The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
NASA: 'If You See One Meteor Shower This Year, Make It the Perseids'
One of the best meteor showers of the year—the Perseids—will delight stargazers this week. "If you see one meteor shower this year, make it August's Perseids or December's Geminids," NASA says. "The Perseids feature fast and bright meteors that frequently leave trains, and in 2015 there will be no moonlight to upstage the shower." Plus, August is a lot warmer than December for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) August 5, 2015
The Perseids can be best seen during the pre-dawn hours from Aug. 11 through Aug. 14, according to Earth Sky, with the best show on the 13th. The slender waning crescent moon won't obstruct the views for those hoping to catch a glimpse of the show. The moon "is not the meteor watcher's friend," says NASA. "Light reflecting off a bright moon can be just as detrimental to good meteor viewing as those bright lights of the big city."
During peak meteor activity, there could be up to 100 meteors an hour, says NASA. But be sure to keep your eyes peeled because they will be traveling at 37 miles per second. The Perseids, like all meteor showers, derives its name from the constellation that it radiates out of. The Perseids gets its name from the constellation Perseus, just to the left of the Pleiades, the Seven Sisters constellation. But fret not, newbie stargazers. "You don’t need to know Perseus to watch the shower; instead, the meteors appear in all parts of the sky," says Earth Sky.
So just what is the shower anyway? "Every year, the dust particles from the tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet pass the Earth orbit and burn in our atmosphere (about 70 miles above us) from mid-July to the end of August," explains Vincent Perlerin at the American Meteor Society.
"The meteors are in fact glowing columns of air resulting from the burn of these particles," he says. "When the dust and ice hits our atmosphere at around 37 miles per second, they disintegrate high up in the atmosphere after making a brilliant flash of light. Most of these particles are the size of sand grains, while a few are as big as peas. They can streak across the sky in a flash, or persist for several seconds before vanishing."
Watch this awesome footage of the Perseids meteor shower in 2013:
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A new multiyear study found that people living or working within 2,000 feet, or nearly half a mile, of a hydraulic fracturing (fracking) drill site may be at a heightened risk of exposure to benzene and other toxic chemicals, according to research released Thursday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)
The crowd appears to attack a protestor in a video shared on Twitter by ITV journalist Mahatir Pasha. VOA News / Youtube screenshot
Some London commuters had a violent reaction Thursday morning when Extinction Rebellion protestors attempted to disrupt train service during rush hour.
By Kristen Fischer
Though the science has shown sugary drinks are not healthy for children, fruit drinks and similar beverages accounted for more than half of all children's drink sales in 2018, according to a new report.
Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.
Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.
Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.
SHARE Foundation / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0
"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.
It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.
Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.
In almost all of the studies they looked at, the team found that a more diverse pool of these species translated into more pollination and greater pest control. They also showed that simplified landscapes supported fewer species of service-providing insects, which ultimately led to lower crop yields.
The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).
"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.
The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.
"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.
Ivory Coast's rainforests have been decimated by cocoa production and what is left is put in peril by a new law that will remove legal protections for thousands of square miles of forests, according to The Guardian.
By Karin Kirk
Greenland had quite the summer. It rose from peaceful obscurity to global headliner as ice melted so swiftly and massively that many were left grasping for adjectives. Then, Greenland's profile was further boosted, albeit not to its delight, when President Trump expressed interest in buying it, only to be summarily dismissed by the Danish prime minister.
During that time I happened to be in East Greenland, both as an observer of the stark effects of climate change and as a witness to local dialogue about presidential real estate aspirations, polar bear migrations and Greenland's sudden emergence as a trending topic.