24 julho 2017

Several popes and bishops were buried in the Catacombs of St....



Several popes and bishops were buried in the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, one of the first communal cemeteries in Rome which developed into the largest and most richly decorated. The area where nine popes were laid to rest is popularly nicknamed “the little Vatican.”

It was rediscovered in 1849 by an archaeologist. The sensational find prompted Pope Pius IX to visit in 1854. He is believed to be the first pontiff to enter the catacombs’ galleries in over one thousand years. Pius IX was deeply moved, and was heard to murmur in awe: “Are these the tombstones of my predecessors?”

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Hubble’s Hunting Dog Galaxy


Tucked away in the small northern constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs) is the galaxy NGC 4242.

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23 julho 2017

A Hybrid Solar Eclipse over Kenya


Chasing solar eclipses can cause you to go to the most interesting places and meet the most interesting people. Almost. For example, chasing this eclipse brought this astrophotographer to Kenya in 2013. His contact, a member of the Maasai people, was to pick him up at the airport, show him part of southern Kenya, and even agreed to pose in traditional warrior garb on a hill as the hopefully spectacular eclipse set far in background. Unfortunately, this contact person died unexpectedly a week before the astrophotographer's arrival, and so he never got to participate in the shoot, nor know that the resulting image went on to win an international award for astrophotography. Pictured in 2013 from Kenya, the Moon covers much of the Sun during a hybrid eclipse, a rare type of solar eclipse that appears as total from some Earth locations, but annular in others. During the annular part of the eclipse, the Moon was too far from the Earth to block the entire Sun. Next month a total solar eclipse will cross the USA.

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Pele is the Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes. She was...



Pele is the Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes. She was thought to live in the crater of the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii. She is said to have a terrible temper and will throw lava at anyone who angers her.

Some people have been known to send back lava samples they have taken from the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park, because of the bad luck they associate with having angered Pele by stealing from her.

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Saladin, the famous general, conqueror of Jerusalem, and...



Saladin, the famous general, conqueror of Jerusalem, and sultan of Egypt and Syria, was an ethnic Kurd.

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22 julho 2017

Mercury as Revealed by MESSENGER


Mercury had never been seen like this before. In 2008, the robotic MESSENGER spacecraft buzzed past Mercury for the second time and imaged terrain mapped previously only by comparatively crude radar. The featured image was recorded as MESSENGER looked back 90 minutes after passing, from an altitude of about 27,000 kilometers. Visible in the image, among many other newly imaged features, are unusually long rays that appear to run like meridians of longitude out from a young crater near the northern limb. MESSENGER entered orbit around Mercury in 2011 and finished its primary mission in 2012, but took detailed measurements until 2015, at which time it ran out of fuel and so was instructed to impact Mercury's surface.

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How World War 1 Helped Serbia Get Named

In English, anyways. At the time Serbia was so new that English media hadn’t even settled on how to spell its name, with most calling it “Servia.” This annoyed the tiny nation to no end, causing the Serbian Legation in London to file an official protest and plea to change the standard spelling of Servia to Serbia. The Serbs found Servia “highly offensive to our people mainly because it suggests a false derivation … meaning ‘to serve’. It is a source of hidden pain to Serbians to see [media] persist in using the corrupt forms.”

Thanks to all the news coverage about the assassination and the start of the war, everyone knew the proper name and Serbians got what they wanted. Sure, they were part of Yugoslavia now. But no one spelled their name wrong! 

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