Total Eclipse of the Harvest Moon

According to folklore, the Harvest Moon is the full Moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox, the hectic beginning of northern autumn. In 2015, the Moon is full on Sept. 28th, less than a week after the equinox of Sept. 23rd. The coincidence sets the stage for a nice display of harvest moonlight.

But wait.  This year’s Harvest Moon is not like the others.  It’s going to be eclipsed.

On the night of Sept. 27 and into the early hours of Sept. 28, the full Moon will glide through the shadow of Earth, turning the Harvest Moon a golden-red color akin to autumn leaves.

The action begins at 9:07 PM Eastern Time on the evening of Sept 27th when the edge of the Moon first enters the amber core of Earth’s shadow.  For the next three hours and 18 minutes, Earth’s shadow will move across the lunar disk.

Totality begins at 10:11 PM Eastern Time.  That’s when the Moon is completely enveloped by the shadow of our planet.  Totality lasts for an hour and 12 minutes so there is plenty of time to soak up the suddenly-red moonlight.

The reason the Moon turns red may be found on the surface of the Moon itself. Using your imagination, fly to the Moon and stand inside a dusty lunar crater.  Look up. Overhead hangs Earth, nightside facing you, completely hiding the sun behind it. The eclipse is underway.

You might suppose that the Earth overhead would be completely dark.  After all, you’re looking at the nightside of our planet. Instead, something amazing happens.  When the sun is located directly behind Earth, the rim of the planet seems to catch fire! The darkened terrestrial disk is ringed by every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all at once. This light filters into the heart of Earth’s shadow, suffusing it with a coppery glow.

Back on Earth, the shadowed Moon becomes a great red orb.

One more thing: The full Moon of Sept. 28th occurs near the perigee of the Moon’s orbit—that is, the point closest to Earth.  This makes the Harvest Moon a “supermoon.”

The super Harvest Moon eclipse will be visible from the Americas, Europe, and Africa.  It brings an end to a remarkable series of four consecutive total lunar eclipses visible from North America—a so-called “tetrad.” Perhaps the heavens have saved the best for last.

If you live in the eclipse zone, mark your calendar for Sept. 27-28, and enjoy the show.

                                                                                                                                                        via NASA

If you happen to live in Finland, check out the detailed super Harvest Moon eclipse schedule courtesy of Ursa Astronomical Association.

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Blackest is the new black: Vantablack is a material so dark that you can’t see it

A British company has produced a material so black that it absorbs all but 0.035 per cent of visual light, setting a new world record. The “super black” material is a type of coating made of carbon nanotubes (each 10,000 times thinner than a human hair), developed onto sheets of aluminium foil. It is so dark it confuses the human eye. Shapes and contours are lost in its field of nanotubes. Meet Vantablack, a material so dark it looks like a black hole.

Vantablack conducts heat seven and a half times more effectively than copper and has 10 times the tensile strength of steel. It also has the highest thermal conductivity and lowest mass-volume of any material that can be used in high-emissivity applications.

If it was used to make one of Chanel’s little black dresses, the wearer’s head and limbs might appear to float incorporeally around a dress-shaped hole.

Actual applications are more serious, enabling astronomical cameras, telescopes and infrared scanning systems to function more effectively. Then there are the military uses that the material’s maker, Surrey NanoSystems, is not allowed to discuss.

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 “We are now scaling up production to meet the requirements of our first customers in the defence and space sectors, and have already delivered our first orders. Our strategy includes both the provision of a sub-contract coating service from our own UK facility, and the formation of technology transfer agreements with various international partners”, says Ben Jensen, Chief Technology Officer at Surrey NanoSystems.

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While the prospect of a little black dress with the ultimate optical illusion may seem tempting, it seems Vantablack won’t be available for fashionistas any time soon. The cost remains a secret, which usually equals very very expensive.

Vantablack will be launched at the Farnborough International Air Show this week.

 

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The upside of insomnia: how sleep deprivation aids creativity

Matt Berry and Dave Bayley talk about insomnia and its creative benefits.

 

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Increased photon emission from the head while imagining light in the dark

If you think hard about a bright light whilst sitting in a dark room, will your head emit photons? Recent research from B.T. Dotta, K.S. Saroka and M.A. Persinger at Laurentian University, Ontario, Canada, suggests the answer maybe yes. The team has, for the first time, found that “increased photon emission from the head while imagining light in the dark is correlated with changes in electroencephalographic power.”

Experimental subjects sat blindfolded in a darkened room, whilst they tried to imagine either a bright light, or a control scenario called ‘casual thinking’. An extremely sensitive photomultiplier was positioned so that it could register any photons which might be emitted from the subjects’ brains.

The tests : “…demonstrated significant increases in ultraweak photon emissions (UPEs) or biophotons equivalent to about 5 × 10−11 W/m2 from the right sides of volunteer’s heads when they imagined light in a very dark environment compared to when they did not.”

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New state of matter found in chicken’s eye

The researchers report that the unusual arrangement of cells in a chicken’s eye constitutes the first known biological occurrence of a potentially new state of matter known as ‘disordered hyperuniformity,’ which has been shown to have unique physical properties

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States of disordered hyperuniformity behave like crystal and liquid states of matter, exhibiting order over large distances and disorder over small distances. Like crystals, these states greatly suppress variations in the density of particles — as in the individual granules of a substance — across large spatial distances so that the arrangement is highly uniform. At the same time, disordered hyperuniform systems are similar to liquids in that they have the same physical properties in all directions. Combined, these characteristics mean that hyperuniform optical circuits, light detectors and other materials could be controlled to be sensitive or impervious to certain light wavelengths, the researchers report.

In the eye of a chicken, a new state of matter comes into view

 

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“Satisfiers avoid stirring things up, even if it means forsaking the truth or rejecting a good idea.”

While they might say that they do like people who think outside of the box, the majority of people actually don’t.

 

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You say potato, I say tomato – Get ready for the TomTato

The TomTato is a grafted plant that produces both potatoes and tomatoes. The concept has been worked on for over 15 years, but Thompson & Morgan are the first to succeed in producing these plants commercially.

Tomatoes are members of the potato family and are naturally compatible with potatoes. There’s no genetic modification, it’s all safe and natural.

The TomTato tomato variety is a sweet cherry tomato with a Brix level of 10.2, which basically means they are sweeter than average supermarket tomatoes and great for cooking The potatoes are a typical white-fleshed variety, great for baking and steaming. The plants are suitable for growing both indoors and outdoors and easy to grow in a patio pot, on an allotment or on the vegetable patch.

 

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