Amazing landscape photography by Mark Adamus. Read the captions.

#Pluto and its moon #Charon, two very fascinating presences in the Solar System. Here are some interesting facts about them:

* Some astronomers call Pluto and Charon a “double planet”. Charon is almost half the size of Pluto, and the distance between them is 19,640 km (12,200 miles).

* Because Pluto and Charon are tidally locked to each other, Charon appears to stand still in Pluto’s sky and the same sides of Pluto and Charon always face each other.

* Every 124 years, for several years it is mutual-eclipse season, when Pluto and Charon each eclipse the Sun for the other, at intervals of 3.2 days.

* For 20 years of its almost 248-year orbit, Pluto is closer to the Sun than Neptune because of its off-center and highly inclined orbit. From 1979 to 1999, Pluto was the eighth planet and Neptune was the ninth. Now Pluto is back to being the ninth planet (though dwarf), and it will be closer to the Sun again on April 5, 2231.c

* Pluto actually has three moons. Charon is the largest. Nix and Hydra are the other two.

* A person who weighs 45 kg on Earth would weigh only 3 kg on Pluto.

* Like Uranus and Venus, Pluto spins in the opposite direction as Earth, which means the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east.

* 248 Earth years is the time that Pluto takes to orbit around the Sun. Charon’s orbit around Pluto takes 6.4 Earth days, and one Pluto rotation (a Pluto day) takes 6.4 Earth days, so the sun rises and sets once a week

* Pluto’s distance from the Sun is from 4.4 to 7.4 billion kilometers. Light takes between from 4.1 hours and 6.8 hours to travel from the Sun to Pluto. Yet, the Sun is still very bright, giving roughly 150 to 450 times the light of the full Moon from Earth.

* While Pluto was downgraded from a planet to a dwarf planet, or “plutoid,” several astronomers argued that Pluto and other small objects similar to Pluto should all be classified as planets because they have cores, geology, seasons, moons, atmospheres, clouds, and polar caps in many cases.

**Planetary Alignment Tonight: Mars, Earth and the Sun**

A rare celestial events occurs tonight, when Mars, Earth and the Sun will align in a straight line. For the fortunate sky gazers who live outside the city, the event would be directly observable around sunset, when the Sun will set in the west, in the constellation of Pisces, and Mars will rise in the opposite direction, in the east, in the Virgo constellation, around the same time. Mars and the Sun are on directly opposite sides of the Earth, or ‘at opposition’, an event which happens every 26 months.

The closer a planet is to the Sun, the faster it moves on the orbit. Compared to Mars, Earth is closer to the Sun, hence it takes a shorter time to complete one orbit around the star. To put it more simple: Earth makes two trips around the Sun in about the same amount of time that Mars takes to make one trip. Sometimes the two planets are on opposite sides of the Sun, very far apart, and other times, Earth catches up with its neighbor and passes relatively close to it. If Earth and Mars would move along perfect circles, once in 780 days, Mars would be in the same position, regarding to Earth. But because we move on elliptical orbits - and Mars even more than Earth - in 6 days, on April 14, same night when the Moon eclipse will happen, Mars will be even closer to Earth than it is now.

Around these weeks you can view Mars for the entire night, in the Virgo constellation. It rises at sunset and sinks into the other hemisphere at sunrise. Its color is bright red and it outshines all the other stars in the night sky. Through binoculars you can even distinguish some of its most prominent features, but don’t expect to see its moons, Phobos and Deimos, which are visible only through powerful telescopes.

For those who can not witness the opposition through their own eyes, there are several sites which provide live streaming: http://events.slooh.com/stadium/mars-opposition, or http://www.virtualtelescope.eu/webtv/.

NASA’s 3 minutes video on the opposition of Mars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xngUpUyyT70

The Moon, Jupiter & The Winter Circle | Mars & Saturn

Tonight, as darkness falls, the Moon and Jupiter will lie in the sky very close to each other, in the constellation Gemini the Twins.

The Moon is almost half-lit, while Jupiter is the most brilliant ‘star’ in the sky. The Moon takes 27.3 days to complete its sidereal orbit, so it stays for about 2.5 days in each of the twelve zodiacal constellation, while Jupiter, which completes an orbit around the Sun every 12 years, spends about one year in each constellation.

The two celestial bodies will be in the midst of the Winter Circle, or Winter Hexagon asterism, formed by the most dazzling winter stars: Capella (Auriga), Castor (Gemini), Pollux (Gemini), Procyon (Canis Minoris), Sirius (Orion), Rigel (Orion) and Aldebaran (Taurus).

A very red Mars rises in the East, in the constellation of the Virgo, and is soon followed by Saturn, which resides in the Libra segment. In two days, on April 8, the Sun, Earth and Mars will be on a straight line, with the Earth in the middle. This event happens once in a Mars synodic period (780 days), and it is called Mars-Earth opposition. When Mars is at opposition, it is in the middle of its retrograde loop and the distance between the two planets will be relatively small; its disk appears larger and it has a negative magnitude. This is the most favorable time for viewing Mars.

For the entire month of April, Mars will stay bright and big in the sky, from dusk till down, but circle the night of Tuesday, April 8, when the Earth will be closer to Mars than it has come for almost six-and-a-half years.

It’s spring, the season of #sakura, a sight which I hope you all enjoy. The japanese term “sakura” means cherry blossom, or the flower of any of several trees of genus Prunus. Sakura have long been revered in Japan, with the practice of holding cherry blossom viewing parties, or hanami, said to date back to at least the 8th century. As such, many of the most beautiful specimens have been lovingly cared for over hundreds of years. A few reach an even more advanced age, such as the Miharu Takizakura, which is over 1,000 years old.

Cherry blossoms also symbolize an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life, an aspect of Japanese cultural tradition that is often associated with Buddhistic influence, and which is embodied in the concept of ‘mono no aware’, meaning the awareness of impermanence, literally “the pathos of things”, and also translated as “an empathy toward things”, or “a sensitivity to ephemera”.

#Jellyfish come from #space!

These out of this world images, that capture the breathtaking beauty and mystery of our planet’s sea life, prove that “the surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean.”

Their author, Alexander Semenov, is a zoologist specialized in the study of invertebrate animals. While his career has led him around the world, many of the shots in his portfolio (and below) are from his work at the WSBS which is located near the Polar Circle on the coast of Kandalaksha Bay of the White Sea.

The location is remote and the waters are frigid but the biological diversity speaks for itself. Many of the creatures he captures are rare and uncommon so his work has a tremendous value.

#Hybrids: The deep #ocean - #space connection

Photos & manipulations by Alexander Semenov

Cherry Blossom Galaxy by Masahiro Miyasaka

El Castillo, at Chichen Itza, last year, on the spring equinox day. Unfortunately, due to the cues at the entrance, I didn’t catch the the illusion of the feathered serpent crawling down El Castillo pyramid, but being there on such a day felt amazing.

Equinox

Cusp momentum: today, the center of the Sun will be directly above the Earth’s equator at approximately at 16:57 UTC, marking the vernal equinox. On the equinox, night and day are nearly exactly the same length – 12 hours – all over the world. This is the reason it’s called an “equinox”, derived from Latin, meaning “equal night”. In the northern hemisphere is the first day of spring, while in the southern it is the first of autumn. In the northern hemisphere the March equinox marks the start of spring and has long been celebrated as a time of rebirth.

The equinoctial point, where the celestial equator and the Earth’s ecliptic intersect, is not stable. It shifts around the ecliptic continuously, during one cosmic year, otherwise known as Platonic year, which is about 25.920 Julian years. Each Platonic year is divided into 12 parts, each of 2160 years ( Messianic cycle ).

The equinoxes are mystical times since the ancient worlds, when initiations and great mysteries were celebrated. It is believed that on the night of equinox, heavens open for contemplation of that state of existence beneath the observable.

So we shall close our eyes to see and shut the ears to hear ✩

Full moon is today, March 16, at 12:08 p.m. Central Daylight Time. Each month the full moon has a different name, and March’s full moon is known as the Full Worm Moon whose name was given by the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior. At the time of this spring Moon, the ground begins to soften and earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of robins. In some regions, this is also known as the Sap Moon, as it marks the time when maple sap begins to flow and the annual tapping of maple trees begins. Other names for this full moon include the Crust Moon, the Crow Moon, even the Maple Sugar Moon. Much like the robin, sap oozing from maple trees has often been considered a sign that spring is about to arrive.

In the Northern Hemisphere it is the last full moon of winter, while in the Southern Hemisphere it is the last full moon of summer. It is also the closest full moon to the March equinox which will take place on March 20.

Squaring the Circle Is No Piece of Pi

Math lovers celebrate today (3/14) as Pi Day, in honor of the irrational number pi. Pi is the most recognized mathematical constant in the world. Scholars often consider Pi the most important and intriguing number in all of mathematics.

Pi Day is also Albert Einstein’s birthday, along with the birthdays of Apollo 8 Commander Frank Borman, Astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, and last-man-on-the-moon Gene Cernan.

Here are some interesting facts about the irrational and transcendental number:

1. Pi is the most recognized mathematical constant in the world. Scholars often consider Pi the most important and intriguing number in all of mathematics.

2. Pi is the 16th letter of the Greek alphabet just as p is the 16th of our alphabet.

3. The way a river meanders is described by its sinuosity; the length of its winding path divided by the distance from the source to the ocean as measured in a straight line. Strange as it may be, the average river has a sinuosity of around 3.14.

4. Pi is known as an irrational number because it can’t be written as a ratio or simple fraction; while 22/7 is close, it is not exact. It is also a transcendental number, meaning that it is not algebraic – it is not a root of a non-constant polynomial equation with rational coefficients.

5. Scientists in Carl Sagan’s novel Contact are able to unravel enough of pi to find hidden messages from the creators of the human race, allowing humans to access deeper levels of universal awareness.

6. The letter π is the first letter of the Greek word “periphery” and “perimeter.” The symbol π in mathematics represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. In other words, π is the number of times a circle’s diameter will fit around its circumference.

7. Egyptologists and followers of mysticism have been fascinated for centuries by the fact that the Great Pyramid at Giza seems to approximate pi. The vertical height of the pyramid has the same relationship to the perimeter of its base as the radius of a circle has to its circumference.

8. The first 144 digits of pi add up to 666, the Number of the Beast in the Book of Revelation.

9. William Shanks (1812-1882) calculated the first 707 digits of pi. He made a mistake after the 527th place and all the following digits were wrong.

10. The value of pi has now been calculated to more than two trillion digits.

11. As an irrational and transcendental number, pi will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern; it has been calculated to more than 1 trillion digits beyond its decimal point. This makes number enthusiasts very excited. While mere math mortals know pi as 3.14159, some super pi zealots memorize the value of pi to tens of thousands of digits. According to the Pi World Ranking List, Chao Lu holds the world record with his recital of 67,890 digits.

12. Albert Einstein was born on Pi Day: March 14, 1879.

13. In the OJ Simpson trial in 1995, doubts were raised about the reliability of one witness when he got the value of pi wrong.

14. A mysterious 2008 crop circle in Britain shows a coded image representing the first 10 digits of pi.

15. In 2002, a Japanese scientist found 1.24 trillion digits of pi using a powerful computer called the Hitachi SR 8000, breaking all previous records.

16. Pi is the secret code in Alfred Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain and in The Net starring Sandra Bullock.

17. Since there are 360 degrees in a circle and pi is intimately connected with the circle, some mathematicians were delighted to discover that the number 360 is at the 359th digit position of pi.

18. Umberto Eco’s famed book Foucault’s Pendulum associates the mysterious pendulum in the novel with the intrigue of pi.

19. The “squaring the circle” method of understanding pi has fascinated mathematicians because traditionally the circle represents the infinite, immeasurable, and even spiritual world while the square represents the manifest, measurable, and comprehensive world.

20. The first million decimal places of pi consist of 99,959 zeros, 99,758 1s, 100,026 2s, 100,229 3s, 100,230 4s, 100,359 5s, 99,548 6s, 99,800 7s, 99,985 8s, and 100,106 9s.

21. Pi was first rigorously calculated by one of the greatest mathematicians of the ancient world, Archimedes of Syracuse (287-212 B.C.). Archimedes was so engrossed in his work that he did not notice that Roman soldiers had taken the Greek city of Syracuse. When a Roman soldier approached him, he yelled in Greek “Do not touch my circles!” The Roman soldier simply cut off his head and went on his business.

22. A refined value of pi was obtained by the Chinese much earlier than in the West. The Chinese had two advantages over most of the world: they used decimal notations and they used a symbol for zero. European mathematicians would not use a symbolic zero until the late Middle Ages through contact with Indian and Arabic thinkers.

23. Al-Khwarizmi, who lived in Baghdad around A.D. 800, worked on a value of pi calculated to four digits: 3.1416. The term “algorithm” derives from his name, and his text Kitab al-Jabr wal-Muqabala (The Book of Completion Concerning Calculating by Transposition and Reduction) gives us the word “algebra” (from al-Jabr, which means “completion” or “restoration”).

24. William Jones (1675-1749) introduced the symbol “π” in the 1706, and it was later popularized by Leonhard Euler (1707-1783) in 1737

25. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) and artist Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) both briefly worked on “squaring the circle,” or approximating pi.

26. There are no occurrences of the sequence 123456 in the first million digits of pi—but of the eight 12345s that do occur, three are followed by another 5. The sequence 012345 occurs twice and, in both cases, it is followed by another 5.

27. Some scholars claim that humans are programmed to find patterns in the world because it’s the only way we can give meaning to the world and ourselves. Hence, the obsessive search to find patterns in π.

28. In the seventeenth century, pi was freed from the circle and applied also to curves, such as arches and hypocycloids, when it was found that their areas could also be expressed in terms of pi. In the twentieth century, pi has been used in many areas, such as number theory, probability, and chaos theory.

29. John Donne’s (1572-1631) poem “Upon the Translations of the Psalms by Sir Philip Sidney, and the Countess of Pembroke, His Sister” condemns attempts to find an exact value of pi, or to “square a circle,” which Donne views as an attempt to rationalize God:

Eternal God—for whom who ever dare

Seek new expressions, do the circle square,

And thrust into straight corners of poor wit

Thee, who art cornerless and infinite—

30. Many mathematicians claim that it is more correct to say that a circle has an infinite number of corners than to view a circle as being cornerless.

Sources: express.co.uk | livescience.com | www.networkworld.com |