This weekend’s once-in-a-lifetime comet

Published about 1 month ago • 8 min read

Daily Edition • April 20, 2024


You’ve likely heard the phrase “gap year” used to describe students taking time to travel, volunteer, or relax before pursuing higher education or work. Less talked about is the growing trend of adults embarking on their own version of a gap year, also known as a mini-sabbatical. According to the Associated Press, more companies are offering these extended breaks as a way to counter employee burnout and exhaustion. If that has you feeling inspired, take a look at this list of five places where the U.S. dollar goes furthest for travelers, and get tips on how to take an adult gap year on a budget.

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A Once-in-a-Lifetime Comet and Annual Meteor Shower Take Place This Weekend

Be sure to look to the sky tomorrow night: Two major celestial events are offering exciting views. Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks — dubbed the “Devil Comet” (pictured) — will reach its brightest state as it makes its way around the sun, an orbit that takes approximately 70 years. Also taking place Sunday is the Lyrid meteor shower, which will peak over the Northern Hemisphere.

Nicknamed for horn-shaped outbursts of ice and gas observed on its surface, the Devil Comet will glow against the darkness when it reaches its closest distance to our star, about 144 million miles. Getting a glimpse of the comet will best be achieved with binoculars or a telescope and a clear view of the west-north-western horizon just after sunset, per Newsweek.

Originating from the debris trail left behind by the comet Thatcher, the Lyrid meteor shower will peak later Sunday evening and into the early hours on Monday (Earth Day, no less!). Lucky stargazers may get to witness meteors streaking across the sky every few minutes, Mental Floss reports. These shooting stars were named after the constellation Lyra, and have been observed for centuries.

To catch the best glimpse of the Lyrids, seek out dark, clear skies away from city lights. Telescopes aren’t necessary, and, of course, those who miss it will have another chance to catch the show next year.

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“Flying With Confidence” Course Empowers Anxious Airline Passengers

Knowledge is power. That adage applies to many aspects of life, including pre-flight nerves — which is why it’s essentially the ethos behind a unique British Airways course for anxious flyers.

Called Flying With Confidence, and led by the aptly named Captain Steve Allright, the one-day class begins by teaching participants technical details about how airplanes operate. “There is strong evidence to suggest that one of the main causes of fear of flying is simple lack of knowledge about how an aircraft flies and operates,” the airline explains.

The afternoon session is dedicated to a discussion on flying anxiety, including aerophobia and other common causes for concerns, like a fear of heights and claustrophobia. A psychologist demonstrates ways to mitigate nervousness and then guides the class in a relaxation exercise — leading up to the course’s grand finale: a 30-minute flight.

Speaking to CBS News, Allright recounted the experience of one participant who hadn’t flown since 1986 but wanted to visit family in Australia. “I said, ‘Why now?’ And in her case she said, ‘It’s a long way by boat to visit the grandchildren,’ so she felt she had to do it,” he shared, adding: “She strode onto the aircraft and came off with tears in her eyes, and said, ‘Thank you for changing my life.’”


“Never Been Done”: How an Animal Testing Site Transformed Into a Sanctuary

A 30-acre facility in Oklahoma was previously used for research testing on dogs and cats. Now? It’s a rehabilitation sanctuary for former lab animals. This 180-degree transformation was thanks to Shannon Keith, an animal rights lawyer and founder of the Beagle Freedom Project, and John Riner, the facility’s former owner.

Per The Washington Post, Keith has been rescuing and rehoming lab animals for years, including many used for testing at Riner’s site. Taking note of the facility’s beauty on some of her visits to pick up animals, Keith pitched an idea to Riner: She wanted to buy the property and turn it into an animal sanctuary. “I assumed he was going to laugh me off the phone,” Keith told the outlet.

Thankfully, he didn’t, and after some negotiations, the sale was finalized in February, shutting down all testing and putting the 200-plus cats and dogs in Keith’s custody. “This has never been done,” she said. “Nobody has ever closed down an animal testing facility and turned it into a rehab sanctuary.”

Explore the site and meet some of the sweet animals.

In Other News

  1. The massive freeway wildlife crossing being built in Los Angeles hit a construction milestone this week — see the progress.
  2. Crazy Rich Asians is coming to Broadway! The musical adaptation is being developed by Jon M. Chu, who directed the 2018 blockbuster of the same name.
  3. Caitlin Clark once again made history: After she was drafted by the WNBA’s Indiana Fever on Monday, her jersey became the highest-selling ever for a draft pick.
  4. Meet the high schooler who created an AI algorithm that accurately predicts the needs of 911 callers. With a 94.5% success rate, it could reduce response times and save cities millions.
  5. Fool’s gold, officially referred to as pyrite, might actually become valuable after all.

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Inspiring Story

Out of left field

In 2019, Paul Landry Jr.’s foot was crushed in a trailer accident and eventually had to be amputated, ending his career as a truck driver. But you know what they say about every time a door closes. Today, 51-year-old Landry is fulfilling a passion on the baseball field as the designated hitter for Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, Massachusetts. Though he’s coached the sport for 25 years, he never played in high school or college. It was going back to school with the hopes of starting a new career that changed everything. “He shows everyone that you can do whatever you put your mind to,” said Cameron Marks, who was once coached by Landry and now calls him a teammate.

Photo of the Day

Everyone on their tippy toes! At the Plaza Hotel in New York City on Wednesday, 353 ballerinas with the Youth America Grand Prix set a Guinness World Record for the most dancers on pointe simultaneously for one minute. Watch the history-making moment.

Meet AG1: Supplementation, Simplified

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Quote of the Day

“Your wrinkles reflect the roads you have taken; they form the map of your life.”


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