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Once in a lifetime.  Well, only if you think a total solar eclipse is the end of the world that is.

This afternoon, starting at around 1:09pm and lasting until just after 4pm Eastern the sun will begin to be blotted out by the Moon.   It’s funny how that works, the moon is the perfect size, and the perfect distance away from the earth to perfectly block out the sun.  Almost like it was engineered that way, artificially.

I’m not going to start conspiracy theories today.  Today is about science.  Science that is made possible due to the eerie circumstances that made the earth and moon billions of years ago.  Circumstances that were too perfect if you ask me.

If you’re reading this today, and you’re not in the path of the eclipse, you’re probably out of luck to see full totality.  Check this handy chart from NASA though.


Let’s hope that I see you tomorrow, or else the Mayans really got things wrong.

photo science

Disappearing Lake

Shrinking Aral Sea, 2000-2016

Shrinking Aral Sea, 2000-2016In the 1960s, the Soviet Union undertook a major water diversion project on the arid plains of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. The region’s two major rivers, fed by snowmelt and precipitation in faraway mountains, were used to transform the desert into farms for cotton and other crops. Before the project, the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya rivers flowed down from the mountains, cut northwest through the Kyzylkum Desert, and finally pooled together in the lowest part of the basin. The lake they made, the Aral Sea, was once the fourth largest in the world.Although irrigation made the desert bloom, it devastated the Aral Sea. This series of images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite documents the changes. At the start of the series in 2000, the lake was already a fraction of its 1960 extent (yellow line). The Northern Aral Sea (sometimes called the Small Aral Sea) had separated from the Southern (Large) Aral Sea. The Southern Aral Sea had split into eastern and western lobes that remained tenuously connected at both ends.By 2001, the southern connection had been severed, and the shallower eastern part retreated rapidly over the next several years. Especially large retreats in the eastern lobe of the Southern Sea appear to have occurred between 2005 and 2009, when drought limited and then cut off the flow of the Amu Darya. Water levels then fluctuated annually between 2009 and 2016 in alternately dry and wet years. In 2014, the Southern Sea’s eastern lobe completely disappeared.As the Aral Sea has dried up, fisheries and the communities that depended on them collapsed. The increasingly salty water became polluted with fertilizer and pesticides. The blowing dust from the exposed lakebed, contaminated with agricultural chemicals, became a public health hazard. The salty dust blew off the lakebed and settled onto fields, degrading the soil. Croplands had to be flushed with larger and larger volumes of river water. The loss of the moderating influence of such a large body of water made winters colder and summers hotter and drier.In a last-ditch effort to save some of the lake, Kazakhstan built a dam between the northern and southern parts of the Aral Sea. Completed in 2005, the dam was basically a death sentence for the southern Aral Sea, which was judged to be beyond saving. All of the water flowing into the desert basin from the Syr Darya now stays in the Northern Aral Sea. Between 2005 and 2006, the water levels in that part of the lake rebounded significantly and very small increases are visible throughout the rest of the time period. The differences in water color are due to changes in sediment.

Posted by NASA Earth on Thursday, September 1, 2016

Unfortunately this isn’t just a magic act.  The above video shows the disappearance of the the once great Aral Sea in Kazakhstan.  This is a completely man-made “phenomenon” when the Soviets diverted water that fed into the lake for irrigation of crops.  Over time naturally, humans got greedy and wanted more water until eventually one of the largest lakes in the world was split up into four individual lakes 10% of it’s former glory.

It’s a sad overview of the effects of man, and with satellite technology, it’s even easier to see the effects.  Typical me would say that this is the result of the terrible Soviets, and communism, and I would be partially right, but at it’s core, it’s a trait of humanity in general, not limited to a single source of politics.

{Peta Pixel|NASA Earth}

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1,000,000 mile Year long Earth Timelapse

Last year NASA launched it’s Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite with an EPIC camera on board.  It’s stayed on the Lagrange 1 point, 1,000,000 miles from the earth towards the sun.  Lagrange points are interesting aspects of space, I’ll let you learn about it on your own time.  Taking a photo every 2 hours for a year gives a great perspective of the planet.  I never knew that there was so much cloud cover across the planet so often.  It’s also really neat seeing the tilt of the planet while Africa moves across the plane of view.

{Peta Pixel}

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Crazy Engineering

NASA’s JPL has a video showing real quick how they plan on making a satellite to block out the sun.

It’s not exactly a Mr. Burns type situation, yet, instead the idea is to block the light of the sun (or suns) to better find exo-planets orbiting other stars.The design is interesting, but the implications for nefarious use are too much to handle.  Fortunately, all great inventions are dangerous in the wrong hands, and blocking out the sun would indeed cost Mr. Burns levels of money.

{Nine Planets}

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5 Years of The Sun

The sun is a pretty large object, but it’s also pretty far away, and pretty crazy bright.  Because it’s bright though, it’s easy to see, but also hard, because it’s so bright you need special filters on any equipment you use.  Well, NASA, being the geniuses that they are, sent up a satellite to take photos of the sun, every second, of every day since it was launched in early 2010.  NASA has captured terabytes of data each day for 5 years, and they have compiled some of it together in this short 4 and a half minute long time-lapse of beauty. Yes, the time-lapse bug has entered into a 2nd straight month, lucky you:

The average solar cycle is 11 years, and we’re currently in the midst of the more active stages of one, and the above video only captures half of a full cycle, so in 6 more years, and many petabytes of data later, we can have a short time-lapse video of the sun’s solar cycle.  I’m not sure what the average person will get out of it besides a cool video with some nice music, but hey, NASA has to spend money if they have any chance of the Feds giving them more, and at least this is something that the average person can view and say, yea, that was worth it.

{Collective Press}

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Milky Way

NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day the other day was a beautiful multi-shot panorama of the Milky Way over Yellowstone National Park.  When I was there back in June, it was durring the Full Moon, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to see anything as beautiful as this.  But don’t worry, I’ll be back there eventually, and I’ll plan my trip better and show up when there’s no moon.


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2012 – NASA’s worst Science Movie EVER

I will be the first to defend overly unrealistic film plots as just that –  film plots meant solely to entertain audiences for 2 hours.  Some of “the worst scientific movies ever” I enjoy.  Armageddon – infamous for having at least 168 inaccuracies, is one of my all time favorite films.  And The Core, fuck you that was a great movie, alittle long, but great.  Volcano, another action movie with a plot so ridiculous it takes alot not to laugh at it, but it was a good movie.

All that being said there comes a point when even I can’t suspend my disbelief enough to wrap my head around the plot of a movie that is so predictable, so bad in it’s science, and so unnecessarily long that you watch it if only to see if the writers really did just do that.

2012 is one of those movies.

I summed up 2012 in one accurate sentence I think – the prequel to Waterworld no one asked for.

The difference between all the movies i listed above – Armageddon, The Core, Volcano, & Waterworld and 2012 is that the former movies are enjoyable, and good (I love Waterworld).  2012 is just plain bad.  Be it the science, which doesn’t exist.  The world wide conspiracy to save the planet on arks meant to save a couple hundred thousand people, and conveniently 2 of each animal.  Building it in China – are you serious, the fate of the world rests in the hands of those commies the Chinese?  I’d rather take my chances alone.  And of all the places that managed to survive the rising water, Africa is the number one place.  I’d rather risk my life on those Chinese arks then dare set foot on the African continent, ever.

All these combine into the worst 3 hours ever.  Which is how long that movie is, just under 3 hours.  I didn’t think it was possible at first, but Ronald Emmerich made a worse movie then The Day After Tomorrow which I wont even go into for how ridiculous that was.

{The website at the end of the Universe | The Australian}