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.”


Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

In this June 22, 2012 file photo, a smoker extinguishes a cigarette in an ash tray in Sacramento, Calif. (AP)
Updated 18 August 2018
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Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

  • Quitters saw their risk of diabetes increase by 22 percent in the six years after they kicked the habit
  • The people enrolled in the studies were all health professionals, and did not mirror current smokers in the general population, who are disproportionately low-income, less-educated and more likely to smoke heavily

NEW YORK: If you quit smoking and gain weight, it may seem like you’re trading one set of health problems for another. But a new US study finds you’re still better off in the long run.
Compared with smokers, even the quitters who gained the most weight had at least a 50 percent lower risk of dying prematurely from heart disease and other causes, the Harvard-led study found.
The study is impressive in its size and scope and should put to rest any myth that there are prohibitive weight-related health consequences to quitting cigarettes, said Dr. William Dietz, a public health expert at George Washington University.
“The paper makes pretty clear that your health improves, even if you gain weight,” said Dietz, who was not involved in the research. “I don’t think we knew that with the assurance that this paper provides.”
The New England Journal of Medicine published the study Wednesday. The journal also published a Swedish study that found quitting smoking seems to be the best thing diabetics can do to cut their risk of dying prematurely.
The nicotine in cigarettes can suppress appetite and boost metabolism. Many smokers who quit and don’t step up their exercise find they eat more and gain weight — typically less than 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms), but in some cases three times that much.
A lot of weight gain is a cause of the most common form of diabetes, a disease in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal. Diabetes can lead to problems including blindness, nerve damage, heart and kidney disease and poor blood flow to the legs and feet.
In the US study, researchers tracked more than 170,000 men and women over roughly 20 years, looking at what they said in health questionnaires given every two years.
The people enrolled in the studies were all health professionals, and did not mirror current smokers in the general population, who are disproportionately low-income, less-educated and more likely to smoke heavily.
The researchers checked which study participants quit smoking and followed whether they gained weight and developed diabetes, heart disease or other conditions.
Quitters saw their risk of diabetes increase by 22 percent in the six years after they kicked the habit. An editorial in the journal characterized it as “a mild elevation” in the diabetes risk.
Studies previously showed that people who quit have an elevated risk of developing diabetes, said Dr. Qi Sun, one the study’s authors. He is a researcher at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
But that risk doesn’t endure, and it never leads to a higher premature death rate than what smokers face, he said.
“Regardless of the amount of weight gain, quitters always have a lower risk of dying” prematurely, Sun said.