Science is the poetry of Nature.

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Astronauts and cosmonauts—while getting to play with multibillion-dollar toys in space—also have an incredibly unique chance to view the Earth from a completely different perspective than many of us.

This perspective creates a newfound appreciation for our pale blue dot, as philosopher David Loy describes:

“To have that experience of awe is to, at least for the moment, let go of yourself, to transcend the sense of separation. So it’s not just that they were experiencing something other than them, but that they were, at some very deep level, integrating and realizing their interconnectedness with that beautiful blue-green ball.”

To the observer, borders seem to disappear as countries flow seamlessly into one another. Like a singular organism, Earth becomes something more than a map of divisions based upon ideology and geography.  Those who share this vantage point see Earth as one ecosystem, with all parts artfully woven together to create a perfect home for millions of plant and animal species. Conflicts between nations become less apparent, and the need for a united planetary society to protect our beautiful home becomes increasingly obvious and imperative.

This realization of the interconnectedness of all life on Earth and the need to protect it, dubbed the Overview Effect, has been reported among astronauts from the Apollo program all the way through to the current International Space Station astronauts.

Astronauts are counted among the few who get to observe the Earth from the outside with the naked eye. For those of us on the surface, NASA continues to release stunning images and video from their Earth-orbiting spacecraft. Let’s keep their funding coming, so that all of humanity has the chance to learn about the importance of our beautiful home in space!

Watch the short documentary “Overview” by The Planetary Collective, featuring commentary from experts and former Astronauts!

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#EarthDay: Mount Nyiragongo is a stratovolcano situated in the Virunga Mountains of the Albertine Rift inside Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The volcano has an elevation of 3,470 m (11,385 ft).

The main crater is about two km wide and usually contains a lava lake (see photo) that has at times been the most voluminous known lava lake in recent history. The depth of the lava lake varies considerably. Not much is known about how long the volcano has been erupting, but since 1882, it has erupted at least 34 times with the two most recent eruptions occurring in 1977 and 2002, both resulting in destruction of nearby human habitats and loss of lives, mostly due to asphyxiation by carbon dioxide.

Activity at Nyiragongo is ongoing, but currently confined to the crater.

Nyiragongo and nearby Nyamuragira are together responsible for 40% of Africa’s historical volcanic eruptions.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to a total of five different active and extinct volcanoes.


The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile has captured this richly detailed new image of the Lagoon Nebula.

This giant cloud of gas and dust is creating intensely bright young stars, and is home to young stellar clusters. This image is a tiny part of just one of eleven public surveys of the sky now in progress using ESO telescopes. Together these are providing a vast legacy of publicly available data for the global astronomical community.

VST Images the Lagoon Nebula


IC 4603 - The Turbulent Heart of the Scorpion

This image shows the core region of the Rho Ophiuchi Complex, centered around the prominent blue reflection nebula IC 4603.

This is one of the nearest star forming regions and the intricacies of the dense interstellar dust clouds in the area provides a spectacular display of light and colours.

The bright star is 7.9 magnitude SAO184376 which is the main source of light for the blue reflection nebula. The contrasting red areas towards the top are primarily due to reflected light from the hearby red giant star Antares, which lies outside the field of view. The entire area is also littered with hundreds of dim reddish stars, which are typically very young T Tauri stars.


RIP LADEE: NASA Moon Probe Crashes Into Lunar Surface

NASA’s newest moon probe met its end during a vaporizing crash into the lunar surface last night.

The space agency’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer spacecraft (LADEE for short) made its planned crash into the lunar surface between 12:30 a.m. EDT (0430 GMT) and 1:22 a.m. EDT (0522 GMT) on April 18, after orbiting the moon since October 2013. Scientists expected the impact, predicting that LADEE would hit the far side of the moon on or before April 21 because the probe was running out of fuel — as intended.

The impact itself was probably a violent event. NASA engineers think that the loveseat-sized probe broke apart as most of it heated up to several hundred degrees. It’s even possible that some of the material from the spacecraft vaporized during the crash, NASA officials said in a statement.


First Earth-Size Planet That Could Support Life

For the first time, scientists have discovered an Earth-size alien planet in the habitable zone of its host star, an “Earth cousin” that just might have liquid water and the right conditions for life.

Image 1: This artist illustration shows what it might be like to stand on the surface of the planet Kepler-186f, the first-ever Earth-size planet to be found in the habitable zone of its star. Credit: Danielle Futselaa

Image 2: This artist illustration shows the planet Kepler-186f, the first Earth-size alien planet discovered in the habitable zone of its star. Credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-CalTech

The newfound planet, called Kepler-186f, was first spotted by NASA’s Kepler space telescope and circles a dim red dwarf star about 490 light-years from Earth. While the host star is dimmer than Earth’s sun and the planet is slightly bigger than Earth, the positioning of the alien world coupled with its size suggests that Kepler-186f could have water on its surface, scientists say. You can learn more about the amazing alien planet find in a video produced by

"One of the things we’ve been looking for is maybe an Earth twin, which is an Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a sunlike star," Tom Barclay, Kepler scientist and co-author of the new exoplanet research, told "This [Kepler-186f] is an Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a cooler star. So, while it’s not an Earth twin, it is perhaps an Earth cousin. It has similar characteristics, but a different parent."

Scientists think that Kepler-186f — the outermost of five planets found to be orbiting the star Kepler-186 — orbits at a distance of 32.5 million miles (52.4 million kilometers), theoretically within the habitable zone for a red dwarf.

Earth orbits the sun from an average distance of about 93 million miles (150 million km), but the sun is larger and brighter than the Kepler-186 star, meaning that the sun’s habitable zone begins farther out from the star by comparison to Kepler-186.

"This is the first definitive Earth-sized planet found in the habitable zone around another star," Elisa Quintana, of the SETI Institute and NASA’s Ames Research Center and the lead author of a new study detailing the findings, said in a statement.

Other planets of various sizes have been found in the habitable zones of their stars. However, Kepler-186f is the first alien planet this close to Earth in size found orbiting in that potentially life-supporting area of an extrasolar system, according to exoplanet scientists.


Astronomers Find First Earth-Sized Planet That Could Support Life!

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has discovered the first Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of another star. The habitable zone is the region around a star in which planets are capable of supporting liquid water at their surface. This region is sometimes referred to as the Goldilocks zone because it defines the area where the conditions are not too hot or too cold, but “just right” for planets to support water on the surface. The discovery Kepler-186f confirms that planets of Earth’s size exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our Sun. It also marks a significant step forward in finding other planets similar to our own.

Read more about the exciting discovery of Kepler-186f here:


Gum 41: A Study in Scarlet

This new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41.

In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that causes the surrounding hydrogen to glow with a characteristic red hue.


LIGO Lasers Could Help Reveal Aftermath of Black Hole Crashes

A powerful scientific tool set to come online in 2015 could help scientists spot gravitational waves: ripples in space-time born from violent cosmic crashes light-years from Earth.

Image: A still frame from a computer animation shows two binary neutron stars coalescing into a black hole. Taken from the video, “LIGO, A Passion for Understanding,” Credit: Kai Staats

The instrument, called LIGO (short for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatories), uses lasers to hunt for the gravitational aftermath created by two massive objects — like a neutron star and a black hole — colliding. Scientists theorize that, like a rock dropping into a pool of water, the fabric of space and time can ripple, sending out these gravitational waves across the universe at the speed of light. Understanding those waves could help scientists learn more about black holes.

The $205 million LIGO can potentially detect these gravitational waves from Earth. The interconnected LIGO observatories in Washington State and Louisiana make use of two 2.5-mile (4 kilometers) arms. A laser beam is split down the arms that are equipped with specifically placed mirrors. In theory, if a gravitational wave comes into contact with the instrument, it would change the length of one beam in relation to the other.


Under a Blood Moon: 1st Total Lunar Eclipse of 2014 Wows Stargazers

The moon took on an eerie blood-red hue early Tuesday during the first total lunar eclipse of 2014, a celestial sight that wowed potentially millions of stargazers across North and South America.

The total lunar eclipse of April 15 lasted about 3.5 hours between late Monday and early Tuesday, with the Earth’s shadow slowing darkening the face of the so-called “Blood Moon” in a jaw-dropping sight for stargazers willing to stay up extra late or rise super-early for the event.


Capturing the 2000 Lunar Eclipse from ‘Hell on Ice’

A composite of images form the January 2000 lunar eclipse captured by Victor Rogus.


Olafur Eliasson and the Weather Project

The subject of the weather has long shaped the content of everyday conversation. The eighteenth-century writer Samuel Johnson famously remarked ‘It is commonly observed, that when two Englishmen meet, their first talk is of the weather; they are in haste to tell each other, what each must already know, that it is hot or cold, bright or cloudy, windy or calm.’

In The Weather Project, the fourth in the annual Unilever Series of commissions for the Turbine Hall, Olafur Eliasson takes this ubiquitous subject as the basis for exploring ideas about experience, mediation and representation.

In this installation, The Weather Project, representations of the sun and sky dominate the expanse of the Turbine Hall. A fine mist permeates the space, as if creeping in from the environment outside.

Throughout the day, the mist accumulates into faint, cloud-like formations, before dissipating across the space. A glance overhead, to see where the mist might escape, reveals that the ceiling of the Turbine Hall has disappeared, replaced by a reflection of the space below. At the far end of the hall is a giant semi-circular form made up of hundreds of mono-frequency lamps.

The arc repeated in the mirror overhead produces a sphere of dazzling radiance linking the real space with the reflection. Generally used in street lighting, mono-frequency lamps emit light at such a narrow frequency that colours other than yellow and black are invisible, thus transforming the visual field around the sun into a vast duotone landscape.

How to Ship a T. rex Across the Country

Museum officials are crating and shipping the “tyrant lizard king” from Montana to Washington, D.C

After more than a decade of trying, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History will finally be getting its very own Tyrannosaurus rex, or “tyrant lizard king,” on April 15.

The Tuesday morning arrival of this iconic dinosaur will cap a 2,000-mile (3,219-kilometer) journey that scientists, movers, and museum officials have been preparing for months. (See "My T. rex Is Bigger Than Yours.”)

Rancher Kathy Wankel discovered the T. rex while out hiking with her family near Montana’s Fort Peck reservoir (map) in 1988, on land that belonged to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps kept the Wankel rex at the Museum of the Rockies (MOR) in Bozeman, Montana, for nearly 20 years, and have now loaned it to the Smithsonian for the next 50 years.

"We have the most T. rex specimens of any collection in the world,” says Patrick Leiggi, administrative director of paleontology at the MOR. Since the Smithsonian didn’t have its own T. rex, the MOR offered to help out.

Read The full article on National Geographic.

If you’re like me and slammed by cloud cover and light pollution, here’s a livestream of the Moon!



Staples Wants to Bring 3D Printing to the Masses

Staples has been selling 3D printers for about a year. Now it wants to begin selling access to them.

The office supply retailer began offering 3D printing services in two stores on Thursday, one in New York and another in Los Angeles. Anyone can walk in and have Staples crank out a tchotchke—or 1,000 of them—while reveling in the glory of the 3D printing revolution without spending thousands on an actual printer. If the pilot takes off, Staples (SPLS) says it will expand 3D printing services to more stores.

Full Story: Business Week

(via kenobi-wan-obi)