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SpaceX’s attempts to make its satellites less bright don’t work



Shooting stars and Starlink stellites leave streaks in night sky photos

Shutterstock/Vytautas Kielaitis

SpaceX has been hard at work dimming its Starlink satellites to minimize their impact on astronomy, but so far the company’s efforts haven’t worked out as astronomers had hoped. This could mean a tough choice lies ahead: high-speed internet via satellite mega-constellations, or ground-based astronomy not marred by bright streaks.

So far, SpaceX has launched more than 4,200 Starlink telecommunications satellites, most of which are still in orbit – they make up more than half of…

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Solar eclipse stuns viewers in Australia and Indonesia



JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Under clear skies, 20,000 eclipse hunters gathered at a tiny outpost to watch a rare solar eclipse plunge part of Australia’s northwest coast into brief midday darkness on Thursday, temporarily cooling the tropical heat.

The remote tourist town of Exmouth, with a population of less than 3,000, has been touted as one of the best vantage points in Australia to see the eclipse, which has also crossed remote areas of Indonesia and East Timor.

The international crowd has been gathering for days, pitching tents and trailers on a red dusty plain on the outskirts of the city with cameras and other viewing equipment pointed skyward.

NASA astronomer Henry Throop was among those in Exmouth who cheered loudly in the dark. “Isn’t it incredible? It is fantastic. It was stunning. It was so sharp and so bright. You could see the corona around the sun there,” said the visibly agitated Washington resident.

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“It’s only a minute, but it really felt like a long time. You can’t see anything like it. It was amazing. Entertaining. And then you could see Jupiter and Mercury and be able to see them at the same time during the day – even seeing Mercury is quite rare at all. So it was just amazing,” Troup added.

Julie Copson, a first-time eclipse observer who traveled more than 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) north of the Australian west coast port city of Fremantle to Exmouth, said the phenomenon made her skin tingle.

“I feel so emotional, like I could cry. The color changed, and we saw the crown and sun glare…”, said Kopson.

“It was very strong and the temperature dropped so much,” she added, referring to the sudden drop in temperature of 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) from 29 degrees Celsius (84 Fahrenheit) as the moon shadow shrouded the region . .

A woman wearing solar eclipse glasses watches a hybrid solar eclipse at the Jakarta Planetarium.

NurPhoto via Getty Images

It was the fifth eclipse for Detroit resident Shane Varrty, who began planning a trip to Exmouth a year ago.

“It’s very exciting. All these efforts have paid off,” Varrty said.

In the Indonesian capital, hundreds of people came to the Jakarta Planetarium to see a partial eclipse hidden by clouds.

Azka Azzara, 21, came with her sister and friends to get up close and personal with the telescopes along with hundreds of other visitors.

“I’m still happy to come even though it’s cloudy. It’s nice to see how enthusiastic people come here to see the eclipse because it’s rare,” Azzara said.

The call to prayer came from the city’s mosques as the eclipse phase began, with Muslims in the country with the world’s largest Muslim population saying eclipse prayers as a reminder of the greatness of God.

In East Timor, people gathered around a beach in the municipality of Lautem, waiting to see a rare solar eclipse through their eclipse glasses. Some of them came from other countries and gathered together with the locals to see the eclipse.

“East Timor is one of the unique countries where it is less humid and less cloudy, so we expect clear skies, which is why many international astronomers want to gather here. We hope the skies are clear,” said Zahri bin Ahmad, an astrophilist with the Southeast Asia Astronomy Network in Brunei, as they waited for Thursday.

People rejoiced when the sun and moon reached their maximum eclipse.

“This is a very new natural phenomenon for Timor-Leste. It is very important for us to be able to see and experience it with our own eyes,” said Martino Fatima, civil protection officer.

V hybrid solar eclipse traced from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and mostly passed over water. A few lucky ones along the way saw either the darkness of a total eclipse or a “ring of fire” as the sun peeked out from behind the young moon.

Such celestial events occur about once a decade: the last was in 2013, and the next not until 2031. They happen when the Earth is in the “golden zone,” so the Moon and Sun are nearly the same size in the sky, said NASA solar energy expert Michael Kirk.

At some points, the Moon is a little closer and covers the sun during a total eclipse. But when the Moon is a little further away, some of the sunlight peeks out during an annular eclipse.

“It’s a crazy thing,” Kirk said. “You actually watch the moon get bigger in the sky.”

Several other upcoming solar eclipses will be easier to catch. IN annular eclipse in mid-October and a total eclipse in April 2024 both will be crossed by millions of people in America.

Burakov reports from New York. Associated Press journalist Rod McGuirk of Canberra, Australia contributed to this report.

The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science and Education Media Group. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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New sub-variant of COVID Arcturus coronavirus now in Los Angeles



Los Angeles County has identified its first cases of a new sub-variant of the Omicron coronavirus dubbed Arcturus, a strain closely monitored by global health authorities, as it has been linked to rising cases in India.

The sub-variant, officially designated XBB.1.16, has also gained attention following anecdotal reports linking it to what was a rare symptom of COVID-19: pink eye.

However, it remains unclear whether this symptom is more pronounced in Arcturus than in earlier strains of Omicron. The latter subvariant has not been shown to cause more severe disease.

However, it is possible that Arcturus is even more contagious than dominant strain of coronavirus in the US XBB.1.5. While this is likely not enough to cause a new spike in cases, any spike in transmission increases the risk to vulnerable individuals – and raises the value of protective measures, health officials say.

“When we hear reports that ‘the pandemic is over’ or that ‘COVID-19 has become endemic’, it seems that people no longer need to be aware of its impact or take any steps to protect themselves and others,” Los -Angeles. Barbara Ferrer, director of public health for the county, said at a briefing on Thursday. “The very fact that we are seeing new strains with possible other symptoms should remind us that COVID continues to evolve.”

It is unclear how many cases of Arcturus have appeared in California. At least three have been identified in Los Angeles County, Ferrer said.

Since Arcturus is a sub-variant of Omicron, Ferrer said it is likely that current vaccines and therapeutics will be effective against this strain.

However, she said in an interview: “With any new mutation that crowds out what is already there…they will probably be able to transmit the infection more easily. So you could see the bump.”

Unofficial nickname Arcturus is Latin and comes from the Greek word arcturos, what does a bear watcher or watcher mean. This is also the name fourth brightest star in the night sky.

It is now believed to be the second most common strain of coronavirus circulating in the country, accounting for approximately 7.2% of cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is well above its estimated share of 2.1% for the week ended April 1.

Meanwhile, XBB.1.5 accounted for roughly 78% of new cases nationwide in the week ending Saturday.

In the US Southwest, including California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, and the Pacific Territories, Arcturus accounted for approximately 9.8% of cases, up from approximately 2.6% in the week ended April 1.

“This is worth looking at. It has been in circulation for several months now.” Maria van Kerkhovethe World Health Organization’s technical lead on COVID-19 said recently.

Indian authorities say Arcturus has begun replacing older versions of the coronavirus.

“Based on early reports in India and over 20 countries, it doesn’t look like more people are being proportionally sent to the hospital. But it causes an increase in cases,” the doctor said. Peter Chin-Hong, infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco. Since US incidence rates are at a relatively low level, “if you give a little more benefit to a particular sub-option, it will increase the number of cases.”

There are also unconfirmed reports of pink eyeor conjunctivitis in people infected with coronavirus in India, especially children.

Prior to Arcturus, pink eye was a symptom of 1% to 3% of coronavirus cases, according to Chin-Hong and Ferrer.

If left untreated, conjunctivitis can go beyond just pain and itching and damage the cornea, Ferrer said.

“It’s always been a side effect [of COVID-19]albeit very rarely,” she said. “If left untreated, it can lead to even more damage to people’s eyes. If you have conjunctivitis – for whatever reason – it needs to be treated.”

Pink eye can be caused by other viruses and bacteria. According to the National Eye Institute, “this is one of most common eye problems for both children and adults.”

“Just because you have conjunctivitis doesn’t necessarily mean you have COVID. You should go and get tested, especially if you have any other symptoms,” Ferrer said.

According to National Eye Institutepeople who are around a person with conjunctivitis should wash their hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Always wash your hands before touching your eyes and after touching a person with conjunctivitis or anything they have used.

“Do not share personal items that have been used by a person with conjunctivitis, including pillows, towels, cosmetics or glasses,” the institute said in a statement.

People with conjunctivitis who wear contact lenses should check with their eye doctor about how to clean, store, and change lenses. They should also throw away any lenses, solutions, and cases they used when they had conjunctivitis. The same goes for face or eye makeup, as well as makeup brushes or sponges.

Coronavirus cases are relatively stable at lower levels in California. As of Thursday, there were no signs of rising levels of coronavirus in Los Angeles County sewage or officially reported cases of coronavirus.

“But it’s always possible: I expect that if we do see an increase, I hope it will be relatively small,” Ferrer said.

Over the past week, Los Angeles County has reported 44 deaths from COVID-19.

“Compared to other periods of the pandemic, we are seeing a much lower number of deaths,” Ferrer said on Thursday. “However, these deaths are not insignificant. And COVID continues to be one of the leading causes of death in Los Angeles County and across the country.”

In general, people at higher risk of dying are older and not up to date on their COVID-19 immunizations and revaccinations or have not been treated with COVID drugs, experts say.

Only 42% of Los Angeles County seniors have received the updated vaccine since it became available in September.

While many believe that the time when hospitals were overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients is over, any spike in cases could still lead to more hospitalizations, highlighting the importance of keeping vaccines up to date (especially for the elderly) and seeking therapeutic services. COVID medicines, such as paxlovid and molnupiravir, which are provided free of charge if you become infected.

Evidence that the updated COVID-19 vaccine saves lives and reduces the risk of hospitalization continues to accumulate. According to data for the 90-day period ending March 27, Los Angeles County residents who received a refresher booster were half as likely to die compared to people who were vaccinated but did not receive a refresher booster.

The chance of death in people who received updated boosters was about one-tenth less than that of unvaccinated residents of Los Angeles County. Immunity from a past infection does not, by itself, provide as much protection as vaccines.

“This data illustrates the very real protection offered by a bivalent amplifier, even against the newer options that are circulating now,” Ferrer said.

She also urged infected residents to take anti-COVID medications such as Paxlovid when prescribed, even if they do not feel seriously ill.

“Paxlovid has a really good track record in reducing severe disease. And the only thing you don’t want to do is wait until you develop a severe illness before taking it if you’re in the high-risk category,” Ferrer said.

Research shows that vaccination another Paxlovid also reduce the risk of prolonged COVID.

Chin-Hong said he suspects the rise in cases of the latter sub-option was a factor in prompting federal officials this week to give another booster dose for the elderly and immunocompromised.

“I don’t think we’ll ever see something like ‘regular spike’ in quotes again. But we will see these little bumps. And I feel that XBB.1.16 can cause a small jump in our cases, a small jump in hospitalizations, ”he said. “But right now we’re so low that when you’re this low, you can only go one way, up.”

Los Angeles County COVID-19 vaccination clinics began offering additional updated doses on Thursday.

Americans who need help accessing an updated vaccine, COVID therapeutics, or other COVID-19 related resources can call (833) 540-0473 seven days a week from 8:00 am to 8:30 pm.

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Tiny C. elegan worms feed on weed and cannabis, study finds



In 2016, Sean Lockery was finishing up a week of studying worm eating habits when he decided to do a fun experiment on a Friday afternoon.

Oregon legalized recreational marijuana last year, so Lockery and fellow researchers at the University of Oregon wanted to see how the drug worked on hookworms. They showered microscopic worms with a cannabinoid molecule and placed high-calorie and low-calorie foods next to them.

The worms swarmed toward the high-calorie, bacterial food—Lockery’s decision was tantamount to choosing pizza over oatmeal. V study published on Thursday — the unofficial marijuana holiday on April 20 — Oregon researchers have determined that worms, like humans, become hungry and begin to chew when exposed to cannabis.

“It helps us place ourselves in the animal universe in a new way, enhancing the commonality between humans, with their huge and wonderful brains, and the tiny microscopic worm,” Lockery, professor of biology and neuroscience, told The Washington Post.

Around 1990, Lockery began studying decision-making processes in Caenorhabditis eleganstranslucent nematodes with a simple brain and no circulatory or respiratory systems.

In June 2016, Lockery was researching how C. elegans decides which bacteria to eat when he and his team began planning their weekly fun experiment. When they thought about the possible impact marijuana, the researchers thought, “Well, let’s see what happens,” Lockery said.

“We try to keep a sense of humor about what we do and that keeps us light and creative,” Lockery said. “And this research came in part from that spirit.”

Marijuana, which contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has long been known to induce hunger in humans by raising hunger hormones, activating parts of the brain that control hunger, and raising dopamine levels. Research has also found that rodents crave high-calorie foods after consuming THC.

In their lab in Oregon, the researchers poured a cannabinoid called anandamide about 50 C. elegans. The scientists moved the worms into a T-maze and placed high-calorie food on one side and low-calorie food on the other.

Although C. elegans generally prefer high-calorie foods, they ate more of them after exposure to anandamide and avoided low-calorie foods more than usual. In subsequent experiments, the researchers found that anandamide made neurons more sensitive to odors of high-calorie foods.

“This is the first time chewing gum has been demonstrated in an invertebrate,” Lockery said. “So it’s a big step up from what we currently think of as sort of the limit of the Munch.”

While the Oregon researchers’ study was due to be published last month, Lockery said Current Biology has delayed it until April 20.

Lockery hopes this research will inspire further research into how cannabis affects animals, insects and other organisms. He believes more drugs can be tested on C. elegans to predict how they will affect people.

Lockery is now studying how psychedelics affect the behavior of worms.

“My project from the very beginning was to try to figure out how the whole – albeit tiny – brain works,” Lockery said. “I didn’t really care much about drugs. I never expected this. But I’m grateful for it; it was really fun.”

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