An annual summer delight is set to peak in just over a week. With the possibility of observing more than 60 streaking meteors in just the course of an hour, the Perseid meteor shower will take center stage in the nighttime skies from August 11th to the 13th. As the Earth’s orbit passes through the bits and pieces left behind from Comet Swift-Tuttle, Earth’s gravity will attract the comet shards and they will slam into the Earth’s upper atmosphere at 130,000 miles per hour producing spectacular “shooting stars”.

Despite the potential for one of the best meteor showers of the year there are some rivals for our attention. First, of course is cloud cover. Clouds over the northeast obscured the Blood Moon Eclipse in April of this year and in 2012 clouds foiled most observers’ chance to view the rare transit of Venus. Luckily it’s unlikely that clouds will persist long enough to prevent a determined observer from viewing the Perseids owing to their long duration. The showers persist from from July 17th to August 24th. A prudent observer will start watching now, especially because of a second attention-grabbing phenomenon called the “Supermoon”. This full moon is both the largest and closest full moon of 2014. Not until September of 2015 will the moon be closer.  Notwithstanding, a savvy viewer can set an alarm for the wee morning hours and elude the moonbeams for a clearer look at the Perseids.

The greatest menace to our enjoyment of this astronomical summer tradition is more serious. With ever-increasing fervor Americans and Europeans have been steadily eating away at the night. Author Paul Bogard and his book, The End of Night has been shortlisted for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science writing award. Bogard describes a slice of the populace that, unlike their ancestors for hundreds of thousands of years, has never experienced a starry night composed of the Milky Way and thousands of shining stars. Cities and their lighted parking lots, buildings and roadways are contributing to light pollution that, over time, has obscured our perception of the nighttime sky and is having deleterious effects on wildlife. The International Dark Sky Foundation is dedicated to solving this environmental issue and even provides lesson plans and solutions for homeowners, schools and companies. 

For the best chance at enjoying the Perseids this summer, venture to a rural hilltop or calm lake nearby in the next few days just a few hours before the crack of dawn, settle in with a blanket or beach chair and enjoy a natural phenomenon that increasingly fewer Earthly citizens seem to be enjoying.

An annual summer delight is set to peak in just over a week. With the possibility of observing more than 60 streaking meteors in just the course of an hour, the Perseid meteor shower will take center stage in the nighttime skies from August 11th to the 13th. As the Earth’s orbit passes through the bits and pieces left behind from Comet Swift-Tuttle, Earth’s gravity will attract the comet shards and they will slam into the Earth’s upper atmosphere at 130,000 miles per hour producing spectacular “shooting stars”.



Despite the potential for one of the best meteor showers of the year there are some rivals for our attention. First, of course is cloud cover. Clouds over the northeast obscured the Blood Moon Eclipse in April of this year and in 2012 clouds foiled most observers’ chance to view the rare transit of Venus. Luckily it’s unlikely that clouds will persist long enough to prevent a determined observer from viewing the Perseids owing to their long duration. The showers persist from from July 17th to August 24th. A prudent observer will start watching now, especially because of a second attention-grabbing phenomenon called the “Supermoon”. This full moon is both the largest and closest full moon of 2014. Not until September of 2015 will the moon be closer.  Notwithstanding, a savvy viewer can set an alarm for the wee morning hours and elude the moonbeams for a clearer look at the Perseids.



The greatest menace to our enjoyment of this astronomical summer tradition is more serious. With ever-increasing fervor Americans and Europeans have been steadily eating away at the night. Author Paul Bogard and his book, The End of Night has been shortlisted for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science writing award. Bogard describes a slice of the populace that, unlike their ancestors for hundreds of thousands of years, has never experienced a starry night composed of the Milky Way and thousands of shining stars. Cities and their lighted parking lots, buildings and roadways are contributing to light pollution that, over time, has obscured our perception of the nighttime sky and is having deleterious effects on wildlife. The International Dark Sky Foundation is dedicated to solving this environmental issue and even provides lesson plans and solutions for homeowners, schools and companies. 



For the best chance at enjoying the Perseids this summer, venture to a rural hilltop or calm lake nearby in the next few days just a few hours before the crack of dawn, settle in with a blanket or beach chair and enjoy a natural phenomenon that increasingly fewer Earthly citizens seem to be enjoying.

Possible new technology could enable environmentally friendly coal

In today’s world full of concern over climate change, air quality and energy crises, the possibility that coal could become more environmentally friendly would change the entire game, and researchers at the University of Alberta are attempting to do just that. Sushanta Mitra and his research team have found a way to turn coal into methane through microbial activity. Methane, which is the main constituent of natural gas, releases significantly less carbon dioxide than coal does when burned. In the early stages of coal formation, microbial activity creates the biological generation of methane from coal seam. Eventually this transformation minimizes and disappears, leaving just regular coal, but Mitra has found a way to mimic these conditions to keep the coal as a methane. The system built allows fluid to go through a controlled pressure and temperature column which is filled with crushed coal and methanogenic, microbial structures as well as mineral salt to encourage microbial growth. The research showed impressive results, meaning that soon coal could be converted into methane and burned, offering the benefits of methane natural gas and its minimal environmental impacts without any of the dangerous, harmful fracking and with the ease and abundance of coal.

http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2014/05/bioconversion-coal-methane-microbe-carbon-footprint

Credit of RSC Chemistry World

Antioch Educator’s Summit Reflection

This past Wednesday the Young Women in Climate and Sam Koufman traveled to Manchester, New Hampshire for the Educator’s Summit ran by Antioch University. The day was filled with workshops and plenaries related to local climate issues, solutions and success stories. Sam Koufman and Eric Magers presented in the first plenary, discussing how the Green Scholars program developed so successfully and giving advice on how to do a similar program in other schools. Young Women in Climate helped community partner Robin Organ run a workshop on successful community partnerships. The team debuted the video they’ve been working on that documents their project and growth as a team. Near the end of the day, Statz-Geary led a student-based discussion with Lachlan Francis on climate preparedness actions and how to solve issues in implementing climate projects. All MERHS scholars who attended are beyond grateful for the experience and look forward to attending similar events in the future.

- Climate Team

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Climate Change Report

Over the past few decades, global greenhouse gases have risen tremendously. The world’s leading body on the assessment of climate change concluded that these emissions are among the highest in recorded history. The consequences of these statistics include a global temperature rise of 4-5 degrees celsius in the near future, which will cause devastation for the planet.

Such a temperature change will create fundamental changes in the land, weather, and energy systems throughout the planet. At this level, the earth is at risk of losing 20 to 30 percent of wildlife and facing extreme weather. Mike Childs, of Friends of the Earth, emphasized that there could be a devastating impact on agriculture and food supplies.

To prevent such disastrous effects, follow the green tips posted on the blog in the past!