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First Vine From Space Shows Endless Sun

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We’ve got plenty of images and video from space, but now we’ve got the first Vine of the cosmos, courtesy of astronaut Reid Wiseman, who landed on the International Space Station just a couple weeks ago.

It’s a great condensed view of one ISS revolution around the Earth, which takes roughly 92 minutes. That means astronauts on the ISS are treated to 15 or 16 sunrises in a 24-hour period — like at the end of Chris Hadfield’s explanation about how to puke in space. But on Wiseman’s Vine, you’ll notice that the sun never sets. Because space is magical. And because the space station’s orbit aligned with the line between light and dark on Earth, otherwise known as the day/night terminator line.

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Billions Of Potentially Habitable, Earth-Like Planets Could Exist In The Milky Way

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Milky WayAs you’ve probably heard by now (and definitely heard if you’re a regular GFR reader), the Kepler telescope’s (RIP) search for potentially habitable planets has been wildly successful. There are thousands of planets that might support life, but the bad news is that most of these are millions or billions of light years away, which means that in order for that to do us any good, we’d need to master manned interstellar travel, which is going to take us some time. But a recent discovery might change all that. Thanks to Kepler data, scientists have discovered that there are a bunch — possibly even billions — of Earth-like planets inside our own Milky Way.

The Milky Way has somewhere around 200 billion stars. Astronomers estimate that one in every five of these stars has at least one planet orbiting around it that is the right temperature to support the existence of liquid water on its surface, and thus, life. That’s at least 40 billion planets, and maybe far more. Of those 200 billion stars, roughly 40 billion are similar to the Sun, which means that those stars support at least 8 billion planets, and maybe more.

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Catch Sunday’s Rare Hybrid Solar Eclipse—It Won’t Happen Again For 159 Years

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annular solar eclipseIt’s a good thing we’re getting an extra hour tonight — I plan on waking up before 6:30 a.m. tomorrow morning to watch a rare hybrid solar eclipse. If you live in the Eastern U.S., rising early tomorrow just might give you a chance to see a pretty strange and awesome sunrise eclipse, and if you live in an 8,345-mile-long corridor that passes through Northern South America, Africa, or the Middle East, at some point tomorrow you’re likely to see a full solar eclipse.

Hybrid eclipses like this, for which geographical location determines whether it’s a partial or full eclipse, are quite rare. This century, less than five percent of all central solar eclipses will be hybrid or annular-total eclipses. Most of these eclipses begin by looking like a ring of fire, in which the moon passes in front of the sun, but is too far away from Earth to completely block it out. Instead, the moon blocks out about 95% of the sun, leaving a halo of sun around its dark edges. This is how the eclipse will start, but it won’t stay this way for long.

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Comet Dives Into The Sun, Scores A 9.8

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Comets sure are dramatic sometimes — last week, one dove right into the sun! Scientists from NASA and the ESA observed the comet via the cooperative Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), which was launched in 1995 to study the Sun’s internal structure, atmosphere, solar winds, and ionized gases. The comet was relatively tiny — a few tens of meters across, according to a U.S. Naval Research Lab scientist. And while that may seem big to us, it wasn’t anywhere near big enough to survive the solar radiation.

The video below shows the dramatic nosedive. It takes close to 40 seconds for the comet to appear at the bottom right of the screen, where it quickly heads into the sun with a dramatic finish.

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Artist Uses 60,000 LEDs To Creative Gorgeous Interactive Sun Display

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I don’t know what it is about the phrase “art installation” that immediately makes my upper lip curl, and my brain adds the word “pretentious” before my every thought. Which is ridiculous, as most large-scale art projects are admirably amazing, but it’s the ones that don’t sway me that somehow influence my opinions of the rest. But I’m nothing if not awestruck by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s latest piece.

Lozano-Hemmer, who hails from Mexico City, is a decorated artist with many years of wonderful exhibits behind him, frequently involving light in some capacity. His Flatsun” project has over 60,000 LED lights set on a large disc a little over 4 1/2 feet in diameter. It simulates the surface of the sun, with all of its fiery, turbulent beauty. Like a hyper-evolved lava lamp, it seems like this particular brand of light show would go well with hallucinogens and late ’60s rock.