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Mars At Its Brightest Since 2003 As Moon Visits Venus. What You Can See In The Night Sky This Week

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Each week I pick out the northern hemisphere’s celestial highlights (mid-northern latitudes) for the week ahead, but be sure to check my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy and eclipses. 

What To Watch For In The Night Sky This Week: October 12-18, 2020

This week it’s all about Mars, which will look its biggest, brightest and best in post-sunset skies since 2018 and, technically speaking, since 2003.

However, it’s also a week where the Moon wanes towards its New phase, meaning dark skies at night, gorgeous crescents in the early pre-dawn mornings early in the week, and in early evenings from Sunday. 

MORE FROM FORBESWhat’s That Really Bright ‘Star’ In The Night Sky?

Tuesday, October 13, 2020: Mars at opposition

Tonight the red planet reaches opposition, a moment when the Earth is between it and the Sun. It’s therefore at its biggest and brightest. It’s also visible all night, rising at dusk in the easy and setting at dawn in the west.

The opposition of Mars happens roughly every two years, though technically speaking, Mars is tonight bigger and brighter than at any time since 2003. 

MORE FROM FORBESYour Stargazing Guide To Fall: One ‘Halloween Blue Moon,’ Two Eclipses And A Once-In-397 Years Sight

Wednesday, October 14, 2020: Crescent Moon and Venus

Look east about an hour before sunrise this morning and you’ll see the glorious sight of a very bright 76%-illuminated planet Venus shining 4.3° above a delicate 1% illuminated crescent Moon.

Such a Moon is often called “the New Moon in the Old Moon’s arms.” You may

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Katy ISD Education Foundation trivia night to benefit grants for teachers

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For an evening of fun and fundraising, join the Katy ISD Education Foundation for its Trivia Night Under the Stars on Thursday, Oct. 29.

The pop-up event hosted by The Oaks at Cane Island will pit teams of four or six against one another, challenging each other in different categories. With a donation to the foundation’s teacher grant program, teams receive a dinner provided by The Oaks Kitchen & Bar, live entertainment from Runaway Rodeo, swag bags, awards and more.

Each team must name their team and is urged to dress in line with the team theme.


The event is for adults only and begins at 6 p.m., with limited seating. All proceeds will go toward the foundation’s Inspiring Imagination teacher grant program.

“The Katy ISD Education Foundation celebrated a spectacular milestone this school year with over $2 million awarded in its first eight years of Inspiring Imagination teacher grants,” according to a news release. “Events like Trivia Night will continue to garner much-needed support as the foundation’s grant program expands.”

For the health of attendees and the community, the event will comply with state and local guidelines. Katy ISD Chief Operations Officer Ted Vierling and Jeff Stocks, assistant superintendent for secondary school leadership and support, will serve as the program’s Quizmasters.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the Katy ISD Education Foundation brings together people and businesses who share a belief in Katy ISD students and teachers and who work to give them opportunities.

Sponsorships are available for the event. To learn more or to register a team, visit www.tinyurl.com/EdFoundTrivia or www.katyisdeducationfoundation.org, or contact the Katy ISD Education Foundation at 281-396-6031 or at [email protected]

[email protected]

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NASA set to launch new $23 million space toilet to the ISS Friday night

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A recently designed space toilet that better accommodates women is headed to the International Space Station. The new loo was packed inside a cargo ship set to blast off late Thursday from NASA’s flight facility on Wallops Island, Virginia, though technical difficulties delayed the launch until Friday evening. The astronauts will give the toilet a test run for the next few months.



This unusual-looking space toilet will be tested by the astronauts on ISS. NASA


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This unusual-looking space toilet will be tested by the astronauts on ISS. NASA



Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti shows off the hose on the current toilet for when you need to pee. 


© Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti shows off the hose on the current toilet for when you need to pee. 


Weighing almost 100 pounds (45 kilograms) and measuring 28 inches (71 centimeters) tall, the new toilet is about half as big as the two Russian-built toilets already in use at the ISS. This new toilet is 65% smaller and almost half as light than current ISS toilets in use.

The new, smaller toilet will be able to fit into the NASA Orion capsules, which will travel to the moon in future missions.

As previously reported, the new toilet is designed with a tilted seat, new shape and redesigned funnels for urination.



diagram, engineering drawing: Here's a closer look at the new space toilet that will be used on the ISS. NASA


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Here’s a closer look at the new space toilet that will be used on the ISS. NASA

The microgravity toilets used on the ISS use suction to keep waste from escaping during a potty break in space, but the new system has a new shape to better fit female anatomy. The toilet is also better suited to capture more waste than before. 

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“Cleaning up a mess is a big deal. We don’t want any misses or escapes,” Johnson Space Center project manager Melissa McKinley told The Guardian. “Let’s just say everything floats in weightlessness.”

The new toilet system also has

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Towson University student stabbed in off-campus Wednesday night dispute, police say

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A Towson University student has been treated for injuries and discharged from the hospital after he was stabbed in his Towson apartment building on Wednesday night, according to police.

Four men had been let into the apartment at the student housing complex Altus Apartments on West Susquehanna Avenue at 7:30 p.m. by the victim’s roommate, Baltimore County police spokeswoman Jennifer Peach said.

The student, 19, was inside the apartment when at 7:51 p.m. he overheard an argument between one of his roommates and the men in the hallway outside their unit, Peach said.

The argument escalated into a physical altercation that moved inside the apartment, Peach said. The unidentified student was stabbed once in the upper body by an unknown object after he and a third roommate intervened in the fight, she said.

It’s not clear if any of the assailants were also students, Peach said.

The men left the building in the direction of York Road, according to a campus alert from Towson University police. Their direction after that is unknown, campus police said.

Peach said police are reviewing surveillance video of the assault caught on Altus Apartments cameras.

Police reports do not say what sparked the dispute. Witnesses did not say if anything was stolen, Peach said.

Anyone with information about the assault is asked to call Baltimore County police at 410-887-2361.

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