The night sky changes before our eyes

The wetsuit rehearsal, as NASA calls it, has been canceled twice this week because the team encountered several problems – and the rocket withstood a few lightning strikes. However, officials said the team had “accomplished a lot” and hadn’t given up on a June launch. Another test attempt is planned for this weekend.

Meet Katie Hunt, replacing Ashley Strickland, in this week’s CNN Science Bulletin.

It’s easy to think of the night sky as a constant source of wonder that has changed little since the dawn of humankind.

But our vision of the cosmos is changing due to the proliferation of satellites, like those launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. In less than a decade, 1 out of 15 points of light in the night sky will actually be a moving satellite – a big problem when you consider that you can only see about 4,000 stars with the naked eye.

This satellite pollution could hamper our ability to detect – and possibly deflect – asteroids.

The changes are easy to miss if, like me, you live in a big city where light pollution obscures the night sky. My CNN colleague Kristin Fisher traveled to Saskatchewan, Canada, where the scale of the problem is clearer.

Curiosities

Have you ever wondered why beer bottles are usually brown glass? It has something to do with skunks. Good kind of.

If you’ve ever poured a beer into a clear glass and left it out in the sun, it can taste off-putting. This is because when beer hops are exposed to strong light, a photooxidation reaction occurs, creating the compound 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol. This is a chemical compound similar to the stinky odor produced by skunks.

Dark-tinted glass can help prevent this process, which brewers have dubbed “skunking.”

Dig it

Dozens of huge megalithic stone pots, ranging from 1 to 3 meters (about 3.2 to 9.8 feet) high, have been unearthed in Assam, India.

While some similar ancient jar sites were discovered by the British in the 1920s, an excavation that took place in 2020 uncovered four previously unknown sites.

Similar jars have been found in Laos, a country in Southeast Asia, and researchers have been lucky enough to find jars still intact, with artifacts like beads and human remains inside.

However, these more recent findings were blank, making it difficult to determine what culture and when they came from. Researchers hope to find unopened jars that will shed light on their mysterious origins.

mission critical

Indigenous communities around the world have used fires for thousands of years to clear the land of additional debris.

Now California is calling on Native American tribes to bring back the once-banned practice to help prevent the devastating wildfires that have wreaked havoc in the state.

Fighting fire with fire may seem counterintuitive, but this practice eliminates dry vegetation that can easily ignite and create intense flames that are harder to fight. It also makes forests more resilient, making future wildfires less likely.

A long time ago

Our Stone Age ancestors also fell for these irresistible eyes.

I’m a cat person, but I’m not immune to a pair of puppy eyes staring at me with emotion. Nor, it seems, our Stone Age ancestors.

Turns out humans selectively bred dogs to have such irresistible eyes, and they started in regards to 33,000 years ago.

Compared to their genetic cousin the wolf, domestic dogs have more “fast-twitch” facial muscles that allow them to more closely mimic our expressions – or at least stare at us in a way that melts our hearts.

Once upon a planet

Don’t miss these cool reads:

— Listening to a favorite song can instantly transport you to another moment in your life, with startling clarity. Here’s the science behind how our minds connect music to memory.
— Handwritten notebooks belonging to Charles Darwin have been returned to Cambridge University with a mysterious message — 20 years after they went missing.
— Cute alert. American zoos have celebrated the birth of two endangered primates. A blue-eyed black lemur has arrived in Florida, while a black lion tamarin was born at the Jersey Zoo.
Do you like what you read? Oh, but there’s more. register here to get the next edition of Wonder Theory, brought to you by the CNN Space and Science writer, delivered to your inbox Ashley Stricklandwho marvels at the planets beyond our solar system and the discoveries of the ancient world.

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