Less Than 1,000 Days Until the Next Total Solar Eclipse in the United States

On Monday, August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will be visible in some areas of the United States. This is now less than 1,000 days away. The event has been a long time coming. While the last total solar eclipse to be seen in the United States occurred in 1991, that event was limited to Hawaii. Before that, the last solar eclipse visible from the continental United States was on February 26, 1979.

While the 1979 event tracked across Oregon, Washington and Montana, people in 12 states will see the 2017 event. Both eclipses started in Oregon. The earlier one then tracked up into Canada. The 2017 eclipse starts in Oregon, travels across the central United States before finishing far out to sea beyond South Carolina.

A total solar eclipse is a rather rare occurrence. Estimates place the likelihood of any point on Earth experiencing one only every 400 years. This is not absolute, however. Several Oregon locations saw the 1979 eclipse and they will see the 2017 event as well. For them, experiencing two solar eclipses in a little more than 35 years is quite unusual. Closer yet are the cities of Carbondale, Illinois, and Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Residents there will see the 2017 eclipse as well as another in April, 2024. This separation of less than seven years for these two eclipses is very unusual. Of course, it may be hundreds of years before these cities see another.

To be a total eclipse, the moon must completely obscure the sun, for an observer standing on Earth. This can occur monthly, at New Moon. Ordinarily, however, the moon passes either above, or below, the sun’s position, as viewed from Earth. As a result, the moon’s shadow normally sweeps across open space. On rare occasions, as the moon passes directly in front of the sun, a shadow is cast upon the surface of the Earth. If the sun is partially obscured, a partial eclipse results. If the sun is completely obscured, a total solar eclipse occurs. The moon is much smaller than the sun, of course. In fact, the moon is some 400 times smaller. In an astronomical twist, the moon is also 400 times closer to the Earth. This makes the apparent size of the moon very close to the apparent size of the sun. When the moon passes directly in front of the sun, it is able to completely eclipse the sun, for some viewers on Earth.

The shadow cast by the moon, however, is very small. Depending on the distance between the Earth and the moon, which varies somewhat, the moon’s shadow will darken a strip of Earth about 70 miles wide. This strip is called the Zone of Totality. Those people located within this zone will experience a total solar eclipse. Those near, but outside, will see a partial solar eclipse.

On August 21, 2017, the sun is eclipsed for as much as 2 minutes and 40 seconds at the maximum point. Hopkinsville, Kentucky happens to be located at this point. People not located there may see a shorter eclipse duration. Those located outside the zone of totality will only see a partial eclipse. Some cities that will experience totality include Nashville, Tennessee, Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri. The 2017 eclipse will potentially be seen by millions of people located across the United States.

Each total solar eclipse is unique, but there are similarities. The Earth will darken over time as the moon obscures more and more of the sun. This is the partial eclipse phase. As totality approaches, the amount of sunlight striking the Earth will be greatly diminished. The sky will become similar to twilight. Colors normally seen at sunset will be visible during the day. Birds, animals and insects will be fooled into believing that night is falling. Some will return to their nests or roosts. Nocturnal creatures will begin to emerge. These effects often happen even if a total solar eclipse occurs early in the morning. After totality ends, another partial eclipse phase occurs until the moon passes beyond the sun’s location.

The biggest factor that cannot be predicted with certainty is the weather on August 21, 2017. Cloudy weather could obscure the eclipse for interested observers. As a result, many people examine historical weather patterns in order to determine prime eclipse viewing locations. Since the 2017 event occurs in August, there are some rather promising weather possibilities. In Oregon, the August weather tends to be sunny and dry, perfect eclipse conditions. Morning fog, storms, or clouds, could thwart eclipse viewers, however.

Idaho and Wyoming residents will also experience the 2017 eclipse. The weather in these states could allow a very good eclipse viewing experience. The eclipse occurs fairly early in the day, lessening the possibility of localized thunderstorms.

As the total solar eclipse tracks across more states, from Nebraska to South Carolina, the possibility of inclement weather increases. These locations will experience the eclipse later in the day. Afternoon storms, or hazy weather, could be encountered. Such weather could limit the eclipse experience.

Many US cities have already begun planning for the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. The event represents an opportunity to entertain tens of thousands of visitors to cities located within the zone of totality. With proper attention to details, cities can provide a favorable eclipse experience that also highlights the attractions of the local area. Weather permitting, of course.

Bonus Facts:

– the distance from the Earth to the moon increases each year. In less than 1.5 billion years, the moon will not be close enough to produce total solar eclipses. After that, only partial or annular eclipses will occur.

– when the moon eclipses the sun, the sky darkens enough to allow planets and bright stars to be seen in the daytime. On August 21, 2017, the bright star Rigel should be visible low in the south. – Albert Einstein predicted that a total solar eclipse could provide direct proof of the General Theory of Relativity. He postulated that the eclipsed sun would cause light to be bent, for an observer on Earth. This would be proved as stars located behind the sun would appear to be shifted in location. This visual evidence was demonstrated during an eclipse in 1919.

– as the moon passes in front of the sun, it blocks enough sunlight that the solar corona, the super heated atmosphere, becomes visible to people on Earth. The shape of the corona is different during each eclipse as it is influenced by the level of magnetic solar storms, which constantly changes.

– ancient civilizations did not understand the science responsible for total solar eclipses. Eclipses were attributed to supernatural causes and thought to be bad omens.

– the theoretical maximum duration of a total solar eclipse is about 7 minutes. The 2017 eclipse is less than half this duration, at 2 minutes, 40 seconds for those located in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

– the sun is not safe to view during any portion of the partial eclipse phase. Even if only 1% of the sun is visible, observers risk damage to their eyes through direct observation. At this eclipse stage, the sun appears to be dim enough to view. Unfortunately, the lit portion still transmits full force sunlight to the optic nerve. Because the level of light is so much lower than normal, the observer feels no urge to avert their gaze. Moreover, the optic nerve does not contain pain receptors so victims are unaware that their eyesight is being damaged. Proper eye protection is vital for all observers of the partial solar eclipse phase.

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Autodesk : Top 4 New Features

Autodesk introduced AutoCAD 2017 in March 2016 aiming to help its users stay at the forefront. This latest release lets you work quicker and smarter across connected desktop and mobile solutions, create personalized design experiences, easily team up with colleagues, and stay updated with the latest features and updates. AutoCAD 2017 also includes AutoCAD 360 Pro, a mobile app that allows users use AutoCAD on the go. The latest version addresses several user functionality requests and delivers features that enhance everything from workflows to graphics processing. According to Autodesk, several AutoCAD users globally will be benefitted by several enhancements that have been added in the latest version, such as enhanced 3D printing, new features such as ‘smart centrelines’, share design views on cloud and improvements to PDF handling features.

In the updated features of the 2017 version, PDFs have been added to the supported ‘import file’ formats. As a result, users can import geometry, True Type text and raster images from a PDF file or underlay into the current drawing as AutoCAD objects. Also, the centerlines and center marks get updated accordingly when users move associated objects. Learning content and product updates are seamlessly delivered to help users get the most out of new features with Autodesk Desktop app, an application that substitutes Autodesk Application Manager. Here, users also tend to get the latest security patches and updates for all 2015, 2016, and 2017 versions of Microsoft Windows based Autodesk products. Now, let’s discuss the top 4 new features that Autodesk has included in its AutoCAD 2017 release. Top 4 New Features in Autodesk AutoCAD 2017

Enhanced 3D printing

Utilising the new Autodesk print studio you can create a 3D print ready file and directly print it in nearly all types of 3D printers. This 3D printing tool is offered by spark technologies and is available for 64 bit machines only. To make full use of this tool, you need to go to AutoCAD 3D modelling workspace and select print studio tool from 3D print panel of output tab. If it’s the first time you are using this tool then a prompt will appear from where you can download this tool. After you’ve downloaded and installed, click on print studio again and click on watertight or closed mesh object from your drawing which you want to use for 3D printing.

Smart Centrelines and Centre marks

This new AutoCAD release lets you to easily add centre lines and centre marks to the geometry. Likewise, you need to type the command ‘Centremark’ and click on circular object to create the centre mark, you can use this command to make a centre mark on circle, arc and fillet. Share Design Views on Cloud

Now, you can directly share files with users who don’t even have AutoCAD using A360 cloud account and all they require is a web browser for accessing shared drawing. In order to share a drawing, ensure that you’re logged into your Autodesk 360 cloud and your drawing is saved.

Co-ordination Model

In AutoCAD 2017 coordination model functionality has been improved with support for object snaps. Attach a Navisworks or BIM 360 Glue model to your AutoCAD drawing so you can view it as an underlay. Then just use the standard AutoCAD endpoint and center object snaps to snap to exact locations as you create and edit your design based on the attached models.

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Mercedes Benz GLS : Premier Luxury SUV

American buyers can book their Mercedes-Benz GLS 2017 in December as deliveries initiate from March 2016. As of yet, no information is released regarding Australian and UK markets. Furthermore, fuel efficiency, pricing and performance are still undetermined.

Mercedes-Benz GLS 2017 is in essence a revamped GL-Class model. As per the GL strategy, all Mercedes’s vehicles including crossovers and SUVs initiate with GL-, followed by a letter, denoting the vehicle’s size. S-class includes the largest vehicles in category.

Apart from that, little is revised in GLS model, with trimmed down headlights and bumpers resembling its smaller models and LED lights are normative in Mercedes vehicles. Owners of Mercedes GLS-550 can opt for sports version for an aggressive edge.

Fast Facts

· Price: $64, 500

· Horsepower: 240-550

· Engine: 3.0 V6

Horsepower categorization Mercedes-Benz is all geared up with their engines slated to be incorporated into Mercedes-Benz GLS.

· GLS-350 BlueTEC is powered by V-6 diesel engine with turbo-boost, capable of producing 455 lbs-ft of torque and 240 horsepower.

· GLS-450 is equipped with V-6 turbo-engine, capable of producing 369 lb-ft of torque and 360 horsepower.

· GLS-550 is equipped with V-6 turbo engine, capable of producing 516 lb-ft of torque and 429 horsepower.

· The GLS-63 consists of factory-fitted V-8 turbo engine, producing 560 lb-ft of torque and 550 horsepower.

Engine categorization

The GLS model consists of the following categories:

· The GLS-350d is equipped with a 3-liter 6-cylinder engine.

· The GLS-450 is powered a by gasoline 3-litre 6-cylinder engine

· GLS-550 is equipped with 4.7 liter turbocharged 8-cylinder engine.

Miscellaneous options consist of adaptive damping options along with selectable modes, air suspension and driving modes for personal preferences.

Mercedes-Benz GLS 2017 can be facilitated with Distronic Plus, Mercedes’s own semi-autonomous cruise control system. It will operate at a predetermined speed before the driver takes control of the vehicle.

Interior

Mercedes-Benz has included subtle changes in its GL-class, updating various features from the 2013 version. The SUV class is now termed as GLS, depending upon the model of Mercedes in question. Mercedes-Benz GLS has an updated infotainment system, using trim materials and redesigned dashboard.

Mercedes GL class has been revamped for 21st century stylistic aesthetics. The infotainment screen has been redesigned into a floating tablet appearance, redefining Mercedes-Benz interiors. Furthermore, center console, instrumental panel and 3-spoke steering wheel have been redesigned. GLS models are normative with 3-rows of seats. In tech section, GLS model is remodeled with ample options. Normative tech utilities include myriad of safety systems, such as collision warning, automatic braking system and attention assistance for preventing drowsiness during driving. In case of an emergency braking, the vehicle will apply extra pressure.

Added tech galore

At an extended price, the GLS model can be bumped with impressive tech options. For an extra price, blind spot monitoring, cross-traffic detection and active lane-keep assist can be incorporated. With Active Curve System, the body rolling during taking sharp corners is reduced. Magic Vision Control facilitates spray free cleaning of windshield.

Pros

· Optimum for long-drive

· Attention-grabbing interior

· Comfortable seating

Cons

· Large size is a hindrance in driving

· Added tech can be expensive

· Driving cost is high

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The Eurozone Train Wreck Continues Into 2017

The European Union seems to be trying to hold itself together, but it is indeed wobbling itself apart like an aircraft engine with an unbalanced propeller and the vibrations are getting worse reverberating from one side of the continent to the other, where no nation is spared from the challenges which await – so what can we expect in 2017 you ask?

Well, “Brexit” has already had some effect on Germany and other nations are considering similar exits from the EU, which could quicken its demise. The recent Italian vote was problematic as is the condition of the Italian banks. Remember when Greece got caught short? Do you remember in 2014 what was going on in the EU? Let me remind you quickly:

MSNBC Money “China, France drag on global manufacturing revival,” published on February 3, 2014, written by Jonathan Cable and Koh Gui Qing which stated; “Manufacturers around the world enjoyed a solid start to the year as order books swelled, surveys showed on Monday, though a struggle for growth in China and a downturn in France took the shine off the overall picture. Euro zone factories had their best month since mid-2011 and, with unemployment near record highs, increased headcount for the first time in two years. They were led by a sharp pick-up in Germany and a revival among the states on the region’s periphery. But France, the bloc’s second biggest economy, remained a drag on the region.”

As an example Greece, when they entered the EU they had a bad credit rating and any loans would of cost them a lot in interest, when they joined the EU they effectively got the same rate on loans as Germany who as you probably know are very stable in the financial sector, so Greece took loans out at low interest rates for years.

Yah, Greece has always been a financial disaster like Argentina or Zimbabwe… now it’s all gone sour they are left with huge debts and so on, Italy and Spain are in the same boat and seeing as the UK loaned ALOT of money to Spain and others we are massively exposed to the crisis. Spain for example has more empty property (new builds) than the ENTIRE USA.

Real estate tanked in Spain, we all read about that in the WSJ, few in the US realized it was that bad. In 2008 China was challenged even after their 2008 stimulus as their municipals did elaborate growth projects, building for the sake of it?

Remember the original plan for the EU was to introduce one currency (which they did) and then introduce a EURO Government to manage it, the second part never happened and now the backlash is huge, and it doesn’t really matter that the 2008 crisis started in the US. The EU wasn’t doing that well before the crisis. And we shouldn’t blame the US for the crash, let’s not forget one of the enablers was AIGs London Office selling insurance often with guarantees in excess of 130% of face value on those mortgage bundles and credit default swaps.

Yes, we have some socialists in the US and when the capitalists and socialists get together or start using each other it is as if everyone loses their brains. So, the slow-motion train wreck and Eurozone melt-down continues, who is to say if it can continue for long without falling apart, and once that engine falls off the plane, its coming in for a very hard landing. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen in 2017.

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The Future of Android Games, Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality

Mobile gaming has come a very long way since the introduction of crude & simple games like Snake and Pong which were available on early Nokia phones. Mobile processors and graphics are now as powerful as desktop computers were just a few years ago. Older generations still remember lugging around a Game Boy or Game gear and begging their parents for another game. New generations literally have access to 100’s of thousands of games on their mobile device.

In short, mobile gaming has exploded in just a few years time. In the month of July 2016 there were 63.1 million arcade games downloaded & games in the “strategy” category generated $195M revenue. In a recent study over 37% of mobile app users with 30 minutes of free time choose to play games over any other activity. We’ve all seen it and we’ve all done it ourselves, whether its waiting for an appointment or sitting at the airport, we pull out our mobile device and jump into a quick game to kill the time.

So what does all of this mean for the future of android gaming? For starters, the massive amounts of revenue and user interest in android gaming has bolstered continuous innovation and fierce competition in the global marketplace. For example, just 12 months ago, top executives were saying they didn’t see any major benefit to augmented reality. With the release of Pokemon Go and estimates citing as much as $500 million in revenue in just 60 days, I think we can all agree augmented reality is here to stay. Virtual reality is another area that has been picking up steam in recent months. You can now buy virtual reality headsets at local gas stations for a mere $30. Or if you’re on a budget you can purchase Google Cardboard for as little as $7.00. There are still only a limited number of VR enabled games but that number is increasing daily. Not only that, as more and more people experience VR we are sure to see a blockbuster release sooner or later.

Let’s take a look at some real life examples of recent game releases. Dawn of Titans which was recently released on Google Play was in development for over 2 years. This is akin to the development cycle of a mid-level PC game release on Steam. The game features mass controlled troops, world building elements and impressive graphics. A few years ago this would be considered a major release for the Android platform. These days this is just another drop in the massive pond. With over 2.4 million apps and games currently listed on Google Play it’s become harder and harder to stand out. This is actually good news for gamers as developers are working harder and faster to create new innovative titles to attract users.

I firmly believe that both Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) titles are going to gain more traction in 2017. Major developers who can pump out triple A content can’t be left in the dust while indie developers pump out AR and VR enabled games. They will be forced to port existing titles and come up exciting new ways to interact with the mobile devices.

There are many gimmicky games available that utilize the phones microphone, gyroscope, camera and accelerometer. However, these sensors combined with AR and VR could bring a whole new experience to gamers. Imagine walking through a recreated 3D world that represents your neighbourhood, immersed in full virtual reality, and using your phone as a targeting device to defend against waves of zombies. This is already possible with the technology that is available, it just needs to be packaged in a user friendly way that people can enjoy. Combining meticulous graphics with well thought out virtual reality experiences would be impressive indeed. If you’re familiar with PC based virtual reality demo’s you already know how immersive the experience can be. It’s only a matter of time before these same experiences make their way to our mobile devices en masse. And to think, only 30 years ago we were playing Mario on our beloved Nintendo consoles. Let’s not even mention the Virtual Boy that burned your eyes after 2 minutes of playing tennis. Android games and mobile games in general have come a long ways since then and they will continue to push barriers even further in the near future.

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