Sneaky 2018 RC


Asteroids make no apology for sneakiness. February 2013, Chelyabinsk Russia, a unknown 20 meter wide meteor traveling at 18 km/second began to tear apart at an altitude of 35 kilometers. Beneath the meteor’s path shock waves knocked people off their feet. In the city of Chelyabinsk windows in over 3,600 building shattered. Over 1,200 people treated for injuries, a fireball 30 times brighter than the sun arriving without warning. A swath of destruction unleashed by a rogue 20 meter space rock.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chelyabinsk_meteor

Five days ago the ATLAS sky survey in Hawaii discovered 2018 RC, a near earth asteroid estimated at 32-71 meters. Later today 2018 RC will come within 220,000 km, roughly half the distance between earth and the moon. As potentially hazardous asteroids go that’s freaking close. There’s no chance 2018 RC will hit earth. That said, asteroids are sneaky.For all the eyes cast at all the skies astronomers detected 2018 RC 5 days ago, Chelyabinsk came without warning.

The Virtual Telescope Project invites us to ponder2018 RC live.

Near-Earth asteroid 2018 RC: poster of the event

https://www.virtualtelescope.eu/webtv/

At 6 pm eastern daylight time the Virtual Telescope Project invites everyone to watch live images of 2018 RC. To participate click on the link above.

I Want To Break Free


Seventy two years ago today Farrokh Bulsara was born in British colonial Zanzibar. Eight year old Farrokh started calling himself Freddie when sent to a British boarding school near Bombay. At twelve Freddie formed The Hectics, a rock cover band with schoolmates. In 1964 the Zanzibar Revolution forced Freddie’s family to flee Zanzibar for England. The Bulsaras settled in Feltham, Middlesex, Freddie enrolled at Isleworth Polytechnic in West London to study art, eventually graduating from Ealing Art College with a degree in graphic design. Freddie sold second hand clothing at Kensington Market, fell in and out of bands and worked as a baggage handler at Heathrow. In 1970 he met Brian May and Roger Taylor, in 1971 John Deacon made it four. Dismissing reservations of band-mates and management company Trident, Freddie named the band Queen and officially changed his name to Freddie Mercury.

https://www.biography.com/people/freddie-mercury-9406228

March 11, 1977 I stood front row at Pacific Colosseum in Vancouver for Queen’s Day at the Races concert. To this day the spectacle of Freddie Mercury gives me chills.

Image result for freddie mercury

For weeks, baggage handlers at Heathrow practiced dance moves to celebrate Mercury’s birthday. Astonished travelers passing through Heathrow today were treated to a heart warming spectacle. Never mind amateur hour, this clip made my day and I hope it does yours.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/freddie-mercury-birthday-heathrow-bagge-handlers-commemorate-queen-star-a3928571.html

Solar Sector Boundary Crossing Coincides With Historic 150th Anniversary


September 2nd marks a historic 150th anniversary. On this day in 1859 miners in Virginia woke at 3 am thinking glowing skies signaled sunrise. From the North Pole to Cuba, Hawaii, most of Mexico, parts of Central America and Colombia, China and Japan, brilliant auroras delivered a electromagnetic circus. All across Europe and North America telegraph wires sparked, stations caught fire, some operators reported sending and receiving messages even after disconnecting power lines.

150 years ago British astronomer Richard Carrington witnessed a unprecedented solar flare – today we know it as the Carrington Event. A similar event today would devastate life as we know it. Ponder weeks, months, possibly years without electricity, internet, ATMs, GPS, power to pump water and fuel, air, road or rail travel. Space weather is real and it matters.

Image result for carrington event

https://www.history.com/news/a-perfect-solar-superstorm-the-1859-carrington-event

On September 3rd space weather predicts a solar sector boundary crossing.

Our sun produces wind (currently 316.9 Km/second) blasts across the cosmos. Just like Earth, the Sun has a magnetic field – known as the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF).  Whipped into spiral rotation, wind driven IMF rotates in one direction. It divides into spiral sections pointing to and away from the sun along the ecliptic plane ( a direct line between Earth and the Sun). The edge of this swirling mass has a surface separating polarities of planetary and solar magnetism called the heliosphere current sheet.

http://spaceweather.com/glossary/imf.html

Earth’s magnetic field points north at the magnetopause (the point of contact between our magnetosphere and the IMF). If the IMF happens to point south at contact (scientific term, southward Bz) the two fields link causing partial cancellation of Earth’s magnetic field – in other words, opening a temporary door for solar energy to enter our atmosphere. Welcome solar sector boundary crossing – a phenomenon born of high solar wind and coronal mass ejections (CME’s – aka solar flares).

It takes 3 or 4 days for magnetism to sort itself out – during that time expect occasional high frequency radio wave disruption,  wonky GPS and cell phone service peppered with sudden power grid failure events. On the upside, we’re treated to kick ass auroras.

Space weather really does matter.

Pondering Cetacean Menopause


Of all living things in all the world only 5 species experience menopause – Humans, beluga whales, narwhal, killer whales and short finned pilot whales. Who knew the hot flash clubhouse restricted entry to all but women and a smattering of cetaceans?

http://earthsky.org/earth/beluga-whales-narwhals-go-through-menopause?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=973760ff5a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_02_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-973760ff5a-393970565

Sam Ellis of the University of Exeter, lead author of a study published August 27, 2018 in the journal Scientific Reports wrote –

For menopause to make sense in evolutionary terms, a species needs both a reason to stop reproducing and a reason to live on afterwards.

In killer whales, the reason to stop comes because both male and female offspring stay with their mothers for life – so as a female ages, her group contains more and more of her children and grandchildren.

This increasing relatedness means that, if she keeps having young, they compete with her own direct descendants for resources such as food.

The reason to continue living is that older females are of great benefit to their offspring and grand-offspring. For example, their knowledge of where to find food helps groups survive.

Prior to publication 3 menopausal species were known to science, Ellis made it 5 by adding belugas and narwhal. Humans and 4 whale species, period.