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Dates of lunar and solar eclipses in 2015 and 2016

Solar eclipse November 3, 2013 by Ken Christison

Solar eclipse November 3, 2013 by Ken Christison

The next eclipse is a partial eclipse of the sun on September 13, 2015, visible from the southern part of Africa. One fortnight (two weeks) after that, it’ll be a total eclipse of the year’s closest supermoon on the night of September 27-28, visible from North and South America. Follow the links inside to learn the dates for upcoming solar and lunar eclipses in 2015 and 2016.

This date in science: Pioneer 11 swept past Saturn

Image credit:  NASA/Ames

Pioneer 11 image of Saturn via NASA/Ames

September 1, 1979. On this date, NASA’s Pioneer 11 came within 13,000 miles (21,000 km) of Saturn, making it the first spacecraft ever to sweep closely past that world. Among other things, the mission investigated Saturn’s rings and determine if a trajectory through the rings was safe for the upcoming Voyager visits. They paved the way for the even-more-sophisticated Voyager spacecraft, which were launched in 1977 … and ultimately for the Cassini mission, which has been orbiting Saturn since 2004.

Bats also face chemical threats

Photo credit: Brian Tomlinson

Photo credit: Brian Tomlinson

Cave-dwelling bats in North America are fighting an epic battle against the fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome, and now, they may be facing another foe—chemical contaminants.

New images from Dawn mission to Ceres

View larger. | Image acquired by the Dawn spacecraft on August 19, 2015.

Sharpened, enlarged crop of the mountain 1 Ceres, acquired by the Dawn spacecraft on August 19, 2015. Dawn was 910 miles (1,470 km) from Ceres at the time. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.

Enjoying the Dawn mission to dwarf planet Ceres? Welcome to HAMO (High Altitude Mapping Orbit). Dawn has now moved to within about 900 miles (1,500 km) from Ceres. This phase of the mission has just begun and promises to reveal even more about this little world. Here are some early images from that closer orbit.

Did glaciers lure wolves back to California?

Gray wolves in snow. Image credit: University of Buffalo

Gray wolves in snow. Image credit: University of Buffalo

More than 90 years after California’s last wolf was killed, a pack has been observed near Mt. Shasta. Are the mountain’s glaciers a reason the wolves chose this location?

Liquid water elsewhere in our solar system?

A frozen lake of water-ice on the floor of a 35 km wide impact crater on Mars. Image credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

ESA’s Mars Express obtained this perspective view of an unnamed impact crater located on Vastitas Borealis, a broad plain that covers much of Mars’ far northern latitudes. The crater is 20 miles (35 km) wide. The circular patch of bright material located at the center of the crater is residual water ice. Image credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum).

If so, where are likely to find it and could we ever get to it? And would we be able to drink it? A planetary geologist discusses these issues.

Global warming makes California drought worse

Really dry: a Colorado River aqueduct in southern California. Photo credit: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Really dry: a Colorado River aqueduct in southern California. Photo credit: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

A new study suggests that natural forces are behind California’s drought, but that global warming has contributed 8-27% to the drought’s severity.

Seeing things that aren’t there

Pareidolia of an Apache head in rocks, in Ebihens, France via Wikimedia Commons.

Erwan Mirabeau shot this rock formation in Ebihens, France. It’s clearly reminiscent of a green haired man, known in the area as an Apache. It’s an example of pareidolia. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Maybe you’ve seen the proverbial bunny in a patch of clouds, or a clown’s face in a mud splatter on the side of your car? Seeing or hearing recognizable objects or patterns in otherwise random or unrelated objects or patterns is called pareidolia. Everyone experiences it from time to time – some people more than others. Look at the photos inside to learn more and test your own ability to see things that aren’t there.

Space weather threatens equatorial regions too

When the sun flares, space weather is on its way to Earth.  Image credit: NASA/SDO

When the sun flares, space weather is on its way to Earth. Image credit: NASA/SDO

Damaging electric currents in space affect Earth’s equatorial region, not just the poles, according to new research.

Large 2015 Gulf of Mexico dead zone

Spatial extent of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone in 2015. Image Credit: N. Rabalais and R. E. Turner via NOAA.

Spatial extent of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone in 2015. Image Credit: N. Rabalais and R. E. Turner via NOAA.

Data from this year’s survey indicate that the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is above average in size, likely because of heavy rains in June.