, skywatchers around the globe can witness 15 such events.  

    Their predicted paths aren’t random scribbles. Solar eclipses occur in what’s called a Saros cycle — a period that lasts about 18 years, 11 days and eight hours, and is governed by the moon’s orbit. (Lunar eclipses...

    08/18/2017 - 14:30 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • News

    Where does the solar wind come from? The eclipse may offer answers

    The sun can’t keep its hands to itself. A constant flow of charged particles streams away from the sun at hundreds of kilometers per second, battering vulnerable planets in its path.

    This barrage is called the solar wind, and it has had a direct role in shaping life in the solar system. It’s thought to have stripped away much of Mars’ atmosphere (SN: 4/29/17, p. 20). Earth is protected...

    08/18/2017 - 07:00 Astronomy, Science & Society, Physics
  • Context

    Eclipses show wrong physics can give right results

    Every few years, for a handful of minutes or so, science shines while the sun goes dark.

    A total eclipse of the sun is, for those who witness it, something like a religious experience. For those who understand it, it is symbolic of science’s triumph over mythology as a way to understand the heavens.

    In ancient Greece, the pioneer philosophers realized that eclipses illustrate how...

    08/17/2017 - 15:30 Astronomy, History of Science
  • News

    Why are the loops in the sun’s atmosphere so neat and tidy?

    View the video

    When the Aug. 21 solar eclipse unveils the sun’s normally dim atmosphere, the corona will look like an intricate, orderly network of loops, fans and streamers. These features trace the corona’s magnetic field, which guides coronal plasma to take on the shape of tubes and sheets.

    These wispy coronal structures arise from the magnetic field on the sun’s visible surface...

    08/17/2017 - 07:00 Astronomy, Earth, Science & Society, Physics
  • Science Ticker

    Giant larvaceans could be ferrying ocean plastic to the seafloor

    View the video

    Everybody poops, but the poop of bloblike filter feeders called giant larvaceans could be laced with microplastics.

    Every day, these gelatinous creatures (Bathochordaeus stygius) build giant disposable mucus mansions to round up zooplankton into their stomachs — sometimes sifting through around 80 liters of seawater per hour. Kakani Katija and her colleagues at the...

    08/16/2017 - 15:23 Animals, Oceans, Pollution
  • News

    What can the eclipse tell us about the corona’s magnetic field?

    View the video

    The star of any solar eclipse is, of course, the sun. And total eclipses give the sun’s wispy, tenuous atmosphere the spotlight. This region, called the corona, is normally too dim to observe directly. But with the moon blocking the sun’s bright disk, the corona comes into view.

    And the view is dazzling. The corona’s hot plasma is a radiant, ever-changing tiara, full...

    08/16/2017 - 07:00 Astronomy, Earth, Science & Society, Physics
  • News

    Seismologists get to the bottom of how deep Earth’s continents go

    Earthquake vibrations are revealing just how deep the continents beneath our feet go.

    Researchers analyzed seismic waves from earthquakes that have rocked various regions throughout the world, including the Americas, Antarctica and Africa. In almost every place, patterns in these waves indicated a layer of partially melted material between 130 and 190 kilometers underground.

    That...

    08/15/2017 - 17:46 Earth
  • News

    What can we learn about Mercury’s surface during the eclipse?

    On the morning of August 21, a pair of jets will take off from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to chase the shadow of the moon. They will climb to 15 kilometers in the stratosphere and fly in the path of the total solar eclipse over Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee at 750 kilometers per hour.

    But some of the instruments the jets carry won’t be looking at the sun, or even at Earth...

    08/14/2017 - 07:00 Astronomy, Earth, Science & Society, Planetary Science