Astronomy Picture of the Day – The East 96th Street Moon
Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2018 June 30
Explanation: A very full Moon rose over Manhattan’s Upper Eastside on June 28, known to some as the Strawberry Moon. Near the horizon, the warm yellow lunar disk was a bit ruffled and dimmed by a long sight-line through dense, hazy atmosphere. Still it fit well with traffic and lights along East 96th street in this urban astroimage. The telephoto shot was (safely) taken from elevated ground looking east-southeast from Central Park, planet Earth. Of course, the East 96th street moon was the closest Full Moon to this year’s northern summer solstice.
Mapping the threat of small near-Earth asteroids
65 million years ago, a monster asteroid wiped out 2/3 of all life on Earth, including the dinosaurs. But an astrophysicist explains why it’s the smaller near-Earth objects (NEOs) that pose a greater imminent threat.
Sixty-five million years ago, a 15 kilometer (9 mile) sized asteroid wiped out two-thirds of all life on Earth, including the dinosaurs. But it’s probably not this kind of monster asteroid that we should be worried about. It’s actually the smaller NEOs that pose a greater imminent threat, like the asteroid that struck Earth on June 2 that scientists only saw coming a day in advance.
Internationally renowned astronomers, astrophysicists and space researchers gathered for a conference in Garching near Munich, Germany, from May 14-June 8, 2018, for the to develop new strategies for the improved detection, scientific and commercial exploitation of and defense against NEOs.
Detlef Koschny, head of the Near Earth Objects team at the European Space Agency (ESA) and a lecturer with the Technical University of Munich Chair for Astronautics, explains why scientists are increasing their research focus on smaller NEOs.
Let’s start with a basic question: How is an asteroid different from a meteorite?
Detlef Koschny: Asteroids are objects larger than one meter – for example the object that exploded over Botswana earlier this month. Meteoroids are objects smaller than one meter. If they enter and pass through a planet’s atmosphere, they are called meteorites. Comets are asteroids with large amounts of volatile compounds such as water ice. If they come close to the sun, these compounds vaporize, creating their distinctive tails.
Hollywood disaster films like Armageddon always feature colossal asteroids on a direct collision course with Earth. So why should we be worried about smaller NEOs?
Detlef Koschny: NEOs that might potentially come close to or hit our planet range in size from a few millimeters to about 50 to 60 kilometers (30 to 37 miles) in diameter. We’ve detected the majority of the larger NEOs and computed their trajectories and the statistical risk for collision with Earth 100 years into the future.
We’ve mapped 90 percent of the asteroids that are a kilometer in size or larger. We know precisely where the big ones are and that they won’t pose a threat. In the “mid-size” region, the situation is completely different: We have only detected and mapped less than one percent of NEOs smaller than a kilometer.
If a 100-meter (328 feet) asteroid hit Earth, it would cause significant damage in an area the size of Germany, and even affect the surrounding region. But asteroids of this size don’t strike Earth very often. Maybe every 10,000 years on average.
Going from 100 meters down to 50 meters (164 feet), the statistical frequency of strikes increases to once every 1,000 years. Exactly a century ago in 1908, a 40-meter object struck the Earth over Tunguska, Siberia, destroying an area of forest the size of the Munich metro area.
And then if we go down to asteroid sizes around 20 meters (66 feet) – like the asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk in Russia in 2013, which ended up injuring 1,500 people – these occur on average once every 10 to 100 years. We will definitely see something like that again in our lifetime.
Nobody saw the Chelyabinsk asteroid coming before it hit. And scientists only spotted the one that hit Botswana a few hours in advance. What is the current state of NEO detection technology?
Detlef Koschny: Right now, there are two main survey programs running on Earth, both funded by our American colleagues. They utilize optical telescopes that cover a large field of view and can continually scan the night sky to detect any objects that are bright enough.
When it comes to detecting larger objects, this strategy works quite well, as these are visible even when they’re still far away from the Earth. But to detect smaller objects down to a size of 20 meters (66 feet) is very difficult. They are not bright enough to be detected until they are at least as close as the Moon.
If you only have two of these telescopes on the planet and it takes each telescope three weeks or so to cover the complete sky, you have to be really lucky that a small asteroid crosses your field of view just when you’re looking in the right direction.
That’s why we are currently developing extremely wide-field telescopes that will have the ability to scan the entire sky in just 48 hours. Additionally, within the ESA Space Situational Awareness (SSA) program, in which I work, we mobilize observatories and astronomers worldwide through the NEO Coordination Centre at the Agency’s European Space Research Institute (ESRIN) facility in Italy.
So what are your recommendations for improving detection and tracking capabilities, and what new detection technologies are being deployed either currently or in the near future?
Detlef Koschny: There’s a system called Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) that just went online in the U.S. It consists of small telescopes which, while they don’t see very faint objects, cover almost the complete night sky once per night. Here in Europe, we are building the Flyeye telescope, with a one-meter effective aperture. It provides us with a big field of view that is more than 100 times the size of the full moon in the night sky. In one night, with one telescope, we can cover about half the sky. The strategy to achieve this was developed by one of our master’s students here at TUM.
Our conclusion as the conference wraps up and one of the recommendations we’ll be making in the post-conference whitepaper: There’s an urgent need for more telescopes that can scan the sky for these NEOs, and a global network of telescopes that are working in concert, so that we can truly cover the smaller size range of asteroids in near-earth orbit. We definitively need to FIND these objects first before we can take any concrete action to defend ourselves against them.
Bottom line: An astrophysicist explains why it’s the smaller near-Earth objects (NEOs) that pose a greater imminent threat.
Members of the EarthSky community – including scientists, as well as science and nature writers from across the globe – weigh in on what’s important to them. Photo by Robert Spurlock.
Published on EarthSky
Before we talk specifically about the Moon in Aquarius, let’s first talk about the Moon for a moment. Astrologers consider the Moon a planet, and because it moves so quickly it passes through each of the 12 zodiac signs once every month. Just as the Sun has a placement in our birth chart, so does the Moon. You can use our free Cosmic Profile to reveal what your natal Moon sign is. Once know what your lunar sign is, you can learn about your moon sign traits, your moon sign compatibility, your ture inner nature, and more!
When the Moon is in Aquarius
Regardless of what your sign is, for a couple of days each month we all get drawn into the influence of the Aquarius Moon. This is the time when we’re more inclined to march to the beat of our own drum. Aquarius is anything but cookie-cutter, and this lunation will have us trying to figure out what it is that makes us unique so that we can share it with the world.
Aquarians are social butterflies, making friends and influencing people wherever they go. This isn’t surprising considering Aquarius rules the 11th House of Friendships! When the Moon moves into this gregarious sign, you’ll feel the urge to call your friends, make plans, and get out and interact with those around you.
The Aquarius Moon could also have you feeling a little but more rebellious and spontaneous than usual. You may crave freedom and a distraction from your everyday life. If you’ve been feeling stuck in a rut, this is when you’ll decide to change up your routine or break old habits.
New Moon in Aquarius
New Moons are times of new emotional cycles and planting seeds for whatever we want to come next. The futuristic Aquarius New Moon encourages us to cut our past loose, or at least some of the things that we’re still hung up on. Aquarius is cool and detached, ideal for making a clean break from things that are no longer serving us so that we can boldly step into the next phase of our lives.
Our innovative spirit is off the charts with the New Moon in unconventional Aquarius! When the Sun and Moon team up in this brainy sign, we have a greater ability to expand our perceptions and come up with bright ideas. Aquarius sometimes dreams up concepts so far ahead of its time that they cannot be applied to current circumstances. However, the New Moon helps put us in touch with reality so that we can bring these groundbreaking insights back down to earth.
Full Moon in Aquarius
This Full Moon occurs when the cooperative Aquarius Moon opposes the individualistic Leo Sun. This cosmic coupling allows us see the difference between satisfying ourselves (Leo) and collaborating with others (Aquarius), and helps us understand the relationship between teamwork and individuality. The community-conscious Aquarius Full Moon reminds us that we are part of something larger than ourselves, and that acting on our ideas and ideals will benefit everyone.
You’ll probably wonder where your invitation is because it’s always a party when the Full Moon is in Aquarius! Full Moons spark an increase in activity and energy, and Aquarius is one of the most outgoing signs in the zodiac. You’ll be more apt to let your hair down and have a good time during this fun-loving Full Moon.
If you were born with the Moon in Aquarius
The Moon in Aquarius is an oddity because the Moon is about our gut instincts, our moods, and how we respond to things emotionally. The paradox here is that Aquarius is an Air sign which means it’s more concerned with mental functions than the messiness of human emotion. This doesn’t mean those with their natal Moon in Aquarius don’t have feelings. Rather, their feelings are more conceptual and intellectual.
Lunar Aquarians are incredibly observant people. Their minds are always on alert, constantly trying to figure out why people do the things that they do. This curiosity extends to other areas of life, and they enjoy learning about science, mechanics, and technology. They love to know how things work — you might even find them taking things apart and putting them back together!
Aquarius Moon sign people are natural humanitarians and are often involved in philanthropic causes of some kind. They are egalitarians at heart, and have strong beliefs about the welfare of others and human rights. Don’t let the Water-bearer’s aloof exterior fool you. Lunar Aquarians are passionate about helping others, and simply remain objective in an effort to avoid getting caught up in emotionally turbulent situations.
I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done.
Your spiritual and physical self may be out-of-balance at this time. While the journey may be arduous at times, the opportunity for you to bring these two important aspects of your being into a harmonious state is before you.
Symbol: Pine Tree
The Pine Tree tile represents strength and resolve. It often refers to a powerful, determined man. While powerful, this person is not violent, but very skilled in attaining his goals through diplomacy.