Great American Eclipse 2017

On August 21st, 2017 the shadow of the moon will race across a huge swatch of the U.S. Some people don’t know it is a solar eclipse. And for a small, seventy-mile wide line, people will see the sun completely disappear for a few minutes. A solar eclipse is when the sun is blocked by the moon and a lunar eclipse is when the shadow of the Earth is cast on the moon. So why so much interest?

There is a fantastic cosmic coincidence that the moon and the sun are the same size in the sky but it works to our advantage. But here’s the thing, if all the orbits were aligned perfectly, we would have eclipses every month. Instead, a total solar eclipse for your location is very rare. In fact, no one you know has likely ever experienced one. But being rare isn’t the only astounding thing. The entire lower 48 United States will experience a partial eclipse and that is a very cool astronomical event. But for people in the path of totality, the experience isn’t just scientific or photographic – it is bizarre, overwhelming, beautiful, and unforgettable.

Annie Dillard’s essay “Total Eclipse” has this to say about seeing a partial eclipse versus a total eclipse “Seeing a partial eclipse bears the same relation to seeing a total eclipse as kissing a man does to marrying him.”

But maybe you can’t get away from wherever you are. You can still expect to see a partial solar eclipse. The moon will seem to gobble up the sun. You will see a crescent sun rather than a crescent moon. People in Houston can head to either location of the Houston Museum of Natural Science where local astronomy clubs will have equipment setup to safely view the eclipse.

ISO-approved Eclipse Glasses

Remember, looking at the sun with a telescope or binoculars without the correct filter will cause eye damage and likely blindness. There is no shortage of options though. You can get eclipse glasses with ISO-approved mylar film or you can go low tech and poke a hole in a box and project the image of the eclipse onto the inside shaded surface.

In fact, projecting an image of the eclipse means you can share the view without a lot of people all at once.

But if you are in the path of totality, experienced observes all say the same thing: just watch. Don’t try to do photography. Don’t try to set up a fancy observing rig. Be prepared to be awed and silent and just experience the unmatched otherness of night erupting into an otherwise bright and sunny day. Totality is less than 3 minutes. This is a time for you to just experience something otherworldly right here on Earth.

No matter where you are, take some time on Monday August 21st and try to view the eclipse. You will be sharing in a huge cultural event and will learn some cool stuff about the solar system. And if you miss the eclipse, there will a total solar eclipse visible in Texas in 2024!

Jimmy Newland is a member of the Houston Astronomical Society and an astronomy teacher at Bellaire High School in Houston ISD.

 

ryanpanos: How Amsterdam’s Airport Is Fighting Noise…













ryanpanos:
How Amsterdam’s Airport Is Fighting Noise Pollution With Land Art | Via
Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, located just 9 km southwest of the city, is the third busiest airport in Europe and one of the busiest in the world. In an average year, more than 63 million passengers pass through Schiphol in as many as 479,000 flights to and from various international destinations. That’s an average of about 1,300 flights every day, or nearly a flight every minute. In other words, Schiphol is very busy and very loud. When the Dutch military first built a landing strip here in 1916, they chose the site because it was a polder —a broad and flat lowland that used to be the bed of a vast lake. Over the decades the flat expanse of the Haarlemmermeer polder became one of the most densely populated areas of the country, and the noise produced by the airport became an annoying problem for the residents. For years, residents complained about the incessant rumbling din produced every time an aircraft took off. This type of noise, called ground-level noise, propagates across the flat and featureless Haarlemmermeer landscape that has nothing in between—no hills, no valleys— to disrupt the path of the sound waves. When the airport opened its longest runway in 2003, residents could hear the din more than 28 km away. To tackle the noise problem, the airport brought in an unlikely candidate—an architecture firm called H+N+S Landscape Architects and artist Paul De Kort. The idea to engage a landscape artist to solve a technical problem was born out of an accident. In 2008, after a failed attempt to control noise, the Schiphol Airport officials discovered that after the arable land between the runway and the surrounding settlements were ploughed, the noise dropped. So Paul De Kort dug a series of hedges and ditches on the southwest of the airport, just past the edge of the runway. The distance between the ridges are roughly equivalent to the wavelength of the airport noise, which is about 36 feet. There are 150 perfectly straight and symmetrical furrows with six foot high ridges between them. These simple ridges have reduced noise levels by more than half.