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Help Map the World’s Auroras With the Aurorasaurus

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The spectacular visual phenomenon that is an aurora is hard to predict. Known as aurora borealis in the northern latitudes and aurora australis in the southern, auroras are the light-filled result of an interaction between charged particles from the Sun and the Earth’s magnetic field. But finding them takes some luck. 

Now, scientists are trying to create a real-time map of all the aurora sightings in the world to help track them across the globe. Researchers associated with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Institute set up the Aurorasaurus, a website and app that maps where auroras have been sighted across the world using geotagged tweets. The solar storms that cause auroras can interfere with communication networks and power grids, so scientists have good reason to track and study where they’re happening. (It doesn't hurt that they're awe-inspiringly beautiful, either.)

Here's how they tracked a major geomagnetic storm in March. A lot of the tweets culled by Aurorasaurus mentioned an aurora but weren't referring to the night sky. Instead they referenced Seattle’s Aurora Bridge, the town in Colorado, or a person named Aurora. So the project used crowdsourcing to separate legitimate recent sightings from random references. Users can approve tweets or mark them as unrelated. See the video below.

Aurorasaurus participants catalogued more than 160 aurora sightings during that storm. The data will be used to improve scientific modeling and prediction of the lights. That means you'll have a better chance of catching the amazing sight yourself. 

[h/t: Wired]

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euphro, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
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Mount Jackson Loses Spot as UK's Tallest Mountain After Satellite Reveals Measurement Error
euphro, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
euphro, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Geography textbook writers, take note: The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has just made a major correction to its old data. As Independent reports, satellite imagery reveals that Mount Hope in the British Atlantic Territory is 1236 feet taller than previously believed, unseating Mount Jackson as the UK’s tallest peak.

BAS realized the old height was incorrect after surveying mountains in Britain’s Antarctic territory using satellite technology. Inaccurate measurements pose a threat to planes flying over the mountains, and with the mapping project BAS intended to make the route safer for aircraft.

Prior to the survey, Mount Jackson was thought to be the tallest mountain in the British Atlantic Territory and the greater UK at 10,446 feet, the BBC reports. But after reviewing the new elevation data, BAS found that Mount Hope bests it by just 180 feet. Reaching 10,627 feet at its summit, Mount Hope is officially Britain’s tallest mountain.

Historically, mountains were measured on the ground using basic math equations. By measuring the distance between two points at the base of a mountain and calculating the angle between the top of the mountain and each point, researchers could estimate its height. But this method leaves a lot of room for error, and today surveyors use satellites circling the globe to come up with more precise numbers.

Because they’re both located in Antarctica, neither of the two tallest mountains in the UK is a popular climbing destination. British thrill-seekers usually choose Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, as their bucket-list mountain of choice—but at just 4413 at its highest point, climbing it would be a breeze compared to conquering Mount Hope.

[h/t Independent]

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CandyStore.com
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Afternoon Map
The Most Popular Christmas Candy in Each State, Mapped
CandyStore.com
CandyStore.com

For those who didn’t get their full candy fix last Halloween, the holiday season provides plenty of opportunities to indulge. From candy canes to chocolate Santas, there’s something for everyone—but before splurging on sweet stocking stuffers, check out the interactive map below. Created by bulk candy retailer CandyStore.com, it breaks down the top three favorite candies in each state.

To determine which Christmas treats were the most popular, the team at CandyStore.com surveyed over 50,000 customers and spoke with major candy manufacturers and distributors. Not surprisingly, candy canes were a hit in numerous states, including Washington, Delaware, Vermont, Georgia, Maine, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. California, Nevada, West Virginia, and Kansas residents, however, got into the seasonal spirit with peppermint bark. North Dakota residents preferred chocolate Santas. And Alabama, Michigan, and Utah liked Jelly Belly’s Reindeer Corn.

Christmas candy sales in America are projected to rake in nearly $2 billion for confectioners, according to an estimate provided by the National Confectionary Association. Spend your holiday bonus wisely on treats everyone will appreciate by checking out CandyStore.com’s full results below.

Source: CandyStore.com

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