How Being Near Water Can Improve Your Health


Health pic


Valerie Varnuska of Westbury, NY, enjoys astronomy and cooking. Valerie Varnuska is also a lover of the outdoors and nature, and enjoys being near the ocean.

Studies have proven time and time again that spending time in nature provides physical, emotional, and mental health benefits. However, much of this research has been focused on how access to open green spaces and water promotes healthy exercise and relaxing activities. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in how being near water can affect the human brain and body.

According to a 2016 study by researchers at Michigan State University, individuals who live near a body of water report lower stress levels. Interestingly, the study did not find the same benefit for individuals who live near green spaces, leading the researchers to conclude that simply looking at bodies of water can provide a calming effect.

This research reinforces what other psychologists and scientists have asserted over the years. One researcher, Walter Nichols, suggested that humans have a “blue mind,” which is his term for the meditative state that is triggered by the sight of water. Additionally, multiple sleep studies have indicated that the sound of running water or waves can improve sleep quality.


Solar System Grazed by Star 70,000 Years Ago, Researchers Say


Proxima Centauripic

Proxima Centauri

As a passionate member of the natural science community, Valerie Varnuska of Westbury, NY, enjoys reading about astronomy. Astronomy buffs like Valerie Varnuska are often the first to become aware of new developments in the study of space, including its history, current happenings, and new discoveries.

While many think of stars as unmoving celestial bodies, recent research indicates that a red dwarf star called Scholz’s star came within one light year of our solar system approximately 70,000 years ago. For perspective, this is more than four times closer than the sun’s current closest neighbor, Proxima Centauri.

The first research suggesting this phenomenon looked at the star’s current motion and velocity and extrapolated backward. Other research coming from the Complutense University of Madrid, however, looked at the hyperbolic, or V-shaped, orbits of some objects within the solar system. Many of these objects are projected in the direction of the constellation of Gemini, which would fit the model of an encounter with Scholz’s star. This close encounter does not explain all objects on hyperbolic orbits, however, which means other explanations are necessary to capture the full picture of unusual objects in the solar system.

Understanding Meteoroids and Shooting Stars


Meteoroids and Shooting Stars pic

Meteoroids and Shooting Stars

Based in Westbury, NY, Valerie Varnuska has an appreciation for the outdoors and enjoys exploring the natural landscape around her. Valerie Varnuska also maintains a strong interest in stargazing and enjoys learning about the principles of astronomy that define natural phenomena across the universe.

Seeing a shooting star is a memorable experience for stargazers of all ages. Despite the name, however, this phenomenon does not actually involve any stars. The streaks of light are due to meteoroids, which are composed of tiny rock and dust particles that burn up as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere. The trail of light that forms is called a meteor, while remaining objects that survive entry into the atmosphere and land on terra firma are known as meteorites.

Meteor showers are common at specific times of the year when the Earth, during its orbit of the Sun, passes through a debris trail that has been left behind by an orbiting comet. These showers take their names from the constellation that inhabits the area of the night sky where the shooting stars appear. For example, the Leonid Meteor Shower originates in the part of the sky inhabited by Leo.

NASA Telescope Discovers Nearly 100 New Planets

NASA Telescopepic

NASA Telescope

A resident of Westbury, NY, Valerie Varnuska likes to enjoy the outdoor environment while taking part in activities such as hiking, walking, and stargazing. In addition to exploring nature trails near Westbury, NY, Valerie Varnuska holds a keen interest in astronomy and learning about new astrological discoveries. Recently, NASA discovered 95 new planets beyond our solar system.

The newly discovered exoplanets (planets existing outside our solar system) were observed using NASA’s Kepler telescope and vary from Earth- to Jupiter-sized. The telescope located the planets while orbiting the earth, providing views of different parts of the sky along with recordings of fluctuations in light levels caused by exoplanets crossing in front of the stars they orbit.
Researchers are analyzing data provided by the telescope to differentiate between fluctuations caused by the movement of exoplanets and those caused by other sources.

Exoplanet explorers hope to discover other Earth-sized planets that may have the capacity to host life. Future space missions intended to help find such planets include the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.

The Creation of a Unified System of Constellations


Constellations pic


Valerie Varnuska of Westbury, NY, is passionate about the natural world. Fascinated by the beauty of the night sky, Valerie Varnuska has a strong interest in astronomy and natural phenomenon beyond the earth.

A recent article on examined the development of constellations, the naming of a group of stars that form a recognizable pattern, which began formally in 2nd-century BC Greece with Hipparchus’ 48 classical constellations. These constellations had their roots in ancient Babylon and included some obvious star clusters that had been independently recognized by cultures around the world.

Several decades later, Ptolemy created the Almagest catalog of constellations, which was passed down virtually intact to modern Europeans. Additions included 14 new constellations visible only to seafarers as they explored the Southern Hemisphere. In the 1930s, a formal set of 88 constellations was codified worldwide through the efforts of the International Astronomical Union.