By: Geoff Gaherty
The sun will look like a ring of fire above some remote parts of the world next Tuesday (April 29) during a solar eclipse, but most people around the world won't get a chance to see it.
Whereas lunar eclipses occur only when there's a full moon, and solar eclipses only happen during a new moon. Half the world saw a lunar eclipse during the full moon on April 15. When a lunar eclipse occurs, it usually means there is also a solar eclipse at the preceding or following new moon.
Tuesday's solar eclipse is known as an "annular" — rather than "total" — lunar eclipse. That’s because Tuesday's eclipse will occur when the moon is close to its farthest distance from the Earth, making it too small to cover the sun completely. The resulting effect looks like a ring of fire, called an "annulus," appears around the silhouette of the moon. ['Ring of Fire' Annular Solar Eclipse of April 29, 2014 (Visibility Maps)]
But most people won't see the whole eclipse. The only place in the world where thisannular eclipse will be visible is a small area in Antarctica. However, partial phases of the eclipse will be visible in other places. Most of those areas are in the ocean — rarely traveled ocean, in fact — but the entire continent of Australia will get a good view.
The best view of the eclipse will be from the island state of Tasmania. From Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, the eclipse will begin with the moon taking a tiny nick out of the sun's edge at 3:51 p.m. local time (0551 GMT). Maximum eclipse will be at 5 p.m. (0700 GMT), and the sun will set at 5:17 p.m. (0717 GMT). The farther north you go in Australia, the less the moon will cover the sun. In Sydney, the eclipse will begin at 4:14 p.m. and will be at maximum — 52 percent covered — at 5:15 p.m. The sun will set in eclipse two minutes later.Skywatchers in the western parts of Australia will be able to see the end of the solar eclipse. In Perth, the eclipse begins at 1:17 p.m. (0517 GMT), is at maximum (59 percent) at 2:42 p.m. (0642 GMT), and ends at 3:59 p.m. (0759 GMT).
WARNING: Never look directly at the sun during an eclipse with a telescope or your unaided eye; severe eye damage can result. (Scientists use special filters to safely view the sun.)
Partial solar eclipses have the greatest potential for eye damage because at no time is the sun completely covered by the moon. The sun itself is no more dangerous during an eclipse. The danger comes from people's desire to look at it, to overcome the natural reflex that forces us to look away from the sun.
The safest way to view a solar eclipse is to project its image. The easiest way to do so is with a pinhole camera. The longer the projection distance from the pinhole to the viewing screen, the larger the sun will appear. Natural pinholes are often formed by gaps between tree leaves, covering the ground beneath with miniature eclipses. A small mirror on a window ledge can project a fine image on the ceiling or far wall, suitable for viewing by a whole room full of people.
You should never attempt to look directly at the sun without a proper solar filter, available from telescope stores, planetariums and science centers. This is especially true if you're viewing it through binoculars or a telescope. There is no way to create your own safe filter from ordinary materials, so don't risk it.
Editor's Note: If you live in the populated visibility path and snap an amazing picture of the April 29 solar eclipse, you can send photos, comments, and your name and location to managing editor Tariq Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was provided to Space.com by Simulation Curriculum, the leader in space science curriculum solutions and the makers of Starry Night and SkySafari. Follow Starry Night on Twitter @StarryNightEdu. Follow us @Spacedotcom,Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.
All you can eat ribs -- by the dumpster.
A Golden Corral franchise is being accused of improper food handling after photos and a video surfaced online that claim to show unsanitary conditions at the nationwide buffet chain.
Separately, a Reddit user named GCWhistleblower posted photos purporting to show a different Golden Corral kitchen overflowing with garbage and food.
Employee Brandon Huber posted a video on Youtube, taken while he worked at a location near Port Orange, Fla., which shows raw hamburger patties swarmed by flies near the restaurant's dumpster.
"I'm an employee here, been working here for a long time, and I don't feel that this is right," Huber says to the camera. "I mean look at it, what do you think?"
"Let me show you just how disgusting this is," Huber continues, as the camera pans to reveal stacks of food next to the dumpsters including raw baby back ribs, green bean casserole, pot roast, chicken, ham, and bacon.
A statement provided to the website Consumerist via Eric Holm at Metro Corral Partners, a franchisee who owns several Golden Corral locations in Florida and Georgia, including the Port Orange location, reads:
"A video was recently posted showing an incident of improper food handling at our Port Orange, Fla., location. None of these items were served to a single customer. All were destroyed within the hour at the direction of management. Brandon Huber, the employee who made the video, participated in the disposal of the food.
The following day, the father of the employee, allegedly posted an offer to sell the video for $5,000, which was not accepted.
The manager involved in the improper storage was terminated for failing to follow approved food handling procedures," Holm's statement said.
By Miriam Kramer
A newly discovered gaseous planet has been directly photographed orbiting a star about 300 light-years from Earth -- equivalent to 3.7 billion round trip flights to the moon.
Imaging alien planets is difficult, and this world may be the least massive planet directly observed outside of the solar system, scientists say.
A sharp new photo released by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Monday, June 3, depicts the suspected gas giant (called HD 95086 b) circling its young star (named HD 95086) in infrared light. The star has been removed from the image to allow the planet — shown as a bright blue dot at the bottom left of the picture — to shine through.
HD 95086 b was sighted by ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile. Based on the planet's brightness, scientists estimate that it is only about four or five times more massive than Jupiter. [See Amazing Photos of the Very Large Telescope]
Most exoplanets are discovered via indirect means, such as detecting a dip in a star's light when a planet passes in front of it, blocking part of its face, or finding a slight wobble in a star's movement caused by the gravitational tug of planets orbiting it.
"Direct imaging of planets is an extremely challenging technique that requires the most advanced instruments, whether ground-based or in space," Julien Rameau, an astronomer at the Institute of Astrophysics and Planetology in France and lead author of the study announcing the discovery, said in a statement. "Only a few planets have been directly observed so far, making every single discovery an important milestone on the road to understanding giant planets and how they form."
Another photo from ESO shows the star and its planet in context with other stars in the southern constellation of Carina, the keel.
The planet orbits its star at about twice the distance from the sun to Neptune and about 56 times the distance between Earth and the sun. The blue circle in the photo represents the distance between the sun and Neptune.
HD 95086 is relatively young star at only 10 million to 17 million years old, making the formation of the exoplanet and the dusty disc surrounding the star potentially intriguing to researchers.
"[The planet's] current location raises questions about its formation process," Anne-Marie Lagrange, one of Rameau's team members, said in a statement. "It either grew by assembling the rocks that form the solid core and then slowly accumulated gas from the environment to form the heavy atmosphere, or started forming from a gaseous clump that arose from gravitational instabilities in the disc. Interactions between the planet and the disc itself or with other planets may have also moved the planet from where it was born."
The research will be published in an upcoming issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/06/03/never-before-seen-alien-planet-imaged-directly-in-new-photo/#ixzz2VW4Nxeat
BY JASON MAJOR
One of the more well-known objects within our galaxy, the Ring Nebula has been observed by astronomers since the late 1700s. It is a definitive planetary nebula, visible from Earth as a bright and multi-colored ring of material violently expelled from a sun-like star reaching the end of its life. Looking like a gigantic cosmic eye, the Ring Nebula has been imaged countless times — but new observations with the Hubble Space Telescope have finally revealed its true shape.
It’s a big donut.
VIDEOS: The Hubble Space Telescope
Cosmic perspectives can be tricky. It’s often difficult to tell exactly how far away objects are in space, and sometimes the closer things are, the less precise the measurements get — mostly due to a lack of convenient distance markers.
The Ring Nebula (cataloged as Messier 57) is thought to be a little over 2,000 light-years away within our galaxy, which is relatively close by… again, give or take a few tens of light-years. And even though it might look like a flat ring of material expanding out into space (not unlike the “enhanced” explosion of the Death Star) it actually has much more depth to it — we just happen to be looking at it almost straight down from the top.
Astronomers investigating the Ring Nebula using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 have obtained the image above, the clearest and most detailed view yet of the structure, which is about a light year across. Further studies with ground-based telescopes show that not only is there material around the edges but also in the center, moving toward and away from us. And it’s all surrounded by an outer halo.
PHOTOS: Hubble’s Latest Mind Blowing Cosmic Pictures
So actually the Ring Nebula is shaped like a football wrapped by a donut around its middle… inside a bubble.
“With Hubble’s detail, we see a completely different shape than what’s been thought about historically for this classic nebula,” said team leader C. Robert O’Dell of Vanderbilt University in Nashville. “The new Hubble observations show the nebula in much clearer detail, and we see things are not as simple as we previously thought.”
Watch a video of M57′s structure here.
And even though the Ring Nebula may seem static and serene from our point of view, it’s the result of a very catastrophic event — and it’s still quite dynamic.
As vast shells of rapidly outward-expanding material slam into slower-moving material, they become ionized and glow brightly, creating the nebula as we see it. And all that stuff is still movingvery quickly through space — over 43,000 mph (69,200 km/h)!
Top 10 Treats for Summer Astronomy
According to the team, the material in the Ring Nebula will continue to expand for another 10,000 years, becoming fainter and fainter as it fades into interstellar space.
(I don’t know about you, but donuts certainly don’t last that long in my house.)
By GAUTAM NAIK
Scientists have subjected Albert Einstein's famous theory of gravity to its toughest real-world test so far—and it has prevailed.
The theory, which was published nearly a century ago, had already passed every test it was subjected to. But scientists have been trying to pin down precisely at what point Einstein's theory breaks down, and where an alternative explanation would have to be devised.
Einstein's framework for his theory of gravity, for example, is incompatible with quantum theory, which explains how nature works at an atomic and subatomic level.
Consider that for a black hole, Einstein's theory "predicts infinitely strong gravitational fields and density. That's nonsensical," said Paulo Freire, an astrophysicist at the Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy in Germany and co-author of the study, which appears in the journal Science.
And so scientists are testing the general theory not because they think it is wrong but because they are certain it can't be the final explanation—just as Isaac Newton's notion of gravitational force was superseded by Einstein's.
Einstein's general theory of relativity states that objects with mass cause a curvature in space-time, which we perceive as gravity. Space-time, according to Einstein's theories of relativity, is a four-dimensional fabric woven together by space and time.
For example, a bowling ball causes a dent in a mattress, and that dent changes the otherwise straight motion of a nearby marble on the same mattress. Similarly, the mass of the sun distorts the space-time around it. A body with less mass, like the earth, travels along one path in that distorted space, which we call its orbit.
Dr. Freire and his colleagues put Einstein to the test in a cosmic laboratory 7,000 light years from earth, where two exotic stars are circling each other. One, known as a white dwarf, is the cooling remnant of a much lighter star. Its companion is a pulsar, which spins 25 times every second. Though the pulsar is just 12 miles across, it weighs twice as much as the sun.
"When you have such a big mass in such a small space you have extremely high gravity," said Charles Wang, a theoretical physicist at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, who wasn't involved in the study.
The gravity on the pulsar's surface is 300 billion times as great as the gravity on Earth. The conditions there approach the relentless, overwhelming power of a black hole, which swallows even light.
"We're testing Einstein's theory in a region where it has never been tested before," said Dr. Freire.
The pulsar and white dwarf pair emit gravitational waves and the binary star system gradually loses energy. As a result, the stars will move closer to each other and orbit faster. Einstein's theory suggests the stars' orbital periods—the time they take to go around each other—ought to shrink by about eight-millionths of a second per year.
Dr. Freire's and his colleagues used several telescopes to take precise measurements of the two-star system. Their results perfectly matched the Einstein-based prediction.
Though Einstein's framework remains intact so far, "the study is significant for the way observations by astronomers are helping to identify new, extreme cases" to test his general theory of gravity, said Dr. Wang.
Einstein's theory was first—and dramatically—confirmed during a solar eclipse within four years of its publication, making him an instant celebrity. When asked how he would have felt if he had been proven wrong, Einstein replied: "I would have felt sorry for the Lord. The theory is correct."
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