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Longest lunar eclipse of the century coming in July

This month, sky-watchers in several regions of the world will get to witness the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century.

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The eclipse on Friday, July 27, will be fully visible for 1 hour and 43 minutes and partially visible for 3 hours and 55 minutes from parts of South Africa and most of Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

According to, the eclipse will peak at 8:21 p.m. UTC (or 4:21 p.m. EST) and the full eclipse will end at 9:13 p.m. UTC (5:13 p.m. EST).

>> On The next total solar eclipse is only 7 years away — 14 states where you’ll experience totality in 2024

During a lunar eclipse, Earth’s shadow blocks the sun’s light, which otherwise reflects off the moon. A total lunar eclipse occurs when Earth’s dark umbral shadow completely covers the moon.

>> Supermoon 2018: 12 must-see photos capture New Year’s ‘wolf moon’

“Total eclipses are a freak of cosmic happenstance,” reported. “Ever since the moon formed, about 4.5 billion years ago, it has been inching away from our planet (by about 1.6 inches, or 4 centimeters per year). The setup right now is perfect: the moon is at the perfect distance for Earth's shadow to cover the moon totally, but just barely. Billions of years from now, that won't be the case.”

The July 27 eclipse will be the second lunar eclipse of the year. The first took place Jan. 31 and gave way to a super blue blood moon, which occurred when the full moon passed through the Earth’s shadow for a total lunar eclipse and gave off a reddish tint.

>> On Sun-eating demons? 7 bizarre (but brilliant) myths and superstitions about solar eclipses

Unfortunately, the United States will miss out on the celestial spectacle this month and will have to wait until July 2020 to witness a lunar eclipse, according to

Milky Way is teeming with 'space grease,' study says

According to a new study, space is teeming with grease-like molecules, CNN reported.

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The findings of the study, which was conducted by the University of New South Wales in Australia and Ege University in Turkey, were published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The study helped give scientists a better understanding of the origin of the solar system and stars, CNN reported.

A team of eight scientists recreated material similar to interstellar dust and analyzed how many grease-like carbon molecules are present outside the solar system, CNN reported.

According to the study, the estimated amount of space grease in the Milky Way was far more than once believed -- 10 billion trillion trillion metric tons, CNN reported.

Space is not just greasy, but dirty, said Tim Schmidt, co-author of the study and professor at UNSW.

"Think of it more as like greasy soot," Tim Schmidt, co-author of the study and a professor at the University of New South Wales, told CNN. "It's not a pure substance, it's not biological. It's random, it's not something that you want to eat. It would make things dirty like soot would."

First 'artificial intelligence astronaut' launched from Cape Canaveral

NASA launched the world’s first “artificial intelligence astronaut” from Cape Canaveral Friday morning.

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The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched on time at 5:42 a.m. EDT. It will bring about 6,000 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station.

The goal of the mission is to see if artificial intelligence could help real-life crew during long-term missions.

According to NASA, the spacecraft will deliver science that studies the use of artificial intelligence, plant water use all over the planet, gut health in space, more efficient drug development and the formation of inorganic structures without the influence of Earth’s gravity. 

How much coffee should you drink to stay awake? Army answers with new algorithm

Researchers with the U.S. Army have come with an algorithm that can determine the perfect amount of caffeine a person needs to drink to stay at maximum alertness, according to a study published last month in the Journal of Sleep Research.

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The study’s lead author, Jaques Reifman, a senior research scientist with the U.S. Army, said the algorithm is the first of its kind.

Researchers used a mathematical model that predicts the effects of sleep loss and caffeine on a person’s attention and reaction time, combined with the algorithm to determine “when and how much caffeine to consume to safely maximize alertness during sleep loss,” according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Researchers presented their findings Monday at SLEEP 2018, the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC, a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.

The algorithm used a person’s sleep and wake schedule along with his or her “maximum allowed caffeine” to determine the perfect caffeine-dosing strategy, according to the study authors.

“We found that by using our algorithm, which determines when and how much caffeine a subject should consume, we can improve alertness by up to 64 percent, while consuming the same total amount of caffeine,” Reifman said. “Alternatively, a subject can reduce caffeine consumption by up to 65 percent and still achieve equivalent improvements in alertness.”

The Army is already using the algorithm for its soldiers-in-training and has plans to license it for wider use as a smartphone app, Government Technology magazine reported.

Scientists first published the study, “Caffeine dosing strategies to optimize alertness during sleep loss,” May 28 in the Journal of Sleep Research.

Tanning beds costing millions in U.S. medical bills, study finds

The rosy glow of indoor tanning pales in comparison to the millions of dollars in medical costs associated with tanning beds.

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study, published in the Journal of Cancer Policy, found that tanning beds caused more than 250,000 cases of skin cancer and 1,200 deaths in 2015, at a cost of more than $340 million in medical bills.

“The use of tanning devices is a significant contributor to illness and premature mortality in the U.S., and also represents a major economic burden in terms of the costs of medical care and lost productivity,” researchers from the University of North Carolina concluded.

Previous studies have found significant health risks in the use of tanning beds because they emit UV-A and UV-B rays, which have been linked to cell damage, including DNA mutations and skin cancers.

Scientists called indoor tanning “a public health hazard in the United States,” estimating that some 30 million people use tanning devices at least once a year and an estimated 35 percent of adults in the U.S. have used the devices.

A 2011 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found some 13 percent of students in the 9th through the 12th grades used a tanning bed at least once a year, too.

Ultimately researchers said they hoped information in this study and others like it will help reduce the use of tanning beds.


SpaceX launches satellite using new Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX’s newest rocket launched Friday afternoon from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida carrying the Bangabandhu Satellite-1.

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The Block 5  rocket later successfully landed on the drone ship, rather than on one of the landing pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

SpaceX’s new-generation Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket carried a geostationary communication satellite for the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. It will be the first communications satellite launched for Bangladesh.


The Block 5, which was designed to be reusable. Improvements include a reusable heat shield that protects the rocket’s engines and titanium.

SpaceX officials said they can reuse each Falcon 9 booster up to 100 times. They can turn around a booster for reuse in 48 hours.

The communications satellite will provide broadcasting and other communications services across Bangladesh.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

NASA launches InSight on mission to Mars

NASA sent InSight hurtling into space toward Mars on Saturday, launching the rocket from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California, CNN reported.

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It marked the first time a space mission to another planet originated from the West Coast instead of Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

If there are no glitches, the 790-pound probe will land on the Martian surface Nov. 26. It will join five other NASA spacecraft operating on and above the planet’s surface, CNN reported.

Bruce Banerdy, the mission’s lead investigator, told CNN that InSight will provide valuable information to scientists.

"We have mapped the surface of the entire planet in terms of visible features, topography, gravity and magnetic fields," he said. "We have studied the atmosphere, both globally and at the surface. We have roved around the surface at four different places, studying the geology and piecing together the history of the surface. But until now, the vast regions of the planet deeper than a few miles, or so, (have) been almost completely unknown to us.

"InSight will change that with a single stroke."

Study gets to the root of why your hair turns gray

Spotting a few gray strands on your head? If you’re wondering how they got there, scientists may have an answer, according to a new report. 

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Researchers from the University of Alabama in Birmingham recently conducted a study to determine why hair loses its pigment. 

To find out, researchers examined mice. They specifically monitored how the immune system’s response to attacks affects the MITF gene, a protein that helps melanocytes function properly. Melanocytes are the cells responsible for melanin, which gives our eyes, skin and hair their color. 

After analyzing their observations, they found that the MITF gene likely also controls the release of interferons, a protein that fights off viral infections. When there isn’t enough MITF, the animals in the experiment produced an excess of interferons, forcing the immune system to attack the melanocytes and causing the growth of non-pigmented or gray hairs.

The scientists do not know if their observations will transfer to humans. However, they believe their research may explain why some individuals go gray earlier in life. 

“Perhaps, in an individual who is healthy yet predisposed for gray hair, getting an everyday viral infection is just enough to cause the decline of their melanocytes and melanocyte stem cells leading to premature gray hair,” co-author Melissa Harris said in a statement.

While she noted an infection doesn’t guarantee gray hair, “this study highlights just one mechanism that helps us better understand biological contributions to the visible signs of aging.”

Want to learn more about the findings? The results were published in PLOS Biology.

World's oldest spider, 43, killed by wasp sting

“O death, where is thy sting?”

For the world’s oldest known spider, that biblical verse took on new meaning after the arachnid was killed by a wasp sting, Time reported.

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The spider, tabbed as Number 16 by Australian scientists, died after a record 43 years, researchers said Monday.

The female trapdoor tarantula lived in Western Australia’s Central Wheatbelt area, according to Agence France-Press reports. The spider broke the record of the previous spider, a tarantula that lived for 28 years in Mexico, according to a study published in January in the journal Pacific Conservation Biology. Number 16 was observed during a spider population study in 1974, Time reported.

“To our knowledge, this is the oldest spider ever recorded, and her significant life has allowed us to further investigate the trapdoor spider’s behavior and population dynamics,” said Curtin University’s Leanda Mason, the study’s lead author.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Mason said team members were “really miserable” over the spider’s death, TheTelegraph reported.

Trapdoor spiders are common in Australia and typically live between five and 20 years, according to the Australian Museum.

Massive child sacrifice discovered in Peru

A grisly discovery by archaeologists in Peru may be evidence of the largest child sacrifice in history, National Geographic reported.

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The remains of more than 140 children and 200 young llamas that were sacrificed 550 years ago have been found on Peru’s northern coast, National Geographic reported. The remains were found on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, once home to the capital of the Chimú Empire.

An international team led by Gabriel Prieto of the Universidad Nacional de Trujillo and John Verano of Tulane University, are continuing.

Human sacrifices carried out by the Aztec, Maya and Incas of the Western Hemisphere have been documented, but this discovery is unprecedented, National Geographic reported.

“I, for one, never expected it,” Verano told National Geographic. "And I don't think anyone else would have, either."

The sacrifice site, known as Huanchaquito-Las Llamas, is located on a low bluff just a thousand feet from the ocean. At its height, the Chimú Empire controlled a 600-mile-long territory along the Pacific coast and interior valleys from the modern Peru-Ecuador border to Lima.

Huanchaquito-Las Llamas made news in 2011 when the remains of 42 children and 76 llamas were found. Prieto was excavating a 3,500-year-old temple near the sacrifice site when local residents told him about human remains at nearby coastal dunes, National Geographic reported.

When the excavations had ended, archaeologists found more than 140 sets of children’s remains and 200 juvenile llamas. Rope and textiles found near the remains were dated between 1400 and 1450, National Geographic reported.

Skeletal remains showed evidence of cuts in the sternum and rib dislocations, which suggests the victims’ chests were cut open and their hearts were likely removed.

The 140 children ranged in age from about 5 to 14; the llamas were less than 18 months old, National Geographic reported.

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