This week on Science Saturday, witness a rare transit of Venus this Tuesday, track Scotty’s ashes in space, help unravel the Amelia Earhart mystery, prepare for a galactic collision, and more! All this, plus our video of the week: Didgeridoos in Space!
Rare Transit of Venus This Tuesday, June 5th
A transit of the planet Venus across the disk of our sun is a rare and historical event, and this June 5th will be the last change to see one until the year 2117. Stargazers all across the globe will gather to witness one of the rarest astronomical events, which is only safe to view with the use of special filters — #14 welder’s glass works well –, a full-aperture solar filter attached to a telescope or binoculars, or through the use of a pinhole camera. The transit will be visible from many places around the world (click here for a viewing map), but don’t worry if you aren’t in a good spot to watch the entire thing — NASA will be broadcasting the whole thing live on their website.
Lots more info and FAQ available at Space.com.
Track James Doohan’s Ashes in Earth Orbit
Last week, history was made with the launch of the first ever commercial vehicle to take orbit and dock with the ISS. Aboard it was the Dragon capsule, which went on to perform a successful docking maneuver with the ISS and recently splashed down back here on Earth, and the Celestis 11 vehicle, inside of which are the ashes of James “Scotty” Doohan.
Celestis 11 is still in orbit around Earth, and you can track it – LIVE – thanks to the N2YO satellite tracking website. God speed, Mr. Scott. We know you’re up there given the Celestis 11 all ya got.
Can a Cosmetics Jar Help Unravel Amelia Earhart Mystery?
New evidence might shed light on what exactly happened to Amelia Earhart after her mysterious disappearance during her historic 1937 flight around the world. A small glass jar, believed to be a jar of anti-freckle cream, plus some new analyses of previously dismissed radio signals, might indicate Earhart’s final resting place — a remote, uninhabited island in the southwestern Pacific. “It’s well documented Amelia had freckles and disliked having them,” says Joe Cerniglia, a researcher on the project. The jar, among other artifacts found around what appear to be an old campfire, indicate that someone was probably a cast away here. Reports from 1940 say that two skeletons – a male and a female – were also found at the site, but those have since been lost. According to Ric Gillespie, executive director of the group that made the discovery, “the bottles and other artifacts we have found at the Seven Site tell a fascinating, but still incomplete, story of ingenuity, survival, and, ultimately, tragedy. Whether it is Amelia Earhart’s story remains to be seen.”
Read more at Discovery News.
Could this anti-freckle cream jar be Amelia Earhart’s?
Hold Onto Your Butts — Andromeda Galaxy to Collide with Milky Way
Astronomers announced that they can now predict with certainty the next major cosmic event to affect our galaxy: the collision of our Milky Way with the nearby Andromeda Galaxy. Calculations say that, in about 4 billion years, the two galaxies will collide head on, but that the stars within the galaxies are so far apart that they will not collide with stars of the other galaxy. However, they won’t be entirely unaffected. Stars will be thrown into different orbits around a new, merged galactic center. Simulations say that our solar system will be flung out much farther from the galactic center than it is today.
Read more at Science at NASA.
A series of illustrations showing the view of the galactic collision from a vantage point here on Earth. The first frame is present day; the last is 7 billion years from now.
Video of the Week: Didgeridoos in Space!
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a peek.