In the Sawmill Sink in Abaco, the water at a depth of 30 to 26 feet is pigmented by the bacteria. But the real danger lies in the hydrogen sulfide gas, which forces divers to hastily proceed through. Photo by Wes C. Skiles.

In the Sawmill Sink in Abaco, the water at a depth of 30 to 26 feet is pigmented by the bacteria. But the real danger lies in the hydrogen sulfide gas, which forces divers to hastily proceed through. Photo by Wes C. Skiles.

NASA’s longest-serving shuttle, Discovery, was transported from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center atop a Boeing 747 just after dawn this morning. After flying a victory lap around the capitol, it landed at Virginia’s Dulles International Airport, from which it will be moved to the Smithsonian Institution on Thursday.

(Photos via National Geographic)


Firefighters douse a smoldering ridge southwest of Denver with slurry. The blaze has already destroyed 16 homes in the area and continues to spread. (via)

What is slurry?
In general, a slurry is a “thick suspension of solids in a liquid”. But, in particular, the slurry used as a fire retardant in this particular photo, according to the US Air Force, is composed of 80-85% water and 10-15% ammonium sulfate. The ammonium sulfate acts as both a gelling agent and red dye, which helps pilots determine areas that have not already been canvased by previous loads.
These long-term fire retardants are more efficient than plain water, as it works in two phases. First the water extinguishes its portion of the fire, but once the water is completely evaporated, the chemical residue that remains prevents vegetation and other materials from igniting again by binding to cellulose, until it is eroded or washed away with rain. 
The residue left over has no ill health affects unless it seeps its way into the water supply, so pilots are careful not to spray near waterways. It also causes no damage to buildings and is relatively easy to clean off, due to its dispersion as a mist. Along with its extinguishing properties, this concoction makes a decent fertilizer.
Read more about slurry here.

Firefighters douse a smoldering ridge southwest of Denver with slurry. The blaze has already destroyed 16 homes in the area and continues to spread. (via)

What is slurry?

In general, a slurry is a “thick suspension of solids in a liquid”. But, in particular, the slurry used as a fire retardant in this particular photo, according to the US Air Force, is composed of 80-85% water and 10-15% ammonium sulfate. The ammonium sulfate acts as both a gelling agent and red dye, which helps pilots determine areas that have not already been canvased by previous loads.

These long-term fire retardants are more efficient than plain water, as it works in two phases. First the water extinguishes its portion of the fire, but once the water is completely evaporated, the chemical residue that remains prevents vegetation and other materials from igniting again by binding to cellulose, until it is eroded or washed away with rain. 

The residue left over has no ill health affects unless it seeps its way into the water supply, so pilots are careful not to spray near waterways. It also causes no damage to buildings and is relatively easy to clean off, due to its dispersion as a mist. Along with its extinguishing properties, this concoction makes a decent fertilizer.

Read more about slurry here.

Backyard Star Trails (by Joshua Bury)Description: 


Just decided the other night to try some star trails so I set my camera on a tripod in the backyard and set the interval timer and went to bed. This shot represents 6 hours of the Earth turning beneath the stars.
One thing to note, Polaris, the North Star, is not exactly lined up with the Earth’s rotational axis. It is about a half degree away from the pole. Because of this, for astrophotography at least, it is not accurate enough to align your telescope’s mount to Polaris for good tracking.
I boosted the saturation a little in this one to emphasize the wide range of colors displayed by the stars. (Also, for any nit-pickers out there, no I didn’t take or subtract darks, so yes, there are plenty of hot pixels in there.)

Backyard Star Trails (by Joshua Bury)
Description: 

Just decided the other night to try some star trails so I set my camera on a tripod in the backyard and set the interval timer and went to bed. This shot represents 6 hours of the Earth turning beneath the stars.

One thing to note, Polaris, the North Star, is not exactly lined up with the Earth’s rotational axis. It is about a half degree away from the pole. Because of this, for astrophotography at least, it is not accurate enough to align your telescope’s mount to Polaris for good tracking.

I boosted the saturation a little in this one to emphasize the wide range of colors displayed by the stars. (Also, for any nit-pickers out there, no I didn’t take or subtract darks, so yes, there are plenty of hot pixels in there.)

Solar Eclipse in China, 2008 (by ╬Thomas Reichart ╬)

Solar Eclipse in China, 2008 (by ╬Thomas Reichart ╬)

These two global snapshots, the first between North America and Europe, and the second over Eurasia, were arranged by Felix Pharand-Deschenes to display how air traffic corridors have come to dominate the surface of Earth. (via)

Hot Springs in East Africa: Sulfur and algae turn hot springs into pools of living color. The water is condensation from hot gases rising from magma chambers. As the water evaporates, salts and minerals form a vivid crust. (via National Geographic)

Hot Springs in East Africa: Sulfur and algae turn hot springs into pools of living color. The water is condensation from hot gases rising from magma chambers. As the water evaporates, salts and minerals form a vivid crust. (via National Geographic)

So how exactly is the Gulf of Mexico after the worst oil spill in human history?
According to the National Geographic:

A spill that started with the tragic loss of life soon wrought major environmental devastation over huge region of the Gulf. Disturbing images appeared daily of oiled wildlife, iridescent surface slicks, overwhelmed cleanup workers, fouled beaches, burning oil fires, and blackened wetlands.

The damage from nearly five million barrels of oil was very real, yet many expert predictions missed their marks. Hurricanes didn’t drive enormous quantities of oil ashore, giant dead zones didn’t materialize, and oil didn’t round the tip of Florida to rocket up the East Coast via the Gulf Stream. Fisheries now appear poised to rebound instead of suffering the barren years or decades some feared. And Mother Nature had her own surprises in store, showcasing an ability to fight back against the spill and, later, to bounce back from the damage—at least in the short-term.

However, uncertainty still reigns among those trying to come to grips with the spill’s ultimate legacy. Even the final fate of all that oil is a matter of some debate—though the gooey crude still clings to some shorelines, where it will be visible for years to come.

History of Space Exploration
In December of 1968, the United States sent Apollo 8 on the first manned mission to orbit the moon. On this spacecraft was William Anders, who, on the 24th of December, took this iconic photograph of the Earth partially obscured by the moon’s horizon.

History of Space Exploration

In December of 1968, the United States sent Apollo 8 on the first manned mission to orbit the moon. On this spacecraft was William Anders, who, on the 24th of December, took this iconic photograph of the Earth partially obscured by the moon’s horizon.

An image of Jupiter as taken by the Voyager 1. It was produced by layering three black and white photos with different color filters and recombining them. (via)

An image of Jupiter as taken by the Voyager 1. It was produced by layering three black and white photos with different color filters and recombining them. (via)

A roll cloud off of the coast of Brazil. These clouds form alongside thunderstorm downdrafts and bizarre sea winds. Despite its intimidating appearance, these clouds are both rare and entirely harmless. Read more about these clouds here.

A roll cloud off of the coast of Brazil. These clouds form alongside thunderstorm downdrafts and bizarre sea winds. Despite its intimidating appearance, these clouds are both rare and entirely harmless. Read more about these clouds here.

Pictured here is a pharaoh cuttlefish in the Daymaniyat Islands Nature Reserve. It is releasing its plume of ink in defense due to being stabbed by a diver, since net fishing on these protected coral reefs is prohibited, but other methods are legal, such as fishing with traditional long-handled hooks. (via)

Pictured here is a pharaoh cuttlefish in the Daymaniyat Islands Nature Reserve. It is releasing its plume of ink in defense due to being stabbed by a diver, since net fishing on these protected coral reefs is prohibited, but other methods are legal, such as fishing with traditional long-handled hooks. (via)

Stunning images of one of the many solar farms on Spain’s Iberian Peninsula.
More images and information here

Via National Geographic:

A diver makes a slow decent into a vortex of 50,000 farmed salmon in British Columbia, Canada. As scuba divers sink deeper underwater, the weight of the water above them creates pressure. As the diver resurfaces, his body decompresses, and extra nitrogen escapes into the bloodstream, where it is carried to the lungs for excretion. If a diver surfaces too fast, bubbles can form in the blood and tissues, causing the bends.

Via National Geographic:

A diver makes a slow decent into a vortex of 50,000 farmed salmon in British Columbia, Canada. As scuba divers sink deeper underwater, the weight of the water above them creates pressure. As the diver resurfaces, his body decompresses, and extra nitrogen escapes into the bloodstream, where it is carried to the lungs for excretion. If a diver surfaces too fast, bubbles can form in the blood and tissues, causing the bends.

In the coastal waters along Djibouti, the lights used by fishermen attract plankton. In turn, these plankton attract young whale sharks to come to the light of the surface, as seen above. Luckily for these majestic sharks, countries such as the United Arab Emirates have banned whale shark fishing as recently as 2008, as the importance and vulnerability of the sharks has come into foresight in the surrounding countries. (via)

In the coastal waters along Djibouti, the lights used by fishermen attract plankton. In turn, these plankton attract young whale sharks to come to the light of the surface, as seen above. Luckily for these majestic sharks, countries such as the United Arab Emirates have banned whale shark fishing as recently as 2008, as the importance and vulnerability of the sharks has come into foresight in the surrounding countries. (via)