Drone Video Shows Dramatic Moment of Arecibo Collapse

Video of the recent collapse at the Arecibo Observatory, taken from two different perspectives, show the dramatic moment when a main cable failed, causing the 900-ton instrument platform to fall onto the large radio dish below.



a tree with a mountain in the background: Aerial footage showing the damaged dish at the Arecibo Observatory and three support towers.


© Image: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images (Getty Images)
Aerial footage showing the damaged dish at the Arecibo Observatory and three support towers.

The first of the two videos was taken from the Arecibo Observatory control room, where radio astronomers normally do their work. The camera was recently installed in this location to capture a collapse should it happen, Ashley Zauderer, program director for Arecibo Observatory at the National Science Foundation, told reporters today.

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As the video shows, the platform did not fall straight down. It was more of a swinging action, as a main cable snapped from one of the three support towers. The video also shows the tops of the towers breaking off, some of which measure over 60 feet in length, according to John Abruzzo, managing principal of Thornton Tomasetti, an engineering firm brought in to assess the situation following the recent failure of two cables at the famous facility.

The collapse involved some “very violent and unpredicted behavior,” said Zauderer.

The second video is just as remarkable, as it was captured by an aerial drone. It just so happened that the drone was being used to inspect the top of Tower 4 when one of three remaining main cables snapped. Looking at the video, you can see three cables running parallel to one another. A fourth cable should’ve been there, but it failed earlier this month (you can actually see the frayed remains of the cable at top). Each cable consists of 170 wires, said Abruzzo. The middle of the three remaining cables is the one that failed, triggering a reaction that caused the entire structure to collapse.

Incredibly, the drone operator was able to turn the camera around to capture an aerial view of the carnage below. No one was hurt during this catastrophic failure, the exact cause of which is still being determined. Zauderer said all dangerous debris fell within previously designated restricted zones.

Iconic Dish at Arecibo Observatory Has Collapsed

On a positive note, the nearby visitor’s center did not sustain any serious damage. From here, the priority continues to be safety, mitigating environmental issues, and finding ways to support the staff at the facility and the people of Puerto Rico, said Zauderer. Built in 1963, the radio dish was recently slated for demolition, as repairs were deemed too dangerous.

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2020 Needs A Dramatic End, Right? This Is How A ‘Beaver Moon’ Will Countdown To A Jaw-Dropping Sight

There’s about to be a penumbral lunar eclipse. On November 30, 2020 at 09:42 Universal Time (04:42 EDT and 01:42 PDT) a full “Beaver Moon” will move into Earth’s shadow in space.

Don’t expect fireworks. Or a “Blood Moon.” Or anything particularly interesting, in fact, save for a strange-looking drop in the Moon’s brightness as 83% of our satellite moves into shadow.

So why get excited about this “Beaver Moon Eclipse?”

A lunar eclipse never comes alone; a solar eclipse always occurs about two weeks before or after a lunar eclipse.

A solar eclipse happens when the Moon’s shadow falls on the Earth, while a lunar eclipse happens when the Earth’s shadow falls on the Moon.

The “Beaver Moon Eclipse” will this year cause a solar eclipse, and it will be the best kind—a total solar eclipse. From a “path of totality” through Chile and Argentina on December 14, 2020, observers will experience 2 minutes 9 seconds of a sudden, dramatic twilight in the day.

But why will that happen because of the “Beaver Moon?” What’s the unusual thing happening that’s causing a lunar eclipse and then a solar eclipse? Why doesn’t an eclipse occur every month?

Here’s everything you need to know about the grand celestial mechanics at work that causes eclipses to be occasional, dramatic events—but always come in groups of two or three:

MORE FROM FORBESWhen Is The Next Solar And Lunar Eclipse? They’re Sooner Than You Think

Why do lunar eclipses occur?

Eclipses occur when the Sun, the Moon and the Earth are aligned. During a lunar eclipse the Earth is between the Sun and a full Moon, and the Moon moves into Earth’s shadow in space.

Everyone on the night-side of Earth sees the Moon dip in brightness (as with this weekend’s penumbral lunar eclipse) or turn partially or totally red (a total lunar eclipse). The latter is caused by the same physics as causes a sunset; the only light that reaches the Moon’s surface is first filtered by Earth’s atmosphere, which scatters blue light.

Why do solar eclipses occur?

During a solar eclipse a New Moon moves between the Sun and the Earth, sending a narrow shadow flashing across Earth’s surface. For anyone in the “path of totality” there’s a total eclipse of the Sun during which observers can remove their solar eclipses glasses and stare at the Sun’s bright, white outer atmosphere called its corona.

MORE FROM FORBESThis Week Jupiter Aligns With Saturn. What Happens Next Will Be A Once-In-A-Lifetime Sky Event

There’s a total solar eclipse on December 14, 2020 in South America, another on December 4, 2021 in Antarctica, and after a quiet 2020, another in Western Australia on April 20, 2023.

Eclipses of the Sun only happen because the Moon is just the right

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How Fireflies’ Dramatic Light Show Might Spark Advances in Robot Communication | Science

On an early June evening, physicist Raphael Sarfati breathed hard as he lumbered up a dense forest trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The French-born scientist lugged more than 40 pounds of gear, including a tent, generators, butterfly nets and two GoPro 360-degree cameras vital to photographing his subject. Sarfati, a postdoctoral associate at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and his advisor, assistant professor of computer science Orit Peleg, trekked into the forest to film how synchronous fireflies conduct their impressive light display, a show that lasts for just 10-to-15 days each year and only for a few hours each night. Unlike many firefly species that flash in individualized patterns for months every summer, these special fireflies display in a specific, collective pattern that the scientists wanted to track.

With their tent and cameras set up and dusk descending, the sporadic blinking of individual fireflies harmonized into synchronous flashing. “They are everywhere around you. You can’t even count how many there are, all flashing at the same time for a few seconds and then they all stop at the same time as well. It’s dark and then it picks it up again,” Sarfati says. “It’s really astonishing.”

“How do thousands or tens of thousands of individuals all know how to flash at the same time when they can only see a fraction of the insects around them?” Peleg marvels. “There are a lot of interesting aspects of firefly communication, and we’re hoping to shed light on them.”

Now, in a study published in September in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, Sarfati and Peleg have shown how to recreate the fireflies’ flashes and flight trajectories three-dimensionally. Their findings provide clues into how simple insects with limited cognitive functionality can accomplish complicated, synchronous tasks. By demonstrating how fireflies begin to synchronize, their research might inspire communication and coordination methods in swarm robotics technology. It will also serve as a resource for firefly conservation efforts by providing a more accurate way to monitor their populations.

Sarfati and Peleg had come to Great Smoky Mountains National Park to study Photinus carolinus. The scientists first set up their 360-degree cameras in the forest to capture the insects’ behavior in their natural, unperturbed environment. Male fireflies, thick in the air, flew around and flashed in unison to attract the relatively stationary females waiting on the ground below. Standing in the cloud of Morse-code-like intervals of light, the researchers could see a lone male flashing here or there along with his brethren. However, their cameras tracked what their naked eye could not: trajectories of exactly where individual fireflies were in three-dimensional space when they flashed. By tracking the flashes, the team was able to recreate the flight patterns of each insect caught on camera.

Sarfati and Peleg next set up the tent as their control environment and added dozens of male fireflies to the space—enough to elicit the same swarm behavior found in their natural environment. Then, with cameras rolling inside the

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