Friday the 13th Brings Full Honey Moon

honey moon

The June 2013 “Honey Moon” Rising (Photo credit: Stephen Rahn)

Triskaidekaphobics may be staying indoors this Friday, but this Friday the 13th also brings a beautiful celestial event. This Friday the 13th will coincide with a full honey moon, which will reach full moon phase at 12:13 a.m. EDT on Friday morning for eastern North America. However, its honey hues will shine most brightly in the early evening.

The amber color is due to the scattering of longer wavelengths of light by dust and pollution in our atmosphere. “It is a similar phenomenon as seen at sunset, when sunlight is scattered towards the red end of the spectrum, making the sun’s disk appear orange-red to the naked-eye,” says astronomer Raminder Singh Samra of the H. R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver, Canada.

The monthly full moon always appears as a large disk, but because its orbit around the Earth is elliptical rather than perfectly circular, there are times in the lunar cycle when the moon is at its shortest distance from Earth (called perigee), some 224,976 miles away (apogee refers to its farthest distance from Earth).

This month the perigee just happens to coincide with the full phase, which may make it appear unusually large to sky-watchers. “The moon illusion should be more prominent during this full moon as it will graze closer to the horizon than at any other time of the year,” Samra says. “This will make the moon appear more amber than other full moons of the year.

A full moon coinciding on Friday the 13th is not all that uncommon, occurring every three or so years. But a honey moon coinciding with Friday the 13th is rare, last occurring on June 13, 1919, according to Universe Today. The next one won’t occur until June 13, 2098.

honey moon, Saturn

The rising Moon just hours before full phase on Thursday June 12th. Note Saturn to the upper right. (Image Credit: Universe Today)

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14 Reasons We Feel Tired All the Time

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Image Credit: Fatigue Science

I recently read an excellent TIME article on causes of fatigue that really resonated with me (both because of my personal history with anemia and my being guilty of a few of these habits), and I wanted to share it with all of you. This list thoroughly addresses both physical and mental fatigue, and I think many of us feeling sluggish this Monday morning can identify with #14 ;).

1. You skip exercise when you’re tired

2. You don’t drink enough water

3. You’re not consuming enough iron

4. You’re a perfectionist

5. You make mountains out of molehills

6. You skip breakfast

7. You live on junk food

8. You have trouble saying ‘no’

9.  You have a messy office

10. You work through vacation

11. You have a glass of wine (or two) before bed

12. You check e-mails at bedtime

13. You rely on caffeine to get through the day

14. You stay up late on weekends

Now that you know what may be responsible for your fatigue, you’re better equipped to address the problem. Stay safe and healthy, everyone!

The Trial Gardens at UGA in the Good Ol’ Summertime ;-)

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The State Botanical Garden of Georgia in the Summertime

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My Favorite Celestial Display Videos

Two comets visible from the southern hemisphere are caught in this lovely timelapse by Alex Cherney:

Timelapse of some fantastic Northern Lights sequences over Norway:

Beautiful aurora shots set to the Theme from Gladiator:

Filmed over the course of 7 days at Spain’s highest mountain, El Teide, renowned as one of the best places in the world to photograph stars, and set to “Nuvole Bianche,” one of my favorite Ludovico Einaudi songs to play on piano:

Gorgeous time-lapse video of 7 years worth of meteor showers by Thomas O’Brien, which was also featured by The Huffington Post:

Time-lapse work of sky art by photographers Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinovic entitled YIKÁÍSDÁHÁ, which is Navajo for Milky Way or “That Which Awaits the Dawn.” This piece combines remarkable views of the cloud crossing skies over the American west, the Milky Way and the bowl of stars spinning around the North Star.

Compilation of timelapse sequences taken on top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii by Sean Goebel:

360-degree time-lapse video by photographer Vincent Brady:

Do you have a favorite video depicting a celestial event? Leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments!

Discovery of Mega-Earth Exoplanet!

Kepler-10c, also known as Mega-Earth, is 18,000 miles in diameter and 2.3 times as large as Earth. It appears to be as solid as the planet beneath our feet.

Kepler-10c dominates the foreground in this artist’s conception. Its sibling, the lava world Kepler-10b, is in the background. Both orbit a sunlike star. Kepler-10c, also known as Mega-Earth, is 18,000 miles in diameter and 2.3 times as large as Earth. (Image Credit: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics/David Aguilar)

Move over, Kepler-186f! A new exoplanet has stolen the spotlight! Dubbed the “Mega-Earth,” Kepler-10c is a rocky planet similar to Earth but 17 times more massive. The finding was presented in a press conference today at the 224th meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Dimitar Sasselov, director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative, in a written statement said, “This is the Godzilla of Earths!”

Kepler-10c was discovered in 2011 by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. Kepler finds planets by using the transit method, which involves looking for stars that dim when planets pass in front of them. By measuring the amount of dimming, astronomers can calculate the planet’s physical size or diameter. Kepler, however, is unable to determine a planet’s mass or composition.

Scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts have now pinned down the mass of Kepler-10c, which is 17 times that of the Earth. The exoplanet orbits a sunlike star that is about 560 light years away from Earth in the constellation Draco. Its sister planet, Kepler-10b, was the first rocky planet found beyond the solar system and has a remarkably fast, 20-hour orbit around its star.

Computer models predicted that the atmospheres of such massive planets would resemble those of Jupiter, Neptune, and other gas giants because these types of planets would have enough gravity to collect vast amounts of hydrogen and helium. However, upon closer inspection, Kepler-10c has been found to be a rocky planet. “Kepler-10c is a big problem for the theory,” Sasselov told Discovery News.

So why exactly is Kepler-10c a terrestrial planet rather than a gas giant? This amateur scientist took to Twitter to find out!

Recent research conducted by astronomer Lars A. Buchhave (also presenting at AAS) and published in Nature proposes a correlation between the period of a planet (the length of time it takes to orbit its star) and the size at which a planet transitions from rocky to gaseous. This finding suggests that more mega-Earths will be found as astronomers extend their data to longer-period orbits. Additionally, Buchave’s data shows that the farther a planet is from its star, the larger it can grow before accumulating a thick atmosphere and turning into a gas dwarf. Kepler-10c orbits its host star every forty-five days at a quarter of the average distance between the Sun and Earth, both of which may contribute to its unique size and composition. Furthermore, since a star and its planets form from the same disk of material, the metallicity, or metal content, of a star reflects the composition of its planets. Buchave explains,

“It seems that there is a ‘sweet spot’ of metallicity to get Earth-size planets, and it’s about the same as the Sun. That makes sense because at lower metallicities you have fewer of the building blocks for planets, and at higher metallicities you tend to make gas giants instead.”

The discovery of Kepler-10c also has profound implications for the history of the universe and the search for extraterrestrial life. The Kepler-10 system is about 11 billion years old, which means it formed less than 3 billion years after the Big Bang. The early universe only contained hydrogen and helium. Heavier elements needed to make rocky planets, like silicon and iron, had to be created in the first generations of stars. When those stars exploded, they scattered these crucial ingredients through space, which then could be incorporated into later generations of stars and planets.

This process was predicted to have taken billions of years. However, Kepler-10c shows that the universe was able to form such huge rocks even during the time when heavy elements were scarce. Therefore, very old star systems should not be dismissed in the search for habitable planets. Sasselov says,

“Finding Kepler-10c tells us that rocky planets could form much earlier than we thought. And if you can make rocks, you can make life.”