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Is Your Town in the Path of the Next Total Solar Eclipse?

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On August 21, people across the continental U.S. got to witness a spectacular total solar eclipse. From Oregon to South Carolina, those in the path of totality saw the world go dark as the Moon completely covered the Sun. Even people hundreds of miles away from the path were able to see a partial eclipse.

The highly anticipated event was rare because of the path it carved across the U.S. Total solar eclipses happen often enough, but 2017 was the first year one has been visible from the contiguous U.S. since 1979.

If you didn’t get to see the full eclipse this year, you’ll get a second chance—as long as you’re willing to wait a few years. The next total eclipse to cross the continental U.S. will occur in 2024, traversing parts of Mexico before heading up through Texas, across the Midwest, and past Buffalo and northwestern New England before crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

Future eclipses
Lucy Quintanilla

On April 8, 2024, cities like Dallas and Killeen, Texas; Hot Springs, Arkansas; Poplar Bluff, Missouri; Bloomington, Indiana; Cleveland, and Buffalo will get to witness the beauty of the solar corona, an event that dedicated eclipse chasers—who travel the world in pursuit of eclipse experiences—alternately describe as terrifying, weird, thrilling, mind-blowing, life-changing, and not entirely different from taking psychedelics.

See if you'll be in the path of totality come 2024 here. If you're going to travel to see it, you’d be smart to book your accommodations well in advance, since lodging in cities in the path of totality can book up years before the event. And this time, don't forget the eclipse glasses.

If you won’t be in the Midwest or New England in 2024, you’ll have another chance at an American eclipse viewing eventually. In August 2045, a total solar eclipse will journey across northern California through the continental U.S. and down to Florida and the Caribbean, passing over major cities from Reno to Miami along the way.

If you don’t want to wait until then, take a look at this infographic to see where across the world you can find an eclipse sooner. But our recommendation? Book yourself a room in Hot Springs for six years from now and prepare to take a rejuvenating soak while you watch.

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Space
Mysterious 'Hypatia Stone' Is Like Nothing Else in Our Solar System
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In 1996, Egyptian geologist Aly Barakat discovered a tiny, one-ounce stone in the eastern Sahara. Ever since, scientists have been trying to figure out where exactly the mysterious pebble originated. As Popular Mechanics reports, it probably wasn't anywhere near Earth. A new study in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta finds that the micro-compounds in the rock don't match anything we've ever found in our solar system.

Scientists have known for several years that the fragment, known as the Hypatia stone, was extraterrestrial in origin. But this new study finds that it's even weirder than we thought. Led by University of Johannesburg geologists, the research team performed mineral analyses on the microdiamond-studded rock that showed that it is made of matter that predates the existence of our Sun or any of the planets in the solar system. And, its chemical composition doesn't resemble anything we've found on Earth or in comets or meteorites we have studied.

Lead researcher Jan Kramers told Popular Mechanics that the rock was likely created in the early solar nebula, a giant cloud of homogenous interstellar dust from which the Sun and its planets formed. While some of the basic materials in the pebble are found on Earth—carbon, aluminum, iron, silicon—they exist in wildly different ratios than materials we've seen before. Researchers believe the rock's microscopic diamonds were created by the shock of the impact with Earth's atmosphere or crust.

"When Hypatia was first found to be extraterrestrial, it was a sensation, but these latest results are opening up even bigger questions about its origins," as study co-author Marco Andreoli said in a press release.

The study suggests the early solar nebula may not have been as homogenous as we thought. "If Hypatia itself is not presolar, [some of its chemical] features indicate that the solar nebula wasn't the same kind of dust everywhere—which starts tugging at the generally accepted view of the formation of our solar system," Kramer said.

The researchers plan to further probe the rock's origins, hopefully solving some of the puzzles this study has presented.

[h/t Popular Mechanics]

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science
The Ozone Layer Is Healing, Thanks to an International Ban on Harmful Man-Made Chemicals
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NASA

The ozone layer is on the mend, thanks to a decrease in human-produced chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, in the atmosphere. Using data from NASA's Aura satellite, scientists were able to measure the chemical composition of the thinned gas layer above the Antarctic and found about 20 percent less ozone depletion than there was in 2005. They published their findings on January 4 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

In 1985, UK scientists published a landmark study in the journal Nature announcing their discovery of an annually recurring hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica. (Each September, as the Southern Hemisphere's winter arrives, the Sun's UV rays trigger a reaction between the ozone and chemical elements from CFCs, chlorine and bromine, which destroys the ozone molecules.) The finding led to the Montreal Protocol in 1987, an international treaty that gradually banned the production and use of CFCs in refrigerants, aerosol sprays, solvents, and air conditioners.

In July 2016, Antarctic researchers published a study in the journal Science reporting that the ozone layer appeared to be healing (although it wasn't projected to completely patch up for decades). They tracked this progress by monitoring the Antarctic ozone hole's area, height, and chemical profile. Still, they didn't know whether this progress could be attributed to the Montreal Protocol's mandate.

NASA itself has used Aura to monitor the hole since the mid-2000s. After analyzing data produced by the Microwave Limb Sounder, a satellite instrument aboard Aura that measures trace gases, the space agency has confirmed that the CFC ban has led to the big decrease in ozone depletion during the Antarctic winter.

By winter, ozone-busting chlorine compounds have converted into hydrochloric acid, a process that occurs after it's destroyed ozone particles and reacts with methane. "By around mid-October, all the chlorine compounds are conveniently converted into one gas, so by measuring hydrochloric acid, we have a good measurement of the total chlorine," researcher Susan Strahan said in a NASA statement. Scientists compared these hydrochloric acid levels with nitrous oxide, which is similar in nature to CFCs but isn't diminishing in the atmosphere.

Their study is billed as "the first to use measurements of the chemical composition inside the ozone hole to confirm that not only is ozone depletion decreasing, but that the decrease is caused by the decline in CFCs," according to NASA. But while these initial results are promising, scientists say that the ozone layer's full recovery is still a long way off.

"As far as the ozone hole being gone, we're looking at 2060 or 2080,” study co-author Anne Douglass said. “And even then there might still be a small hole."

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