(TMU) — While the “Ring of Fire” eclipse of the Sun was visible to some on December 26, the upcoming “Wolf Moon Eclipse” on Friday, January 10 and Saturday, January 11 will be visible from Asia, parts of Australia, Europe, and Africa.
Unfortunately, North and South America will not be able to view the upcoming eclipse. Full Moon happens at the same moment worldwide, which, for this month’s Wolf Full Moon Eclipse will be at 7:21 pm Universal Time (UTC). In the United Sates, this means the Moon turns full at 2:21 pm Eastern, 1:11 pm Central, 12:11 pm Mountain, and 11:11 am Pacific —and will therefore only be visible in the U.S. during daylight hours.
The eclipse will be over and done with while the Moon is still beneath the horizon but both continents will still be able to enjoy the rise of the full Wolf Moon, which should provide a spectacle befitting of the first full moon and eclipse of 2020, and the decade.
The penumbral eclipse, such as the one on the January 10, occurs when Earth blocks some of the Sun’s light from reaching the Moon’s surface directly while it covers some or all of the Moon with the outer part of its shadow, known as the penumbra. The penumbra is much fainter than the dark core of Earth’s shadow, the umbra.
In 2020, there will be four penumbral lunar eclipses, two of which will be visible in North American. These lunar eclipses are different from a total lunar eclipse in that Earth’s outer shadow, the penumbra, is not as dense as it would be with a total eclipse of the Moon.
Depending on weather conditions, people in Asia, Australia, Europe, and Africa will be able to experience the Wolf Moon Eclipse, beginning at 5:07 pm Universal Time and reaching “maximum eclipse” at 7:10 pm Universal Time. You can convert Universal Time to your location/time zone here or here.
The eclipse will take about four hours from start to finish. Western Europe is fortunate to have the best seat in the house and will be able to watch the Wolf Moon rise in the east, followed by the eclipse shortly after.
Although North and South Americans will have missed the eclipse, the Wolf Moon rising in the east will be a sight worth setting a reminder for at 4:45 pm EST in New York and close to sunset at 5:10 pm PST in Los Angeles.
If you’re in one of these cities, check out the following times for “maximum eclipse” of the Wolf Moon. You’ll be able to see a dark shadow across the bottom half of the Moon:
- London: 7:10 p.m. on January 10
- Mainland Europe: 8:10 p.m. on January 10
- Cairo: 9:10 p.m. on January 10
- Moscow: 10:10 p.m. on January 10
- Dubai: 11:10:02 p.m. on January 10
- New Delhi: 12:40 a.m. on January 11
- Shanghai: 3:10 a.m. on January 11
- Perth: 3:10 a.m. on January 11
For those who unable to view the first penumbral lunar eclipse of the year, fear not—there are three more penumbral lunar eclipses in 2020:
- June 5, visible in Asia, Africa, and Australia
- July 5, visible in North and South America and Africa
- November 29, visible in North and South America, Australia, and East Asia
For all lovers of the cosmos, 2020 brings us a total of 13 full moons to enjoy. Since lunar months are 29 days long, every now and again there happens to be two moons in on month and this year October will have a full moon on the first and another on the thirty-first, the latter being a “blue moon.”
Chinese Military Satellite Smashed by Russian Rocket in “Major Confirmed Orbital Collision”
In an incident that is likely illustrative of things to come, Chinese military satellite 1-02 was smashed after it appears to have collided into the debris from a disintegrating Russian rocket.
The collision, which occurred earlier this year, shows the increasing danger of space junk such as satellite parts and other miscellaneous jetsam littering the Earth’s orbit. An estimated 8,000 metric tons of space debris pose the risk of destroying functional equipment such as weather forecasting systems, telecoms and GPS systems – and even manned space travel missions – if the problem isn’t reined in.
The fate of the Chinese satellite was uncovered by Harvard astrophysicist and satellite tracker Jonathan McDowell.
The breakup of Yunhai 1-02 was initially reported by the U.S. Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron (18SPCS). However, it wasn’t until recently that McDowell found out what caused the breakup.
The astrophysicist soon found that it was destroyed by space junk that originated from a Russian Zenit-2 rocket that had launched a spy satellite in 1996. On Aug. 14, McDowell found a strange entry in a database on Space-Track.org: “Collided with satellite.”
“This is a new kind of comment entry — haven’t seen such a comment for any other satellites before,” McDowell tweeted.
“A quick analysis of the TLEs show that Yunhai 1-02 (44547) and [the debris object] passed within 1 km of each other (so within the uncertainty of the TLEs) at 0741 UTC Mar 18, exactly when 18SPCS reports Yunhai broke up,” he added, noting that this “looks to be the first major confirmed orbital collision in a decade.”
However, the Yunhai satellite still remains functional and is transmitting radio signals, notes Space.com.
The incident shows the growing likelihood of such collisions in the high-traffic, littered near-Earth orbital zone.
“Collisions are proportional to the square of the number of things in orbit,” McDowell explained. “That is to say, if you have 10 times as many satellites, you’re going to get 100 times as many collisions.”
He added: “So, as the traffic density goes up, collisions are going to go from being a minor constituent of the space junk problem to being the major constituent. That’s just math.”
A worst-case scenario of such collisions is known as the “Kessler Syndrome,” and describes the possibility of one collision setting in motion a chain of collisions. Such a disaster was the premise of the 2013 film “Gravity.”
One hopes that things don’t reach that point.
In the meantime, however, there have been a number of initiatives meant to tackle the growing problem of space debris, such as the ELSA-d spacecraft launched in a demonstration mission earlier this year.
Scientists Find Possible New Signs of Alien Life on Saturn’s Icy Moon
A new study suggests that Saturn moon Enceladus, which is covered in an icy crust, could be a great place for life to exist.
New evidence collected by NASA’s retired Cassini spacecraft offers tantalizing details on the chemical makeup of the water plumes erupting from Enceladus.
The heavy amount of methane – a gas associated with life on Earth – suggests that underneath the icy crust of Enceladus, there could be a huge ocean of briny water potentially teeming with life.
The new study by researchers from the University of Arizona and Paris Sciences & Lettres University also found that there was a relatively high concentration of molecules of dihydrogen and carbon dioxide.
“We wanted to know: Could Earthlike microbes that ‘eat’ the dihydrogen and produce methane explain the surprisingly large amount of methane detected by Cassini?” asked University of Arizona associate professor and lead author of the study Prof. Regis Ferriere.
Scientists have long speculated that conditions on Enceladus, with its subsurface ocean and sources of warmth, could be conducive to the development of living creatures.
However, one possible explanation for the chemical composition of water on Enceladus could be the existence of microbes on the Saturn moon.
“In other words, we can’t discard the ‘life hypothesis’ as highly improbable,” Ferriere noted. “To reject the life hypothesis, we need more data from future missions.”
Confirmation of the “life hypothesis” will likely remain elusive for the foreseeable future.
“Searching for such microbes, known as methanogens, at Enceladus’ seafloor would require extremely challenging deep-dive missions that are not in sight for several decades,” Ferriere said.
Stunning New Images Show Glowing Auroras on Mars
A new probe from the UAE to study the atmosphere of Mars has captured never-before-seen images of a night time aurora on the Red Planet.
The UAE’s Hope Mars mission was meant to study the Martian atmosphere over the course of the year across the totality of its layers. However, before its actual scientific mission began, it managed to snap the shots of the extremely brief phenomenon, reports Space.com.
In images released on Wednesday, the auroras stand out clearly as bright flashes against the pitch-black night sky.
The chance discovery – which wasn’t even a part of the probe’s formal mission – shows the exciting finds other nations’ space programs are capable of finding.
“They’re not easy to catch, and so that’s why seeing them basically right away with [Emirates Mars Mission] was kind of exciting and unexpected,” said Justin Deighan, the deputy science lead of the mission and a planetary scientist at the University of Colorado.
“It’s definitely something that was on our radar, so to speak, but just looking at our first set of nighttime data and saying, ‘Hey, wait a second — is that? — it can’t be — it is!’ — that was a lot of fun,” he added.
On Earth, auroras or “northern lights” are the result of electrons surfing across the electric field during geomagnetic storms, causing atmosphere particles to ionize and create the colorful and dazzling light shows.
On Mar, similar auroras seem unrestricted by the north and south poles and happen across the rest of the planet.
This is because the magnetic atmosphere isn’t aligned like a bar magnet, as it is on Earth.
Rather, the Martian magnetic more resembles a situation where “you took a bag of magnets and dumped them into the crust of the planet,” Deighan told the New York Times.
“And they’re all pointed different ways,” he said. “And they have different strengths.”
This results in solar wind particles firing off in different directions, causing interactions with molecules and atoms across the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere and triggering the aurora.
The Mars Hope team hopes the discovery can lead to fresh insights on how the planet’s atmosphere interacts with solar activity.