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I can’t believe I have never heard of this concept before today. Link to the Wikipedia article in English and in Spanish.
Basically, what this means is it depends on what country you are from, and even in some cases such as Canada, what language you speak.  And if reading a historical document, when it was written, as to what actual value is placed on the word “Billion,” “Trillion,” or so forth. This video explains is very concisely.

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Mexico uses the long scale, United States uses the short scale, Canada uses both, depending on if you’re speaking English or French, Britain changed from the long scale to the short scale in 1975, France changed from the short scale to the long scale in 1961. Several other countries changed at some point, so this gets pretty confusing. See the Wikipedia article linked above for the details.

There should be a good meteor shower this weekend. See this article for more information.

On this site and a lot of sites around the web, if you leave a comment on something posted and provide an email address, a picture of some little computer generated monster or geometric shape or other graphic will be generated to be used as your avatar.  You can have control over what picture appears for your email address.  See my quick little tool that shows you what avatar appears for any email address.

gravatar.php

For example when you see a comment from my email address, you will see my gravatar:


 

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Here is the photo album from my recent Vacation to Durango Colorado and then to Albuquerque NM to watch the eclipse, then Carlsbad Caverns.

Durango CO vacation plus Annular Solar Eclipse

Also, I recorded these videos while on vacation:

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Rare transition of Venus across the sun, for the western hemisphere occuring during sunset on June 5, 2012. Unless you can live another 105.5 years, this will be the last time in your lifetime you can experience this event.
Find out where to see a rare astronomical event that won't recur for more than a century, in this SPACE.com infographic.
Source: SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration
It is kindof a special kind of solar eclipse, just not of the moon, instead of Venus that is far enough away that it will just be a small dot crossing in front of the surface of the sun.
You will be able to see it without magnification from a telecsope of binoculars, but you must use eye protection, such as the welding goggles I described in the May 20 2012 solar eclipse page.
It is so rare because there are only 2 planets that can possibly get between Earth and the sun: Mercury and Venus. Mercury is smaller and farther, so it is more difficult to see but transits the sun more often because it makes a complete revolution around the sun every 88 Earth days. Venus takes 225 Earth days.
This video explains it and why it used to be important to observe the rare Venus transition. (To find out the size of the solar system)

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Some information from NASA
Find out about the planet Venus' dramatic trip across the face of the sun in June 2012 in this SPACE.com infographic.
Source SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

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Originally posted Aug 13, 2009:

A partial eclipse will be visible to most of Asia during sunrise Monday morning, then later Sunday evening it will be visible in the western half of North America during sunset.  (Now I realize how confusing crossing the International Date Line can be)

The moon can be seen directly in front of the sun first from the southeast edge of China, then Japan, at its greatest at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean just south of the island chain stretching from Alaska, across the southwest corner of Oregon, northern California, the middle half of Nevada, southwest Utah, northern Arizona, northwest to southeast New Mexico, and right at sunset, the southern part of the Texas panhandle.

From Austin, Texas, you can observe the partial eclipse from 7:34pm until sunset at 8:21pm.

See this Google map for the best time to observe this eclipse from the location you will be in that day.  Note that all times are in universal time (GMT).  Also see this almanac page about the moon and sun rise/set times.  Change it to your location for more accurate information.

See this safety information about viewing a solar eclipse.  I ordered some welder’s goggles from Amazon for $5.70 but they only come with clear glass, so I am installing these shade number 14 lenses for them for $4.98 a pair.

Additional eclipse safety information.

Related SPACE.COM article about solar eclipses.

The source for my solar eclipse information: NASA

Also see info about the rare upcoming June 6 2012 Venus Transit.

Here’s how to turn it off:

Go to your Control Panel.  Choose “Folder Options.”  Go to the “View” tab, scroll down to the entry that says “Hide extensions for known file types” and un-check it if it is checked.  Hit “Apply” and then if available, “Apply to Folders.”

Here is why I recommend you turn it off:

Ever since Windows 95 was released the default setting was to hide extensions for known file types.  The reasoning behind that being the default was to make Windows look more like a Macintosh where the picture of the icon is what tells you what kind of file it is, instead of the usual 3 characters after the dot.

Sure it’s nice having the icon so you cant tell at a glance what is an Excel spreadsheet and what is an MP3 song, but by seeing the 3 character extension, you can tell for sure before you try to open something you didn’t intend.

People who have written trojans (viruses) take advantage of this.  A file name can have only one extension but they can have more than one dot in the name, so the real extension is whatever is after the last dot.  Some trojans are named something innocent looking, which appears to not be executable, such as “hello.txt.exe” The real extension being .exe makes it executable.  If the setting to hide extensions is turned on like the default, then all you see is “hello.txt” making you think it is safe to open it because you would expect it to simply open in notepad, but instead it executes the .exe file.

If this setting was what I recommend, then you will immediately see that it is really an .exe file and should know to exercise caution handling this file.  (Such as running a virus scan on it before doing anything besides deleting it).

This site has been getting attacked pretty badly by spam bots in the past, so nearly a year ago I turned off the ability for anyone to add comments.

Good news people, I have turned comments back on.  Unfortunately now there is a Re-Captcha test that you must pass to prove you are human each time you post a new comment.  It may be a kind of a pain in the you-know-what, but it makes it nearly impossible for the robots to post spam.

This is only an example.