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edward ng
Entropy always increases.
Entropy always increases.
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Tomorrow, the stars!
NGC 6357: Cathedral to Massive Stars
Image Credit: NASA, ESA and Jesús Maíz Apellániz (IAA, Spain); Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin (ESA/Hubble)
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap160327.html

How massive can a normal star be? Estimates made from distance, brightness and standard solar models had given one star in the open cluster Pismis 24 over 200 times the mass of our Sun, making it one of the most massive stars known. This star is the brightest object located just above the gas front in the featured image. Close inspection of images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, however, have shown that Pismis 24-1 derives its brilliant luminosity not from a single star but from three at least. Component stars would still remain near 100 solar masses, making them among the more massive stars currently on record. Toward the bottom of the image, stars are still forming in the associated emission nebula NGC 6357. Appearing perhaps like a Gothic cathedral, energetic stars near the center appear to be breaking out and illuminating a spectacular cocoon.
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Surreal!
Dark Sun over Ternate
Image Credit & Copyright: Babak Tafreshi (TWAN)
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap160310.html

A dark Sun hangs in the clearing sky over a volcanic planet in this morning sea and skycape. It was taken during this week's total solar eclipse, a dramatic snapshot from along the narrow path of totality in the dark shadow of a New Moon. Earth's Indonesian isle of Ternate, North Maluku lies in the foreground. The sky is still bright near the eastern horizon though, beyond the region's flattened volcanic peaks and outside the Moon's umbral shadow. In fact, near the equator the dark lunar umbra is rushing eastward across Earth's surface at about 1,700 kilometers (1,100 miles) per hour. Shining through the thin clouds, around the Sun's silhouette is the alluring glow of the solar corona, only easily seen during totality. An inspiring sight for eclipse watchers, this solar corona is the tenuous, hot outer atmosphere of the Sun.
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The sprawl needs perspective. 
USA's Northeast Megalopolis from Space
Image Credit: NASA, International Space Station
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap160224.html

Can you identify a familiar area in the northeast USA just from nighttime lights? It might be possible because many major cities are visible, including (right to left) New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond and Norfolk -- Boston of the USA's Northeast megalopolis is not pictured. The featured image was taken in 2012 from the International Space Station. In the foreground are two Russian cargo ships with prominent solar panels. This Northeast megalopolis of the USA contains almost 20 percent of the people of the USA but only about 2 percent of the land area. Also known also as the Northeast Corridor and part of the Eastern Seaboard, about 10 percent of the world's largest companies are headquartered here. The near continuity of the lights seem to add credence to the 1960s-era prediction that the entire stretch is evolving into one continuous city.
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Wow. Some hard work done here. 
Earthworm-inspired biomimetic worm-bot #3DThursday #3DPrinting
https://blog.adafruit.com/2015/11/05/earthworm-inspired-biomimetic-worm-bot-3dthursday-3dprinting/

We have developed several innovative designs for a new kind of robot that uses peristalsis, the method of locomotion used by earthworms. Unlike previous wormlike robots, our concept uses a continuously deformable outer mesh that interpolates the body position between discrete actuators. In this video we summarize our progress with this soft hyper-redundant robot.

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Behold!
Seeking Venus under the Spitzkoppe Arch
Image Credit & Copyright: Petr Horálek; Rollover Annotation: Judy Schmidt
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap151103.html

What's that in the sky? Although there was much to see in this spectacular panorama taken during the early morning hours of a day in late September, the brightest object in the sky was clearly the planet Venus. In the featured image, Venus was captured actually through a natural rock bridge, itself picturesque, in Spitzkoppe, Namibia. The planet, on the left of the opening, was complemented by a silhouette of the astrophotographer on the right. Above and beyond the rock bridge were many famous icons of a dark night sky, including, from left to right, the Pleiades star cluster, the Orion Nebula, the bright star Sirius, and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. This week, Venus remains visible to the east in the pre-dawn sky, being complemented by Mars, which is angularly quite close.
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There is still beauty to behold.
A Gegenschein Lunar Eclipse
Image Credit & Copyright: Petr Horálek; Rollover Annotation: Judy Schmidt
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap151014.html

Is there anything interesting to see in the direction opposite the Sun? One night last month, there were quite a few things. First, the red-glowing orb on the lower right of the featured image is the full moon, darkened and reddened because it has entered Earth's shadow. Beyond Earth's cone of darkness are backscattering dust particles orbiting the Sun that standout with a diffuse glow called the gegenschein, visible as a faint band rising from the central horizon and passing behind the Moon. A nearly horizontal stripe of green airglow is also discernable just above the horizon, partly blocked by blowing orange sand. Visible in the distant sky as the blue dot near the top of the image is the star Sirius, while the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy arches up on the image left and down again on the right. The fuzzy light patches just left of center are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. Red emission nebulas too numerous to mention are scattered about the sky, but are labelled in a companion annotated image. In the image foreground is the desolate Deadvlei region of the Namib-Naukluft National Park in Namibia, featuring the astrophotographer himself surveying a land and sky so amazing that he described it as one of the top experiences of his life.
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Next on the list. ;)

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Surreal!
Geminid Fireball over Mount Balang
Image Credit: Alvin Wu
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap141217.html

This was a sky to remember. While viewing the Geminids meteor shower a few days ago, a bright fireball was captured over Mt. Balang, China with particularly picturesque surroundings. In the foreground, a sea of light clouds slowly floated between dark mountain peaks. In the background, the constellation of Orion shone brightly, with the familiar three stars of Orion's belt visible near the image top right. Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, is visible near the image center. The bright fireball flashed for only a fraction of second on the lower right. The source of the fireball was a pebble that intersected the protective atmosphere of Earth, originally expelled by the Sun-orbiting asteroid-like object 3200 Phaethon.
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