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Brilliant Comet NEOWISE, ‘The Best Comet in Decades,’ Now Visible With the Naked Eye

People waking up early in the morning will be treated to a brilliant site this week.

Elias Marat

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People waking up early in the morning will be treated to a brilliant site this week: the newly discovered comet NEOWISE, which is the first visible comet of 2020 that can be seen with the naked eye.

Officially known as C/2020 F3, the comet was first spotted by NASA’s NEOWISE satellite in March some 326 miles (525 km) above the Earth’s surface as it began to approach the Sun, shining brightly as it released water vapor from its icy core.

The comet surprisingly survived its loop around the Sun and will be coming closest to Earth this week, after which it is expected to remain visible to the naked eye through July, reports CNN.

The icy space rock, which looks like a bright ball with a luminous tail, can be easily seen at early dawn and dusk across the northern hemisphere.

The comet is the first “great comet” to streak through Earth’s skies in 2020 after two other much-hyped comets, Comet ATLAS and Comet SWAN, fizzled out earlier this year – a common phenomenon since comets are inherently fragile bodies that tend to fall apart as they come closer to the Sun.

“About once a decade you get [a comet] that is really bright, [with] naked eye visibility,” Paul Delaney, an astronomy professor at York University, told Global News. “That’s surprisingly what NEOWISE has become. We weren’t expecting it.”

Comets typically appear faint in the sky, which is why it’s recommended that you look for the comet in the early morning and evening, right when the level of sunlight allows you to see it against the night sky but without washing the spectacle out.

“For the northern hemisphere, it’s very low to the horizon in the early morning,” said astrophysicist Karl Battams of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. “People need to get up early, but it’s easily visible with binoculars.”

The comet will be visible at dawn until July 11, when it reaches the highest point in the sky, according to EarthSky.

In mid-July, however, comet NEOWISE will become visible just after sunset near the horizon in the northwest. Earthsky reports that the comet nay stick around through the second half of the month, during which time it will be higher in the sky at dusk.

NEOWISE is expected to disappear into its orbit in August.

While many have caught some amazing glimpses of NEOWISE with their naked eye alone, stargazers are recommended to use binoculars while astrophotographers should use a quality camera with a zoom lens to catch an even closer look at the magnificent display.

Astronomers and astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) have captured some amaing photos and videos of NEOWISE.

In a tweet, ISS cosmonaut Ivan Vagner of Russia tweeted about the comet, noting that its large tail is quite clearly visible from the space station.

It also bears repeating that while comets have historically been the basis of misperceptions borne of superstitious beliefs, these distant snowballs pose absolutely zero danger to terrestrial life.

NASA is urging photographers, both amateur and professional, to submit any photos to its Astronomy Picture of the Day program here.

Animals

Rare Creature Photographed Alive In The Wild For The First Time Ever

Elias Marat

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Advances in the methods used by researchers to watch wildlife have allowed for the photographing of a rare creature whose image had never been captured in the wild before.

Researchers in the West African nation of Togo were able to spot the rare Walter’s duiker, a rare species of petite African antelope, for the first time in the wild thanks to camera traps equipped with motion sensors.

In addition to the Walter’s duiker, the camera traps were also able to discover rare species of aardvarks and a mongoose, reports Gizmodo.

At a time when the extinction of entire species is becoming more common worldwide, such devices should help conservationists not only preserve creatures sought by bushmeat hunters but also spot rare animals whose presence is elusive for human observers. In the past, biologists were forced to rely on the same hunters for information.

“Camera traps are a game changer when it comes to biodiversity survey fieldwork,” said University of Oxford wildlife biologist Neil D’Cruze.

“I’ve spent weeks roughing it in tropical forests seemingly devoid of any large mammal species,” D’Cruze continued. “Yet when you fire up the laptop and stick in the memory card from camera traps that have been sitting there patiently during the entire trip—and see species that were there with you the entire time —it’s like being given a glimpse into a parallel world.”

The Walter’s duiker was discovered in 2010 when specimens of bushmeat were compared to other duiker specimens. The new images of the creature are the first to have been seen.

Rare species like Walter’s duiker are often not listed as “endangered” by groups like the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to a lack of data.

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Formerly Homeless Man Enjoys New Life In First 3D-Printed Home In US

Elias Marat

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A formerly homeless man is now enjoying his advanced years in a comfortable, entirely 3D-printed tiny home – the very first of its kind in the entire U.S.

Tim Shea, 70, has struggled for much of his life with substance abuse, addiction, and homelessness.

However, the previously unhoused man is now the first person to live in a 3D-printed tiny home, which is now being touted as a model of engineering and sustainability, reports Green Matters.

The 400-square-foot 3D-printed tiny home was printed by nonprofit New Story and construction technology company ICON in the Austin, Texas, area in March 2018 before Shea moved into the location in September.

In 2019, New Story and ICON have also printed a similar community of tiny homes in Mexico, hoping to make good on the use of the technology as a tool to provide homes to the extremely poor.

According to Shea, his new domicile has made all the difference in the world.

“When I found out I’d be the first person in America to move into a 3D-printed home, I thought it was pretty awesome,” Shea told NY Post. “The very people I used to run away from, I’m running to. If you’ve been on both sides of the fence, you know some people just need a little encouragement and support.”

From start to finish, the process of printing and assembling these homes takes only 48 hours and relies on only 70 to 80 percent of the raw building material that conventional housing requires.

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Company Will Pay $2,400 to Those Willing to Go On a ‘Digital Detox’ for 24 Hours

Elias Marat

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The ongoing pandemic has left many of us staring at a screen for far too long, be it a television screen, smartphone, or computer monitor.

However, one company is seeking to find out whether we can make it through a full day without looking at a screen – and volunteers could receive a reward of $2,400 if they accept the challenge.

Reviews.org is hosting a new “24-Hour Digital Detox Challenge” that will allow participants to take the ultimate test of their ability to abstain from staring into the black mirror and report back the results.

“Are you burnt out from doom scrolling on your phone, re-watching old sitcoms, and trying to maintain your sanity during the pandemic?” the Salt Lake City, Utah-based company recently announced. “Have you always wanted to win reality competitions like American Ninja Warrior, but you’ve been too busy trying to beat Mario Kart and Mortal Kombat instead?”

The challenge is open to anyone 18 or older who is eligible to work in the United States, and the participants will be announced on March 29 on the company’s YouTube channel.

Upon being chosen, participants will be able to accept or decline the challenge after two weeks before picking a day that fits into their schedule. They can spend their day however they please, but they must agree to abstain for a full 24 hours from mobile devices, gaming devices, smartwatches, TVs, computers and other wearables as well as smart home devices. The digital display of your alarm clock, microwave, or other home appliances won’t count.

“Detox challengers” will also receive a safe to store their devices in, as well as a $200 gift card to purchase a tech-free survival kit that can consist of writing stationery, books, board games and other decidedly analog devices.

“We have a feeling someone out there needs a break,” the company wrote in its announcement, noting that since the start of the pandemic people have been staring at screens at an unprecedented rate. 

Those interested can fill out a short application for the challenge here, but do it quickly! Applications close on March 26. 

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