Have you ever noticed how seemingly enormous the Moon looks as it rises over the horizon? Each day, as our lunar satellite makes its journey through the sky (although that is mostly due to our daily revolution) it rises just under an hour later than the previous day (as it makes its regular orbit around us every 28 days).
During this daily rise, the “moon illusion" becomes apparent, a glowing disk that seems closer to us for a time than when it’s hanging high in the sky. The reason for this illusion is still under a bit of debate, but check out this video from ASAP Science for a nice explanation. Of course, the Moon is always the same distance away, and its swollen appearance is merely our brain playing tricks on us.
Because we know the precise orbit of our nocturnal orb, Mark Gee was able to position himself across from New Zealand’s Mount Victoria lookout (two kilometers away!), aim his camera, and capture the rising disk as it silhouettes watchers of the night.
This is not a time-lapse. This is a moon rise in real time, giving us an illusion of size and showcasing the reality of our beautiful night sky. No matter how many moons you’ve lived, they still impress, no? Simply amazing.
Astute observers in the northern hemisphere (where I live) will note that the Moon looks flipped on its head from our normal view. This is because people in New Zealand live upside-down, and look at their own version of the Moon :)
T’was a Beetle, Who Dung the Moon
Picture yourself a mere inch tall. It’s night-time.
You look up, gazing to the inky heavens, barely able to make out the few brightest points of light with one pair of your four basic eyes. But you can see a sparkling few.
You can see the luminescent streak of the Milky Way clearly, though, stretching across the black. You line yourself up with it, and keep pushing that ball of poo back home.
That’s right. You’re a dung beetle! When you’re out collecting your fecal feasts during the day, you follow the path of the Sun like so many other creatures do. But at night, you have a special trick, never-before observed by those enormous human scientists who are always messing with you.
Using an top-mounted pair of eyes specially evolved to catch light that’s been polarized by the atmosphere, you track the glowing Moon as a beacon toward which you roll your poo pellet. If there’s no Moon? Then you can actually track the glow of the Milky Way, bent ever so faintly by Earth’s night air.
But little do you know that the Milky Way you’re looking at isn’t even real. It’s in a planetarium! You’re part of an experiment, little dung beetle. Those pesky humans scooped you up, put you in a dark, domed room, and projected the night sky above you. All to test whether you, a wee beastie who munches on dung, could appreciate the cosmos in your own way … a sailor of the night, shepherding your dung boat back to shore.
Want to find out more about the amazing research on dung beetles using the Milky Way to navigate? Check out Not Exactly Rocket Science.
The Moment of Discovery
Do you guys remember a few weeks ago when we were talking about that amazing new spider that was discovered making decoy spiders? Check it out:
This new species of Cyclosa joins many decoy-building brethren, but this one has evolved to make what is certainly the most advanced.
What I did not realize is that Destin from the fantastic Smarter Every Day YouTube channel was on the expedition as part of his Amazon trip! He captured the moment of discovery here, overflowing with equal parts amazement and confusion (which is exactly how these things go).
I am really, really jealous, Destin. I mean I’m a science blogger that people like to read. Why don’t people ever invite ME to the Amazon or the Serengeti on expeditions?! Gah! Come on!
(via Wired Science)
Giant Squid Captured On Film Its Natural Habitat For The First Time!
The hardest part about finding a Kraken in its natural surroundings is sneaking up on it. You can’t sneak up on a Kraken. The Japanese team that captured this footage, of a comparatively tiny 3 meter giant squid (the largest ever caught was 18 meters!), did it by fitting their submersible with lights that were invisible to both squid and human eyes. Those wavelengths were captured by the camera, though … and the results are stunning.
Read about the incredible work that went into capturing this amazing beast of the deep, this real-life sea monster, this ghost of the seas, at Scientific American. Check out the full video footage from ABC News.
(click through if these GIFs aren’t animating on your dashboard … it’s an amazing thing to see)
Staring Into Galactic Infinity
The European Space Organization (ESO) has just released the stunning photo above. At first glance, its just another fine piece of star porn, beautiful little glowing dots and clouds, like so many others whose images we have captured in our quest to catalogue the observable universe.
But this one is special.
This is a nine-gigapixel image was taken using a telescope that looks into the infrared, allowing us to see through the dusty galactic arms. The view is of the galactic center of the Milky Way, our home. That means somewhere in the glowing center lies a black hole, and we are here, rotating around it. The photo marks the largest catalogue of Milky Way stars ever assembled.
If you made counting all of the 84 million objects so far identified in this picture a full-time job, counting 16 hours per day at a comfortable pace, it would take you somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 years to finish. If it were printed at book resolution, that image would be 9 meters tall and 7 meters wide.
And this is less than 1% of the whole sky. In just our own galaxy.
"Stacks" in the Stars
Here’s your daily “must-watch”.
Christoph Malin has officially blown my mind. Instead of lacing together photos from the ISS into a nice smooth time-lapse, he has “stacked” the images in order to draw out patterns of movement as the ISS races through low-Earth orbit at nearly 5 miles per second.
Star trails are drawn out into Tron-like paths, and Earthly lights become digital roadways of light. If you look really closely, you can see trails that don’t follow the stars (like the satellite around 2:40!!)
Stunning work, and some welcome brain-candy.
Hyperphotos are Hyperawesome
This is getting dangerous. First we had time-lapse, and I became a certified addict. Then, just recently, I found out about hyperlapse, a jaw-dropping time-lapse technique that involves extreme “motion” and perspective changes. And now I find out about hyperphotos?
It’s out of control.
Hyperphotos, like Versailles by J.F. Rauzier, are (almost) infinitely zoomable portals into the depths of your computer screen. One minute you’re looking at a landscape, the next minute you’re face-to-face with a statue.
You’re not really going to understand what I mean just by looking at the image above. Click here for the interactive version, take it to full screen, and prepare to be amazed. Let me know if you find more!
(via The Dish)
Mister Rogers Remixed
"It’s good to be curious, about many things."
This is essentially perfect. Remixed by John Boswell, who is the guy behind the Symphony of Science series, which is also essentially perfect.
Ideas grow from seeds. They aren’t formed from the ether. Plant the garden of your mind with whatever you can.