Astronomy – The Week Ahead: Sun 1 Feb thru Sat 7 Feb

feb 1

Sunday February 1

Tonight features two planets. Venus is at 23.8° E of the sun, brilliant in the western sky, outshining Mars nearby in Aquarius. On the eastern horizon Jupiter is rising almost concurrent with sunset. Its moon Io is showing a Shadow Transit as it rises. It will end at 19:15. You can watch the black spot approach and then leave the limb of Jupiter, followed seven minutes later by Io itself. But keep watching, as Io moves off the planet and Europa swings toward the backside into an eclipse. The fun part is that Io and Europa will “merge” as Io passes in front, just as Europa disappears into Jupiter’s shadow at 19:32!

feb2

Monday February 2

The Summer Triangle, comprised of Deneb, Vega and Altair, are up in the east before sunrise. This famous asterism is easy to see, with Altair directly over the eastern horizon. Look for the Milky Way: it stretches most obviously through Cygnus, Aquila and Scutum. Many people mistake it for clouds over the horizon.

feb3

Tuesday February 3

Today is February’s Full Moon arriving at 6:09 pm eastern time. It is called Full Snow Moon or Full Hunger Moon by Native American tribes, for the year’s heaviest snow and difficulty hunting.

Other Native American tribes called this Moon the “Shoulder to Shoulder Around the Fire Moon” (Wishram Native Americans), the “No Snow in the Trails Moon” (Zuni Native Americans), and the “Bone Moon” (Cherokee Native Americans). The Bone Moon meant that there was so little food that people gnawed on bones and ate bone marrow soup.

The Moon will be paired nicely with Jupiter, between Leo and Cancer, both rising within minutes of each other. The Moon will be in the sky all night, Jupiter, almost all night.

Moon Fact: 2,160 miles in diameter, less than the width of the United States.

feb 4

Wednesday February 4

Epsilon Lyrae is a famous multiple star system, 161 light years from us in the constellation Lyra. It is commonly referred to as The Double Double, since it is comprised of a pair of double stars in close proximity to each other.

The un-split pairs shine at a combined magnitude 4.5, so they are easy to see near Lyra’s bright star Vega. Sharp eyes in excellent conditions can split the main pair into two stars 3.5 arc-minutes apart. Through a telescope, those two split each into their own, with separations of 2.3 and 2.6 arc seconds.

feb5

Thursday February 5

The Moon forms a nice pair with Leo’s brightest star Regulus all night and through sunrise today, with Jupiter nearby. The Moon is at apogee today, 406,200 km from earth. Apogee is the farthest point the Moon reaches in its lunar monthly orbit around the earth. A Full Moon at apogee is the opposite of the recently popularized “Super Moon”. Maybe we should coin the term “Mini-Moon” to describe this? Today’s moon is not full, but at a 16.2-day-old waning gibbous phase, 98% illuminated.

feb6

Friday February 6

Jupiter is at opposition today. Opposition is an astronomical term that means the Earth is directly between the Sun and a planet. This can only occur with the outer planets. Inner planets have conjunctions, both inferior and superior.

We are at our closest point to Jupiter for 2015, so is at it largest size for the year today at 45 arc-seconds. Since Jupiter is opposite us from the sun today, it will rise exactly at sunset, and set exactly at sunrise.

feb7

Saturday February 7

Gemini is up nicely early in the evening, giving us a great opportunity to enjoy views of the Eskimo Nebula, NGC 2392. While telescopes will not show the clarity of this image, a double shell structure and darker inner ring can clearly be seen around a 9th magnitude central star. In a low power view, note the color difference between the “fuzzy star” and the neighboring 8th magnitude star. See a greenish tint? This is a planetary nebula, a star blowing off layers of atmosphere toward the end of its life. NGC 2392 shines at magnitude 10, subtends 42 arc-seconds (the size of Jupiter), and is over 2870 light years away.

Happy viewing!

Crash

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Saturday Reader: The Holocaust at 70 – A Retrospective Essay

A-B headerOur “worst” day is still no comparison to their “best” day

70 years ago this week, the Nazi German extermination and concentration camp Auschwitz was liberated. 1.1 million people were murdered in the camp complex including Jews, Sinti-Roma, Polish political prisoners, Soviet POW’s & 10,000 -15,000 members of other nationalities.

This essay is dedicated to remembering and honoring the victims of the Holocaust and the victims at the hands of Nazi control within the confines of the city of Oswiecim.

There are so many stories and numerous images about Nazi atrocities in general and Auschwitz in particular.

A harrowing image from 1941 shows the moment the Jewish population of a small town in southern Poland is rounded up by Nazis and sent to their deaths.

Other pictures show flags emblazoned with Swastikas flying from banks and outside churches, while those who stayed in the town recall the ‘disgusting glow’ on the horizon, and the fear which kept the residents hiding behind closed windows.

Because, while the small town of Oswiecim is now a quiet, rural place, during the Second World War it lay in the shadows of the crematorium at Auschwitz, and death will forever linger in the air of this place.

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Harrowing: Oswiecim – called ‘Auschwitz’ by the Germans – was home to 8,000 Jewish residents before the war; in 1941 they were rounded up by the Nazis. Pictured: Lining up in the high street.

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Quiet: By the end of the war, the town in the shadow of the death camp had not one Jewish resident. Pictured: The same high street in the sleepy town today,

Today, the buildings which once held such horror have become part of the everyday fabric of the town: annexes of the camp are apartment blocks, there is no sign of the checkpoints, and the Nazi flags are long gone.

But those who lived in the town during the Second World War still remember what it was like to live so close to the Nazi death camp.

One resident, Bogumila, who did not give her surname, and grew up in the Polish town, once told me:

“Everyone sat in their homes in silence, windows shut as tightly as possible. Of course people knew what was going on. Every now and again, my mother and I would walk toward the camp, and see the disgusting glow on the horizon. Most of them did nothing, because they were scared.”

Bozena Szczepanska, 88, who was just 12 when the Nazis invaded, said:

“It’s difficult to forget because the memory of death is all around us, on the streets, in the buildings. People were forced out, others including my parents were shot. They were brutal, evil times.”

Before the war, Oswiecim had a population of 12,000, just over 8,000 of whom were Jewish. By 1945, the entire Jewish population had gone and only 2,000 Poles remained.

Consumed as part of Nazi Germany in 1939, the town was renamed and work began on transforming the local army barracks into the biggest killing machine in history. By the time it was liberated six years later, an estimated 1.5 million people had been exterminated in its gas chambers, ranging at it height from 8,000 to 10,000 a day.

Another photo from 1941 shows two German guards on a day off pushing their bikes across the River Sola as they head into town from the death camp.

Occupation: The town was consumed as part of Nazi Germany in 1939, and work soon began transforming the local army barracks into the biggest killing machine in history.

Occupation: The town was consumed as part of Nazi Germany in 1939, and work soon began transforming the local army barracks into the biggest killing machine in history.

Changes: Today, the soldiers who used to cross this bridge are long gone - but the sense of death will always linger.

Changes: Today, the soldiers who used to cross this bridge are long gone – but the sense of death will always linger.

Local man Roman Lewicki, 55, said:

“Wherever you go in this town, there are terrible reminders of the past. I was born after the war but I know what happened here. People were executed on street corners and one of those places is now said to have a school playground built on top of it. Buildings were turned into annexes of the main camp and people were worked to death. Some of those places are now apartment blocks with families living inside.”

Horrors: The old barracks home, built for Polish soldiers, was lived in Rudolf Hoess during his time at the camp and is just a stone’s throw from the crematorium and gas chambers.

'Polish': But the couple who have made it their home see it as a Polish house, and not a Nazi house

‘Polish’: But the couple who have made it their home see it as a Polish house, and not a Nazi house

Strict rule: Nazi checkpoints were, for six years, part of daily life for the remaining residents of Oswiecim.

Strict rule: Nazi checkpoints were, for six years, part of daily life for the remaining residents of Oswiecim.

No sign: But today it is hard to imagine Nazi soldiers standing here, checking passes.

No sign: But today it is hard to imagine Nazi soldiers standing here, checking passes.

Mass murder: Oswiecim train station - through which the millions of Jews destined for the death camp passed.

Mass murder: Oswiecim train station – through which the millions of Jews destined for the death camp passed.

Demolished: Today, the building so many must have seen has been replaced with this brightly colored station.

Demolished: Today, the building so many must have seen has been replaced with this brightly colored station.

Control: Nazi flags used to adorn the buildings of Oswiecim, reminding residents they were no longer under the control of the Polish government.

Control: Nazi flags used to adorn the buildings of Oswiecim, reminding residents they were no longer under the control of the Polish government.

Peaceful: Today, the church in Oswiecim has survived - but the flags are long forgotten.

Peaceful: Today, the church in Oswiecim has survived – but the flags are long forgotten.

Symbols: The town's bank during the Second World War, with Nazi flags hanging from the windows.

Symbols: The town’s bank during the Second World War, with Nazi flags hanging from the windows.

Everyday: Now the Polish flag flutters above Bank Pekao - but the building is largely unchanged.

Everyday: Now the Polish flag flutters above Bank Pekao – but the building is largely unchanged.

The Soviet advance from the east forced the Nazis to retreat from Auschwitz leaving several thousand of their prisoners behind, among them children and those closest to death.

Survivor Bozena said:

“They left behind a town which will always be haunted by the shadow of death and unspeakable horror. I don’t want to come back here.”

70 years ago a photo was taken of children prisoners at Auschwitz after the camp was liberated. After months of researching and countless hours of work by the staff of USC Shoah Foundation, not only were all the survivors identified but some reunited for one last picture in Krakow, Poland.

70 years ago a photo was taken of children prisoners at Auschwitz after the camp was liberated. After months of researching and countless hours of work by the staff of USC Shoah Foundation, not only were all the survivors identified but some reunited for one last picture in Krakow, Poland.

Over 100 Auschwitz survivors gather together for a historic photo 70 years after the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp was liberated.

Over 100 Auschwitz survivors gather together for a historic photo 70 years after the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp was liberated.

Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

The quotation stems from Niemöller’s lectures during the early postwar period. Different versions of the quotation exist. These can be attributed to the fact that Niemöller spoke extemporaneously and in a number of settings. Much controversy surrounds the content of the poem as it has been printed in varying forms, referring to diverse groups such as Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews, Trade Unionists, or Communists depending upon the version. Nonetheless his point was that Germans—in particular, he believed, the leaders of the Protestant churches—had been complicit through their silence in the Nazi imprisonment, persecution, and murder of millions of people.

Only in 1963, in a West German television interview, did Niemöller acknowledge and make a statement of regret about his own antisemitism (see Gerlach, 2000, p. 47). Nonetheless, Martin Niemöller was one of the earliest Germans to talk publicly about broader complicity in the Holocaust and guilt for what had happened to the Jews. In his book Über die deutsche Schuld, Not und Hoffnung (published in English as Of Guilt and Hope)—which appeared in January 1946—Niemöller wrote: “Thus, whenever I chance to meet a Jew known to me before, then, as a Christian, I cannot but tell him: ‘Dear Friend, I stand in front of you, but we can not get together, for there is guilt between us. I have sinned and my people has sinned against thy people and against thyself.'”

Auschwitz, a brand new 15-minute documentary on the history of the Nazi death camp, produced by Steven Spielberg and narrated by Meryl Streep,will be permanently installed at the Auschwitz Memorial. The documentary had its premiere this week (27 January 2015), in the presence of 300+ Holocaust survivors. ‪#‎PastIsPresent‬ ‪#‎Auschwitz70‬

On the Web:

Crash

Orca Update: Orcas Could Become Extinct in the Next 20 Years or Less

Tania Marie's Blog

Orca-Killer-Whales

Perhaps this is part of why I had the dream about the Orcas the other night that then prompted me to share their plea and a cry for help and support.

Thank you Laura for finding this article and sharing it with me:

West Coast Orcas Experiencing 100% Infant Mortality Rate As Radiation From Fukushima Drifts Across Ocean

Regardless of whether or not this is the cause, it’s definitely evident that changes are happening both in the waters of our oceans, and on land, due to effects of shifts on many levels taking place that include reckless abuse, neglect, dishonor, and unconscious behaviors on the parts of humanity.

Our Earth Mother and her children are providing us the messages. It is up to us to listen and take conscious action to work in harmony with her and to be present and accountable for the difference we each are able to…

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The Holocaust’s Forgotten Victims

Bryan Patterson's Faithworks

The Five Million Non-Jewish People Killed By The Nazis

Six million Jewish people were murdered during the genocide in Europe in the years leading up to 1945, and the Jews are rightly remembered as the group that Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party most savagely persecuted during the Holocaust.

But the Nazis targeted many other groups: for their race, beliefs or what they did.

Historians estimate the total number of deaths to be 11 million, with the victims encompassing gay people, priests, gypsies, people with mental or physical disabilities, communists, trade unionists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, anarchists, Poles and other Slavic peoples, and resistance fighters.

Homosexual men, and to a lesser extent women, were compelled to renounce their sexuality under the Nazi regime. An estimated 100,000 were arrested and some sent to prisons, while between 5,000 and 15,000 were sent to concentration camps, where some were forced to wear pink triangles on their uniform…

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Incredible 50-foot ‘dragon’ dinosaur unearthed by Chinese farmers

FOX6Now.com

HONG KONG (CNN) — Paleontologists have discovered a 50-foot “dragon” dinosaur species in China that may have roamed the earth 160 million years ago during the Late Jurassic period.

The long skeleton was found in 2006 by farmers digging for a fish pond in Qijiang city in the southwestern Chongqing province.

Lida Xing, a member of the research team from the University of Alberta who made the discovery, told CNN it was named Qijianglong, the “dragon of Qijiang” because farmers thought the bones resembled the shape of Chinese mythical dragons.

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“We found the dinosaur’s huge vertebrae with the skull and the tail, but couldn’t find any bones from the hands or the legs. So the locals began to say the long body looked just like a dragon from ancient Chinese stories,” said Xing.

The findings, published earlier this week in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, show that the new species…

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Super Bowl Ads: Less Snark, More Uplift This Year

Deadline

Super Bowl XLIX will be played Sunday at the end of a season in which the NFL was pounded with reports of abuse against women, children and even footballs. Maybe not coincidentally, this year’s Super Bowl advertising is expected to be a lot less snarky and more mom-ified — lighter on the testosterone and heavier on the uplifting.

Characterizing this year’s crop of ads in advance of the game is tougher than in years past, what with more companies holding back their spots to unveil during the actual game. This gave birth to a new trend this year: the Super Bowl Ad Tease. After a couple years in which almost all the ads were released online in advance of the game, Reporters Who Cover Advertising are giving this year’s “less information” strategy high marks, only now confessing that last year they were sick and tired of the ads by Super Bowl Sunday.

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Behind the Scenes of the Puppy Bowl

TIME

There are many reasons to become a sports journalist. Maybe you want to expose corruption, or do the kind of deep statistical analysis you can’t find anywhere. Or maybe, like me, you just want to go to The Puppy Bowl.

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, The Puppy Bowl is Animal Planet’s solution to every television network’s problem of what to broadcast against the nation’s top-viewed program of the year. Now in its 10th year, The Puppy Bowl is the second-highest rated broadcast on the day of the Super Bowl.

The old adage in showbiz says never to work with animals or children, so the logistics of working with animals who are also children can be tricky. The 3-yard by 10-yard field is manned not only by the referee you see on television, but also animal handlers for each animal, numerous producers, and about 10…

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