SpoooOOOooooOOOky Halloween Crafts!

Take a look at these awesome, spook-tacular crafts for the Halloween season! Have a safe and spooky Halloween!

Glow-in-the-dark water, from Science Buddies

Pumpkin Carving templates from the National Park Service

https://www.nps.gov/articles/000/park-pumpkin-carvings.htm?fbclid=IwAR01ylPpg4mYq8Xq8O_sXRU5T0y9b2mNUzT7tFUZNF9SKeN8WEXRBiHBxO8

Make your own lava lamp! (Also from Science Buddies)

Sunrise at the South Pole (from Astronomy Picture of the Day)

Sunrise at the South Pole is different. Usually a welcome sight, it follows months of darkness — and begins months of sunshine. At Earth’s poles, it can take weeks for the Sun to rise, in contrast with hours at any mid-latitude location. Sunrise at a pole is caused by the tilt of the Earth as it orbits the Sun, not by the rotation of the Earth. Although at a pole, an airless Earth would first see first Sun at an equinox, the lensing effect of the Earth’s atmosphere and the size of the solar disk causes the top of the Sun to appear about two-weeks early. Pictured two weeks ago, the Sun peeks above the horizon of a vast frozen landscape at Earth’s South Pole. The true South Pole is just a few meters to the left of the communications tower. This polar sunrise capture was particularly photogenic as the Sun appeared capped by a green flash. Posted on Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD)Image Credit & Copyright: Martin Wolf (U. Wisconsin), IceCube Neutrino Obs., NSF; ht: Alice Allen

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html

What about apples that’s apple-ling?

We’re not sorry for that horrible pun of a blog title.

An apple is an edible fruit produced by an apple tree (Malus domestica). Apple trees are cultivated worldwide and are the most widely grown species in the genus Malus. The tree originated in Central Asia, where its wild ancestor, Malus sieversii, is still found today.

Here are our TOP TEN FACTS about Apples:

1- The crabapple is the only apple native to North America.

2- Apple blossom is the state flower of Michigan.

3- 7,500 varieties of apples are grown throughout the world.

4- The science of apple growing is called pomology.

5- Apple trees take four to five years to produce their first fruit.

6- The apple tree originated in an area between the Caspian and the Black Sea.

7- Apples are a member of the rose family.

8- Charred apples have been found in prehistoric dwellings in Switzerland.

9- Some apple trees will grow over 40 feet high and live over 100 years.

10 -It takes the energy from 50 leaves to produce one apple.

King of the Jellyfish

The lion’s mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata), also known as the giant jellyfish, arctic red jellyfish, or the hair jelly, is one of the largest known species of jellyfish. Its range is confined to cold, boreal waters of the Arctic, northern Atlantic, and northern Pacific Oceans. It is common in the English Channel, Irish Sea, North Sea, and in western Scandinavian waters. It may also drift into the southwestern part of the Baltic Sea (where it cannot breed due to the low salinity). Similar jellyfish – which may be the same species – are known to inhabit seas near Australia and New Zealand.

Lion’s mane jellyfish are named for their showy, trailing tentacles reminiscent of a lion’s mane. They can vary greatly in size: although capable of attaining a bell diameter of over 2 m (6 ft 7 in). Juveniles are lighter orange or tan, very young lion’s manes are occasionally colorless and adults are red and darken as they age. The lion’s mane jellyfish uses its stinging tentacles to capture, pull in, and eat prey such as fish, zooplankton, sea creatures, and smaller jellyfish.

Lion’s mane jellyfish. Image source: https://www.southshorehealth.org/wellness/blog/jellyfish-south-shore-beaches-lions-mane-jellyfish-sting-treatment

The largest recorded specimen was measured by Alexander Agassiz off the coast of Massachusetts in 1865 and had a bell with a diameter of 7 feet and tentacles around 120 ft long.

The bell of the lion’s mane jellyfish is scalloped into eight lobes (lappets), each lobe containing from 70 to 150 tentacles, arranged in four fairly distinct rows. Along the bell margin is a balance organ at each of the eight indentations between the lobes – the rhopalium – which helps the jellyfish orient itself. From the central mouth extend broad frilly oral arms with many stinging cells. Closer to its mouth, its total number of tentacles is around 1,200.

What in the Glob are Globules?

This segment is dedicated to the wild and wonderful Bok globules!

Here are Top Five Facts about these strange, nebulous entities in our cosmos:

First discovered by Bart Bok in the 1940s, who hypothesized that these were indeed “nests” of dead star dust to essentially form new stars! In the classification scheme of object classes in cosmology, Bok globules are dark, small, dense cosmic clouds of dust, but star formation could still occur in these nests! The composition of these globules contain hydrogen, helium, carbon and about 1% silicate dust! While most are within a span of only 1 light-year across, these clouds could be as dense as up to 50 times our Sun! Known to be some of the coldest regions of space, but their nebulous structure and formation still elude astronomers presently!

Thackeray’s Globules in the IC 2944 cluster taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. Image credit: NASA and The Hubble Heritage TeamNASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) Acknowledgment: Bo Reipurth (University of Hawaii) (STScI/AURA)

One bird or three?

The standard-winged nightjar (Caprimulgus longipennis) is a nocturnal bird in the nightjar family.

Male Standard-winged Nightjar (Macrodipteryx longipennis). Recorded in Comoé National Park, Ivory Coast. Photographed by Jan Steffen.

It is a resident breeder in Africa found in dry savannah habitats.

The adult male has a bizarre and unusual wing ornament during the breeding season which consists of a broad central flight feather on each wing elongated to 15 in, much longer than the bird’s body. In normal flight, these feathers trail behind, but in display flight they are raised vertically like standards.

Like other nightjars, the standard-winged nightjar feeds on insects in flight, the huge gape opening wide for moths and beetles. It flies at dusk, most often at sundown, and can sometimes be seen with flying foxes.

Check out this video from KJWVideo from 2009:

On this Day: May 7th, 1895

Alexander Stepanovich Popov presented his radio receiver, refined as a lightning detector, to the Russian Physical and Chemical Society.

Alexander Stepanovich Popov (1859 –1906) was a Russian physicist, who was one of the first persons to invent a radio receiving device.

On 7 May 1895, he presented a paper on a wireless lightning detector he had built that worked via using a coherer to detect radio noise from lightning strikes. In a 24 March 1896 demonstration, he transmitted radio signals 250 meters between different campus buildings in St. Petersburg.

A lightning detector at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. http://thunder.msfc.nasa.gov/validation/validation.html

A lightning detector is a device that detects lightning produced by thunderstorms. There are three primary types of detectors: ground-based systems using multiple antennas, mobile systems using a direction and a sense antenna in the same location (often aboard an aircraft), and space-based systems.

Sprites – The Red Jellyfish of the Sky

Sprites or red sprites are large-scale electric discharges that occur high above thunderstorm clouds, or cumulonimbus, giving rise to a quite varied range of visual shapes flickering in the night sky. They are usually triggered by the discharges of positive lightning between an underlying thundercloud and the ground.

Sprites appear as luminous reddish-orange flashes. They often occur in clusters above the troposphere at an altitude range of 50–90 km. Sporadic visual reports of sprites go back at least to 1886 but they were first photographed on July 4, 1994, by scientists from the University of Minnesota and have subsequently been captured in video recordings many thousands of times.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Stephen Hummel, who works at McDonald Observatory in West Texas, captured this fleeting lightning sprite – aka a red sprite – on July 2, 2020. McDonald Observatory is spearheading a Dark Skies Initiative in its region.

Sprites are sometimes inaccurately called upper-atmospheric lightning. However, sprites are cold plasma phenomena that lack the hot channel temperatures of tropospheric lightning, so they are more akin to fluorescent tube discharges than to lightning discharges. Sprites are associated with various other upper-atmospheric optical phenomena including blue jets.

Sprites have been observed over North America, Central America, South America, Europe, Central Africa, Australia, the Sea of Japan and Asia and are believed to occur during most large thunderstorm systems.

Image of a lightning sprite as imaged from the ISS. Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center. “The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.” – http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/scripts/sseop/photo.pl?mission=ISS031&roll=E&frame=10712

A Quartz is a Quartz, of course of course

Welcome back! Let us explore the many varieties of QUARTZ! How are there so many different varieties? It’s all in the chemistry!

Varieties of quartz. Source from GeologyIn.com

Agate – Multi-colored, banded chalcedony. Although agates may be found in various kinds of rock, they are classically associated with volcanic rocks and can be common in certain metamorphic rocks.

Onyx Agate where the bands are straight, parallel and consistent in size.

Jasper Opaque cryptocrystalline quartz, typically red to brow. The common red color is due to iron(III) inclusions.

Tiger’s Eye Fibrous gold to red-brown colored quartz, exhibiting the sheen depending on what angle you hold it to the light.

Aventurine Translucent chalcedony with small inclusions (usually mica) that shimmer. The most common colour of aventurine is green, but it may also be orange, brown, yellow, blue, or gray.

Amethyst Purple, transparent. Amethyst is a semiprecious stone and is the traditional birthstone for February.

Rutilated quartz Contains acicular (needle-like) inclusions of rutile.

Carnelian Reddish orange chalcedony, translucent. The color can vary greatly, ranging from pale orange to an intense almost-black coloration.

Carnelian sample from mindat.org

Citrine is a variety of quartz whose color ranges from a pale yellow to brown due to iron impurities. Natural citrines are rare.

Prasiolite Mint green, transparent. It is a rare stone in nature.

Rose quartz Pink, translucent. The color is usually considered as due to trace amounts of titanium, iron, or manganese, in the massive material.

Milky quartz White, translucent to opaque. The white color is caused by minute fluid inclusions of gas, liquid, or both, trapped during crystal formation, making it of little value for optical and quality gemstone applications.

Smoky quartz is a gray, translucent version of quartz. It ranges in clarity from almost complete transparency to a brownish-gray crystal that is almost opaque.

Chalcedony The term is generally only used for white or lightly colored material. Chalcedony has a waxy luster, and may be semitransparent or translucent. It can assume a wide range of colors, but those most commonly seen are white to gray, grayish-blue or a shade of brown.

Mtorolite also known as chrome chalcedony, it is principally found in Zimbabwe.

Chrysoprase is a green variety of chalcedony, which has been colored by nickel oxide. Its color is normally apple-green, but varies to deep green.

Heliotrope is a green variety of chalcedony, containing red inclusions of iron oxide that resemble drops of blood, giving heliotrope its alternative name of bloodstone.

A sample of Bloodstone (Heliotrope). Source: GeologyIn.com

What is Hafnium?

Hello and welcome back!

This week, we’re going to look at the mysterious and uncommon element – Hafnium!

Here are some fun facts about this lustrous, silver-gray transition metal from the periodic table (atomic number 72):

  • Discovered in 1923, named after the Latin word for Copenhagen “Hafnia”
  • This element is used in the nuclear power industry and some electronic equipment
  • Rarely found natural in well…nature! Instead, it is present in zirconium minerals
  • When it IS in nature, it is the 45th most abundance element in the Earth’s crust!
  • When chemically combined with carbon, it’s melting point is then over 7,000 degrees Fahrenheit!
  • This element is also pyrophoric – meaning it ignites spontaneously when in powder form!