Christmas this year will see a full Moon for the first time in 38 years and in an odd cosmic coincidence, the last time we had one on Christmas was the year Star Wars: A New Hopewas released (1977). This year, of course, sees the return of the franchise with The Force Awakens.
The Moon will be entirely illuminated by the Sun at 6:11 a.m. EST (11:11 a.m. GMT) on Friday December 25, so youll see the brightest Moon at night either side of that time. This comes three days after the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice, on Tuesday December 22.
Christmas Eve will also see the ISS travel through the sky for observersin the U.K., with it movingfrom west to southeast from5:19 to 5:26p.m. GMT although we all know, really, its Santas sleigh making its way around the world.
The next full Moon on Christmas will appear in 2034, so you can probably hope for Star Wars: Episode 10around then.
[H/T: ABC News]
Naturally, Simon’s Cat can’t help but investigate the new Christmas decorations in the living room, and get into trouble.
Illuminate that rooftop! Whether you’re putting up a single string of twinkly reds and greens or if you’re creating a spectacle of lights that’s sure to create a bottleneck on your street…NASA is watching. By analyzing data from the NOAA/NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite, scientists have identified how patterns of light intensity in our night skies change during the holidays.
Compared with light output from the rest of the year, U.S. cities shine up to 50 percent brighter during Christmas and New Year’s. And it starts as early as Black Friday. Most of the light intensity increases are thanks to suburbs and the outskirts of major cities where there’s more yard space and more single-family houses. Lights in the middle of big cities don’t seem to increase as much, but they still brightened between 20 and 30 percent.
“It’s a near ubiquitous signal. Despite being ethnically and religiously diverse, we found that the U.S. experiences a holiday increase that is present across most urban communities,” NASA Goddard’s Miguel Román says in a news release. “These lighting patterns are tracking a national shared tradition.”
In the Middle East during the month of Ramadan—when meals and social gatherings might be pushed into the nighttime hours—lights in several cities shine more than 50 percent brighter. In fact, light use in Saudi Arabian cities increased by about 60 to 100 percent through the month of Ramadan. And while light use didn’t increase in many areas, during the Eid al-Fitr celebration that marks of the end of Ramadan, it soared across all the neighborhoods they studied.
Suomi NPP carries an instrument called the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). You might remember the Earth at Night maps in 2012 created from VIIRS data; those images are composites of monthly averages collected on nights without clouds or moonlight. The new holiday lights analysis filters out moonlight, clouds, and airborne particles to isolate city lights daily. The high resolution can see variation at the neighborhood level. But they could only analyze snow-free cities, since snow reflects light so much.
Besides being festive, the dataset helps researchers better understand what impacts our energy decisions. “More than 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from urban areas,” Román says. “If we’re going to reduce these emissions, then we’ll have to do more than just use energy-efficient cars and appliances. We also need to understand how dominant social phenomena, the changing demographics of urban centers, and socio-cultural settings affect energy-use decisions.”
These new illustrations were presented at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting in San Francisco this week. You can see more (and maybe find your city) on their Flickr page. And here’re the lights from where I’ll be for Christmas:
Images: NASA’s Earth Observatory/Jesse Allen
Read more: http://cheezburger.com/8394886656
Purina Friskies sure knows how to connect with cat people online.
In honor of the holidays, they enlisted the help of Internet celebrity cats, such as Grumpy Cat, Colonel Meow, Oskar the Blind Cat, Nala Cat, and Hamilton the Hipster Cat, to star in this humorous Christmas music video, Hard To Be a Cat at Christmas.
“For every view, up to 500,000 views, Friskies will donate one can of wet cat food to shelter and rescue organizations across the country. Share with all your friends and help make a cat’s holiday wish come true.”
If you’ve been procrastinating on your holiday shopping, you’re in luck: Today is the fifth annual Free Shipping Day, when more than 1,300 merchants will provide free shipping, discounts and delivery by Christmas Eve.
This event is a great way to save, but there are a lot of other things you can do to minimize your shipping charges, both this holiday season and all year long. (Why pay that extra $7.95 if you don’t have to, right?) Here’s your complete guide.
1. Chat it Up
Shipping charges are the No. 1 reason online shopping carts are abandoned. Retailers know this, and if you get all the way to checkout and hesitate before clicking “Buy,” they’re sometimes willing to throw in a discount in order to make to the sale.
So, try keeping those live chat help windows open for once, and ask to get free shipping with your order. Even if they say no, they may have other coupon codes you can use for an extra discount.
2. Apply a Coupon
When you don’t have any luck asking customer service for a better deal, take matters into your own hands with one of the numerous coupon sites out there. As the name implies, FreeShipping.org is one of the best places to track down free delivery—it features coupon codes and other deals for more than 4,000 stores.
3. Buy in Bulk
As with most good things, there’s often a catch for free shipping: Many merchants want you to place a minimum order before you receive the service. While it doesn’t make sense to spend more than you planned just to meet the threshold, you can plan your shopping strategy accordingly to meet minimums. If you can find gifts for everyone at one or two retailers, for example, you’ll likely save in shipping costs by ordering everything all at once.
4. Get a Subscription
If you’re a frequent online shopper, it might be worth paying a small fee to receive free shipping with every order. Services such as ShopRunner partner with most major merchants to provide free two-day shipping. While there’s a yearly fee of $79, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial to take advantage of the service through the holidays. (Just remember to cancel before the trial is up or you’ll be automatically enrolled and charged the annual fee.)
Similarly, check out Amazon Prime. In addition to free two-day shipping on Amazon orders, the service also includes access to streaming videos and e-books.
5. Pick Up in Person
In recent years, site-to-store shipping has become increasingly common. Major retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart provide the option to have an online order delivered to a local store at no additional cost. All you have to do is stop in and pick it up at your convenience. Amazon is even getting on board with the recent introduction of locker delivery in Staples stores.
6. Dare to Compare
Free shipping with every order is ideal, but sometimes it’s actually a better deal to pay for shipping. Since merchants know free shipping is so desirable, they’ll sometimes increase product prices to make the offer available. So, before you buy anything, take the time to compare a few different sites. Low-cost flat rate shipping combined with a lower total price can end up saving you more than free shipping alone.
Photo courtesy of Flickr, formatc1
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This article originally published at The Muse
This Christmas themed video was posted online in July, but appropriately just went viral now. A girl wearing a Santa hat with disturbing cat face paint on sings and meows some Christmas tunes in this very strange video that is featured on Tosh.0.