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Super Blue Blood Moon 2018: Don’t Miss the First Blue Supermoon Lunar Eclipse for 152 Years

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çIn the early hours of January 31, the moon will do something it hasn’t since 1866. A supermoon, blue moon and lunar eclipse will coincide for a rare and spectacular astronomical feast.

Our faithful satellite will shine big, bright—and red.

The moon doesn’t orbit the Earth in a perfect circle, which means it sometimes sits closer to our planet than usual. When the moon’s closest approach—or “perigee”—coincides with a full moon, it can look bigger and brighter.

This is known as a “supermoon,” but the technical term is “perigee full moon.”

1_2_Supermoon_09 © Provided by IBT Media (UK) 1_2_Supermoon_09 “In general, perigee full moons can be up to 14 percent bigger than apogee full moons, and up to 30 percent brighter,” NASA planetary geologist Sarah Noble explained to Newsweek.

“The difference in size is very difficult for our eyes to discern, but the moon will probably be noticeably bright.”

January 31 is the last chance you will have to see a supermoon this year.

To witness the supersize space rock in all its glory, look to the skies just after sunset.

The lower the moon sits in the sky, the larger it appears because of something called the “moon illusion.”

A full moon, referred to as a supermoon, rises over the University of Notre Dame's main building Dec. 3, 2017, in South Bend, Ind. Triple treat: Supermoon, blue moon and lunar eclipse all coming to a sky near you next week

Blue moon

“Blue moon” has come to mean the second full moon in a calendar month.

Sadly it doesn’t actually shine blue, but it is an interesting quirk.

January has already had one full moon so far this month. Not as rare as you might think, the last blue moon occurred in July 2015.

Spoilt for blue moons this year, we will also see one on 31 March.

Lunar eclipse

1_29_lunar eclipse © Provided by IBT Media (UK) 1_29_lunar eclipse This digital composite shows different stages of a lunar eclipse seen from Glastonbury, U.K., September 28, 2015. Matt Cardy/Getty Images

“Blood moon” refers to a lunar eclipse, where the satellite will glow a spectacular red for many viewers.

The sun, Earth and moon will line up in such a way that our planet cuts off the moon’s sunlight supply. It will drift into the Earth’s shadow and begin to glow a warm, orange-red as light passes through the Earth’s atmosphere.

How to watch the super blue blood moon

the tower of the city: 1_24_Glastonbury lunar eclipse © Provided by IBT Media (UK) 1_24_Glastonbury lunar eclipse A supermoon in eclipse is pictured behind Glastonbury Tor in Glastonbury, U.K., on September 27, 2015. Matt Cardy/Getty Images

A lunar eclipse is visible to stargazers in the half of the world in darkness while this lineup takes place.

Astronomers in the western U.S., Australia and much of Canada, Russia and Asia will be able to see the moon in total eclipse.

A partial eclipse will be visible across the eastern U.S., India, eastern Europe and Scandinavia. You can find out what kind of view you’ll have in your local area here.

If you don’t live in a total eclipse area, you can watch a live stream from the comfort of your home. NASA will broadcast live coverage of the super blue blood moon from 5.30 a.m. ET January 31.

The Virtual Telescope Project will follow the event from Australia and the U.S., beaming the eclipse from 6.30 a.m. ET. The VTP will also stream the non-eclipsed super blue moon from Rome starting from 11 a.m. ET.

EU adopts transition guidelines in two minutes

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The European Union has taken two minutes to adopt its negotiating guidelines on Britain’s Brexit transition period.

Brussels’ deputy negotiator Sabine Weyand said the EU is offering a “status quo transition without institutional representation” from March 2019 until the end of 2020.

The EU insists that the UK should continue to abide by all of the bloc’s rules, such as freedom of movement, which includes any new ones introduced during the implementation period.

The Government has already indicated it is willing to comply with most of the EU’s demands to move talks onto the future relationship between London and Brussels.

But there have been rumblings of disquiet from some in the Prime Minister’s party, with influential backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg saying this would leave Britain a “vassal state” of Brussels.

Some Leave figures in her own party claim the PM is preparing to deliver a Brexit “in name only”.

In an early sign of pushback against Brussels, Brexit Secretary David Davis demanded last week “a way of resolving concerns if laws are deemed to run contrary to our interests and we have not had our say.”

“It’s very, very important,” he said, that “if there are new laws that affect us, we have the means to resolve any issues during that period.”

But Irish European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee dismissed such a prospect, saying on Monday that “what we cannot have is a position where the integrity of the single market, the customs union, is in any way undermined.”

“When the UK leaves the European Union they will not be a voice around the table,” she said.

Another point of contention with eurosceptics is likely to be the role of the European Court of Justice in handling any disputes.

Brexit backers have been keen to end the sovereignty of the EU’s top court as part of Britain’s EU exit and will view any sort of role for the ECJ as anathema.

Speaking earlier, the PM’s official spokesman acknowledged there would be “differences” between the UK and EU positions over the transition.

“There is obviously going to be a negotiation on what the implementation period looks like,” he said.

“The formal directives will be released this afternoon.

This will be a negotiation and there will naturally be some distance in the detail of our starting positions.

“I think there is broad agreement on the principle of an implementation period being in the interests of both sides, but on the specific detail you would expect there to be some differences.

That is obviously what will be negotiated.” Mrs May is keen to move talks onto the future relationship, particularly when it comes to trade, but further guidelines will need to be adopted at a summit in March for this to happen.

Monday’s guidelines from the EU includes a demand for more clarity on what future ties should look like.

“The sooner the Brits are clear about the future, the better for everybody,” Italy’s EU affairs representative Sandro Gozi said.

“We have to use our time and energy not in shaping the transition, but in shaping the future relationship.”

European sources have said transition talks between Mr Davis and EU negotiator Michel Barnier could begin as early as this week.

More follows…

Coming U.S. List of Oligarchs Linked to Putin Alarms Russia’s Rich

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WASHINGTON — It was all but ignored last year when it was wrapped in a sanctions law punishing Russian aggression. But in recent weeks, a requirement that the United States identify Russian oligarchs in a public list has set off a cavalcade of anxious lobbying across Washington by those who fear their links to the Kremlin will jeopardize their financial well-being.

The Trump administration is set to release the list on Monday in a report that — to the surprise of many — serves as a new tool to punish wealthy backers of the world’s autocrats, simply by naming them.

It is unclear how the administration will define who is considered an oligarch, and appearing on the list does not carry immediate penalties.

But it will reveal the financial details of Russian elites and many of their family members. More worryingly, lobbyists and experts say, it could make them vulnerable to future sanctions through their associations with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

The list “has caused more concern among wealthy Russians in Moscow, London, and Geneva than there has been since sanctions were imposed on Russia post-Ukraine,” said Michael Caputo, a former campaign adviser to President Trump who is now a communications consultant to Russian businesses and citizens.

“I’ve never heard this level of chatter,” Mr. Caputo said. “That low rolling thunder you hear is dozens of Russian oligarchs lawyering up with top American legal talent.”

The name-and-shame report is part of the law that Mr. Trump approved, with caveats, in August. It expanded sanctions against Russia by penalizing those who do substantial business with the Russian military or intelligence sectors.

On Friday, the Trump administration announced sanctions against 21 individuals, including Russia’s deputy energy minister, Andrey Cherezov, as well as nine business entities.

Much of official Washington had paid little heed when the provision with the law was passed, expecting the list to be shelved and forgotten as soon as it was released, as such reports often are. The recent lobbying push — including a procession seeking assurances from the White House, the State Department and Congress — has raised the report’s profile and made it, against all expectations, significant.

Russia and sanctions experts say they have been inundated by inquiries about the report, which is being written at the Treasury and State Departments.

Political appointees in the Trump administration, spooked by the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election that is being led by Robert S. Muller III, the special counsel, have given the report a broad scope. It has been up to government career employees to create a catalog that is widely expected to be credible and complete, said more than a dozen people with knowledge of the report.

“I was in London about a month ago, and a British government official told me he’s even being lobbied about it,” said Peter Harrell, a former sanctions official at the State Department.

A Treasury Department spokesman said that the oligarchs’ list was expected to be produced by Monday’s deadline, along with a separate report also required by the law about the possible consequences of penalizing Russia’s sovereign debt.

The oligarchs’ report must include “indices of corruption,” as well as the net worth and known sources of income of both the primary person listed and of their spouses, children, parents, and siblings. Any United States assets, like real estate, must be listed, too.

Some names are likely to be made public, while others may be included in a classified appendix, officials said. Some observers fear that the administration, which opposed the legislation, will decide to make most of the report classified.

“I think people may be underwhelmed by what gets made public,” said Elizabeth Rosenberg, a top sanctions official in the Obama administration.

As the foreign attention over the report has built, senators have taken notice. Four Republican senators named two oligarchs last week that they said they wanted included. And four Democratic lawmakers said the list could be used to quickly widen sanctions, should Russia interfere in elections scheduled this year in the United States and elsewhere.

“I understand that the report has created consternation among some who don’t want to be on the list or be seen as associated with the Putin regime,” said Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland. “I hope that this report will lead some to reconsider the wisdom of associating with the Putin regime.”

For months, sanctions experts in the United States responded to inquiries about the oligarchs’ list with a mixture of disbelief and disdain. With no penalties associated with being listed, they told people to stop worrying.

That did not happen.

Daniel Fried, a top White House adviser on Russia to both President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush, said the surprising unease among Russians had given the list unexpected power.

“In their anxiety, I sense leverage and opportunity to make a point, and that point is that Putin’s aggression has consequences against Russia’s elite,” Mr. Fried said.

Lobbyists who represent wealthy Russians said in multiple interviews that their clients’ concerns were twofold: that the American government might one day use the list to impose sanctions, and that banks and other global financial institutions would stop serving them because of that possible risk. None would speak publicly.

The lobbyists also voiced fears that the report could empower Mr. Putin by pushing oligarchs even more firmly into his orbit — the opposite of what Congress intended.

A registry of foreign agents to Russia, compiled by the Justice Department, includes many of Washington’s most powerful legal, communications and lobbying firms, including Sidley Austin, Venable, APCO and White & Case. A review of those records, by the Center for Responsive Politics, found 279 registrations of Russian agents in the United States.

Andrey Borodin, a wealthy Russian fugitive and former president of the Bank of Moscow, hired BGR Group to lobby on his behalf. Haley Barbour, the former governor of Mississippi, and Maya Seiden, a former State Department official, were listed on the registry as representing Mr. Borodin for BGR over “visa issues.” Ms. Seiden declined to comment on her work for Mr. Borodin.

Adam M. Smith, a Washington lawyer and former sanctions adviser for the Treasury Department, said the uncertainty about what would be done with the list was unusual.

“This has literally never been done before, and it represents an extraordinary outsourcing of our foreign policy,” Mr. Smith said. “It’s one thing to tell banks that this person is sanctioned. It’s another entirely to say, ‘Hey, this person is on a list. Figure out yourself what to do with them.’”

In putting together a multifaceted lobbying campaign about the report, the oligarchs have collectively caused the very problem they had hoped to avoid — government scrutiny.

“If they’re that sophisticated, shouldn’t they also be aware this report is relatively small potatoes?” Ms. Rosenberg asked.

Much of the reason for the Russians’ anxiety, though, is the widely held view in Moscow that events in Washington have become wholly irrational. Few understand what they see as the American obsession with Russian hacking efforts and suspected collusion with Mr. Trump, Mr. Caputo said.

“From the Russian perspective, there is no rhyme or reason to anything going on in Washington right now,” Mr. Caputo said. “Their worried Russian banks will go under and people will lose everything, and that’s because what America will do right now is absolutely unpredictable.”

Chinese volunteers spend 200 days on virtual ‘moon base’

chinese

Chinese students spent 200 continuous days in a “lunar lab” in Beijing, state media said Friday, as the country prepares for its long-term goal of putting people on the moon.

Four students crammed into a 160-square-meter (1,720-square-foot) cabin called “Yuegong-1” — Lunar Palace — on the campus of Beihang University, testing the limits of humans’ ability to live in a self-contained space, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The volunteers lived in the sealed lab to simulate a long-term space mission with no input from the outside world.

The experience tested them to the limit, the module’s chief designer Liu Hong told Xinhua, especially on three occasions when the lab experienced unexpected blackouts.

The experience “challenged the system as well as the psychological status of the volunteers, but they withstood the test,” Liu said.

The facility treats human waste with a bio-fermentation process, and volunteers grew experimental crops and vegetables with the help of food and waste byproducts.

Two men and two women entered for an initial stay of 60 days. They were then relieved by another group of four, who stayed 200 days.

The initial group will now return for an additional 105, Xinhua said.

The “Lunar Palace” has two plant cultivation modules and a living cabin: 42 square metres containing four sleeping cubicles, a common room, a bathroom, a waste-treatment room and a room for raising animals.

A successful 105-day trial was conducted in 2014.

China does not expect to land its first astronauts on the moon for at least another decade, but the project seeks to help the country prepare lunar explorers for longer stays on the surface.

China is pouring billions into its military-run space programme and working to catch up with the United States and Europe, with hopes to have a crewed outpost by 2022.

Russia and the United States have also carried out experiments to simulate conditions for long-term space travel and living on Mars.

Beijing sees the programme as symbolizing the country’s progress and a marker of its rising global stature, but so far China has largely replicated activities that the US and Soviet Union pioneered decades ago.

We’ve Found 3,700 Planets—But No Earth 2.0 Yet

planet

As of Jan. 1, we’ve found more than 3,700 planets; about 2,500 of those were discovered by NASA’s Kepler satellite missions. We’ve also found 2,794 planetary systems and 622 “multiple planet systems,” according to the Extra-solar Planets Catalog, which tracks humankind’s hunt for planets.

Despite the thousands of planets we’ve found, though, we don’t know a lot. We know sizes, masses… and that’s about it.

“If you take a step back and ask what do we know, we know there are thousands of planets out there,” Sara Seager, an MIT professor who’s one of the lead exoplanet researchers in the world, told The Daily Beast. “We don’t know a lot about them.”

At this point, those planets aren’t much more than a few points of numerical data. But soon we might know more, as astronomers prioritize quality over quantity of exoplanet discoveries and dive into their compositions in our hunt for the next Earth.

In 2016, astronomers announced the discovery of Proxima Centauri b, heralded as the closest we’d come to finding an Earth twin: It was found orbiting the closest star to Earth, was just a little more massive than Earth, and appeared to be in the habitable “Goldilocks zone” around its star where—if everything went right—it could hold liquid water in some areas and maybe, just maybe, life.

But Proxima b wasn’t found in a vast, census-like headcount like Kepler. It wasn’t discovered accidentally or as one small part of a larger campaign. It was discovered by focusing a team of researchers calling themselves Pale Red Dot on one star over a near-half-decade, looking and waiting for the star to move in just the right way that suggests a planet is ever-so-slightly tugging on it. It was only through those laborious hours of research and poring over the faint star that the planet emerged from the data.

“It was almost—but not quite—unheard of, but not a popular idea, to put all your eggs in one basket and that paid off, and I think we’re going to see more of that,” Seager said.

The planet, however, was later found to likely emit radiation to suck out life-necessary oxygen, according to a paper released in February 2017 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. In fact, Proxima b illustrates the problem of why the quest of finding the next Earth is so hard: We don’t know a lot about what these planets actually are.

The next frontier of telescopes

Seager pointed out the example of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the Hubble successor NASA is sending out to the Moon next year. The tennis court-sized telescope will be tasked with imaging some of these exo-worlds and finding atmospheres around Earth-sized worlds, finding out if they’re truly habitable.

Technology has been a limiting factor in finding individual planets. One problem is that planets don’t emit light—they only reflect it. The few planets that do reflect enough light to be seen from on-or-near Earth are large, young, and very hot. Next generation telescopes like JWST will be able to finally get that down to (roughly) Earth-size, even if those planets will appear as a pixel or two.

Demand for JWST will be great, as gathering enough light to see a dim planet is a large undertaking. With time being split between exoplanets, distant galaxies, weird stars, and other demands of an orbital observatory, astronomers will have to be smart about what planets they go after, which will require finding the best places to do a star-by-star analysis.

But it’s got drawbacks. “Since direct imaging of these small worlds takes a long time, it is unlikely that JWST will observe a large sample of planets,” Fabo Feng, an exoplanet researcher at the University of Hertfordshire, said.

The first exoplanets were found by measuring how a planet tugged on a star in a process called radial velocity, and it only worked for very large planets. Kepler employed the transit method, which waits for a planet to pass in front of its star and blot the light just a bit. But not every planet transits, and radial velocity is only now getting to the point that it can find planets around the mass of Earth. (There are, of course, several other exoplanet hunting techniques, but they’ve yielded fewer results.)

The Earth in Orbit.© Getty Images The Earth in Orbit. Feng’s work on the Tau Ceti system last year stretched radial velocity to its absolute limits in order to find four planets around the nearby star. Feng had to build algorithms to find these four worlds—all between the mass of Earth and Neptune—based on weak “tug” signals that might otherwise have been written off as some kind of stellar activity. That study was the culmination of 10 years of work and more than 5,000 observations.

NASA plans instead to rely on information from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, set for launch in March, to home in on the best worlds for JWST to study. It’ll look for the dimming caused by a planet passing in front of its star, just like Kepler. But unlike Kepler, it will specifically look for planets around bright stars ideal for study by the Webb telescope, ending up with a lower overall yield of exoplanets.

One of JWST’s first targets will likely be the TRAPPIST-1 star, a system of seven Earth-sized planets, some which may have the right conditions for liquid water. That planet is the end result of another survey that only looked at 50 stars. Michael Gillon, a project lead on the TRAPPIST telescope, said that TRAPPIST-1 was the only planet-bearing star found in four years of research. A recent extension of the mission added 50 more targets—and still only expects to yield a very small number of planets due to the low occurrence of transits.

“We don’t really expect [TRAPPIST] to find more planets, even if all ultracool stars have a planetary system similar to TRAPPIST-1,” Gillon said. Ultracool dwarfs are the smallest normal stars that have low temperatures, thus offering more temperate planets, referring to the temperature of the star and therefore its ability to potentially be near an Earth-like planet.

Next year, Gillon’s TRAPPIST follow-up, SPECULOOS (the Search for Habitable Planets Eclipsing Ultra-Cool Stars), will debut. TRAPPIST was meant as a prototype to find planets around small, “cool” stars. But if TRAPPIST was meant to find just a couple worlds, SPECULOOS—with a telescope in both hemispheres—is expected to find a few dozen at a rate of one or two per year.

Will we find another Earth?

Red Dots, the group formerly known as Pale Red Dots, recently widened their scope to Barnard’s Star and Ross 154, two stars near Proxima b. “There’s this thought now that the closest stars are of incredible value, and that it’s worth focusing on them especially now that we’ve shown that every star has something to show for itself,” Seager, who is not involved in the project, said.

But Red Dots is just one of a narrow searches out there. Project Blue aims to find a habitable planet around one of the stars in the binary pair of stars in Alpha Centauri; Proxima orbits both stars a significant distance away. There’s Seager’s own ASTERIA project, which launched a small satellite last year to figure out if you can send out mini-satellites to look for exoplanets on a star-by-star basis.

The hunt for the next Earth by surveying stars won’t go away by any means. But in order to find out anything about these planets and figure out if the smaller ones we see aren’t just Earth-size or Earth-mass, but truly Earth-like, will take a lot of work.

“Let’s say there’s an alien civilization not too far away looking at our solar system with the same tools we have, but maybe a little bit better,” Seager analogized. “They would see Venus and Earth, and they would be the same planet. They wouldn’t know if one planet was habitable or not. They’d probably be pretty excited, because they have two planets, possibly in the habitable zone, but they’re basically the same size and mass to within a few percent.”

China unveils vision for ‘Polar Silk Road’ across Arctic

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China on Friday outlined its ambitions to extend President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative to the Arctic by developing shipping lanes opened up by global warming.

Releasing its first official Arctic policy white paper, China said it would encourage enterprises to build infrastructure and conduct commercial trial voyages, paving the way for Arctic shipping routes that would form a “Polar Silk Road”.

“China hopes to work with all parties to build a ‘Polar Silk Road’ through developing the Arctic shipping routes,” the paper, issued by the State Council Information Office, said.

China, despite being a non-Arctic state, is increasingly active in the polar region and became an observer member of the Arctic Council in 2013.

Among its increasing interests in the region is its major stake in Russia’s Yamal liquefied natural gas project which is expected to supply China with four million tonnes of LNG a year, according to the state-run China Daily.

Shipping through the Northern Sea Route would shave almost 20 days off the regular time using the traditional route through the Suez Canal, the newspaper reported last month. COSCO Shipping has also previously sailed vessels through the Arctic’s northeast passage.

China’s increasing prominence in the region has prompted concerns from Arctic states over its long-term strategic objectives, including possible military deployment.

“Some people may have misgivings over our participation in the development of the Arctic, worried we may have other intentions, or that we may plunder resources or damage the environment,” Vice-Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou said at a briefing.

“I believe these kinds of concerns are absolutely unnecessary.”

The white paper said China also eyes development of oil, gas, mineral resources and other non-fossil energies, fishing and tourism in the region. It said it would do so “jointly with Arctic States while respecting traditions and cultures of the Arctic residents including the indigenous peoples and conserving natural environment”.

China’s Belt and Road initiative aims to connect China to Europe, the Middle East and beyond via massive infrastructure projects across dozens of countries, reflecting Xi’s desire for China to take on a more prominent global leadership role.

Soros to Google and Facebook: ‘Your days are numbered’

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Billionaire investor George Soros launched a scathing attack on tech giants at the Davos summit on Thursday, calling them monopolies that could be manipulated by authoritarians to subvert democracy.

During an annual dinner, he hosts at the World Economic Forum, held this week in the Swiss alpine resort, Soros turned his sights on a host of subjects including US President Donald Trump and the speculation frenzy surrounding the bitcoin cryptocurrency.

But much of the Hungarian-born financier’s ire was reserved for the tech giants of Silicon Valley who, he argued, needed to be more strictly regulated.

“Facebook and Google effectively control over half of all internet advertising revenue,” the 87-year-old told diners during a speech.

“They claim that they are merely distributors of information. The fact that they are near-monopoly distributors makes them public utilities and should subject them to more stringent regulations, aimed at preserving competition, innovation, and fair and open universal access.”

He predicted that tech giants would “compromise themselves” to access key markets like China, creating an “alliance between authoritarian states and these large, data-rich IT monopolies.”

“This may well result in a web of totalitarian control the likes of which not even Aldous Huxley or George Orwell could have imagined,” he warned.

Predicting governments would start to more heavily regulate the sector he said: “Davos is a good place to announce that their days are numbered.”

Known for his legendarily successful currency trading, Soros dismissed bitcoin as a “typical bubble”.

But he said the cryptocurrency would likely avoid a full crash because authoritarians would still use it to make secret investments abroad.

He described Russia’s Vladimir Putin as presiding over a “mafia state” and called Trump a “danger to the world”.

But he predicted that the US president’s appeal would not last.

“I regard it as a purely temporary phenomenon that will disappear in 2020 or even sooner.”

But the investor’s traditional Davos predictions do not always pan out. Last year in Switzerland he warned that the stock market rally would end after Trump’s election and that China’s growth rate was unsustainable.

China’s growth has continued while US stocks are regularly hitting record highs.