Look out for the ‘super blue blood Moon’ on the rise

This file photo taken on Jan. 1, 2018 shows the "super moon" rising in the sky of Marseille, France. A cosmic event not seen in 36 years -- a rare "super blood blue moon" -- may be glimpsed January 31 in parts of western North America, Asia, the Middle East, Russia and Australia. (AFP)
Updated 31 January 2018
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Look out for the ‘super blue blood Moon’ on the rise

LOS ANGELES: Stargazers in North America, Hawaii, the Middle East, Russia, India, and Australia had the chance to witness a rare “super blue blood Moon” Wednesday, when Earth’s shadow bathed our satellite in a coppery hue.
The celestial show is the result of the sun, Earth, and Moon lining up perfectly for a lunar eclipse just as the Moon is near its closest orbit point to Earth, making it appear “super” large.
It is the second full Moon within the same month, a phenomenon called a “blue” Moon which has nothing to do with its color.
The “blood” in the name comes from the reddish brown color the Moon takes on when Earth enters between it and the sun, cutting off the light rays that usually brighten the lunar surface.
Thousands gathered at Los Angeles’ Griffith Observatory, which opened its doors at 3:30 am (1130 GMT) to a crowd expected to reach 2,000.
Some had waited in line since 10:00 p.m. the night before, hoping for a choice viewing spot.
Coffee was on sale, and many science buffs brought their own telescopes to set up on the lawn.
The eclipse began around 3:45 am, as a black shadow began to devour one corner of the gray-white Moon.
An hour later, the lunar surface was plunged into darkness, known as totality.
Then, rusty tones began to sheath the Moon, reflecting the light of all the sunrises and sunsets on Earth at the same moment.
The extreme east of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, Russia, Australia and New Zealand could enjoy the spectacle on Wednesday night, as the Moon rises there.
People in Hawaii, Australia and eastern Asia should be able to follow the full eclipse from beginning to end, said NASA.
But most of South America, Africa and Europe, where the alignment occurs in the middle of the day, will miss out on the show.
The last “super blue blood moon” occurred on December 30, 1982, when it was seen in Europe, Africa and western Asia.
For North America, the last time was in 1866.
This time around, viewing will be a challenge for those on the US East Coast. The eclipse begins just as the Moon is setting in the west and the sun is rising in the east.
Moon-watching parties for the one-hour-16-minute eclipse were advertised up and down the US West Coast. But people outside the path of totality, or whose view was obstructed by cloudy weather, could follow the event live via NASA.gov.
If you miss this one, the next blue moon total lunar eclipse will happen on December 31, 2028, though it won’t be quite as large since it will not be as close to Earth.
Another will occur on January 31, 2037.
“The red color during a lunar eclipse is very distinctive and it’s a rare treat to be able to see a blood red moon,” said Brian Rachford, associate professor of physics at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
“One of the great things about a lunar eclipse is you also don’t need any special equipment to see it. Anyone can go outside and look at the moon.”


Tesla in Autopilot sped up before Utah crash

Updated 25 May 2018
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Tesla in Autopilot sped up before Utah crash

  • Heather Lommatzsch, the driver of the vehicle, told police she thought the vehicle’s automatic emergency braking system would detect traffic and stop before the car hit another vehicle.
  • Police say car data show Lommatzsch did not touch the steering wheel for 80 seconds before the crash. She told police she was looking at her phone at the time and comparing different routes to her des
SALT LAKE CITY, US: A Tesla that crashed while in Autopilot mode in Utah this month accelerated in the seconds before it smashed into a stopped firetruck, according to a police report obtained by The Associated Press Thursday. Two people were injured.
Data from the Model S electric vehicle show it picked up speed for 3.5 seconds shortly before crashing into a stopped firetruck in suburban Salt Lake City, the report said. The driver manually hit the brakes a fraction of a second before impact.
Police suggested that the car was following another vehicle and dropped its speed to 55 mph to match the leading vehicle. They say the leading vehicle then likely changed lanes and the Tesla automatically sped up to its preset of 60 mph (97 kph) without noticing the stopped cars ahead of it.
The police report, which was obtained through an open records request, provides detail about the vehicle’s actions immediately before the May 11 crash and the driver’s familiarity with its system.
The driver of the vehicle, Heather Lommatzsch, 29, told police she thought the vehicle’s automatic emergency braking system would detect traffic and stop before the car hit another vehicle.
She said she had owned the car for two years and used the semi-autonomous Autopilot feature on all sorts of roadways, including on the Utah highway where she crashed, according to the report.
Lommatzsch said the car did not provide any audio or visual warnings before the crash. A witness told police she did not see signs the car illuminate its brake lights or swerve to avoid the truck ahead of it.
Lommatzsch did not return a voicemail Thursday. A Tesla spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
The car company has said it repeatedly warns drivers to stay alert, keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of their vehicle at all times while using the Autopilot system.
Police say car data show Lommatzsch did not touch the steering wheel for 80 seconds before the crash. She told police she was looking at her phone at the time and comparing different routes to her destination.
She broke her foot in the crash and this week was charged with a misdemeanor traffic citation. Online court records do not show an attorney listed for her.
The driver of the firetruck told police he had injuries consistent with whiplash but did not go to a hospital.
Tesla’s Autopilot system uses cameras, ultrasonic sensors and radar to sense the vehicle’s surrounding environment and perform basic functions automatically.
Among those functions is automatic emergency braking, which the company says on its website is designed “to detect objects that the car may impact and applies the brakes accordingly.” Tesla says the system is not designed to avoid a collision and warns drivers not to rely on it entirely.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said it is investigating the May 11 crash.
Tesla’s Autopilot has been the subject of previous scrutiny following other crashes involving the vehicles.
In March, a driver was killed when a Model X with Autopilot engaged hit a barrier while traveling at “freeway speed” in California. NHTSA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating that case.
This week, Tesla said Autopilot was not engaged when a Model S veered off a road and plunged into a pond outside San Francisco, killing the driver.
Earlier in May, the NTSB opened a probe into an accident in which a Model S caught fire after crashing into a wall at a high speed in Florida. Two 18-year-olds were trapped and died in the blaze. The agency has said it does not expect Autopilot to be a focus in that investigation.