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7.2-magnitude earthquake in Mexico

USGS is reporting a 7.5-magnitude earthquake on April 18, 2014

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is reporting a 7.2-magnitude earthquake – a very strong earthquake – that took place in central and southern Mexico this morning. It was originally reported as a 7.5-magnitude and then revised downward. The deep earthquake, whose epicenter was 30 miles below Earth’s surface, occurred near Tecpan, Guerrero, Mexico at 14:27:29.40 UTC on Apr 18, 2014. USGS said the quake was centered northwest of the Pacific resort of Acapulco, where many Mexicans are vacationing for the Easter holiday. The quake was also felt in of Mexico City, a city of 8.8 million which is vulnerable to earthquakes.

Find the Big Dipper in van Gogh painting

Starry_Night_cropped
Just for fun …. This painting is Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night over the Rhone, painted in September 1888 at Arles, France. Do you see the Big Dipper?

Start looking for Lyrid meteors!

Lyrids and others via NASA/MSFC/D. Moser

Lyrids and others via NASA/MSFC/D. Moser

The Lyrid meteor shower’s peak morning is April 22, but you might see meteors before that date since we’re crossing the Lyrid meteor stream from about April 16 to 25.

See it! Photos of total lunar eclipse of April 14-15

“Lunar eclipse from Des Moines, Iowa. Composite photo showing the moon disappearing and turning dark-red. Taken at the outdoor Papajohn Sculpture Park in downtown Des Moines, Iowa.,” by Brian Abeling

Did you sleep through last night’s eclipse? Or maybe you had cloudy skies. If so, here’s the next best thing. Enjoy these.

Why is Mars near the moon on eclipse night?

On the night of April 14-15, the planet Mars - closest in 6 years - will be near the eclipsed moon.  The star Spica will also be nearby.  Illustration via Classical Astronomy.

On the night of April 14-15, the planet Mars – closest in 6 years – will be near the eclipsed moon. The star Spica will also be nearby. Illustration via Jay Ryan Classical Astronomy.

On April 8, Earth in its smaller orbit passed generally between Mars and the sun. Our motion in orbit has placed Mars opposite the sun from our point of view, visible all night while the sun is below our feet. It’s what astronomers call an opposition of Mars. Meanwhile, a full moon is also, always, opposite the sun. It must be so, in order to appear full from Earth. An outer planet is always near the full moon during the month it reaches opposition. A total eclipse always happens at full moon. Voila! Mars is near the moon on eclipse night. More illustration inside to help you visualize it.

A Christian astronomer talks about Blood Moons

Lunar eclipse via Classical Astronomy.

Lunar eclipse via Classical Astronomy.

By Jay Ryan of the website Classical Astronomy

The total eclipse of Tuesday morning, April 15, 2014 is the first in a tetrad of total eclipses. That is four in a row, an uncommon alignment of the astronomical circumstances that cause eclipses to take place. There will be another total eclipse this year on October 8, and also on April 4 and September 28 of 2015. Tetrads are somewhat uncommon astronomical events. Interestingly, the eclipses of this tetrad also happen to coincide with the Jewish feasts of Passover and Sukkoth (or Tabernacles). These eclipses are being represented as Blood Moons in a couple of books that are currently making the rounds, and the Christian media is all abuzz. These books are predicting that this tetrad of eclipses are prophetic portents, harbingers of significant events ahead for the nation of Israel, and even the End Times, presaging the Second Coming of Jesus. Honestly friends, this touches a couple of my pet peeves …

This date in science: Landslide at Bingham Canyon Mine

The April 10, 2013, landslide at Bingham Canyon mine contained enough debris to bury New York City’s Central Park 66 feet deep, according to a new University of Utah study. The slide happened in the form of two rock avalanches 95 minutes apart. The first rock avalanche included grayer bedrock material seen around the margins of the lower half of the slide. The second rock avalanche is orange in color, both from bedrock and from waste rock from mining. The landslide also triggered 16 small earthquakes. Photo by Kennecott Utah Copper, via University of Utah.

The April 10, 2013, landslide at Bingham Canyon mine contained enough debris to bury New York City’s Central Park 66 feet deep, according to a new University of Utah study. The slide happened in the form of two rock avalanches 95 minutes apart. The first rock avalanche included grayer bedrock material seen around the margins of the lower half of the slide. The second rock avalanche is orange in color, both from bedrock and from waste rock from mining. The landslide also triggered 16 small earthquakes. Photo by Kennecott Utah Copper, via University of Utah.

April 10, 2013. On this date – a year ago today – a towering wall of dirt and rocks gave way and crashed down the side of Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah. The landslide was to be one of the largest non-volcanic landslides in the history of North America. Researchers later reported that the landslide – which moved at an average of almost 70 mph and reached estimated speeds of at least 100 mph – left a deposit so large it would cover New York’s Central Park with about 20 meters (66 feet) of debris.

This date in science: Largest volcanic eruption in recorded history

Tambora seen from the International Space Station in 2009. Image credit: NASA

Tambora Volcano seen from the International Space Station in 2009. Image via NASA

April 10, 1815. Mount Tambora began a large volcanic eruption on this date. This volcano – on Sumbawa Island, east of Java in what is today Indonesia – ultimately dumped an estimated 160 cubic kilometers (38 cubic miles) of melted rock and ash onto the surrounding countryside and into the air. By some estimates, it was the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history.

Star aligns with planetary nebula to create diamond ring

The planetary nebula Abell 33 captured using European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope.  Via ESO.

The planetary nebula Abell 33 captured using European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope. This planetary nebula is unusually round. Something usually disturbs the symmetry and causes a planetary nebula to appear roundish, but slightly irregular in shape. Via ESO.

Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile today (April 9, 2014) released this image of the planetary nebula PN A66 33 — usually known as Abell 33 – located roughly 2,500 light-years from Earth. What you see here is the planetary nebula in a chance alignment with a foreground star.

Warm water in Pacific could spark a monster El Nino in 2014

Here is a 4-month sequence showing unusually warm water, below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, in the area of Earth's equator.  Via Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology

Here is a 4-month sequence showing unusually warm water, below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, in the area of Earth’s equator. Via Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology.

The giant red blob in this image is a huge, unusual mass of warm water that currently spans the tropical Pacific Ocean. As it moves eastward – propelled by anomalous trade winds – it’s also getting closer to the ocean’s surface. Once the warm water hits the sea surface, it will begin to interact with the atmosphere. The warm water is expected to boost temperatures and change weather patterns … and possibly bring on a monster El Nino in 2014. There are signs this is already beginning to happen.