puerto rico

Story Sunday: The Asteroid & The Mask

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Researcher Wearing Face Mask Image One
Researcher Anne Virkki comparing her mask.
Photo Credit: Arecibo Observatory & USA Today

I haven’t done a Story Sunday since 2014.

It’s funny how every news article out there these days just has to make a tie in with the virus. And, that image doesn’t look like a mask to me. It looks like something else. Just sayin’… ~Vic

An asteroid is hurtling close to the Earth, and with it, a startling reminder of the coronavirus pandemic. The space rock, known as 1998 OR2, will be nearly 4 million miles away from Earth on Wednesday at 5:59am EDT, classifying it as a “potentially hazardous” asteroid, despite the impossibility of it posing a threat to Earth anytime soon.

A newly captured image by [the] Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico brings its own surprise. As the asteroid approaches our planet, it looks as if it’s wearing its own mask and may very well be conducting its own social distancing practices. “The small-scale topographic features, such as hills and ridges on one end of asteroid 1998 OR2, are fascinating, scientifically,” Anne Virkki, head of planetary radar at Arecibo Observatory, said in a statement. “But, since we are all thinking about COVID-19, these features make it look like 1998 OR2 remembered to wear a mask.”

Asteroid 1998 OR2 Image Two
Image Credit: Arecibo Observatory & USA Today

It’s classified as a potentially hazardous asteroid because it is more than 500 feet in diameter and closer than 4,650,000 miles to Earth. “Although this asteroid is not projected to impact Earth, it is important to understand the characteristics of these types of objects to improve impact-risk mitigation technologies,” she said.

The asteroid, which is about one mile in diameter, has been traveling at nearly 20,000 mph since its discovery in 1998. Though it may not come anywhere near Earth in the coming weeks, Flaviane Venditti, a researcher at the observatory, said in a statement that, in 2079, it “will pass Earth about 3.5 times closer than it will this year.”

Joshua Bote
USA Today
April 24, 2020
Updated April 26, 2020

 

Additional Articles:
S-Band Spotlight (National Astronomy & Ionosphere Center)
Rocky Horror (The Sun)
Asteroid Visiting Earth’s Neighborhood Brings Its Own Face Mask (University of Central Florida)

Flashback Friday: Spain Declares War 1898

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Spanish-American War Collage Wikipedia Image One
Top Left: Signal Corps extending telegraph lines.
Top Right: USS Iowa
Middle Left: Spanish flag replaced at Fort Malate
Middle Right: Filipino soldiers in Spanish uniforms outside Manila.
Bottom Left: Roosevelt & The Rough Riders @ San Juan Hill
Bottom Right: The signing of the Treaty of Paris (1898)
Collage Credit: Barbudo
Wikipedia & Wikimedia

I posted about Hillsborough’s Old Courthouse this past Tuesday. The first picture was a marker about the Kentucky Expedition, led by Daniel Boone in 1775. The information was fashioned out of metal from the USS Maine, the very ship sunk in Havana Harbor that touched off the Spanish-American War. Spain declared war on the U.S. one-hundred, twenty-two years, ago, today and, the U.S. declared war the following day. Historically, the day of declaration is retroactively moved to April 21 as that was the day Spain severed diplomatic relations and the U.S. Navy began a Cuban blockade (the first of two). At the time of my Town Tuesday post, I didn’t realize that I actually posted it on the same day as the corrected date.

After first landing on an island then called Guanahani, Bahamas (San Salvador), on [October 12], Christopher Columbus commanded his three ships […] to land on Cuba’s northeastern coast on [October 28], 1492. Columbus claimed the island for the new Kingdom of Spain and named it Isla Juana after Juan, Prince of Asturias.

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The main issue was Cuban independence. Revolts had been occurring for some years in Cuba against Spanish rule. Hostilities began in the aftermath of the explosion of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor in Cuba, leading to U.S. intervention in the Cuban War of Independence.

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The growing popular demand for U.S. intervention became an insistent chorus after the (still) unexplained sinking [of the Battleship Maine], which had been sent to protect U.S. citizens and property after anti-Spanish rioting in Havana. [P]olitical pressures from the Democratic Party pushed [President] McKinley into a war that he had wished to avoid. McKinley signed a joint Congressional resolution demanding Spanish withdrawal and authorizing the President to use military force to help Cuba gain independence […].

Remember The Maine Wikipedia Image Two
Remember The Maine!
Image Credit: Artist Victor Gillam
Historical Society of Pennsylvania
May 7, 1898

The ensuing, ten-week war, fought in both the Caribbean and the Pacific, was pathetically one-sided, since Spain had readied neither its army, nor its navy, for a distant war with the formidable power of the United States.

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An army of regular troops, and volunteers, under General William Shafter, with Theodore Roosevelt (then, Assistant Secretary of the Navy) and his 1st Volunteer Cavalry, (The Rough Riders), landed on the coast, east of Santiago and, slowly advanced on the city […]. Madrid sued for peace after two Spanish squadrons were sunk in Santiago de Cuba and Manila Bay and a third, more modern, fleet was recalled home to protect the Spanish coasts.

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The result was the 1898 Treaty of Paris. In it, Spain renounced all claim to Cuba, ceded Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States and, transferred sovereignty over the Philippines to the United States for $20 million.

♦ In 1976, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover commissioned a private investigation into the [USS Maine] explosion and, the National Geographic Society did an investigation in 1999, using computer simulations. All investigations agreed that an explosion of the forward magazines caused the destruction of the ship but, different conclusions were reached as to how the magazines could have exploded.

♦ [T]heodore Roosevelt, who eventually became Vice President and, later, President of the United States […] was, posthumously, awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001 for his actions in Cuba and, became the only U.S. President to win the award.

♦ The defeat and loss of the last remnants of the Spanish Empire was a profound shock to Spain’s national psyche […]. [There was a] philosophical and artistic re-evaluation of Spanish society known as the Generation of ’98.

Sources:
Cuba: Population, History and Resources 1907 (Google Books)
Destruction of the Maine (PDF Library of Congress)
Spain Declares War Against The United States (On This Day Website)
Spanish-American War (The History Channel)
What Destroyed The USS Maine (The Spanish-American War Centennial Site)
Cuba: A New History (Web Archive)
Battle of San Juan Hill (Wikipedia)
Cuban War of Independence (Wikipedia)
Generation of ’89 (Wikipedia)
Spanish-American War (Wikipedia)
Treaty of Paris (1898) (Wikipedia)

The Story of the USS Maine

Smithsonian Channel Explosion of the USS Maine

History Channel Spanish-American War Documentary

Wayback Wednesday: Great Hurricane 1780

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HMS Hector & HMS Bristol Image
HMS Hector & HMS Bristol in the 1780 Great Hurricane Photo Credit: ourplnt.com
Screen Capture Image
Stupidphone screen capture from The Weather Channel

As Hurricane Michael, a Cat 4 monster, slams the Florida Panhandle (making history, today), the Great Hurricane of 1780 is still the deadliest Atlantic hurricane in recorded history, with a death toll between 22,000 and 27,000+. Also referred to as the Great Hurricane of the Antilles, the 1780 Disaster and the Huracan San Calixto, it was one of four major hurricanes in the 1780 Atlantic hurricane season, the worst hurricane season in recorded history.

On October 10, the San Calixto Hurricane (official name) struck the island of Barbados with, possibly, 200+ mph wind gusts, making it an extreme Cat 5. The winds were so violent and so deafening that, reportedly, “people could not hear their own voices”. It felled most every tree, stripped the bark off the few left standing and nearly destroyed every house on the island. The specifics of the hurricane’s track and exact strength are unknown as the Atlantic hurricane database starts in 1851 but, historical records from Puerto Rico, Jose’ Carlos Milas (Cuban Meteorologist), NOAA and hurricane research from The University of Rhode Island indicate that the storm moved on to St. Lucia, Martinique, Dominica and struck Guadeloupe. It turned towards Puerto Rico, hitting Isla de Mona and, later, the eastern portion of the Dominican Republic. The beast finally reached the Atlantic Ocean on October 15 after passing the Grand Turk Island. It passed Bermuda on October 18 and was last seen two days later off the coast of Cape Race in Newfoundland.

From Hurricane Science at The University of Rhode Island:

Coming in the midst of the American Revolutionary War, the 1780 hurricanes caused heavy losses to European fleets fighting for control of the New World’s Atlantic coast. A fleet of 40 French ships capsized off Martinique during the Great Hurricane, drowning approximately 4,000 soldiers. On St. Lucia, rough waves and a strong storm surge destroyed the British fleet of Admiral Rodney at Port Castries. Much of the British fleet was decimated by the three storms, and the English presence in the western North Atlantic was greatly reduced thereafter.

The worst losses, however, were suffered by Vice Admiral Peter Parker and Rear Admiral Joshua Rowley.

Other interesting October 10 history:

1582…..Due to the shift from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, today does not exist.

1845…..The Naval School (U.S. Naval Academy) opens.

1967…..The Outer Space Treaty goes into effect (yes, this is a thing).

1973…..Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon‘s first Vice President, resigns after pleading guilty to federal income tax evasion.

1985…..U.S. Navy F-14s intercept the Egyptian plane carrying the hijackers of the MS Achille Lauro and force it to land in Sicily. The hijackers are arrested.

Busy, busy day… ~Victoria