April’s Lyrid Meteor Shower 19 Apr 2019, 1:02 pm
The Moon gets in the way of April's Lyrid meteor shower, but it's still worth scanning the sky for the chance of fireballs.
This Week’s Sky at a Glance, April 19 – 27 19 Apr 2019, 5:37 am
The Pointer stars forming the end of the Big Dipper's bowl point straight down toward Polaris. Face north and look way up.
Peer Deep Within the Large Magellanic Cloud 18 Apr 2019, 12:07 pm
A team of amateurs reveals the Large Magellanic Cloud, a galactic neighbor, in an exceedingly deep, high-resolution mosaic.
M87 Galaxy (source of the Event Horizon Black Hole image) 18 Apr 2019, 7:55 am
The post M87 Galaxy (source of the Event Horizon Black Hole image) appeared first on Sky & Telescope.
Frost Science Awarded LEED Green Building Certification 17 Apr 2019, 11:44 am
On Thursday, April 18, Frost Science announced that it had been awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification for its outstanding practice in the design, construction and operation of a sustainable and energy-efficient facility. The LEED rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is the foremost program recognizing buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance.
“From the conception of this world-class project, it was imperative that the museum would function in the most innovative yet efficient manner possible,” said Frank Steslow, President & CEO of the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. “We are honored to receive LEED Gold Certification and will continue to raise awareness through our building and programs of positive steps every visitor can take to improve the environment.”
Sustainability is at the heart of Frost Science’s mission. Sitting on four acres within Downtown Miami’s waterfront Maurice A. Ferré Park, the 250,000-square-foot institution is divided into four distinct buildings: the Aquarium, the Frost Planetarium, and the North and West Wings. The building and grounds are designed to express the best practices in green building design, construction and operation, as well as utilize the latest green technologies. The museum also offers a self-guided “Behind the Build” tour around the campus, where guests can learn more about the design concept of the building, the institution’s environmentally friendly best practices, and behind-the-scenes information about its construction and operation.
“Frost Science’s LEED certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC. “LEED was created to make the world a better place and revolutionize the built environment by providing everyone with healthy, green, and high-performing buildings. Frost Science serves as a prime example of how the work of innovative building projects can use local solutions to make a global impact on the environment.”
From the outset, green construction and building materials were selected, including rapidly renewable materials for exhibits, regional material usage, selection of building materials with high levels of recycled content, and low-chemical-emitting building materials and paints. Additionally, the building implemented recycling of construction waste and integrated “blast furnace slag,” a byproduct of iron and steel production, as concrete technology in the building. Through a rigorous points-based system, LEED evaluates projects on siting, sustainability, water efficiency, use of reusable energy sources, and recycled materials, as well as indoor environmental quality and design innovations, among other factors. Frost Science achieved the Gold LEED certification for implementing practical and measurable strategies and solutions aimed at achieving high performance in: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. The certification identifies Frost Science as a leader in creating healthy experiences and conserving precious resources.
One of Frost Science’s most impressive elements is the water system created for the unique building. Rainwater is collected for use as HVAC makeup water and to irrigate the rooftop gardens (estimated 350,000 gallons per year in city water savings), and a gray water collection system is utilized for flushing toilets and urinals (estimated 250,000 gallons per year in city water savings). The Florida Power & Light Company Solar Terrace on the museum’s sixth-floor rooftop houses a solar farm of photovoltaic solar panels, providing about 66 kW of photovoltaics (218 panels total) calculated to power about two percent of the buildings’ full load. Additionally, the solar trees on the Science Plaza provide approximately 6kW of photovoltaics.
Public transportation options via bus and an onsite Metromover station are adjacent to the museum. Under-building parking is available to prevent heat islands typically caused by parking lots exposed to direct sunlight, along with ample electric vehicle charging stations.
To learn more about the museum’s building, click here.
The post Frost Science Awarded LEED Green Building Certification appeared first on Frost Science.
MUVE Begins Habitat Resilience Efforts at East Greynolds Park 22 Jan 2019, 4:03 pm
Our Museum Volunteers for the Environment (MUVE) team has officially begun work on the East Greynolds Park restoration site, where we’ll aim to balance the park’s natural environment. It’s our goal to increase our native plant species while reducing the occurrence of destructive invasive species, creating a more sustainable ecosystem and strengthening the park’s defense against sea level rise. And while we may be just getting started, we’re excited to report that our volunteer citizen scientists are well on their way to restoring East Greynolds Park into a thriving natural habitat! Here’s how we’ll get it done.
Putting the Man-Groove Back into Maule Lake
Maule Lake, a former rock mining pit that connects Dade County’s last wild and naturally flowing Oleta River to Biscayne Bay, is getting a much-needed face-lift with this restoration. At the turn of the century, Maule Lake became a metaphorical gold mine for the real estate giants shaping South Florida’s murky landscape. In need of fill to build the railways, roads and buildings that line our shorelines today, developers dredged the lake to form a rock quarry, decimating very dense mangrove forests.
Though today we know that mangrove wetlands are extremely important to our natural ecosystems, that wasn’t necessarily the case when Maule Lake was formed. Mangroves’ benefits are wide-ranging: They trap harmful greenhouse gases, maintain freshwater’s cleanliness, refuge important commercial fish in their juvenile stages, and protect coastlines against rising sea levels and storm surges. Here in Miami, we have three native species of mangrove: red (Rhizophora mangle), white (Laguncularia racemosa) and black (Avicennia germinans) and a closely associated species, buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus), all of which are found at East Greynolds Park.
Unfortunately, hydrological changes have led to the unchecked, rampant growth of salt tolerant invasive plant species, such as Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia) and mahoe (Thespesia populnea). These invasive species can, in some cases, cause severe stress to our native mangroves, because they now have to compete with these new intruders for limited resources. Because these species rarely have any natural predators, they’re often free to take over whichever environment they wind up calling home. Rather than put up a fight, our native mangroves tend to alter their own habits, which ultimately causes the entire ecosystem harm. Sadly, invasive species are often propagated by human activity – the releasing of pets into the wild, the movement of boats around the world, and the cultivation and planting of non-native plants can all cause invasive species to grow and spread.
Restoring Peace Among The Natives and The Newbies
At our restoration site, invasive plants are currently outcompeting our essential natural mangroves, and the MUVE team has been tasked with restoring harmony among these warring species. Using quadrats, the MUVE team and their partners from Miami-Dade County and The Nature Conservancy recorded which plants are currently found at the site and how they affect the larger ecosystem. After this initial recording, our volunteers got to work removing invasive trees and planting native mangroves and other saltwater wetland plants.
New measurements will be taken every three months until restoration is completed, and this type of robust scientific study is exactly the stuff that scientists’ dreams are made of. Using this recorded data, our MUVE team will easily be able to determine important ecological changes mediated by volunteer’s efforts.
While this battle has only just begun, this practice will eventually restore the original hydrology of the site and encourage the healthy development of vital native habitats for more mangroves to grow. Soon, East Greynolds Park will be more resilient against sea level rise and better prepared to withstand anything nature throws its way.
MUVE is generously sponsored by Wells Fargo, FedEx and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
This blog post is sponsored by US Storage Centers.
The post MUVE Begins Habitat Resilience Efforts at East Greynolds Park appeared first on Frost Science.
Top 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Sharks 25 Jul 2018, 7:07 pm
Gazing up through the 31-foot oculus lens into the Gulf Stream Aquarium gives you an unmatched view of one of the world’s most powerful ocean currents on the planet, home to one of the ocean’s apex predators: sharks.
In honor of the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week celebrating 30 years on air, we’re counting down our top five favorite shark facts. Our very own Andy Dehart, Vice President of Animal Husbandry and Marine Conversation, is a shark expert and has been featured in numerous Shark Week productions on the Discovery Channel as a Shark Advisor.
Count ‘em Out
There are over 400 species of sharks in the world. Sounds like a lot? Well, there’s nine different species of hammerheads alone! At Frost Science, our Gulf Stream Aquarium is home to scalloped hammerhead sharks.
Biggies and Smalls
Sharks have quite the range, but more than half of all shark species will never be larger than three feet long. The largest shark? That’s the whale shark, they can reach lengths of up to 40 feet! On the other end of the scale, dwarf lantern sharks only get as big as eight inches.
The Odds are in Your Favor
Did Jaws scare you? This should ease your fears… Shark bites are actually rare, there’s less than 100 shark bites reported globally each year. Of those bites, only about five are fatal.
There’s a Catch
Sharks should fear us far more than we should fear them. Annually, humans are responsible for the deaths of over 73 million sharks across the globe. That’s about 200,000 sharks per day, or 8,333 per hour. The main culprits? Targeted fishing of sharks and bycatch, where sharks get trapped while other seafood is being fished.
Skin of the Teeth
Shark skin is actually covered in dermal denticles. Instead of resembling fish scales, sharks have what more closely resembles modified teeth. The silky sharks in our Gulf Stream Aquarium stand out for more than just their beauty—they got their name because their skin is significantly smoother than other shark species.
Despite their power, sharks are no match for humans. Sharks are slow to mature and have fewer offspring than other commercial fish like tuna, snapper or grouper. Visit Frost Science to learn more about sharks, and the work we’re doing to ensure they are protected.
1,000,000 Visitors…and Counting! 20 Jun 2018, 12:51 pm
Today, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Downtown Miami’s Museum Park welcomed its one millionth visitor since opening on May 8, 2017. Over the past year, Frost Science has continuously transformed the visitor experience including new exhibitions, special events and programming, along with new educational offerings such as enhanced field trips, camps, overnights and more.
“With the hard work of our team and the support of our community, we are proud to meet this milestone and welcome our one millionth visitor within 13 months of our opening,” said Frost Science President and CEO Frank Steslow. “Frost Science has been welcomed with open arms by residents and guests alike and we are certainly proud of the accomplishments we have made. Together, we have laid the foundation for science-learning and discovery in Miami-Dade County. We will continue to offer new and novel ways for our community to explore the power of science.”
“When we opened the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, it was the fruition of a vision to provide our Miami-Dade County residents and visitors access to a world-class, state-of-the-art science museum,” says Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez. “A year later, as the museum welcomes its millionth visitor, that vision is fulfilled and we are excited to see that our community has been taking advantage of this great place that educates children and families on science and technology in fun, inspiring and innovative ways! I am proud of the technological and educational contributions Frost Science makes to our community and wish them much continued success.”
To mark the occasion, the one-millionth visitor, Gisel De Renzo, along with her family, was surprised with a 7-night Caribbean cruise courtesy of Royal Caribbean International. Gisel De Renzo also won a Frost Science gift bag with branded items, a $100 gift card to Frost Science and “1 million minutes of science” (a two-year Family PLUS level membership). Gisel De Renzo then went on to enjoy a special museum experience including an animal encounter. Within the hour of the one millionth visitor, all museum guests enjoyed complimentary snacks by local donut shop, Happy Place Donuts, and a special Frost Science giveaway.
“Culture and education serve as necessary ingredients for the City of Miami to evolve into a truly global city. Thanks to institutions like Frost Science, Miami offers both,” said City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. “This vibrant museum attracts visitors from all over the world and engages them through fascinating exhibitions, adding yet another layer to Miami’s array of unique activities. By welcoming their one-millionth visitor, Frost Science validates its value as a key player in helping us expand our global reach and enhance our status as a thriving national and international destination.”
Frost Science has welcomed several groundbreaking special exhibitions to its campus since opening, including The Power of Poison: From the Depths of the Sea to Your Own Backyard, SPACE: An Out-of-Gravity Experience, BRAIN: The Inside Story, Monster Fish: In Search of the Last River Giants, SEEING: What Are You Looking At? and The Mechanicals. The museum has continued to grow with supporting grants and generous donations from foundations and corporate partners. Frost Science also had a record-breaking day during the total solar eclipse in August, welcoming over 8,500 guests to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event. Throughout the year, Frost Science has hosted distinguished guests and notable speakers including Cara Santa Maria, Nick Uhas, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols and more.
“With the opening of the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, alongside the Arsht Center and Pérez Art Museum Miami, Miami’s cultural hub is nearly complete,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president of The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a major funder of all three institutions. “Frost Science is a major part of a cultural attraction that is drawing the world, and a multimedia learning space that lets thousands of school children a year engage hands-on with science.”
“The opening of the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science has further elevated the appeal of Miami and its attractions, which are among the most unique and exotic in the world,” says William D. Talbert, III, CDME, President & CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. “From its magnificent design and stunning waterfront location on Biscayne Bay to its exceptional exhibits and programming, visitors from around the globe are eager to experience Frost Science’s extraordinary offerings.”
Using the Power of Nature to Fight the Effects of Sea Level Rise 18 Jun 2018, 1:52 pm
South Florida is blessed with water. With an ocean to its east and south and the largest freshwater wetland in North America located to the west, it’s a veritable aquatic paradise. Come rainy season, water comes from the skies as well, with our frequent rains providing ample water for drinking, irrigation and aquatic activities.
But too much of it, particularly from the ocean, can stress our coastal integrity and threaten our very existence. Florida has more residents at risk from the consequences of climate change than any other U.S. state. Globally, South Florida faces the highest risk from the effects of sea level rise in terms of the potential loss of billions of dollars of infrastructure. Sea level rise implies a host of effects that go beyond rising sea levels, including flash floods, urban heat, sea water intrusion into the aquifer and beach erosion.
The gloomiest predictions are based on inaction and continuing a “business as usual” mentality. But the situation isn’t hopeless—in fact, it’s one we can tackle as a community. The more we do and the better we adapt, the softer the landing.
Sea levels are rising in South Florida about six times faster than the worldwide average, yet Miami residents point to a lack of information and a shortage of opportunities to make a positive difference. Frost Science’s Museum Volunteers for the Environment (MUVE) initiative engages local residents by restoring living coastlines. This restoration helps protect their communities and enables individuals to take ownership of adapting to climate change.
Yet, perhaps the best tool in Frost Science’s arsenal is the ability to inform and engage thousands of visitors through original exhibitions. Frost Science was built with a special feature called “flexible furniture.” With plumbing and electricity built into the floor of The Dive level of our Aquarium, we are able to change many of our table top exhibits. Just like a changing coastline, this allows us to continually offer new content to our visitors.
Recently, Wells Fargo, via the National Fish and Wildlife Resilient Cities program, in partnership with the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County, recognized this attribute with a major grant to Frost Science. The funding will help restore three living shorelines around Greater Miami while giving Frost Science the ability to create a series of original flexible exhibits that explain how local coastal ecosystems are protecting us from sea level rise. These exhibits are going live this month in conjunction with The Power of Poison: From the Depth of the Sea to Your Own Backyard and Da Vinci – Inventions special exhibitions.
The first sea level rise-themed table top exhibits touch on the power of living shorelines (think: mangroves and dunes instead of seawalls) to protect inland areas from sea level rise and storm surge. We’ve all seen the images of sea walls being breached by waves during Hurricane Irma, rendering them useless. Green shorelines use their living structures to anchor sand in place (dunes), stay above the water through elevated roots (mangroves) and diminish the power of waves using their leaves and roots (saltwater grasses).
But the power of native habitats actually starts offshore, where coral reefs can absorb up to 97% of the power of incoming waves. Taken together, it’s hard not to appreciate these “hard-working habitats.”
Other table top exhibits feature our new Topo Box, an interactive, 3D topographic map that enables visitors to create their own landscapes and shorelines—from snow-capped mountains to the deep sea. Wiggling fingers overhead creates rainstorms, allowing visitors to explore how water moves through the environment and how large weather events might affect areas impacted by sea level rise.
In addition to the Topo Box, the Science Portal allows you to see live video, images and data feeds from research projects around the world. You can also use it to sign up as a MUVE volunteer.
Humans and nature are working together to help South Florida adapt to sea level rise. Plan a visit to Frost Science and see for yourself!
The post Using the Power of Nature to Fight the Effects of Sea Level Rise appeared first on Frost Science.
Moon and Antares 21 Apr 2019, 2:00 am
Antares, the leading light of Scorpius, will perch close below the Moon at first light tomorrow. The brilliant planet Jupiter will stand well to their left.
Moon and Antares 21 Apr 2019, 1:00 am
The Sun is really big — more than a hundred times the diameter of Earth. Yet it’s a mere dot compared to a star that huddles close to the Moon tonight. That star is almost a thousand times the diameter of the Sun — one of the giants of the galaxy. If it took the Sun’s place, it would extend most of the way out to Jupiter, engulfing Earth and the other inner planets.
Antares is the leading light of Scorpius. It’s to the lower right of the Moon as they climb into view, after midnight. The brilliant planet Jupiter rises to their lower left; more about that tomorrow.
Antares consists of two stars. The lesser one is still a monster — many times the size and mass of the Sun. Yet it’s hidden by the glow of the main star, known as Antares A.
Estimates of the size and mass of Antares A vary. But it’s probably about 15 times the mass of the Sun. That great weight squeezes its core, revving up the nuclear reactions that power the star and making the core especially hot. Radiation from the hot core pushes on the surrounding gas, inflating Antares to supergiant proportions.
That size makes it especially bright — about 10,000 times brighter than the Sun at visible wavelengths. But the surface of Antares is cooler than the Sun. Cooler stars emit much of their energy in the infrared. When you add that to the visible light, Antares is at least 60,000 times the Sun's brilliance — a giant display from a giant star.
StarDate:Sunday, April 21, 2019
Teaser:One of the biggest of the big
Lyrid Meteors 20 Apr 2019, 2:00 am
The Lyrid meteor shower is building up this weekend. It should hit its peak in the wee hours of Monday or Tuesday. Unfortunately, though, the gibbous Moon will get in the way. Its glare will overpower all but the brightest meteors.
Lyrid Meteors 20 Apr 2019, 1:00 am
A thin but reliable meteor shower is building up this weekend. It should hit its peak in the wee hours of Monday or Tuesday. Unfortunately, though, the gibbous Moon will get in the way. Its glare will overpower all but the brightest meteors.
The Lyrids are one of the most reliable of all meteor showers. The earliest record comes from 2700 years ago, in ancient China, where a scribe reported that meteors fell like rain.
Most years, the Lyrids produce no more than 20 or so meteors per hour. But the shower has produced a few outbursts.
The most intense was recorded in 1803, along the East Coast. A group of skywatchers in Albany, New York, said that “stars seemed to fall from every point in the Heavens, as far as our sight could extend.” Another observer, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, counted 167 meteors in 10 or 15 minutes. After that, he gave up counting and just enjoyed the show.
One of the most extensive reports came from Richmond, Virginia. Much of the town had been roused by a fire alarm in the wee hours of the morning. The blaze was quickly extinguished. But the sky stayed ablaze for a couple of hours. The local paper said it looked like “a show of skyrockets.” It “alarmed many, and astonished every person who beheld it.”
Alas, there won’t be nearly as much to behold this year. Even so, if you can find a dark, safe skywatching spot, you might see a few bright Lyrids through the moonlight.
Script by Damond Benningfield
StarDate:Saturday, April 20, 2019
Teaser:A rare outburst from a meteor shower
Full Moon 19 Apr 2019, 2:00 am
The Moon is full today. It stands opposite the Sun in our sky, so sunlight illuminates the entire lunar disk. The full Moon of April is known as the Grass Moon, Egg Moon, or Pink Moon.
ESOcast 199 Light: Astronomers Capture First Image of a Black Hole 10 Apr 2019, 9:07 amThe Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) -- a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration -- was designed to capture images of a black hole. In coordinated press conferences across the globe, EHT researchers revealed that they succeeded, unveiling the first direct visual evidence of a supermassive black hole and its shadow.
ESOcast 198 Light: La Silla Observatory turns 50! 29 Mar 2019, 10:00 amSince its inauguration in 1969, ESO’s La Silla Observatory has been at the forefront of astronomy. Its suite of state-of-the-art instruments has allowed astronomers to make ground-breaking discoveries and paved the way for future generations of telescopes.
ESOcast 197 Light: GRAVITY uncovers stormy exoplanet skies 27 Mar 2019, 7:00 am
ESOcast 196 Light: 20 Years of exploring the Universe 14 Mar 2019, 10:00 amESO is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of one of the VLT’s most versatile instruments, the FOcal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph -- FORS2.
ESOcast 195 Light: A Cosmic Bat in Flight 14 Mar 2019, 10:00 amHidden in one of the darkest corners of the Orion constellation, this Cosmic Bat is spreading its hazy wings through interstellar space two thousand light-years away.
NASA's OCO-3: A New View of Carbon 2 Apr 2019, 3:00 am
What's Up - April 2019 2 Apr 2019, 3:00 am
What's Up - March 2019 28 Feb 2019, 3:00 am
Opportunity: NASA Rover Completes Mars Mission 13 Feb 2019, 3:00 am
What's Up - February 2019 1 Feb 2019, 3:00 am