Lunar Eclipse Darkens The Moon And Creates Potential Threat To NASA

Lunar Eclipse Darkens The Moon And Creates Potential Threat To NASA

How a rare and beautiful event can effect the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

On Sunday September 27th there was a converging of two astronomical events: a Super Moon and a total lunar eclipse. Starting at 8pm Eastern Time there began a slight darkening of the Moon with a partial lunar eclipse, with the total eclipse occurring at 10pm.

The colloquially named Super Moon occurs because the Moon’s orbit is not a circle, but rather elliptical, meaning that at certain points during its orbit around the Earth, the Moon is closer to the Earth. When this happens it makes the Moon look up to 15 percent larger than it usually does. This year, not only did the Moon look larger, but it passed directly in the Earth’s shadow – called a Lunar Eclipse.

There are actually two types of Lunar Eclipses: partial and total. The difference between the two has to do with how long the Moon is inside the shadow of the Earth. There are two sections of shadow, the umbra and penumbra. The penumbra only partially blocks the light of the sun from reaching the Moon, so it will appear only slightly darker. These eclipses are known as partial eclipses. The total eclipse that everyone on the ‘night side’ of the Earth saw Sunday night was a total eclipse, which means the entire Moon traveled through the umbra. These eclipses last for a little over an hour.

While here on Earth those of us who were experiencing night enjoyed the rare spectacle—NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s (LRO) team was executing a multi-month long process of getting the spacecraft through the event. While the Super Moon has no real scientific value, an eclipse poses a threat to LRO. During an eclipse, temperatures can drop by 280 degrees Fahrenheit (180 Celsius) in a matter of minutes. Another spacecraft, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environmental Explorer had problems in a 2014 eclipse.

However this year was slightly different, because LRO has proven able to not only withstand the extreme temperature drop, but that it can go through the ordeal of not having access to sunlight—something it requires because it is solar powered. This year the team wanted to try to keep Diviner, a radiometer, active during the event in order to measure the size of particles on the surface of the Moon. It accomplished this by analyzing the reflective energy off the surface and to measure the temperature it used infrared emissions.

While this sounds like it would be a simple matter of keeping the craft functioning, the LRO team had been prepping for several months for the event. The equipment needed to be systematically turned off in order to conserve energy consumption, and then after the event, it began turning all of the equipment back on. In order to accomplish this task, the spacecraft was to be monitored for a full twenty-four hour window to ensure that everything went according to plan and the spacecraft could continue its usual mission post-eclipse.

The coinciding of these events is very rare, with the last one occurring in 1982 and with the next one not happening until 2033. Compare this to the fact that a total lunar eclipse can occur up to three times a year, with partial eclipses occurring with even greater frequency. This provided a unique opportunity for NASA and amateur astronomers alike to take advantage of the event’s beauty and scientifically meaningful event. NASA’s website featured a live stream of the Eclipse for the first time, which began playing at 8pm.

Learn more about LRO and other missions at NASA.

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.

Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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That One Time I May Have Shot An Ex-Police Officer

Yeah, you heard me.


In England, we don't really have guns, maybe hunting guns but I think it's pretty rare. Anyway, point is, barely any guns. I have never seen a gun, shot a gun, I don't even know anybody that owns a gun so as an exchange student in Oklahoma it's a novelty to visit a gun range.

I was pretty nervous about shooting but the instructor was super nice and told us how to hold the gun and load it before we went into the range. He also let us ask any questions we had about guns and explained the process of getting a gun in Oklahoma and he said he had visited Europe and was talking about England, and how he used to be a cop and opened his own gun shop. Basically a really really nice guy, which honestly makes harming him ten times worse.

We went into the range and we were shooting a 22 caliber and another guy at the range, I'm assuming a regular, asked if we wanted to fire his revolver so of course, we said yes.

This gun was definitely heavier and the trigger was super hard to pull but he kept his hand on the gun whilst I struggled with the trigger and then I fired it.

I heard a bang and I heard a yell.

I turned around and he was holding his thumb and there was blood dripping onto the floor. At this point, I thought I had shot him, so you can imagine the sheer level of panic that I was feeling.

The color drained from my face and I was frozen solid and all I could say was, "are you okay?" which was answered with a "Ma'am, put the gun down."

Basically, I'm freaking out and I look over at the lads for some form of reassurance, which was met with them looking equally as freaked out as me. So I asked,

"Do we need to call someone?"

"Yep. We are definitely gonna have to call someone"

So at this point, my nerves were shattered and I had no idea what was going on or what the procedure is for this sort of thing. I mean, the guy also took it like a champ and barely even winced and kept repeating "little lady, you're fine" – safe to say I did not feel fine nor did the situation, in my eyes, look at all fine.

Luckily the regulars knew what to do and took him to the ER so we were left in the store with another regular shooter.

Everyone else went back out to shoot but I didn't feel like assaulting/ shooting/ potentially murdering anyone else so I decided to sit this round out and talk to the woman that stayed with us and he called and said it wasn't me, something came off the bullet or gun and went into his hand- so no I didn't actually shoot him and he was going to be okay.

The point of this now very funny story is that whilst guns are cool they're also pretty dangerous.

I have no idea how someone can participate in these mass shootings because I didn't even shoot someone, only thought I did, and it was probably the most terrifying moment of my life.

So, if you are around guns, have fun, be safe and try not to send your instructor to the ER.

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