May 15th, 2012
01:08 PM ET

Solar eclipse in North America on May 20

(CNNMéxico) – On Sunday, May 20, an annular solar eclipse will be visible from some areas of United States, northern Mexico and Canada, according to the Institute of Astronomy, in the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM, Autonomous National University of Mexico).

"Solar eclipses occur when the moon covers the solar disk and projects its shadow on Earth," the Institute explained on its website.

A solar eclipse happens when the moon is in its new moon phase and is perfectly aligned with both the sun and the Earth. From our perspective, the sun is hidden.

During the astronomical phenomenon on May 20, the moon will be in one of its furthest positions from Earth, so its shadow will not be able to completely hide the sun, as would occur in a total eclipse.

That's why this phenomenon is called an annular eclipse. "For this beautiful phenomenon, the sun peeks over the edges of the moon as a bright shining ring," according to the Institute.

"In the United States, the afternoon sun will become a luminous ring in places such as Medford, Oregon; Chico, California; Reno, Nevada; St. George, Utah; Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Lubbock, Texas," according to NASA.

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Filed under: Eclipse • On Earth
Go, Soyuz!
NASA astronaut Joe Acaba and Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin give the thumbs-up before their launch.
May 15th, 2012
10:52 AM ET

Go, Soyuz!

There are three more men in space Tuesday than there were 24 hours ago. Monday night at 11:01 p.m. EDT, the remaining three members of the Expedition 31 crew launched aboard the Soyuz spacecraft and are now on their way to the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Joe Acaba (@AstroAcaba), as well as Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin will join commander Oleg Kononenko and flight engineers Don Pettit (@Astro_Pettit) and Andre Kuipers, who are already aboard the ISS.

Monday night's launch, from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, was preceded by the usual pre-launch activities:  the crew signed the door of their crew quarters, were blessed by a Russian Orthodox priest, and said goodbye to their families before getting their suits checked and boarding the spacecraft.

Onboard with the three men, acting as this flight's talisman, was a stuffed Smokey Bear. Traditionally, Soyuz crews fly with a small toy hanging from the top of the crew compartment that acts as a gravity indicator: when the toy floats, the crew's in orbit. (Once it was an Angry Bird!)

If you missed it (or if you didn't and just want to see it again), NASA's posted the video of the launch.

The Soyuz will reach the International Space Station and dock on Wednesday at 12:38 am EDT.

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Filed under: In Space • People in Orbit
Expedition 31 Prepares For Launch
May 15th, 2012
10:51 AM ET

Expedition 31 Prepares For Launch

"The Soyuz rocket is seen in the monitor of a video camera moments before Soyuz Commander Gennady Padalka and flight engineers Joseph Acaba and Sergei Revin arrived to board the rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for their flight to join their crew mates already aboard the International Space Station. The craft successfully launched at 11:01 p.m. EDT, Monday, May 14, 2012.

The trio will dock to the station’s Poisk Mini-Research Module at 12:38 a.m. Thursday, bringing Expedition 31 to its full six-member complement."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen


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