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Beautiful Slow-Motion Footage from Apollo 13 Launch

If you enjoyed yesterday's video of the Earth taken from the ISS, you might enjoy this slow-motion video of a Saturn V rocket blasting off to take Apollo 13 to the moon in 1970 (spoiler alert: they didn't quite make it).

What makes this video special is that it's extremely colorful -- starting with deep blues, the roil of orange-and-black fire from the rocket leads to a symphony of saturated colors, culminating in some of the richest purple-and-salmon you're likely to see all day (unless you're Prince). The best part? No annoying music. At one two and a half minutes, this is worth a watch. Keep an eye out for the wayward bird at the beginning.

You can also watch it in HD at Vimeo.

See also: Apollo 11 Launch in Slow Motion (500fps), with commentary by Mark Gray (the same guy who uploaded this video).

(Via Blake Helms.)

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Fox Photos/Getty Images
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Space
How to Make Sure Your Eclipse Glasses Are Safe
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Fox Photos/Getty Images

You’re probably already preparing for the August 21 solar eclipse, right? It’s going to be spectacular, especially for those in the path of totality, which stretches across the U.S. from South Carolina to Oregon. No matter where you live, though, if you want to watch the eclipse, you should get ahold of some eclipse glasses. To make sure your glasses are up to safety standards, your specs need to follow a few guidelines from NASA before you look up.

First, you should be able to see the manufacturer’s name and address somewhere on the glasses. There are five brands of eclipse glasses that the American Astronomical Society has verified as meeting eclipse safety standards:

  • American Paper Optics
  • Baader Planetarium (only the AstroSolar Silver/Gold film)
  • Rainbow Symphony
  • Thousand Oaks Optical
  • TSE 17

You should also verify that the glasses list the correct certification information, confirming that they’re safe to use when looking directly at the sun. Somewhere on the glasses it should say that the glasses meet the ISO 12312-2 transmission requirements, and you’ll see an ISO logo from the International Organization for Standardization.

This is what your glasses should look like, according to NASA’s guidelines [PDF]:

An illustration of paper eclipse glasses with the necessary safety standards information circled in red
NASA [PDF]

Even if your glasses have all the right information written on them, make sure to take a second look. Be careful not to use lenses that are wrinkled or those that have scratches on them. They should also be relatively new—don’t use any that are more than three years old.

We previously wrote about Warby Parker's free eclipse glasses, which you can pick up in the company's stores in August. We've reached out to the company about whether their glasses meet these guidelines and will update the story when we hear back.

Read the rest of NASA's eclipse safety recommendations here.

Update: Warby Parker has confirmed that their free eclipse glasses are made by American Paper Optics, a certified brand. View away!

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NASA/Bill Dunford
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Space
Look Up! The Southern Delta Aquariids Meteor Shower Is Here
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NASA/Bill Dunford

Wake a few hours before sunrise tomorrow and you can start your day with some shooting stars. The Southern Delta Aquariid meteor shower is peaking this week, and while it's not the brightest show of the year, conditions are good and the moonlight is minimal. Provided you live in an area lacking light pollution, you might be in for quite a treat.

Consider this shower to be the big warmup for the Perseids next month. You might even see a Perseid or two tonight (though it's not like they're labeled; just stick with probability when you tell everyone what you saw). So where did these meteors come from, and what's going on up there?

BUZZING THE SUN

Comet Machholz recorded on March 1, 2005
Comet Machholz as recorded on March 1, 2005
NASA/JPL-Caltech/U. Washington/J. Morgenthaler

The Delta Aquariids are suspected to be the debris of 96P/Machholz, a sungrazing comet that orbits the Sun every 5.3 years. Sungrazers are the fighter pilots of the comet world, buzzing perilously close to the face of the Sun as they go about an orbit. Machholz is their Chuck Yeager. The comet's perihelion—that is, its point closest to the Sun in its orbit—is 0.1 astronomical unit. This puts it far closer to the Sun than Mercury, whose perihelion is 0.3 AU. (Earth is 1 AU.) When Machholz is at aphelion—its maximum distance away from the Sun—it reaches 5.9 AU, which is beyond even Jupiter's orbit.

It gets weirder yet. The comet's orbital inclination is 58 degrees. Rather than circle the Sun along the orbital plane of most planets (think of the light bulb and marble-on-wires model of the solar system from grade school), it is swooping up and away pretty dramatically. This adds up to a comet without fear, and as it goes about its orbit, it leaves behind a debris field of dust and sand-sized particles. That's where the Earth comes in. Every year as we travel our orbit, we cross through Machholz's trail, slamming into those particles at tens of thousands of miles per hour. When they burn up in our atmosphere, we get the stunning light show we call a meteor shower.

SEEING IT

As the shower's name implies, its radius—the seeming point of origin in our night sky—is the constellation Aquarius. Don't limit yourself to looking specifically in that area, though; all the sky is a meteor's canvas. You should give your eyes 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness. Bring a blanket and scan about 45 degrees up from the horizon. That's where the most action will begin to be apparent. Good news if you live in the southern hemisphere (or if you live near the equator in the northern hemisphere): You will get the best viewing of anyone on Earth.

The meteors should be visible until sunrise. If you oversleep or the weather is bad, try again tomorrow night. This shower doesn't have a pronounced peak like others, and you have a fair chance of catching something if you stick with it in the days ahead. The next big meteor shower will be the Perseids, which will peak on the night of August 12.

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