Tomorrow is indeed a historic day! The Orion spacecraft, without a crew, will be launched on its maiden flight from the Kennedy Space Center tomorrow at 7:05 AM. This will be the first time sincere Apollo Era that a ship containing a crew compartment will be launched beyond Earth orbit. NASA TV, which can be viewed online or via app, will have coverage starting at 4:30 AM.
Landmark Study: Human Population Growth, Consumption Has Increased Species Extinctions by More Than 1,000 Times Natural Rate. – Here is a study that confirms once again the damage we humans are doing to the environment. That we continue at such a rate is bewildering and will be astonishing for future generations. Much of the problem is that we are being held back by a large, well-funded minority of religious fundamentalist and free-market (itself a kind of religion) enthusiasts in almost unfathomably deep denial of science. The consequences will be dire if we do not break through the political, social,and intellectual wall they put up. Two recent rays of hope are president Obama’s new carbon emission reduction initiative and the fact that Neil DeGrasse Tyson,with his “Comos” remake, has both groups of these people running scared.
I am blogging from the Civic Media Center in downtown Gainesville, Florida. We are generally very liberal here in Potano’s Garden, also known as the Berkeley of the south. I am facing the window and can see light traffic. Someone just walked in. A “Justice for Trayvon” sign is displayed in the window. That tragedy occurred only approximately 200 miles from here, and will be addressed in this blog later. The big news going on today is obviously the recall election going on in Wisconsin. One can’t sense the excitement going on up there from down here, but is exciting to be in a progressive institution for alternative viewpoints on a historic day such as this. The other big news is the transit of Venus across the sun, which from the looks of thing will be difficult to see here. The sky is cloudy and the forecast is for a chance of an afternoon shower. I guess people down here will have to watch it online. One last word: good luck to all of you in Wisconsin working to recall the rogue governor Scott Walker.
A partial lunar eclipse will occur on Monday morning. It will be visible in its entirely in the Pacific Ocean, but in North American it will end after moonset. A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes into the earth’s shadow. A partial lunar eclipse occurs when only a portion of the moon enters the earth’s umbra, or the portion of the shadow that totally obscures the moon. Monday the the entire moon will also pass through the penumbra, or the portion of the earth’s shadow which merely darkens the moon. The penumbral eclipse will begin at 4:48 A.M. eastern time. The partil eclipse will begin at 6:00 A.M. and end at 8:06 A.M., with the greatest obscuration at 7:03. Afterward, the penumbral exlipse will end at 9:18.
The eclipse will not be visible in most of New England and in parts of Eastern Canada. It will be not be visible in the Atlantic, Europe, Africa, or much of eastern Asia either.
A lunar eclipse will occur on Monday. A lunar eclipse happens when the moon passes through the earth’s shadow. The darkened moon will appear reddish due to light from sunsets around the edge of the earth. The effect is quite spectacular. Don’t miss it!