Why It’s Best to Watch A Total Solar Eclipse from 39,000 FT!

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Joe Rao, an associate astronomer at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium in New York, discovered that an Alaska Airlines flight traveling from Anchorage to Honolulu would be passing directly through the path of last night’s total solar eclipse.

After months of emailing back and forth with Alaska Airlines to get the flight pushed back by 25 minutes, they finally agreed. “We recognize our customer’s passions,” Chase Craig, Alaska’s director of onboard brand experience, said in a release. Being above the clouds is one of the major perks to seeing an eclipse from cruising altitude. Rao says, “You also get a chance to see the moon’s shadow sweeping across the landscape. At 37,000 feet, that’s a dramatic sight to see.”

What’s the different between a Solar and a Lunar Eclipse?

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes between the Moon and the Sun, and the Earth’s shadow obscures the moon or a portion of it. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, blocking all or a portion of the Sun.

Image Source: Pixabay.com- Solar Eclipse

Upcoming 5 Total Solar Eclipses

Dates Path of the eclipse
Mar 8 / Mar 9, 2016
Aug 21, 2017
Jul 2, 2019
Dec 14, 2020
Dec 4, 2021

Source: timeanddate.com




Leap Year Day 2016

Image Source: Pixabay.com

In case you have not heard, today is Leap Year Day! Almost every 4 years we get the chance to celebrate this day! Why do you ask? It takes some understanding of our solar system and time to figure out why a leap day exists.

The way we measure time on Earth is a bit complicated. Years are measured by the length of time it takes our planet to orbit the sun. We call this a “solar”  year.  The precise measure of a solar year is 365.24219 days. Those numbers at the end of the decimal point add up. Without any sort of adjustment for the extra quarter of a day, seasons as we know them would eventually become very different. Winter would feel like summer and Summer would feel like Winter! 

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII established the Gregorian calendar and introduced the century rule.

“If a leap year falls on a century, a year ending in double zeroes, you only add a leap day if it’s divisible by 400,” physicist Judah Levine, a man the Washington Post once dubbed “the nation’s timekeeper” says. “For that reason 1900 wasn’t a leap year but 2000 was.” 

In 2100, we’ll skip it again, forcing leap babies to wait a total of eight years to celebrate their birthday. 

According to the rules set forth in the Gregorian calendar leap years have occurred or will occur during the following years:

Notice that 2000 was a leap year because it is divisible 400, but that 1900 was not a leap year.

One of the biggest debates among leap babies is which date they celebrate their birthdays during off years!  Some opt for Feb. 28, saying the last day of February is most accurate, while others insist March 1 is more correct because they were born the day following Feb. 28. Then there’s the camp that believes time of day is the determining factor—if you were born in the morning, the 28th is yours, but if you were delivered past noon, it’s the 1st. 
Hope all you Leap Babies have a wonderful day today!

Think About It Thursday: Why Should We Wear Sunscreen?


Image Source: Pixabay.com

With summer quickly approaching it is important that we discuss the importance of sunscreen and why we should all wear it on a daily basis. So in today’s Think About It Thursday post we are going to discuss the importance of wearing sunscreen and why it is vital to our health to do so!

Wrinkle-causing UVA rays and burn-inducing UVB’s from the sun can be harmful and pose a serious risk to your health and looks. So it is important to take specific safety measures when spending a large amount of time in the sun.

You’ve probably walked into your local store and noticed a whole AISLE of sunscreens for sale….but which one do you pick?! And what the heck does SPF really even mean anyways?

SPF or Sun Protection Factor  is a measure of the sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB rays from damaging the skin.  If it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer, which calculates to about five hours of protection. HOWEVER, sunscreens should really only be expected to stay effective for no longer than two hours without reapplication.

Using sunscreen products decreases the chances for sunburn and can prevent skin cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2009, “more than 1 million people were expected to be diagnosed with skin cancer and research studies link skin cancer with sun exposure on unprotected skin”.

Check out this video about how sunscreens protect us from the suns harmful rays!






The September Equinox of the Northern Hemisphere Approches


As the September Equinox approaches it is important to understand how the equinoxes were discovered and how to prepare for the astronomical event.

Our human ancestors spent much more time outdoors than humans now a days. They learned to track the patterns of the sun and eventually used it to tell time and the seasons. They built elaborate observatories in order to track the sun’s progress throughout the year.

Because Earth doesn’t orbit upright, but instead is tilted on its axis by 23 1/2 degrees, Earth’s Northern and Southern Hemispheres trade places in receiving the sun’s light and warmth most directly. We have an equinox in the spring and fall, when the tilt of the Earth’s axis and Earth’s orbit around the sun combine in such a way that the axis is inclined neither away from nor toward the sun. Earth’s two hemispheres are receiving the sun’s rays equally now. Night and day are approximately equal in length.


So how do we prepare for this astronomical event, on the day of the autumnal equinox, at sunrise/sunset, go outside to your yard or other favorite site for watching the sky and you will be able to decipher the cardinal directions. The sun will rise at due East and set at due West! If it is a clear morning/evening, be prepared for some amazing views as well!

The 2014 September equinox occurs on September 22, at 9:29 p.m. in the central United States.