Mars Is About to Be the Closest it’s Been to Earth in 15 Years. Here’s How and When to See it

July is set to be a good month for stargazers, as Mars will get closer to Earth than it has been in 15 years, making it appear larger and brighter than usual.

The event, known as Mars Close Approach, is thanks to Mars’ and Earth’s orbits around the Sun, which on July 31 will line up so that the Red Planet is 35.8 million away, according to NASA. For much of that night it will be visible to the naked eye. It will appear low in the sky, reaching its highest point of 35 degrees above the southern horizon around midnight.

In the days before Mars Close Approach, between July 27 and 30, the planet will be in opposition with the Sun and will look around three times brighter in our sky than it normally does.

The Red Planet will remain larger than normal when viewed by telescope for a couple of weeks, before fading in mid-August as it moves further away from Earth.

Mars only comes close enough to allow this kind of view every 15 to 17 years. The most recent Mars Close Approach, in 2003, was the closest the planet had been in nearly 60,000 years, at 34.9 million miles away.

Dean Regas, an astronomer at the Cincinatti Observatory, told Mother Nature Network this year’s event would be almost as good as that viewing. “Mars will easily be visible to the naked eye,” he said. “In fact, you will be hard pressed to miss it. It will look like a glowing orange beacon of light rising in the southeast after sunset. It’ll be much brighter than any star, brighter than Jupiter, nearly as bright as Venus. And you’ll see it every night for the next several months.”

Mars won’t be this close again till September 15, 2035.

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Source:: Time – Science


Baby Goat Yoga trend taking off in Brentwood, Contra Costa

BRENTWOOD — It started out like any other yoga class, with deep breathing, stretching and quiet reflection, until Ginger, Nutmeg, Mocha and Cinnamon started nibbling the participants’ hair and jumping on their backs while in downward-facing dog pose.

This tribe of Nigerian dwarf dairy goats warmly welcomed a class of 14 yogis to First Generation Farmers’ new Baby Goat Yoga classes recently. Yoga instructor Gina Bravo is always open to the newest fads in the yoga community and loves the organic produce at the farm, so she wanted to test it out there.

“At first, I rolled my eyes and thought it was crazy,” said Bravo of the goat yoga craze. “After spending time with the animals, I realized it amplifies our frequencies and brings good energy to our practice of yoga.”

According to Bravo, goat yoga combines the grounding vibe of practicing yoga in nature and the therapeutic benefits of animals. Goat yoga has been found to alleviate anxiety and depression and help those with major illnesses and disabilities.

“Yoga can be serious,” said Bravo. “This adds a playful level.”

From a covered deck surrounded by vineyards, the class took the time to pet the curious animals and bond with them during the hourlong session. One participant spent 15 minutes cradling a goat in her arms and rocking it gently as she transitioned through various floor poses.

Brentwood resident Alisha Nielsen took a break from work on a recent Friday morning to join this unique yoga experience and said the combination of fresh air and playful animals was a refreshing change from exercising in a gym.

“I loved it. It was very relaxing. It was fun and brings you closer to nature,” Nielsen said.

The goats were a little unstable on the backs and bellies of their yogi friends at first, but as the class progressed, they found stillness in their resting poses as well. If someone was a little timid about a goat sniffing their feet or jumping on them, Bravo gently reminded them that this is a blessing and good luck.

Bravo has practiced yoga since childhood and taught for a few years at various yoga studios. She said that the popularity of yoga has hit the Brentwood community at a perfect time with lots of studios opening and classes forming.

The nearest other goat yoga class is in Half Moon Bay, Bravo noted. The new classes are selling out fast and will run through the last …read more

Source:: East Bay – Lifestyle


The 106th Alameda County Fair shows off its old and new Silicon Valley roots

PLEASANTON — For Ivy Loveall, fourth time was the charm to have a butterfly sit on her nose.

Loveall stood nervously as a monarch butterfly idled just below her nose, making her look as if she suddenly grew an orange-yellow moustache. The six-year-old girl from Pleasanton merely nodded to questions, unable to open her mouth for fear she may scare the butterfly away.

Nearby, Renita Peniagua, 45, had her hair and face coated in butterflies.

“You can feel their legs all over but it’s still very light,” said Peniagua of Newark. “It’s a bit tickly.”

Loveall and Peniagua were one of the dozen of children and adult inside the new butterfly exhibit at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, which opened its doors on Friday at the Alameda County Fairgrounds.

The exhibit, run by Castro Valley-based Skyriver Butterflies, exhibited 15 U.S.-based butterfly species, some of which are based in the Bay Area.

“We’re in the Silicon Valley high-tech world but before we used to be able to go to fields with our butterfly nets and catch hundreds,” said Skyriver Butterflies caretaker John Dailey. “Unfortunately, that is increasingly not the case across the country. I hope the next generation would be able to experience this.”

The Alameda County Fair, open every summer since 1912, kicked off with a cattle parade through the streets of Pleasanton on Friday. The fair is scheduled to run every day and night until July 8.

New rides, foods and showcases — like the butterfly exhibit — will be making its first appearance this year. While debutants like the butterfly exhibit try to capture what the Bay Area used to look like, others are more high-tech, like a “Skyride” gondola which floats above the fair to connect pedestrians from one end to another.

A new ride is the “Turbo”, a slingshot-esque ride which lifts one end up to as high as 120 feet in the air and drops to the bottom either backward or forward as fast as 70 miles per hour.

For Ethan Covarrubias, he described riding the Turbo as feeling like he was falling off the sky.

“I’m not afraid of heights but I felt a bit scared (on Turbo),” said Covarrubias, a 17-year-old from Redlands.

Foods like nitrogen-infused cereal balls — where cold smoke comes at the mouth after biting it — and Fruity Pebbles-fried shrimp on a stick made its debut.

The fair’s Vice President of Business Development Angel Moore says the fair wanted to keep …read more

Source:: East Bay – Lifestyle