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Spring Equinox

Spring Equinox

The equinox will also happen on March 20. While it won’t have any discernable, direct impact on how the solar eclipse looks, it will contribute to a rare collision of three unusual celestial events.

On March 20, the Earth’s axis will be perpindecular to the sun’s rays — which only happens twice a year, at the two equinoxes. After that, it will start tipping over, making the days longer in the northern hemisphere.

As such, the equinox has long been celebrated as a time of beginning and renewal, by a number of historic cultures, and is linked to Easter and Passover.

The equinox will happen at the same time as a solar eclipse in 2053 and 2072, though it doesn’t always appear as close together as that. read more

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New Planet Is Earth’s Twin 200 Light Years Away

New Planet Is Earth’s Twin 200 Light Years Away

The planet, known as KOI-314c, is the same weight as Earth but much larger and has a surface temperature of 104C.

Scientists have stumbled upon a planet considered Earth’s ‘twin’ in another solar system 200 light years away.

Known as KOI-314c, the planet is the same weight as Earth but 60% larger.

The planet is also much hotter than Earth, with scientists estimating its surface temperatures to be around 104 degC – unsupportive of most life forms on Earth. read more

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Met Office To Launch Round The Clock Space Weather Forecasting Service

Met Office To Launch Round The Clock Space Weather Forecasting Service

The UK government is launching a round-the-clock space weather forecasting system in partnership with the Met Office, which will make the country one of a just a handful monitoring the weather between Earth’s atmosphere and the Sun.

The service will be run by the Met Office thanks to a £4.6 million investment by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, and will aim to protect national infrastructure. It equals to approximately one thousandth of the science budget, although it is being drawn from a separate pool of money, said Science Minister David Willetts, speaking at a press conference.

Space forecasts will start in spring 2014, but it will be autumn before the service is operating fully. The money will primarily be spent on the forecast bench, as well as a team of people that will collaborate with academia to make sure the latest research and knowledge is being properly relayed to the forecasters. Phil Evans from the Met Office claims the system will be cost effective as it will rely on pre-existing infrastructure, including the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter, which will take us closer to the sun than we’ve ever been before.

The main aim of the service is to offer UK-centric advice, but it will also be part of a larger international effort. The US already has its own space weather monitoring service, but has approached the UK to try and combine efforts. The Met Office will be working with external partners including the British Antarctic Survey and NoAA Space Weather Prediction Centre, in the hope that the forecasting service will be able to benefit a wide range of sectors, as well as potentially be commercialised. read more

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