Even those not normally interested in astronomy will find it hard to resist NEOWISE, the brightest comet to grace our skies since the 1997 appearance of Comet Hale-Bopp. The spectacular cosmic snowball of frozen gas, rock, and dust has been visible to those willing to wake up before dawn since early July. However, it has now risen high in the evening skies and can be viewed with the unaided eye by even the most casual stargazer.
The solar system is about to get busy! In the next few weeks, a slew of spacecraft will embark on a one-way journey to Mars, to seek evidence of past life and to further investigate its unusual atmosphere. The back-to-back missions are timed to take advantage of the short window of opportunity — caused by celestial mechanics — that will allow them to reach the Red Planet in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.
The term "bird brain" is frequently used to describe a person's lack of intelligence and good decision-making ability. However, some scientists believe it should be considered a compliment, given that many birds can perform tasks that were once considered solely within the realm of humans. These include manufacturing and using tools, solving problems, and planning for future needs. Now, Griffin, an African Grey parrot, has proved that birds may even possess better visual memories than human adults and children.
One of the biggest challenges to battling the rapid spread of COVID-19 is identifying and isolating people who are infected before the symptoms, which usually take between 3 to 13 days, surface. Now, frontline workers may get some help from canines who can "sniff out" the disease even when the patient is asymptomatic, meaning he or she never shows any of the traits associated with COVID-19.
Former US President Ronald Reagan's love for jelly beans, which were a staple offering during his 8-year-term in office, is well-documented. However, the country's 40th head of state also had another guilty pleasure — ice cream, which he described as "[a] nutritious and wholesome food." To give the delicious treat the respect it deserved, on July 9, 1984, Mr. Reagan signed Proclamation 5219, which declared July as National Ice Cream Month!
A massive dust cloud that had been journeying 5,000 miles from the Sahara Desert across the Atlantic Ocean since June 15, 2020, finally hit the United States mainland on June 26, 2020. Nicknamed "Godzilla," the 3,500 mile-long plume broke into two chunks, thanks to the split in the mid-levels of the atmosphere.
Burying loved ones with basic necessities like grains, ceramic pots, and clothing, to ensure their comfort in the afterlife, was a fairly common tradition in ancient cultures. However, the families of some lucky individuals went a step further by including a board game for entertainment. Morten Ramstad, a researcher at the University of Bergen, Norway, and his team stumbled upon one of the rare artifacts — found only in a handful of graves before — while excavating the remains of an Early Iron Age (400-300 BC) burial mound in Western Norway.
Spain's three-month-long lockdown order imposed to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic was finally lifted on June 22, 2020. To celebrate the joyous occasion, the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Spain — one of Europe's oldest and most famous opera houses— staged its first live performance since mid-March. While every seat was occupied, there was not a human to be found. Instead, the sold-out audience comprised 2,292 potted plants carefully selected from local nurseries.