Let the moon guide your eye to the star Spica and planet Saturn on May 21.
The waxing gibbous moon glides close to the the star Spica this evening, on May 21, and pairs up with the planet Saturn tomorrow, on May 22. The moon will pass relatively close to Spica and Saturn for the next several days, as the moon moves in its endless orbit around Earth.
Of course, in reality, the moon’s nearness to Spica aor Saturn tonight is just a line-of-sight illusion. The moon never gets close to Spica in a true sense because the moon orbits Earth at only about one light-second away – while Spica is 260 light-years away. Saturn, though much closer than Spica, is still a very distant 74 light-minutes away from Earth right now.
Mile-wide tornado spent over an hour on the ground in Moore, Oklahoma, a suburb of Oklahoma City, on May 20, 2013. Image is a video still from CBS News.
May 20, 2013, 7:30 p.m. CDT (May 21 at 0030 UTC) — The National Weather Service (NWS) has said a mile-wide EF-4 tornado – with wind speeds up to 200 mph (300 kph) – hit Moore, Oklahoma, a suburb to the southwest of Oklahoma City, earlier today. Local hospitals are reporting many injuries, with 51 confirmed deaths at this time. The NWS said the tornado spent 40 minutes on the ground. Emergency crews have been on the ground at a school in Moore, trying to rescue students and staff trapped by falling debris. The tornado turned hundreds of homes in some neighborhoods in Moore – in southwest Oklahoma City – to rubble and set fires. The tornado is reported to have “wiped out entire neighborhoods” according to local news reports, and to have left a wide path of debris.
A radar image of the supercell that produced the devasting tornado in Joplin, Missouri on May 22, 2011. Base reflectivity is on the left and storm relative velocity on the right. The area of high reflectivity just to the right of the Joplin label is debris lofted into the air by the tornado. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
Check out the 10 deadliest tornadoes since 1900, according to AP and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, is the only storm to make the list within the past 60 years.
The many faces of the harlequin ladybird. Image: Entomart.
Not everyone has what it takes to be a successful invader. Most species that find their way to foreign lands starve, get eaten or otherwise fail to establish themselves in significant numbers. But every so often an organism thrives so well in its new terrain, that it ends up trampling much of the native flora and fauna. The harlequin ladybird is one such formidable conqueror. What’s their secret?
If your sky is clear – and your horizon unobstructed – start looking toward the west as soon as the sun sets on these May 2013 evenings. You’ll find the two brightest planets there: Venus and Jupiter. A third planet, Mercury, will begin to be visible around May 20. Between May 24-29, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury will fit within a circle whose diameter is less than 5 degrees wide on the sky’s dome. May 26 is the closest grouping of these three planets until the year 2021.
Tornado on May 18, 2013 near Rozel, Kansas. Image Credit: Shalyn Phillips/ TVNweather.com
A very dynamic and strong storm system brought severe weather across the Central United States this past weekend (May 18-19, 2013). The Storm Prediction Center highlighted parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, and parts of Missouri into a moderate risk to see severe thunderstorms on Sunday, May 19. The entire weekend featured many dangerous storms that produced large hail, strong winds, and violent tornadoes. This post contains videos and photos of tornadoes that pushed through the central U.S. this past weekend. Warning: some are graphic. More severe weather expected today.
UAV hovering over exposed Pleistocene reef on West Caicos Island in the Antilles prior to climbing to acquisition height (50 m above outcrop). The UAV is manually launched and then controlled by a combination of manual and automated radio signals. Photo by Chris Zahm.
Necessary resources such as oil and water lie below our feet. Research scientist Chris Zahm of the Bureau of Economic Geology talked to EarthSky about how today’s scientists are coming to understand the world underground, while exploring for resources in safe, practical and effective ways.