Annular Eclipse Coming Up This Weekend

We Earthlings have already been treated to nice meteor showers as well as a magnificent supermoon, and this weekend brings an annular solar eclipse.

That’s not even the best treat: Venus will be ambling between Earth and the sun in a rare (though non-earth-shattering) planetary alignment. Sure, the event might look like a black pimple floating across the face of the sun, but this celestial rarity once guided adventurous astronomers in their quest to determine the size of the solar system and yielded the first-ever global scientific collaboration. Don’t blink—Venus doesn’t cross our path again until December 2117.


A solar eclipse happens this Sunday, except for the Eastern seaboard (sorry). It’s an “annular” eclipse rather than a total one, which means the sun’s edges peek out from behind the moon, creating the illusion of a ring of fire. (The word “annular” comes from the Latin word for ring.) The lower 48 states will have to wait until Aug. 17, 2017, for a total shutout. This weekend’s eclipse

begins at dawn in southern China. It then sweeps across the Pacific Ocean, passing south of Alaska, and makes landfall on the Pacific coast near the California-Oregon border. It ends near Lubbock, Texas, at sunset. Partial phases of this eclipse will be visible over most of western North America. (May 9, Space.com)

Those of you in the annular path should head to higher ground (avoiding clouds and light pollution) and put solar filters either over your eyes or on your equipment. Thirty-three national parks will be hosting solar gatherings. Lucky Coloradans get to hang out for free at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Folsom stadium, starting 5:30 p.m. local time, thanks to the Fiske Planetarium.

Designer sunglasses don’t cut it. At this late date, check telescope stores or call your local planetarium. No. 14 welder’s glass, carried in specialty welding stores, works too.

Will you be watching for the annular eclipse this weekend? Tell us of your previous sightings!

Source: Yahoo News

Image: ABC News

Scientists: Alien Planet Can Harbor Life

A potentially habitable alien planet — one that scientists say is the best candidate yet to harbor water, and possibly even life, on its surface — has been found around a nearby star.

The planet is located in the habitable zone of its host star, which is a narrow circumstellar region where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on the planet’s surface.

“It’s the Holy Grail of exoplanet research to find a planet around a star orbiting at the right distance so it’s not too close where it would lose all its water and boil away, and not too far where it would all freeze,” Steven Vogt, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told SPACE.com. “It’s right smack in the habitable zone — there’s no question or discussion about it. It’s not on the edge, it’s right in there.”


The researchers estimate that the planet, called GJ 667Cc, is at least 4.5 times as massive as Earth, which makes it a so-called super-Earth. It takes roughly 28 days to make one orbital lap around its parent star, which is located a mere 22 light-years away from Earth, in the constellation Scorpius (the Scorpion).

The fortuitous discovery could mean that potentially habitable alien worlds could exist in a greater variety of environments than was previously thought possible, the researchers said. The detailed findings of the study will be published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

 

Source: Fox News

Image: David Webb