Despite our fascination with screams, science knows relatively little about them.
Harold Gouzoules is one of the few scientists researching human screams. He collects them and analyzes their tone, pitch, and frequency to try and uncover the hidden patterns and complexities carried in one of the most intense human sounds.
Via Wikimedia and Caravaggio
What’s the scariest star in all the heavens?
If you were one of the early stargazers, you might have chosen Algol in the constellation Perseus. Early astronomers nicknamed Algol the Demon Star. Bwahaha!
Equinoxes, solstices and cross-quarter days are all hallmarks of Earth’s orbit around the sun. Halloween is the fourth cross-quarter day of the year. Illustration via NASA
Halloween is an astronomical holiday. Sure, it’s the modern-day descendant from Samhain, a sacred festival of the ancient Celts and Druids in the British Isles. But it’s also a cross-quarter day, which is probably why the ancient Celtic and Druidic festival occurred when it did. The ancients were keen observers of the sky. A cross-quarter day is a day more or less midway between an equinox (when the sun sets due west) and a solstice (when the sun sets at its most northern or southern point on the horizon). Our American Halloween – October 31 – is approximately midway point between the autumn equinox and winter solstice, for us in the Northern Hemisphere.
The total starlight has been artificially colored blue in this Hubble view of the galaxy cluster Abell 2744, also known as Pandora’s Cluster. Hubble Space Telescope image via NASA/ESA/IAC/HFF Team, STScI
Witness the faint, ghostly glow of stars ejected from their galaxies. This is the galaxy cluster Abell 2744, also known as Pandora’s Cluster, whose history is now known to be both complex and violent. It’s thought that at least six galaxies in this cluster were gravitationally ripped apart several billion years ago. As a result, many stars here aren’t bound to any one galaxy. Instead, they drift freely between galaxies in the cluster.
Every Halloween – and a few days before and after – the brilliant star Arcturus sets at the same time and on the same spot on the western horizon as the summer sun. What’s more, this star rises at the same time and at the same place on the eastern horizon as the sun does during the dog days of summer.
Computer animation of Deinocheirus mirificus walking. The bizarre-looking dinosaur had unusually large forearms and features that seem cobbled together from other dinosaurs.
Marfa lights – or not – from papiblogger.com.
Ghost lights used to be called will-o-the-wisps. They were a weird glow over swamps or bogs. Nowadays, people report strange lights in the sky in all sorts of places. Some are more famous than others. The ghost lights closest to me are in the desert-like Davis Mountains near Marfa, Texas, but you can also see them in the Brown Mountains of North Carolina, and other places in North America. There are modern, very ordinary explanations for these lights. Yet people still love to try to spot them. Follow the links inside to some samples of North American ghost lights.
Photo: Guy Livesay
“She waits patiently through the night on her invisible web, stars dimly glowing in the background…” A spooky way to launch your Halloween celebration.
If you can locate the M- or W-shaped constellation Cassiopeia, you can find Perseus. Then notice Algol, the Ghoul Star!
Two sky tips for today. First, as Halloween approaches, try looking for the star Beta Persei, otherwise known as Algol in the constellation Perseus. This star’s proper name comes from the Arabic for head of the ghoul, or head of the demon. That’s why Algol is sometimes called the Ghoul Star. Second, have you been watching the moon lately? Find it near Mars again tonight!
Artist’s concept of dust and gas in multiple star system GG Tauri-A. Image via ESO/L. Calçada
Astronomers using the ALMA telescope in Chile have peered 460 light-years away – in the direction of our constellation Taurus – to discover a young multiple star system they say appears as a wheel within a wheel. In other words, there appear to be two disks, one within the other, and the astronomers have found gas flowing in the region between the two disks. They say this gas might let planets form in the gravitationally perturbed environment of this system.