by Alex Autin

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A Summer Walk Through The Garden

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All Photographs: Alex Autin/…things I LOVE!

Is It That Time Of Year Again?!!

  Perseid Time!

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On July 27th, NASA’s All Sky Fireball Network cameras caught the above Perseid fireball flying over New Mexico. Yep, it’s THAT time!

Our planet is entering a broad stream of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which is the source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. The peak of the shower is not expected until August, however meteors are already flitting across the night sky. Over this past weekend NASA detected five Perseid fireballs, a ‘micro-flurry’, signaling the beginning of the yearly display.Woohoo! But wait…

What about that so-called Super Moon coming up August 10? You know, THE Superest of all Super Moons of 2014?? August’s perigee-syzygy Full Moon will present the Moon’s closest encounter with Earth for all of 2014. (Let the Super hype begin!) The crest of the Moon’s full phase on August 10, and perigee (the Moon’s closest point to Earth for a given month), fall within the same hour. Very cool, if you like looking at big gorgeous full Moons (which I do!), but…

Is that gonna be a problem when it comes to Perseid meteor viewing? Yep, it sure is. While normally the best time for Perseid viewing would be during the shower’s peak, August 11th through 13th, this year, however, the pesky Super Moon, along with the following waning Gibbous Moon, will cast an interfering glare across the nights of maximum activity, possibly reducing visibility from 120 meteors per hour (the typical Perseid peak rate) to less than 30. No Bueno…

So, what is there to do?? Well, instead of waiting till mid-August, now (right now!) might be the best time to watch as Earth plunges deeper into the debris stream, and before the Moon gets all super.

And, as an added bonus, if you act now – that is, if you go out meteor watching in the nights ahead, you just might catch another shower – the Southern Delta Aquariids! Produced by debris from Comet 96P/Machholz, this shower peaks on July 29-30 with 15 to 20 meteors per hour. A favorable new moon (tonight) and followed by a waxing crescent will darken skies for this event which will help even faint meteors shine more brightly. Yep, sure, this IS considered to be a minor shower, but – if you’re gonna be out anyway, it’s definitely rich enough in fireballs to merit attention. And if you have cloud cover, or can’t be bothered to get outside, NASA will stream the display from an observing site at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama with live video beginning on July 29th at 9:30 pm EDT!

Images Of The Week (W30-14)

Progress M-24M

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Launched July 23 at 21:44 GMT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Russian resupply spacecraft ProgressM-24M is seen here as it approaches the Pirs module of the International Space Station for docking. The fast rendezvous, 6 hour ‘launch-to-dock’ mission, identified by NASA as Progress 56 or P56, carried 2322 kg of cargo and supplies to the station – including 45 ‘snailonauts’.  The slimy passengers are set to be part of Russian microgravity experiments. Image Credit: Roscosmos/NASA

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Nahalal

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This satellite image of Nahalal, a moshav in northern Israel, was featured July 21 on Daily Overview. A moshav is a type of cooperative agricultural community composed of individual farms and governed by an elected council. Founded in 1921 by architect Richard Kaufmann, Nahalal is one of the oldest moshavim in Israel and is based on concentric circles, with the public buildings in the center, the homesteads in the innermost circle, the farm buildings in the next, and beyond those, ever-widening circles of gardens and fields. Image Credit: Daily Overview

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The Crab Nebula

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This week NASA celebrated the 15th anniversary of its Chandra X-ray Observatory with 4 newly processed images of supernova remnants, all of which dramatically demonstrates the observatory’s unique ability to explore high-energy processes in the cosmos. The above captured Crab Nebula was first noted in 1054 AD as new bright object in the sky. This ‘new star’ was, in fact, the supernova explosion which created the now well known nebula. At the center of the Crab Nebula is an extremely dense and rapidly rotating neutron star (aka pulsar) left behind by the explosion. The pulsar is spewing out a frenzy of high-energy particles producing the expanding X-ray nebula captured by Chandra. In this new image, lower-energy X-rays from Chandra are red, medium energy X-rays are green, and the highest-energy X-rays are blue. Image Credit: Image credit: NASA/CXC/SAO

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A Hot Summer Day

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How to survive the heat on a summer day? Easy! Go to Nice, in the south of France, and dive into the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Ok, so I have to admit that I’ve never actually done this, but these guys definitely seem to have the right idea! Image Credit:  Sebastien Nogier / EPA

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Art Of Science

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This image, captured by Andy Dobson, a Princeton biologist whose research group works at the intersection of environmental concerns and biomedical issues, is part of Princeton University’s Art of Science exhibition currently on view at the campus’ Friend Center. According to Dobson – “This photograph of wildebeest grazing in the golden grasslands at the end of a rainbow could symbolize hope for the fragile ecosystems of the Serengeti region of Tanzania.”  The exhibition explores the interplay between science and art and consists of images produced during the course of scientific inquiry that have aesthetic merit. Check out the Art of Science website to see all 44 of the 2014 entries. Image Credit: Andy Dobson /Princeton Art of Science

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