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More about Big Bang? China to set up World’s Highest Altitude Gravitational Wave Telescope in Tibet

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activist in China
In China, Pixabay

Lhasa, Jan 7, 2017: China is working to set up the world’s highest altitude gravitational wave telescopes in Tibet Autonomous Region to detect the faintest echoes resonating from the universe, which may reveal more about the Big Bang.

Construction has started for the first telescope, code-named Ngari No.1, 30 km south of Shiquanhe town in Ngari Prefecture, said Yao Yongqiang, chief researcher with the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xinhua news agency reported.

The telescope, located 5,250 meters above sea level, will detect and gather precise data on primordial gravitational waves in the Northern Hemisphere.

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It is expected to be operational by 2021.

Yao said the second phase involves a series of telescopes, code-named Ngari No. 2, to be located about 6,000 meters above sea level. He did not give a time frame for construction of Ngari No. 2.

The budget for the two-phase Ngari gravitational wave observatory is an estimated 130 million yuan ($18.8 million). The project was initiated by the Institute of High Energy Physics, National Astronomical Observatories, and Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology, among others.

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Ngari, with its high altitude, clear sky, and minimal human activity, is said to be one of the world’s best spots to detect tiny twists in cosmic light.

Yao said the Ngari observatory will be among the world’s top primordial gravitational wave observation bases, alongside the South Pole Telescope and the facility in Chile’s Atacama Desert.

Gravitational waves were first proposed by Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity 100 years ago, but it wasn’t until 2016 that scientists with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory announced proof of the waves’ existence, spurring fresh research interest among the world’s scientists.

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China has announced its own gravitational wave research plans, which include the launch of satellites and setting up FAST, a 500-meter aperture spherical radio telescope in southwest China’s Guizhou Province. (IANS)

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Oldest recorded solar eclipse occurred 3,200 years ago

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Solar eclipse

Cambridge University researchers have pinpointed the date of what could be the oldest solar eclipse yet recorded. The event, which occurred on October 30, 1207 BC, is mentioned in the Bible, and could help historians to date Egyptian pharaohs.

“Solar eclipses are often used as a fixed point to date events in the ancient world,” said Professor Colin Humphreys from University of Cambridge’s Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy.

Using a combination of the biblical text and an ancient Egyptian text, the researchers were able to refine the dates of the Egyptian pharaohs, in particular, the dates of the reign of Ramesses the Great, according to the study published in the journal Astronomy & Geophysics.

The biblical text in question comes from the Old Testament book of Joshua and has puzzled biblical scholars for centuries.

It records that after Joshua led the people of Israel into Canaan, a region of the ancient Near East that covered modern-day Israel and Palestine – he prayed: “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon. And the Sun stood still, and the Moon stopped until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.”

“If these words are describing a real observation, then a major astronomical event was taking place – the question for us to figure out is what the text actually means,” Humphreys said.

“Modern English translations, which follow the King James translation of 1611, usually interpret this text to mean that the Sun and Moon stopped moving,” Humphreys said.

“But going back to the original Hebrew text, we determined that an alternative meaning could be that the Sun and Moon just stopped doing what they normally do: they stopped shining. In this context, the Hebrew words could be referring to a solar eclipse, when the Moon passes between the earth and the Sun, and the Sun appears to stop shining,” Humphreys said.

This interpretation is supported by the fact that the Hebrew word translated ‘stand still’ has the same root as a Babylonian word used in ancient astronomical texts to describe eclipses, he added.

Independent evidence that the Israelites were in Canaan between 1500 and 1050 BC can be found in the Merneptah Stele, an Egyptian text dating from the reign of the Pharaoh Merneptah, son of the well-known Ramesses the Great, the study said.

The large granite block, held in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, says that it was carved in the fifth year of Merneptah’s reign and mentions a campaign in Canaan in which he defeated the people of Israel.

Earlier historians had used these two texts to try to date the possible eclipse, but were not successful as they were only looking at total eclipses, in which the disc of the Sun appears to be completely covered by the moon as the moon passes directly between the earth and the sun.

What the earlier historians failed to consider was that it was instead an annular eclipse, in which the Moon passes directly in front of the Sun, but is too far away to cover the disc completely, the researchers said.

In the ancient world, the same word was used for both total and annular eclipses.

The researchers developed a new eclipse code, which takes into account variations in the Earth’s rotation over time.

From their calculations, they determined that the only annular eclipse visible from Canaan between 1500 and 1050 BC was on 30 October 1207 BC, in the afternoon.

If their arguments are accepted, it would not only be the oldest solar eclipse yet recorded, it would also enable researchers to date the reigns of Ramesses the Great and his son Merneptah to within a year.

Using these new calculations, the researchers determined that Ramesses the Great reigned from 1276-1210 BC, with a precision of plus or minus one year.(IANS)

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Researchers Claim The Existence Of Planet Nine

Researchers from an American University have laid evidences to prove the presence of Planet Nine

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Planet Nine
Kuiper Belt indicates the presence of Planet Nine
  • The science communities since a long time have been debating upon the existence of Planet Nine. 
  • Space highlights different shreds of evidence based on which scientists are stating the claim.

What Is Planet Nine?

Planet Nine is a hypothetical planet present in the far outer Solar System, whose mass is estimated to be 10 times more than the mass of Earth. The planet is said to be 20 times farther than the sun than Neptune is.

What Do Researchers Have To Say?

Dr Konstantin Batygin, a planetary astrophysicist at the California Institute of Technology, said that there were five different lines of observational evidence which pointed to the existence of Planet Nine. He stated that if this theory does not sound believable, then people would have to come up with the answers of the five pieces of evidence which could lead to further confusion.

Also Read: Five Students from Telangana Selected for the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge

Batygin in 2016 published a study examining the six known objects in the Kuiper Belt, a  circumstellar disc in the Solar System beyond the planets that extends from the orbit of Neptune towards interstellar space.

The study examines all the objects have elliptical orbits pointing in the same direction and are tilted the same way. These serve as evidence to the planet’s existence.

It is being said that the objects are tilted 30 degrees downward compared to the plane where the eight official planets circle the sun. Researchers also made use of computer simulations of the solar system including the Planet Nine and to demonstrate that there should be more objects tilted a whopping 90 degrees to solar plane. It was revealed that five such objects, which fit these parameters were already known.

The study led to the birth of two more ideas. Researchers said that this planet could have tilted the planets of the solar system during the last 4.5 billion years.

Planet Nine’s existence could also tell the reason as to why Kuiper Belt objects orbit in the opposite direction as compared to other things in the solar system.

-Prepared by Megha Acharya of NewsGram.

(the story was originally published in PTI)

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Chasing Eclipses Around the World is a Way of Living: A Small Group of People Cannot Get Enough of it

Chasing eclipses is a way of living. Eclipse chasers travel around the world for enjoying watching eclipses.

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Solar Eclipse
FILE - This March 9, 2016 file photo shows a total solar eclipse in Belitung, Indonesia. Wyoming state tourism officials say the solar eclipse passing over the entire length of Wyoming in August could give the state economy a much needed boost. (AP Photo, File) VOA

Washington D.C. [USA], August 21, 2017: While Monday’s total solar eclipse in the U.S. will be a once-in-a-lifetime sky show for millions, there’s a small group of people who have experienced it all before and they can’t get enough of it.

Glenn Schneider has seen 33. Fred Espenak has watched 28. Donald Liebenberg has logged 26. For newbie Kate Russo, it’s 10 and counting.

These veteran eclipse chasers spend lots of money and craft intricate plans all to experience another mid-day darkening of the sky. Many work in science and related fields and they’ll travel around the world, even to Antarctica, to see one more.

A minibus parked in a designated eclipse viewing area is seen in a campground near Guernsey, Wyoming, Aug. 20, 2017.VOA

“I do this not so much as an avocation, but as an addiction,” said Schneider, a University of Arizona astronomy professor.

Russo, a psychologist in Ireland who wrote a book about people’s eclipse experiences, said some people find the experience life-changing. That happened to her.

“Eclipse chasing isn’t just a hobby or interest,” Russo wrote in an email from Wyoming, where she traveled to see Monday’s eclipse. “Eclipse chasing is a way of life. It becomes who you are.”

This photo provided by the Oregon State Police shows the crowd at the Big Summit Eclipse 2017 event near Prineville, Ore., Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. The full solar eclipse will happen Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. (Oregon State Police via AP) VOA

Monday’s eclipse will cut a 70-mile-wide (112-kilometer) path of totality across the country, when the moon moves between Earth and the sun, blocking it for as much as 2 1/2 minutes. It’s the first coast-to-coast full eclipse since 1918. Many of the big eclipse chasers are planning to be in Oregon or Wyoming because there’s a better chance of clear weather there in August. They’ll be ready to drive hundreds of miles if need be to find good weather.

Total solar eclipses happen on average every 18 months or so, but they usually aren’t near easy-to-drive highways. Norma Liebenberg has been to a dozen, mostly joining her avid eclipse watcher husband, Donald, in remote places like Libya, Zambia and Western China.

“It’s sort of mind-boggling that there are 1,000 people out in these isolated places to see it,” she said. She even forgave her husband when he missed their first anniversary to go to a clouded-out eclipse in the South Pacific.

There’s a compulsiveness to eclipse chasers, especially photographers, said Dr. Gordon Telepun, an Alabama plastic surgeon who has seen only three.

“It’s very anxiety-producing, it’s very challenging,” said Telepun, who even developed a talking phone app that times an eclipse so photographers don’t miss anything. “It’s an adrenaline rush man, I’m telling you.”

FILE – Retired NASA astrophysicist, author, photographer and eclipse expert Fred Espenak known as “Mr. Eclipse” speaks during a press conference in Torshavn, the capital city of the Faeroe Islands, March 19, 2015. VOA

Telepun said his hero is “Mr. Eclipse” Espenak, a retired NASA astrophysicist, who explains why chasers are the way they are.

“It’s the closest any of us will come to being an astronaut and being in space,” Espenak said.

Eclipse chasers say their first always hooks them.

Schneider, who got a telescope at age 5, planned out his first eclipse precisely. He was 14 in 1970 and he traveled from New York City to East Carolina University’s stadium. He had choreographed how he was going to spend the 2 minutes 53 seconds of darkness. Then came the moment.

“I was frozen in place,” he recalled. “I had binoculars around my neck for two and a half minutes and I never picked them up.”

When it was over “I was shaking. I was crying. I was overwhelmed,” he said. “It was at that instant when I said ‘Yeah, this is what I’m going to do with the rest of my life’.”

Now Schneider takes his grown daughter with him to eclipses. And he invented what he calls the “lug-o-scope,” a telescope that folds into its own luggage to make his eclipse chasing easier.

“Flexibility is probably No. 1,” Schneider said. “Keeping your options and open and be ready to take that option if that’s what’s needed.”

A veteran of 28 eclipses, Espenak often leads groups of 50 some people to view eclipses, lecturing both about the beauty and the science. Except when the hour grows close and the skies get dark, he goes silent.

“On eclipse day he’s all business. He does not want to be diverted from his checklist of everything he wants to do,” explains University of Tennessee’s Mark Littmann, co-author with Espenak of the book “Totality.” “It’s like you’re kind of trying to chat with a pilot coming in for an emergency landing. It isn’t that he’s just not friendly, it’s just not the right time anymore.”

Donald Liebenberg has seen and blogged about his 26 eclipses for Clemson University, where he does research. He holds the record for most time in totality because the retired federal scientist used to view them by airplane whenever possible. In 1973, he convinced the French to let him use the supersonic Concorde for eclipse viewing and he flew at twice the speed of sound. He got 74 minutes of eclipse time in that one flight.

After spending more than 60 years flying around the world, this time the Liebenbergs are only going as far as their driveway.

This eclipse is coming directly to them in South Carolina.