Oregon Man Wants to Be the First Person to Launch His Cat’s Cremains Into Space

iStock.com/wanderluster
iStock.com/wanderluster

Pikachu won’t be the first live cat to be launched into space, but he could become the first deceased one to be “buried” among the stars. According to Geek.com, an Oregon man is hosting a crowdfunding campaign to give his beloved pet a celestial send-off. Steve Munt, of Lake Oswego, plans to send the cat’s cremated remains into Earth’s orbit via a rocket operated by a space-memorial company called Celestis Pets.

“Please help make history, and secure Pikachu's place in the heavens as a guardian angel of this Earth,” Munt writes on his GoFundMe page, which has raised more than $2100 of its $5000 goal. “A portion of his remains, from his heart, will be launched into orbit, where he will watch over the Earth, and we can track his location as he showers the world with love.”

Pikachu died in January 2019 after a yearlong battle with diabetes. People from around the world have been offering their support in the comment section of the fundraising page, including some who said they sympathized because they had a similar-looking orange tabby.

Celestis has been arranging space memorials for people since 1997, but its operations expanded to include pets in 2014. According to the company, it has blasted the cremains of two dogs into space, but no cats have received this cosmic treatment. “I wanted Pikachu to be the first, continue his legacy as an explorer, and show the world that a cat is just as worthy as a dog of a special tribute,” Munt told Space.com.

The company offers different packages, but its Earth Orbit service is one of the more affordable services at a cost of $5000. According to the website, a portion of cremains would enter Earth’s orbit, “where it remains until it reenters the atmosphere, harmlessly vaporizing like a shooting star in final tribute.”

[h/t Geek.com]

How to See Venus and the Moon Share a ‘Kiss’ in a Rare Astronomical Event This Week

Mike Hewitt/iStock via Getty Images
Mike Hewitt/iStock via Getty Images

Venus is visible in the evening or morning sky for most of the year, but this Thursday, the second planet from the sun won't be alone in its spot above the horizon. As Travel + Leisure reports, Venus, also known as the "evening star," will appear right next to a crescent moon following the sunset on February 27, resulting in a rare celestial "kiss."

Why will Venus be close to the moon?

Venus is often among the first "stars" to become visible at twilight (though it's really a planet), and it's the brightest object in the night sky aside from the moon. Between January 1 and May 24, it shines brightly above the western horizon. For a few weeks in early May and late June, Venus is washed out by the light of the sun, and from June 13 to December 31, it's easiest to see in the eastern sky around sunrise.

This week, Venus will be in the perfect position to share a "kiss" with the night's brightest object. All the planets, including Venus, appear to traverse the same path across the night sky called the ecliptic. The moon follows a similar trajectory, and on some nights, the celestial body seems to come very close to the planets that also occupy the plane. This effect is just an illusion; while they will appear to be nearly touching on Thursday, the moon will actually be 249,892 miles from Earth on February 27, while Venus will be 84 million miles away.

The Moon just entered its "new" phase on Sunday, and it will only be partially illuminated by the time it meets up with Venus. The waxing crescent moon will rise in the perfect position in the western sky on Thursday to create a joint spectacle with our planetary neighbor.

When to see Venus and the moon "kiss"

The kiss between the moon and Venus can be spotted in the hours after sunset on Thursday, February 27. When you notice it getting dark, head outside and look to the southwest horizon if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. That will give you your best chance at catching the special event. If you miss it this week, you won't have to wait long for your next opportunity to see the Moon kiss Venus: The two bodies will return to a similar position on March 28, 2020.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

Katherine Johnson, the NASA Legend Who Inspired 'Hidden Figures,' Dies at Age 101

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Mathematician and NASA legend Katherine Johnson has died at age 101, The New York Times reports. The inspiration for the 2016 movie Hidden Figures, Johnson was best known for calculating the equations that sent the first astronauts to the moon and breaking barriers in science and technology as a black woman in the civil rights era.

Katherine Johnson's knack for numbers was apparent from a young age. She was born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, on August 26, 1918, and she enrolled directly into the second grade as soon as she was old enough to go to school. She graduated college summa cum laude at age 18 after taking every math class that was available to her.

In the 1950s, NASA hired Johnson to be one of the women "computers" tasked with crunching the numbers that were vital to getting missions off the ground. She was personally responsible for confirming the equations that sent astronaut John Glenn into orbit in 1962. After requesting that Johnson double-check the computer's math by hand, he reportedly said, “If she says they’re good, then I’m ready to go.”

Her biggest job was working on the Apollo 11 mission. Johnson worked closely with NASA's engineers to calculate when and where to launch the first manned shuttle to the moon, fully aware that even a tiny error could lead to a national tragedy. On July 20, 1969, the first astronauts landed on the moon, thanks in part to her computing power.

As a black woman working in a primarily white male-dominated field in the 1960s, Johnson's contributions to space history went unrecognized for years. She lived long enough to become one of the few marginalized figures in science to receive some much-deserved, albeit overdue, accolades. In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded Johnson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 2016, her work at NASA was depicted in the Oscar-nominated movie Hidden Figures. Johnson also nurtured a love of knowledge throughout her life, earning an honorary doctorate degree from West Virginia University more than 75 years after dropping out of graduate school.

Johnson died on the morning of Monday, February 24, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine shared on Twitter. He said in the announcement, "She was an American hero and her pioneering legacy will never be forgotten."

[h/t The New York Times]

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