Apollo 11 Astronauts Are Being Honored With Butter Sculptures at the Ohio State Fair

American Dairy Assocation
American Dairy Assocation

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, its three astronauts are being honored in the most Midwestern way imaginable: with life-sized butter sculptures at the Ohio State Fair.

Along with the uncannily lifelike statues of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, there are also sculptures depicting a helmeted Neil Armstrong saluting the American flag next to the lunar module Eagle, a blown-up version of the official Apollo 11 patch, and the calf and cow that are showcased at the fair every year (this year, however, their ear tags read “Apollo”).

American Dairy Association

Armstrong was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, CNET reports, and also bought an Ohio dairy farm after leaving NASA in 1971. He’s a big part of the reason Ohio feels a particular connection to space travel, but he’s not the only part—John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, was born in Cambridge, Ohio, and later served as an Ohio senator. There’s even an image of an astronaut on Ohio’s state quarter.

Though the sculptures are life-sized, they’re significantly heavier than real people. Dairy farmers donated 2200 pounds of butter to create them, and they’re also supported by steel frames. To prevent softening, the artists spent 400 out of the 500 total work hours sculpting the display from inside a cooler at 46°F.

According to the American Dairy Association Mideast, which sponsors the exhibit, about half a million fairgoers will visit the Dairy Products Building from now through August 4 to see the butter sculptures and enjoy dairy-based foods like ice cream, milkshakes, cheese sandwiches, and good, old-fashioned milk. Past displays have honored the classic holiday film A Christmas Story, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Ohio’s U.S. presidents, and many more Ohio-centric subjects.

[h/t CNET]

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3D Map Shows the Milky Way Galaxy in Unprecedented Detail


It's our galactic home, but the Milky Way contains many mysteries scientists are working to unravel. Now, as The Guardian reports, astronomers at the European Space Agency have built a 3D map that provides the most detailed look at our galaxy yet.

The data displayed in the graphic below has been seven years in the making. In 2013, the ESA launched its Gaia observatory from Kourou in French Guiana. Since then, two high-powered telescopes aboard the spacecraft have been sweeping the skies, recording the locations, movements, and changes in brightness of more than a billion stars in the Milky Way and beyond.

Using Gaia's findings, astronomers put together a 3D map that allows scientists to study the galaxy in greater depth than ever before. The data has made it possible to measure the acceleration of the solar system. By comparing the solar system's movement to that of more remote celestial objects, researchers have determined that the solar system is slowly falling toward the center of the galaxy at an acceleration of 7 millimeters per second per year, The Guardian reports. Additionally, the map reveals how matter is distributed throughout the Milky Way. With this information, scientists should be able to get an estimate of the galaxy's mass.

Gaia's observations may also hold clues to the Milky Way's past and future. The data holds remnants of the 10-billion-year-old disc that made up the edge of the star system. By comparing it to the shape of the Milky Way today, astronomers have determined that the disc will continue to expand as new stars are created.

The Gaia observatory was launched with the mission of gathering an updated star census. The previous census was conducted in 1957, and Gaia's new data reaches four times farther and accounts for 100 times more stars.

[h/t The Guardian]