Thursday, December 21, 2017

How Long Until Our Days Get NOITICEABLY LONGER?????

Unless you're a pagan and you plan to do some dancing and drinking at the famous Stonehenge monument in England, you probably won't even notice when the 2017 winter solstice arrives.

In any case, the solstice occurs in the northern hemisphere on Thursday, Dec. 21, marking the official start of the winter season and also the shortest day of the year — the day with the least amount of sunlight. After that, each day will gradually grow longer and the nights will grow shorter. (See, there is a reason to celebrate, after all.)

In case you're not up on your winter solstice facts, here are a few bits of information that can get you prepared for astronomical conversations at the family dinner table or holiday cocktail parties.

When does the winter solstice occur?

This year, the winter solstice arrives at 8:28 a.m. (Pacific time) Today (12/21) For people in the northern hemisphere, Dec. 21 will be the shortest day and longest night of 2017, with exactly 8 hours, 35 minutes, 20 second of daylight for those of us in the Lewiston/Clarkston Valley.  Check out the chart below for other locations around the Inland Northwest.
Today 12/21  Sunrise 7:29 am Sunset 4:04 pm
Friday  12/22 Sunrise 7:29 am Sunset 4:05 pm
 AS YOU CAN SEE FROM THE CHART ABOVE we're only gaining a few seconds of daylight on Friday - the first full day of winter.  The rate will increase and the length of day will increase noticeabley...but not for a couple of months. 
What happens on the winter solstice?

The winter solstice is an astronomical event, when the Earth tilts to a position where the northern hemisphere is farthest away from the sun, causing less light to reach that part of the planet. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Full 'Beaver Moon' This Weekend will be Massive

No. This is not made up.  We’re heading into that time of year with tons of weather lore attached.

This month's moon, which is also known as the Frost moon or the Hunter's moon, will be full on Nov. 4th and appear bigger and brighter than usual, but miss being a supermoon by just one day. 

To be designated a supermoon, the moon must be full on the day it is at its perigee, or closest distance to the Earth, according to This month, the moon will reach its perigee on Friday, missing the supermoon classification by just a day. But since it is still very close to Earth, it will appear bigger and brighter than usual. Only December's supermoon will be bigger.

According to the Farmer's Almanac, the Beaver moon gets its name because it came at the time of year when the early colonists and the Algonquin tribes set their beaver traps before the swamps froze. This would ensure they had a good supply of warm winter furs.

 *Beaver Moon Saturday, then don't forget to "fall back" on Sunday to end Daylight Saving Time. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hurricane Jose Expected to Steer Clear of Land! Check out the latest pics from the NHC!

cone graphic Good News! The latest track maps from the National Hurricane Center steer the 3rd hurricane in as many weeks away from land. Giving the tropics a much needed break to assess damage from Harvey and Irma - which is still pounding the southeastern US.

On the current track, Cat 1 Hurricane Jose is still spinning in circles and should continue to move in a clockwise loop over the next 3 days.

[Image of probabilities of 34-kt winds]The latest update from the NHC put Jose at week Cat 1 Hurricane with maximum sustained winds at 75mph and a forward motion to the SE at 8mph.

At last report, Jose was located between the Bahamas and Bermuda. To be more precise, it was 505 miles east of the Bahamas and 435 miles south of Bermuda.

The cones on the top graphic show the probable path of the storm center. To the left are the probable wind speeds as it barrels toward the East coast.

Early Thursday the spiral shaped track should enlarge and take aim at the Eastern Seabord. If these current forecasts hold true, the storm will weaken to a Tropical Storm Saturday and shift northward toward the icy waters of the North Atlantic to fizzle out and give the tropics a chance to assess damages. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Underwater Roman City Discovered in Tunisia - cool video!

Vast underwater Roman ruins have been discovered off northeast Tunisia, apparently confirming a theory that the city of Neapolis was partly submerged by a tsunami in the 4th century AD.

Check out the cool underwater video here

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Dragon Blood, Skin Guns, Frog Snot - 13 Mind-Boggling Discoveries Made in 2017

by Michelle Crouch

The Ghostbusters Dinosaur

Scientists in Toronto identified a new species of dinosaur and named it Zuul, after the doglike monster in the 1984 film Ghostbusters. Like its namesake, the dinosaur had horns behind its eyes, spikes on its face, and a barbed, sledgehammer-like tail. The dinosaur’s fossilized skeleton, unearthed in Montana, is one of the most complete ankylosaurs—­armored, lizard-like dinosaurs—ever found, with skull and tail club intact.

Spray-on skin for burn victims

If a burn victim's wounds are severe, home remedies for burns aren't nearly enough. So biomedical scientists have created a device that sprays stem cells onto wounds, helping them grow a new, healthy layer of skin in as few as four days. Biotech firm Renova­Care recently obtained a patent for the ­SkinGun
and has used it to successfully treat dozens of burn patients in trials. While the device still needs FDA approval, it’s a game changer that could help eliminate the painful and scarring process of skin grafting.

Shrimp so loud, they were named after a rock band

On the Pacific coast of Panama, scientists discovered a new type of pistol shrimp that uses its large pink claw to create a noise so loud

it can stun—or even kill—small fish. In fact, the boom created by the animal’s snapping claw can reach 210 decibels. For comparison, a loud concert is about 110 to 140 decibels. (Humans can lose their hearing from loud concerts and even loud cities.) The team members dubbed it Synalpheus pinkfloydi, inspired by their love of Pink Floyd.

An 8th Continent—hidden under the ocean

Scientists presented evidence for a new continent in the
southwest Pacific beneath New Zealand, called Zealandia. Even though the landmass is 94 percent underwater, geologists say it meets all the important criteria to be recognized as Earth’s eighth continent. As no scientific body formally recognizes continents, it remains to be seen whether Zealandia will appear in future geography textbooks.


Spider venom that may halt stroke damage

A bite from an Australian funnel-web spider could kill you in 15 minutes if not treated promptly. But scientists discovered that a peptide found in the venom of one species may protect brain cells from being destroyed by a stroke, even when given eight hours after the event. If the treatment fares well in human trials, it may become the first drug that can protect against stroke-induced brain damage.

Three Earth-like planets

Astronomers found not just one but seven planets outside our solar system that circle a tiny star called TRAPPIST-1, about 40 light-years away. Three are in what NASA calls the habitable zone, which could be right for water to exist and possibly for extraterrestrial life.

Flu-fighting frog mucus

Scientists discovered that the slime covering the skin of a frog from southern India contains antimicrobial peptides that destroy bacteria and viruses—including key strains of the human flu—while protecting normal cells. So far, the therapy has been used only in the lab.

Dragon blood that kills infections

Scientists found a new anti­microbial compound in the blood of Komodo dragons, the world’s largest lizards. In the lab, the substance healed infected wounds on mice faster than existing options, potentially giving doctors a new tool to fight antibiotic-resistant infections

'new Stonehenge' in Brazil

Researchers using drones identified more than 450 Stonehenge-like formations in the remote northwestern part of Brazil, indicating settlers lived in the area far earlier than scientists originally thought. While it’s unclear how prehistoric peoples used the stone enclosures, they date back at least 1,000 years, long before Europeans arrived.

An artificial womb to nurture preemies

Marking what could be a huge breakthrough in treating premature babies, scientists successfully built an artificial womb that was able to keep premature lambs alive and developing normally. The lambs lived for four weeks inside the device, which looks like an oversize plastic bag filled with synthetic amniotic fluid. The faux womb could one day help bring human preemies to term outside the uterus.


A tool to repair DNA in ­embryos

Chinese scientists devised a gene-editing tool that may eliminate certain disease-causing mutations in the DNA of human embryos. It is the first such technology to be used on viable human embryos and could one day help prevent ­babies from inheriting serious genetic diseases. But it has already raised ethical concerns about the potential to effectively design children—and alter the genetic heritage of humankind.

A 'living drug' that can kill cancer

An immunotherapy drug that turns a patient’s own blood cells into cancer killers is on the fast track to FDA approval. In an ongoing clinical trial, the treatment was administered to advanced lymphoma patients who had not responded to standard treatments or continued to relapse. At three months, 37 percent of patients showed no signs of cancer. As trials progress, scientists hope the therapy could be the next big step forward in cancer treatment.

First human-pig hybrid created in a lab

In a development that sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, researchers for the first time created embryos that were part human, part animal. The embryos contained cells from both humans and pigs. The hope is that the process could one day help scientists grow human organs inside animals for later transplant, but it also sparked ethical concerns.

A new state of matter

Science classes everywhere teach about the four states of matter (solid, liquid, gas and plasma), but now, for the first time, scientists have successfully created an entirely new form of matter called 'time crystals.' The crystals have a strange atomic structure that repeats not just in space, but in time, putting them in perpetual motion without energy. That may sound abstract, but excited researchers say the crystals could herald in a new era in physics and eventually revolutionize how we store and transfer information in quantum computing. 

A surprising new power source: your stomach acid

Researchers from MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital invented a small voltaic cell that runs on the fluids in your stomach. The device could power sensors that would stay in your gastrointestinal tract for an extended period, monitoring vital signs or delivering drugs. Similar sensors today have to be powered by small batteries, which create a safety risk and eventually run out of power.

A therapy that reverses aging in mice

As we age, senescent, or damaged, cells build up in our tissues, possibly promoting age-related diseases. Scientists from the Netherlands developed a molecule that purges those cells. When tried on ­elderly mice, their fur regrew, their kidney function improved, and they could run twice as far as untreated mice. One scientist called it a landmark advance in the field of aging.



Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Best Eclipse Photo - Solar Photobomb

  by Chris Mills                                                                                            © Provided by BGR
If your friends are anything like mine, every single social app that encourages over-sharing is full of blurry eclipse photos right now. As it turns out, turning up the digital zoom to 11 isn’t the greatest way to capture a generational event, but luckily, NASA’s got you covered.

A NASA photographer captured this incredible eclipse photobomb during the partial eclipse. If you look closely, you can see the International Space Station transiting over the front of the sun, just before the moon blocks everything out.

ISS transits over the sun aren’t uncommon and often make for excellent photos, but it’s    incredibly rare that you’re going to get the sun, moon, and space station all in one image. The other black dots you can see are sunspots on the surface of our local star, not dust on the lens.

Taking a telephoto image of the sun is challenging, and doubly so when you need the timing to get three objects in frame. Pointing an unprotected camera on the end of a telephoto lens at the sun can cause so much heat buildup that the camera melts and explodes, so photographers have to use special filters to get the image.

Monday, August 21, 2017


TIME          PHASE

9:12 am     Partial Eclipse begins – Moon touches Sun’s edge

10:27 am   Max Eclipse – Moon is closest to center of the Sun.

11:47 am   Partial Eclipse ends – Moon leaves the Sun’s edge.



Eclipses and Transits Visible in Lewiston in the next 3 years:

Jan 31, 2018 Total Lunar Eclipse
Total Lunar Eclipse North/East Europe, Asia, Australia, North/East Africa, North America, North/West South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Arctic, Antarctica

Jan 20, 2019 Total Lunar Eclipse
Total Lunar Eclipse Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Arctic

Partial Mercury Transit South/West Europe, South/West Asia, Africa, Much of North America, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Antarctica

Jul 4, 2020 Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
Penumbral Lunar Eclipse South/West Europe, Much of Africa, Much of North America, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Antarctica


Friday, August 11, 2017

What Do Americans Think of the TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE?

Later this month, the U.S. will experience a total solar eclipse, a rare occurrence, and most Americans are interested in possibly trying to get a glimpse of it.

Sixty-eight percent are interested enough in the eclipse to say they plan to or may try to see it, including a third who are excited about it. Three in 10 say they won't be paying much attention to it.

The Solar Eclipse

Excited or interested 68%
Excited & plan to see it 32%
Interested & may try to see 36%
Won't pay much attention 31%

Women are more interested than men in witnessing the eclipse. Older Americans are less curious about it than those who are younger. The last total eclipse was 38 years ago so this month's eclipse may be a first for some younger Americans. Unlike 1979, this year's eclipse can be seen from coast to coast.

The eclipse will start in the western U.S. and move across the country over the Midwest and then some of the South. Southerners are a bit more likely than those in other regions of the country to be excited about the eclipse.


Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. screen-shot-2017-08-10-at-7-42-10-pm.png

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Discovered! Stegomastodon Fossil

Researchers have their hands on a rare fossil from the Pleistocene era thanks to a 10-year-old's clumsiness.

Jude Sparks said he literally fell on the 1.2-million-year-old skull of a stegomastodon -- a massive prehistoric creature with tusks like an elephant -- while on a hike with his parents on the desert outskirts of his neighborhood in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

"I was running farther up and I tripped on part of the tusk," Sparks said in a statement from New Mexico State University, where researchers are studying the find. "My face landed next to the bottom jaw. I looked farther up and there was another tusk."

The stegomastodon is one of three species of proboscideans that inhabited the ancient Rio Grande Valley, and is believed to be an ancestor to modern-day elephants.

Sparks' parents contacted biologist Peter Houde, a professor at New Mexico State University, after hearing he had discovered a similar fossil in a quarry south of campus, the university said.

The fossil was found on private land, and it took several months to get permission to excavate from the property owner. In New Mexico, the law stipulates that vertebrate fossils found on private land belong to the landowner. Here, the property owner asked that the precise site remain confidential, according to the university.

The Sparks family eventually joined with Houde and his students to excavate the skull, a process that took one week.

The large skull is deceptively delicate, and the only thing holding it together was the sediment around it, Houde said.

"When the sediments are removed from the sides of [the bones], they start to fall apart immediately and literally fall into tiny, tiny bits. It has to be done carefully by somebody who knows how to go about doing it. It is a very deliberate process that takes a little bit of time," he said.

The team applied chemical hardeners to the fossil, mimicking the bone strength provided by protein, to keep it intact. Once dug from the ground, the fossil was coated in plaster and supported by wood braces for transport to New Mexico State University's Vertebrate Museum, where it now lives.
"We have the unique opportunity to really compare what the animal looks like [on] a much larger complete scale and compare it with others," Houde told CBS Albuquerque affiliate KRQE, adding that it's extremely rare to find a nearly intact skull of a mammal dating back to the Ice Age.
The process to reconstruct the skull, jaw and tusks is likely to take years to complete, Houde said.
"I have every hope and expectation that this specimen will ultimately end up on exhibit and this little boy will be able to show his friends and even his own children, look what I found right here in Las Cruces," he said.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Underwater forest preserved since Ice Age

picture © Ben Rainesscreen-shot-2017-06-08

An ancient underwater forest found south of Alabama's Gulf Shores in the Gulf of Mexico could provide a time capsule to a pre-human era on Earth.

The cypress forest dates back to an Ice Age more than 60,000 years ago when sea levels were 400 feet lower than today, according to the new documentary "The Underwater Forest," made by environmental reporter and filmmaker Ben Raines. Raines first went in search of the site after he was tipped off by a savvy local source, he explained in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" forum.

"I first learned of the Underwater Forest from a dive shop owner in Alabama," Raines said. "He discovered the forest about a year after Hurricane Ivan, when a fisherman came into the dive shop and said, 'I've found this spot that's just loaded with fish but there's barely anything in terms of structure that shows up on my depth finder. Why don't you go out there and take a look?'"

In analyzing the site, DeLong's team of dendrochronologists (specialists in tree-ring dating), geologists and paleontologists is collecting rare information on Ice Age-era climate, rainfall, insects and plants, building new insights into what Earth looked like before humans inhabited it. It took years, but Raines finally convinced the shop owner to show him the exact site, he said. He wrote a story about the discovery, and immediately received a call from paleoclimatologist Kristine DeLong of Louisiana State University asking if she could carbon date some samples from the site. 

With that, Raines and DeLong formed a partnership to extract as much knowledge from the site as possible while also preserving its natural wonders — the story of which is told in the film.                

The first scientific expedition to the site happened in 2012, and DeLong continues leading a team of scientists studying its secrets. Unique conditions have sealed the forest in a sort of "underwater time capsule," the team said.

It's believed to be the world's only preserved coastal Ice Age forest, long hidden beneath the sea.

should decompose on a 10,000 year time scale — suggesting that, at this particular site, the cypress has survived much longer thanks to low-oxygen sediments that bar bacteria from decomposing the wood, DeLong explained on Reddit.

Further research into the forest could shed light on a phenomena currently gripping humans on Earth: rapid sea level rise due to climate change. Sea level rise was particularly intense across the planet back when the forest was thriving, Raines said.

In the U.S., chronic flooding linked to sea level rise is expected to destabilize hundreds of communities by the end of this century, according to recent analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists. More than 90 coastal communities in the U.S. already cope with chronic inundation.

In sharing their story, the team remains cagey on one crucial detail: the precise location coordinates of the site.

To protect the forest remnants, the team generally follows scuba diving procedures used in the world's precious but fragile coral reefs, avoids disturbing the floor of the site, and uses only noninvasive scientific instruments that move above the seafloor to map the area, DeLong and Raines explained on Reddit.

The team is working with federal agencies like the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to preserve the site.

Shanika Gunaratna @CBSNews

Monday, July 10, 2017


Our first ever Look into the EYE OF JUPITER

NASA's Juno spacecraft will fly directly over Jupiter's Great Red Spot later today, offering
the first ever 'close up' of the

The gaseous red spot has been monitored by humans since 1830 according to NASA and is thought to have raged for as much as 350 years.
"This monumental storm has raged on the solar system's biggest planet for centuries.
Now, Juno and her cloud-penetrating science instruments will dive in to see how deep the roots of this storm go, and help us understand how this giant storm works and what makes it so special," said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio in a press release.
The point at which Juno will be closest to Jupiter's center occurs at 9:55 p.m. ET when the spacecraft will pass 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) above the planet's cloud tops.
NASA has calculated that 11 minutes later Juno will be directly above Jupiter's Great Red Spot.
Juno has logged just over one year in Jupiter's orbit, traveling around 71 million miles around the planet.

© NASA/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran © PUBLIC DOMAIN This is an enhanced color photo of Jupiter.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Beautiful Backyard View

What a view of the Snake River from the Clarkston Heights.  Thanks for sharing Lisa!

Thursday, July 6, 2017


LINCOLN, Mont. — A 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit near the town of Lincoln in western Montana early Thursday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey which also reported that the quake was the eighth-strongest earthquake on record for Montana. The most recent on the Top 10 list was 12 years ago.
Musician John Mayer, a part-time Bozeman resident, took to Twitter to marvel at how long it had been since an earthquake of this magnitude had struck the area.

"New experience: woken up by an earthquake. No damage just spooky as heck!" Cole Fawcett tweeted in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, about 285 miles (460 km) north of Lincoln.
Residents in the U.S. west flooded Twitter early on Thursday with similar experiences.

No significant damage or injuries had been reported about an hour after the quake.
More than 10,000 reports from those who felt shaking were collected on the USGS website.
Several aftershocks with magnitudof more than 4 were reported by the USGS.
The quake, which struck some 6 miles southeast of the town of Lincoln at a depth of about 2.5 miles,  The Independent Record reported.
Image: A 5.8 magnitude earthquake strikes Montana
A handout from the United States Geological Survey shows the location of a 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck western Montana on Thursday. UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY / EPA

The newspaper reported that the temblor was strong enough to knock items off the shelves and walls of residents of Helena, which is about 34 miles away from the quake's epicenter.
A 76-year-old Helena resident said it was the strongest quake he had ever felt.


5.8 Earthquake Rocks Montana

By Brendan O'Brien
A magnitude-5.8 earthquake hit western Montana early on Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported, and people felt the tremor hundreds of miles away.                  Map Courtesy USGS Montana Earthquake Map

The earthquake struck five miles (9 km) southeast of Lincoln, Montana, at about 12:30 a.m. local time, the USGS said on its website.
"New experience: woken up by an earthquake. No damage just spooky as heck!" Cole Fawcett tweeted in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, about 285 miles (460 km) north of Lincoln.
Residents in the U.S. west flooded Twitter early on Thursday with similar experiences.
"My mom woke up and yelled at me and my dad that there was a bear shaking our trailer," Brad Wynder © said on Twitter.
No significant damage or injuries had been reported about an hour after the quake.
More than 10,000 reports from those who felt shaking were collected on the USGS website.
Several aftershocks with magnitudof more than 4 were reported by the USGS.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Summer Solstice and Stonehenge

experts from an article by

Just in case you slept through it, summer officially began at 3:24 am PDT this morning (12:24 am EDT)

What does the first day of summer have to do with Stonehenge?

No one really knows why Stonehenge was built some 5,000 years ago (at least I don’t, sorry). But one possibility is that it was used to mark solstices and equinoxes. That’s because during the summer solstice, the sun rises just over the structure’s Heel Stone and hits the Altar Stone dead center.
Here’s a graphic from NASA imagining what a summer solstice sunrise might’ve looked like back when Stonehenge was fully intact:

Nowadays, humans still gather to pay homage to the summer solstice at Stonehenge — they just use modern technology, like so:
Photo by Tim Ireland/Getty Images

The Wikipedia entry on Stonehenge is absurdly detailed, so read up on that if you want more.
Happy Solstice!

What is the Solstice Anyway?

The official start of the summer season, the “Summer Solstice” occurred at 3:24 am PDT this morning!

3 things to know about the longest day of the year

1) What is a summer solstice, anyway?

portions of article by Brad Plumer and Brian Resnick  Jun 21, 2017, 8:22am EDT

(NASA/Goddard/SDO AIA Team) I’m a huge fan of NASA’s graphics and real pics – so cool!


The summer solstice is upon us: June 20th and the 21st will be the longest days of 2017 for anyone living north of the equator. If pagan rituals are your thing, this is probably a big moment for you. If not, the solstice is still pretty neat.

Technically speaking, the summer solstice occurs when the sun is directly overhead the Tropic of Cancer, or 23.5° north latitude. In 2017, this will occur at exactly 12:24 am (Eastern) on the 21st. (But we can celebrate on either day.)

Below is a short scientific guide to the longest day of the year (though not, as we’ll see, the longest day in Earth’s history — that happened back in 1912).

2) Why do we have a summer solstice, anyway?

Okay, most people know this one. Earth orbits around the sun on a tilted axis (probably because our planet collided with some other massive object billions of years ago, back when it was still being formed).

So between March and September, Earth’s Northern Hemisphere gets more exposure to direct     Tauʻolunga) sunlight over the course of a day. The rest of the year, the Southern Hemisphere gets more. It’s the reason for the seasons.

In the Northern Hemisphere, "peak" sunlight usually occurs on June 20, 21, or 22 of any given year. That’s the summer solstice. By contrast, the Southern Hemisphere reaches peak sunlight on December 21, 22, or 23 and the north hits peak darkness — that’s our winter solstice.

3) How many hours of sunlight will I get on Tuesday?

That depends on where you live. The further north you are, the more sunlight you’ll see during the solstice. Alaska-based climatologist Brian Brettschneider created this terrific guide:

In our part of North Idaho we’ll enjoy about 16 hours of sunlight today!

On the off chance you live near the Arctic Circle, the sun never really sets during the solstice.

(By contrast, during the winter solstice, Fairbanks only gets about three hours of sunlight.)
Happy Solstice!



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