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That iconic Trump meme may save eyes this eclipse

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About seven years ago, photographers grabbed their cameras for the rare chance to shoot a total solar eclipse, with the sun’s wispy atmosphere revealed against the dark sky. 

But perhaps the most memorable photos taken during 2017’s Great American Eclipse were not of the corona but of former President Donald Trump stepping out on the White House portico to experience the space event for himself.

In an intriguing twist, the famed Trump eclipse photos may have served as one of the farthest-reaching, albeit unintended, public service campaigns about the dangers of staring at the sun. NASA and several medical associations have tried to spread the word that there’s nothing fake news about solar retinopathy, (although, OK, not in those words).

President Donald Trump looking at the sun

President Donald Trump squinted and pointed up at the exposed sun on Aug. 21, 2017.
Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP via Getty Images

On Aug. 21, 2017, Trump stole a couple of glances at the exposed sun, seemingly unperturbed by the warnings from ophthalmologists and his political handlers. With a grimace tugging at the corners of his mouth, he squinted skyward. His protective glasses, which he later put on, were nestled in his jacket pocket. 

“Don’t look,” an aide shouted from below

Too late. A meme was born. 

Here’s what added fuel to the fire: Hours before the president even stepped outside, a user on the social platform X, then known as Twitter, posted a pair of fake, satirical New York Times news alerts claiming that Trump had “suffered permanent eye damage” after staring at the solar eclipse, according to KnowYourMeme.com, a company that collects and researches internet phenomena. Within 24 hours, that tweet, by @leyawn, received tens of thousands of likes and retweets.

“It was kind of like a Nostradamus pre-meme about something that would later become a meme,” said Don Caldwell, Know Your Meme’s editor-in-chief. 

And in true meme fashion, it spawned a life of its own. The front page of the New York Daily News the next day featured one of the photos with the headline “Not Too Bright!” 

President Donald Trump squinting during the solar eclipse

A Twitter user seemed to predict this would happen, adding fuel to the internet meme.
Credit: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Now the country is in deja vu. It’s “decision 2024,” and the experts believe Americans will be inclined to make a good choice, thanks in part to these famous images: We’re talking, of course, about the decision to wear solar shades or not on April 8, when a swath of the United States will experience yet another total eclipse. 

At first, the 2017 Trump photos and video footage made Dr. Ralph Chou unhappy. Chou is a Canadian who led the international charge to make safety standards for solar eclipse glasses. But looking at the sun during an eclipse is actually a common foible, he said, and sometimes a temptation too strong to veto. 

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“The Donald was no different from anybody else in that respect,” Chou told Mashable. 

And added: “It just underscores that nobody who is standing under the sun is immune to these kinds of things.” 

President Donald Trump holding up his eclipse glasses

President Donald Trump, alongside first lady Melania Trump, shows the crowd he indeed has solar eclipse shades.
Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP via Getty Images

In the vast political genre of memes, most are wielded by the detractors, intending to paint their opponent as incompetent or unfit. But on the web, one viral photo can immortalize a moment — and its impact can be more than a punchline. It can even unify a population under a shared idea. 

Like, say, looking directly at a partial eclipse is unwise? 

“Memes are very powerful tools for spreading messages, sentiments, tribal bonding,” Caldwell said. “There’s all kinds of things that memes can do, and I think this one likely had many of those things going on.” 

The moon will sweep its shadow over the continent as it crosses in front of the sun on April 8, starting on Mexico’s western coast, arcing from Texas to Maine, entering Canada through Ontario, and exiting the continent from Newfoundland. Major U.S. cities in this corridor, known as the “path of totality,” will include Dallas, Indianapolis, and Cleveland.

When — and only when — the moon completely conceals the surface of the sun can people in the path remove their protective eyewear without risk of visual impairment or blindness. 

The retina’s job is to convert light into electrical signals for the brain. When a person looks at the sun without protective solar filters, the radiation can easily overtax the retinas. As a consequence, cells start to suffer chemical attacks and heat up to the point of frying the tissue.


“It just underscores that nobody who is standing under the sun is immune to these kinds of things.”

Some people think as long as they just make quick glances, they’ll be fine. But experts say several little peeks during the day can be as harmful as a long stare. Some folks also believe if their eyes don’t hurt, they haven’t caused any damage. But retinas don’t have pain receptors. 

President Donald Trump putting on solar eclipse filters

And the protective eyewear goes on.
Credit: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

However people are getting the message about potential solar eye injuries, it seems to be working, based on how White House onlookers reacted to Trump’s momentary slip, Chou said. 

“I also heard a lot of people reminding him right away, as soon as they saw what he was doing, ‘Get your glasses on, get your glasses on,’ and he did,” Chou said. “For once, he actually listened.” 

The question now is whether he’ll don the protective glasses from the campaign trail on April 8.

“It should be on one of those betting websites: Is he going to look at the eclipse again?” Caldwell said. “I wonder what the over-under would be.” 





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Unexpected Discovery In A Nebula 3,800 Light-Years Away Leaves Astronomers Surprised

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Astronomers peering into the depths of space have stumbled upon a celestial spectacle unlike any other – a stellar pair locked in a cosmic dance, surrounded by a mesmerizing cloud of gas and dust. But what sets this duo, dubbed HD 148937, apart from the stellar crowd is a remarkable tale of cosmic collision and rebirth.

Located a staggering 3800 light-years away in the Norma constellation, HD 148937 is home to two stars of immense magnitude, each boasting a mass far surpassing that of our Sun.

Yet, upon closer inspection, astronomers were met with a perplexing revelation – these stars, once thought to be twins, harbor striking differences. One star appears 1.5 million years younger and inexplicably magnetic, while its counterpart bears the marks of age and lacks magnetic allure.

Utilizing data collected over nine years from cutting-edge instruments like PIONIER, GRAVITY, and FEROS, astronomers uncovered a violent history. The evidence pointed to a tumultuous past, wherein three stars once roamed the system, until two stars collided, birthing the stunning nebula that now envelops HD 148937.

ALSO SEE: NASA’s Hubble Telescope Captures ‘Fierce And Fabulous’ Tarantula Nebula Brimming With Baby Stars

“The two inner stars merged in a violent manner, creating a magnetic star and throwing out some material, which created the nebula,” professor Hugues Sana, lead investigator explained in an official statement.

This cosmic ballet not only reshaped the system’s destiny but also shed light on a longstanding mystery in astronomy – the origin of magnetic fields in massive stars. While magnetic fields are common in stars like our Sun, their presence in more massive counterparts has long puzzled astronomers. The discovery of HD 148937 provides compelling evidence that such magnetic fields can arise from stellar mergers, a phenomenon observed only in theory until now.

“Magnetism in massive stars isn’t expected to last very long compared to the lifetime of the star, so it seems we have observed this rare event very soon after it happened,” said Abigail Frost, lead author of the new paper published in the journal Science.

ALSO SEE: ESO’s Very Large Telescope Captures ‘Gloomy Portrait’ Of Cone Nebula, A Staggering Star Factory





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ISRO Gears Up To Launch ESA’s Proba-3 Mission To Study The Sun In Late 2024

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will be launching the European Space Agency’s (ESA) new mission to study the Sun later this year. The launch is targeted for September and it will be carried from Sriharikota using ISRO’s PSLV-XL rocket. Designated Proba-3 (PRoject for On-Board Autonomy), this mission consists of two probes that will be installed in a highly elliptical orbit (600X60,530 kilometer).

Europe currently lacks a launch provider after the retirement of Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket and the delay in introduction of the new Ariane 6.

What is the Proba-3 mission about?

This mission is aimed at studying the Sun’s corona- its outer atmosphere by creating an artificial solar eclipse. The eclipse will happen when the two probes will align themselves approximately 150 meters apart and the one ahead will block the Sun for the second one (see picture below).

Artist’s impression of the Proba-3 satellites in space. Image: ESA

The two satellites are called the Coronagraph spacecraft and the Occulter – one to block the Sun and the other two observe the resulting eclipse.

According to ESA, this mission will allow scientists to study the Sun’s faint corona closer to the solar rim than has ever before been achieved. The corona has been a subject of interest for astronomers for a long time due to its strange properties. For one, it heats up to a million degrees more than the Sun’s surface, reason for which is still unknown.

Once in orbit, the Proba-3 satellites will create eclipses that will last for six hours at a time, providing the scientists plenty of time for observations. The mission is expected to last at least two years.





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What Does A Solar Eclipse On Mars Look Like? NASA Answers With Breathtaking Views

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Today on April 8, millions of people on Earth will witness the Total Solar Eclipse across Mexico, the US and Canada. But apart from Earth, Mars is another planet in our solar system that experiences eclipses courtesy of its two Moons – Phobos and Deimos. NASA recently shared views of eclipses on Mars that were captured by the Perseverance rover.

Notably, the Moons of Mars are over a 100 times smaller than Earth’s Moon but the visuals of their transit is still pretty cool.

The visuals above shows a silhouette of Deimos which is just 12 km in diameter and is 16 times closer to Mars than Earth’s Moon. NASA says that this transit took place in January and lasted about two minutes.

ALSO SEE: What Time Is The Eclipse? When To Watch Wherever You Are.

Perseverance captured another eclipse in February this time featuring Phobos, which measures 22 km wide. This transit, NASA said, was captured in real time. Scientists say that Phobos is on a collision course with Mars and is predicted to either crash into the planet 50 million years from now or break up into a ring. Phobos, according to estimates, is nearing Mars at a rate of six feet every hundred years.

As for the solar eclipse on Earth, it will offer a rare opportunity to spot the loops in the Sun’s corona (outer atmosphere). It is special for other reasons as well. The eclipse will not be visible in India but you can still watch it live via NASA’s YouTube livestream starting 10:30 pm IST.

ALSO SEE: Mars Spacecraft Snaps Glorious View Of Martian Volcanoes — And A Surprise





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