Total solar eclipse 2017: Get ready for the big event

The clock is ticking for the eagerly anticipated ‘Great American’ eclipse that will make its way across the U.S. Monday. This is what to expect.

The eclipse, which is the first to the cross the entire country coast-to-coast in almost 100 years, is expected to take about an hour and 40 minutes to makes its journey across the U.S. The total solar eclipse will start near Lincoln City, Oregon at 1:15 p.m. EDT, and totality will end at 2:48 p.m. EDT near Charleston, S.C.

Totality will last for about two-and-a-half minutes as the moon casts its shadow on the Earth, cutting roughly 70-mile path from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic.

TOP FIVE WORST SUPERSTITIONS ABOUT SOLAR ECLIPSES

Mostly clear skies beckoned along much of the route, according to the National Weather Service.

Excitement is mounting ahead of the historic event. Oregon, for example, has already experienced traffic issues as eclipse viewers flood to parts of the state. Almost 1 million people are expected to visit the state to see the eclipse, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE DANGERS: WILL I GO BLIND IF I STARE AT THE SUN?

Elsewhere in the U.S., both inside and outside the zone of totality, people are preparing for the rare event.

Seton Hall University Assistant Professor of Physics Jose Lopez will be attending a campus viewing party.

“I’ll be outside in the middle of the campus with my daughter, students, colleagues, and many members of our University and local community using Solar Telescopes and authentic eclipse glasses,” he explained, via email. “We’ll of course only experience a partial solar eclipse in the NY/NJ metro area, but it’s the first such event over the Continental US since 1918. Not too many folks left that experienced that last solar eclipse 99 years ago. So, like many folks I’m looking forward to this special cosmic event!”

The eclipse, however, poses potential dangers. Experts are warning eclipse watchers about the risks to vision posed by the rare event, and have highlighted the importance of effective eye protection.

WHAT CAUSES A TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE?

NASA has also issued a solar eclipse safety warning. “The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as ‘eclipse glasses’ or hand-held solar viewers,” it said, in its solar eclipse safety guidelines. “Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the Sun.”

Nonetheless, doctors are bracing for a spike in E.R. visits related to the event.

Scientists across the country are also preparing to study the eclipse. A team of NASA-funded scientists, for example, will be chasing the solar eclipseacross America in a pair of retrofitted WB-57F jets. Scientists will use twin telescopes mounted on the noses of the research planes to ­­­­­capture crystal–clear images of the Sun’s corona, or its outer atmosphere.

AMERICA PREPARES FOR THE SOLAR ECLIPSE

Other projects include an effort to figure out the Sun’s exact size, and research into how the eclipse changes atmospheric conditions.

Seton Hall Professor Lopez told Fox News that science has also given us extensive knowledge of when and there eclipses will happen. “Through the gained knowledge of physics, in particular the sub-field of Newtonian or classical mechanics, we’re capable of making very accurate calculations of the exact times when solar eclipses will happen and the terrestrial locations of where total solar eclipses will occur,” he said. “It impresses me immensely that [the] Universe has a repeating and cyclical nature that we’ve figured out.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

Walruses show up early in Alaska as ice recedes

Sign of the times? Several hundred Pacific walruses began amassing on an island off Alaska’s northwest coast in the first week of August in what wildlife officials say is the earliest date yet for their annual “haulout.” The culprit appears to be shrinking Arctic ice.

Walruses tend to head ashore two weeks after warm temperatures cause sea ice to recede too far north for them in the Chukchi Sea. This year, it happened earlier than ever.

Walruses typically use sea ice for protection and as a home base, particularly for juveniles, while adults dive to the ocean floor for food. But “when that ice retreats to the deeper water, they can’t do that,” Fish and Wildlife rep Andrea Medeiros tells Alaska Public Media.

For the past several years, a barrier island near Point Lay has served as an alternative home base. Last year, thousands of walruses had arrived there by Oct. 7.

This year, however, the haulout was observed beginning on Aug. 3—a full two weeks ahead of the next earliest date observed back in 2011, reports Alaska Dispatch News.

Medeiros tells the AP that last week some 2,000 walruses were observed on the island, where they’re expected to stay until the fall. Hoping to head north to observe the animals? Officials would rather you not.

Not only is it illegal to disturb them, the walruses are known to stampede to the water in response to plane and boat activity in the area, which spells bad news for juvenile walruses.

This article originally appeared on Newser: Walruses Show Up Early in Alaska as Ice Recedes

The solar eclipse that rocked the world of science

Michael Guillen

This coming Monday’s total solar eclipse will give us a rare look at the sun’s outer atmosphere, known as the corona. Its violent, unpredictable seizures – “coronal mass ejections” – have the potential of bombarding our planet with deadly radiation, a scenario I work into the plot of my new thriller, The Null Prophecy.”

Monday’s event is also a sobering reminder of the famous 1919 eclipse that unceremoniously demolished a scientific consensus many once thought was unassailable.

During the 17th century – reportedly after seeing an apple fall to the ground – Isaac Newton got the idea that gravity is a force field operating everywhere in the universe. He described the ubiquitous force field with a simple equation, now taught in high school physics classes, that holds equally well on Earth and throughout the cosmos.

Generations of scientists bought into Newton’s thesis, which gradually settled into becoming a cornerstone of classical physics. No serious scientist would even think to question it.

Then came Albert Einstein.

In 1915, the upstart physicist dared to contest the orthodoxy by proposing that gravity arises from a “warped” universe. Imagine a huge football player plopping himself next to you on a large, comfy couch, creating a huge depression that causes you to slide toward him. That, according to Einstein, is actually how gravity works.

The universe, he explained, is woven from an invisible space-time fabric that is elastic, like spandex. Any massive object sitting on it – say, Earth – creates a deep, circular depression, causing nearby objects to slide toward it. We interpret that movement as “gravitational attraction.”

Not surprisingly, scientists of the day were skeptical about Einstein’s hypothesis. Besides flying in the face of a scientific consensus supported by centuries of evidence, it sounded preposterous.

To settle the matter, a prominent British astronomer, Sir Frank Watson Dyson, stepped forward with a clever idea.  If Einstein’s claim was true, he said, rays of starlight passing close to the sun – which presumably produces a sizable space-time depression – would bend inward by a certain amount.

But how to perform the experiment without being blinded by the sun? Dyson had the answer: make good use of the total solar eclipse sweeping across South America and Africa on May 29, 1919. He helped organize an expedition to Príncipe, a tiny island off the coast of Equatorial Guinea, headed up by his colleague Arthur Eddington.

On that fateful day, at precisely 2:14 pm local time – as the moon’s shadow glided across the sun’s face, blotting out its blinding photosphere – Eddington couldn’t believe his eyes. Starlight grazing the eclipsed sun did indeed bend inward by precisely the amount predicted by Einstein’s crazy idea!

Eddington announced his results in November, whereupon Einstein became an instant celebrity, his picture splashed on the front pages of newspapers worldwide. It was big news. Einstein’s novel idea – the now-famous theory of general relativity – had toppled a venerated scientific canon that had stood for 232 years.

So when you look up at the solar eclipse (using proper eye protection) on Monday, think of Arthur Eddington. Because what he discovered 100 years ago is as relevant today as it was back then – even more so.

I say that because an increasing number of people now look to science for the last word on pretty much everything – from nutrition and the environment, to human behavior and religion. That’s a dangerous mistake. As a theoretical physicist, I’ve devoted my entire adult life to popularizing science. I think science is fascinating; but like Eddington, I’ve discovered it is also fallible.

Michael Guillen  Ph.D., former Science Editor for ABC News, taught physics at Harvard. His novel, “The Null Prophecy,” debuts July 10.

Janice Dean: An eclipse never gets old (but you’ve gotta protect your eyes)

Janice Dean

February 26, 1979.  I was 8-years-old and remember being both terrified and intrigued about something that was being talked about everywhere. From the schoolyard to the grocery store, on the front covers of newspapers, magazines and leading the coverage on TV.

This wasn’t a storyline out of a science fiction movie or novel, this was real, and happening here on Earth.

Millions of people were going to witness something that maybe happens a couple of times in our lifetime:  A total solar eclipse.

Our teachers were planning lessons about this incredible celestial event. Chalkboard diagrams, planetary mobiles and handmade viewing devices were being created out of shoe boxes. We were all being prepped for the event of the year.

I remember a TV show in Canada on the day of the TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE where the intro was the theme from the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

A meteorologist was talking about the weather and mentioned wind direction and whether or not our view would be obscured by cloud cover. They also had a rooster on set to see if after the eclipse happened would the rooster crow because he was confused that morning had come again?

I can’t remember if the rooster cock-a-doodle-doo’d but I do remember hearing the phrase that scared the you-know- what out of me:

“DON’T LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN DURING A SOLAR ECLIPSE.  ANYTIME. YOU WILL GO BLIND!”

The advertising worked. I was terrified, but my curiosity was eclipsing my fear.

The basic story behind the solar eclipse is simple: The moon as it orbits around the earth passes in front of the sun every now and then.

When that happens, the sun’s light is temporarily blocked and the result is a solar eclipse.  If the sun is completely covered, that is a total eclipse.

Because the moon’s orbit is tilted, this type of event only happens a few times a year, and most times the alignment is not exact, so many eclipses are just partial and only seen in remote areas across the world.

Back in 1979, the central shadow of the moon passed through several U.S. states and a few Canadian provinces including Ontario, which is where I am from. We were going to be part of solar eclipse history!

Thirty-eight years later, the Earth, sun and moon are aligning once again, but this time many more people will be experiencing this total solar eclipse. On August 21st the U.S will experience its first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in 99 years.

My 8-year-old self is still a little nervous. My 47-year-old self is incredibly excited.

I’m going to be travelling to Greenville, South Carolina, to broadcast live for “Fox & Friends” the morning of the eclipse, Monday, August 21st. Greenville is one of the lucky cities along the path of totality.

Everyone across the U.S. will at least see a partial eclipse, but those living along the “red line” will see a TOTAL ECLIPSE that could last up to 2 minutes and 40 seconds in some places.

The one thing that could hinder this experience is cloud cover, so be prepared for the possible disappointment from your local meteorologist.

The path of totality will be 60-70 miles wide and some of the biggest cities in the path include Nashville, Tennessee; Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina; Salem, Oregon; Casper, Wyoming; and Kansas City, Missouri.

The eclipse will last the longest in Carbondale, Illinois.

So, back to the safety of watching the solar eclipse – and the “YOU COULD GO BLIND” warning I have seared in my memory from when I was eight.

Ophthalmologists are saying this is a big deal. In this event where hundreds of millions of people are going to be exposed, children are at the highest risk.

Staring at the sun on a regular basis is an uncomfortable thing to do—but during an eclipse where the sun is almost covered,  we’re more apt to try to look at the sun because it’s not as bright, and our protective reflexes like blinking and pupil contraction are less likely to kick in.

Our eyes are like powerful magnifying glasses and if you stare at the sun, you focus all the energy of that light onto your retina – the light-sensitive tissue in the back of your eye. You won’t feel it because the retina doesn’t have pain fibers, but the damage can happen in just a few seconds. There have been reports of people becoming legally blind in at least one eye after watching eclipses.

Regular sunglasses will not help. There are special purpose solar filters like mylar that could decrease the amount of light into the eye, but you have to look for glasses that meet the ISO 12312-2 international standards.

Be very careful ordering these online as Amazon has issued recalls to customers that may have not come from recommended manufacturers.

An alternative for safe viewing is through a pinhole projector (I remember making one of these in school). With this method, sunlight streams through the small hole onto a makeshift screen such as a piece of paper on the ground.

And because I not only love doing weather on TV, but also educating kids about weather and science with help from my “Freddy the Frogcaster” children’s books, I’ve included some Freddy safety tips here for the eclipse (please see the picture below).

So, prepare yourselves, earthlings for a TOTALLY awesome Great American Solar Eclipse Monday August 21st.

I hope you’ll watch our coverage on “Fox & Friends” live from Greenville, South Carolina.

I may even have a rooster with me to see if he crows after the event happens.

Oh, and if the clouds roll in during the afternoon, and there’s a possibility they could “eclipse” the view, try not to get mad at your TV meteorologist (or the local frogcaster).

It’s not our fault. And there’s always the next total solar eclipse.  Mark it on your calendar: April 8, 2024.

Janice Dean is senior meteorologist for Fox News Channel. She is author of two children’s books about weather. Her latest is “Freddy the Frogcaster and the Flash Flood” (Regnery, August 21, 2017). Click here for more information on Janice Dean.

What to do if your solar eclipse glasses won’t arrive in time

If you won’t have eclipse glasses in time for the total solar eclipse that will cross the United States on Aug. 21, here are your options for getting them in a hurry or viewing the eclipse another way.

Your local chain

The fastest way to grab eclipse glasses may involve visiting a local store, according to Stephen Ramsden, head of an outreach program called the Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project. Many online orders have been delayed, and a last-minute recall by Amazon has created a hurdle for some hopeful eclipse viewers. [How to Tell If Your Eclipse Glasses Are Unsafe (and What to Do About It)]

Several retail chains are selling eclipse glasses and handheld viewers that meet the ISO requirements for safety. According to the American Astronomical Society’s (AAS) list of approved vendors, some locations of the following stores carry the glasses:

More From Space.com

7-Eleven
Best Buy
Bi-Mart
Casey’s General Store
Circle K
HobbyTown
Kirkland’s
Kroger
London Drugs
Love’s Travel Stops
Lowe’s
Maverik
McDonald’s (Oregon only)
Pilot/Flying J
Toys R Us
Walmart

According to Ramsden, that may be your only option to purchase glasses at this stage.

“If you waited this long for glasses, your only hope, possibly, is your local retail establishment,” he told Space.com.

Local events

In the days leading up to the Great American Solar Eclipse, a number of organizations will open their doors for eclipse-related events. Most will provide eclipse glasses to safely view the event. Contact your local library, museum or observatory to see what it is planning and whether it will provide eclipse glasses. In addition to finding a way to protect your eyes, you might enjoy the organization’s program.

A different direction

If you can’t find eclipse glasses and you’ve given up on finding them, consider an eclipse-viewing alternative. One of the most widely known options is to build a pinhole projector, which requires only a small shoe-box-size box and a few household items. [Build Your Own Solar Eclipse Viewer]

 

According to NASA, however, any object with tiny holes can provide a safe way to watch the eclipse, including a colander or a piece of card stock with a hole. Hold the object over the ground or a piece of paper, and look at the projected shadow to create your own simple eclipse viewer. Note that you should look at the shadow of the object on the ground or paper; do not look at the sun through the object.

You can also turn a pair of binoculars into a projector to watch the eclipse safely. That doesn’t mean directly looking through the binoculars at the sun, which is definitely unsafe. Instead, combine the binoculars with a tripod (or a stack of books), some duct tape and two pieces of white cardboard to create your own safe solar eclipse viewer. See our video on how to do this here .

 

Enjoy the eclipse — safely

Hundreds of millions of people will be in range to observe the Aug. 21 event as either a total or partial eclipse, and if they don’t use safe viewing methods, the results can be literally blinding. Light from the sun can burn your eyeballs, resulting in permanent damage. So if you want to look directly at the sun, it’s critical to use glasses with proper ISO certification, like those from vendors on the AAS list , Ramsden said.

But if you can’t find eclipse glasses, and you don’t want to make your own viewing equipment, you still won’t be out of luck, Ramsden said.

“It’s not a time to panic,” he said. Based on his experience, Ramsden added, if you visit a city with an eclipse viewing party, people will be more than willing to share.

“There will be hundreds of glasses floating around,” he said. “Just go to the event, and share them with someone else.”

Follow Nola Taylor Redd at @NolaTRedd , Facebook , or Google+ . Follow us at @Spacedotcom , Facebook or Google+ . Originally published on Space.com .

Top five worst superstitions about solar eclipses

On August 21, skywatchers in the U.S. will gather to observe a total solar eclipse, a memorable event in which the Moon will gradually cover 100 percent of the Sun.

Thanks to modern science, the reason for an eclipse and its pathway are common knowledge and towns in the eclipse’s path, from South Carolina to Oregon, are preparing for viewing events.

However, this is a far cry from prior superstitions and myths that kept people indoors and cowering in fear as the Sun disappeared.

2017 TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE WILL BE ‘ONE OF THE EVENTS OF THE CENTURY’ 

There are many reasons that cultures responded to an eclipse with fright rather than with celebration. Chief among them was the sentiment that somehow, there was a conflict between the celestial bodies.

Livescience writes that during a 16th-century eclipse, ancient Aztecs reacted to an eclipse in what was described as “tumult and disorder.” The detailed account, taken by the missionary Fray Bernardino de Sahagún, goes on to describe shouting and sacrifices of lighter-skinned people alongside general panic that the Sun might disappear forever, and demons of darkness would come down and eat people.

Time has shown that this panic was unfounded, but myths continue be part of the folklore.

From dangers to pregnant women to colorful flowers, these are the 5 of the top solar eclipse superstitions.

Origins.

It might be hard to picture panic ensuing during an eclipse in modern day North America, but according to Livescience, ancient peoples sought to explain an eclipse the best way they could.

Some cultures believed gods and demons were involved, while others cited dragons. The Shan people, (located in present-day Vietnam) thought it was an evil spirit that took the form of a toad.

Hide your kids! Hide your wife!

It is unclear where this wive’s tale (pardon the pun) originates, but it persists. In the cultures where this myth is believed, women and small children are advised to stay indoors during an eclipse.

According to Space.com, some cultures also believed that children born during an eclipse would turn into mice.

REVEALED: WHAT THE SUN’S OUTER ATMOSPHERE WILL LOOK LIKE DURING THE TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE

Don’t eat that!

In India, some cultures opt to fast during an eclipse. This is done because it is believed that any food cooked during an eclipse is impure, or worse, poisonous.

Plant something.

Italians have long believed that if flowers are planted during an eclipse, they will be more colorful when it’s time to bloom.

Settle your differences.

The Batammaliba of Togo and Benin believe an eclipse happens because the Sun and Moon are fighting one another. In order to get the Sun back, people on Earth are advised to settle their differences and make peace.

According to NASA, the last total solar eclipse taking place over contiguous United States occurred on Feb. 26, 1979.

There will be an annular solar eclipse that will take place on October 14, 2023 and there will be another total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.

Fisherman films great white shark leaping from water, stealing fish off line

Captain Hap Farrell says Saturday’s fishing trip was “nothing special,” but the footage he captured from his boat seems to suggest otherwise.

Farrell, who charters a fishing vessel out of Cape Cod, Mass., took two groups of clients out for fishing expeditions near Orleans, and both of them were thwarted by hungry great white sharks. During the latter trip, one of the sharks even leapt from the water — quite dramatically, too — to snag a striped bass off the fishing line.

‘MONSTER’ CATFISH REELED IN BY CALIFORNIA FISHERMAN

“It’s not an unusual occurrence, but the fact that I had a video camera at the time, I was able to get the shot,” Farrell told The Boston Globe. “You can’t plan something like that.”

Farrell later shared the footage of the day’s events on Facebook, where they’ve been viewed close to 200,000 times as of Tuesday morning.

In the first part of the clip, Farrell explains that one of his clients can be seen reeling in a striped bass when a shark chomps it off the line from underwaterprivacy. At Farrell’s urging, the group proceeds to reel in what’s left of their catch: the head of what was once a “decent”-sized fish.

“He chomped your fish!” said one of the young clients to the woman holding the line.

BALD EAGLE SWIPES SALMON FROM FISHING BOAT

But during Farrell’s second trip of the day, the captain calmly says he “had another surprise,” and this one wasn’t content to hide beneath the surface of the water.

As seen in the latter portion of the clip, Farrell’s charter group is seen sitting on the stern of the boat, reeling in another fish. But just before they can yank it in, a great white breaches from the water, trapping their catch in mid-air before ripping it off the line and disappearing back beneath the water.

“Whoa!” Farrell hollers as the rest of the group jumps backward at the awesome sight.

However, Farrell later revealed to CBS Boston that the trip wasn’t all that noteworthy for a boat captain such as himself.

“Remember I’ve caught sharks before, so it was nothing special for me,” said the fisherman of 37 years.

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK FOR MORE FOX LIFESTYLE NEWS

Furthermore, Farrell says he isn’t all that frightened by his close encounters out on the Cape Cod Bay.

“It’s funny about nature,” he added to CBS Boston. “If you don’t play around with it or act scared of it or anything like that, you can pretty much get along with anything.”

Monster croc the size of an SUV caught in Australia

An image of a monster crocodile caught by Outback Wrangler Matt Wright has gone viral, with some animal lovers criticizing the use of duct tape to bind the animal’s snout shut.

Mr Wright uploaded a snap of the saltie to his Facebook page on Saturday, and it has already attracted more than 4,000 likes and hundreds of shares and comments.

Many people were quick to point out the thick layers of tape covering the croc’s snout and eyes.

Tom Miller estimated it would have taken 10 rolls of duct tape to cover the saltie’s mouth.

“Did you get enough tape on him?” Sally-Jo Famlonga said. “Hope that’s not staying on for too long poor boy.”

Dean Adermann said he could see no reason why the monster was caught in the first place. “Leave the poor animal alone,” he said.

Others were quick to jump to Mr Wright’s defence.

“It’s a crocodile, they’ve been around since the dinosaurs,” Jay Ryan said.

“I’m sure he doesn’t mind a bit of tape on his snout.”

Rebecca De Vries praised the Wrangler’s team for catching the saltie and keeping the community safe.

Andrew Buckley pointed out croc catchers moved on salties so they didn’t pose a threat in populated areas, or risk being shot by people.

“Most times these crocs are being relocated as they have clashed with humans/livestock and so if good people don’t relocate them, some redneck will just shoot it,” he said.

When asked about the photo, Wright’s publicist told Fox News:

“As a crocodile conservationist, one of Matt’s efforts is to help relocate crocs that are in danger of being killed by the property owners,” Wright’s representatives said via email. “In this instance, this particular croc was a major threat to nearby people and livestock and had to be relocated. The crocodile’s safety and welfare is always a priority and this method is the recommended way to secure the crocodile’s snout by Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife.”

This story originally appeared in news.com.au with additional reporting by Fox News. 

Lost Roman city that was home to Jesus’ apostles found, say archaeologists

Experts believe they have found the lost Roman city of Julias, formerly the village of Bethsaida, which was the home of Jesus’ apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip.

Last month, archaeologists from the Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archaeology at Kinneret College, Israel and Nyack College in New York, completed excavations at el-Araj on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. El Araj has long been considered a possible location of ancient Julias, which was also known as Bethsaida.

“The results of this season’s excavation indicate that el-Araj should now be considered a leading candidate for the lost city of Jesus’ Apostles,” explained the excavation team, in a statement emailed to Fox News.

EXPERTS HUNT FOR BIBLICAL TABERNACLE THAT HOUSED THE ARK OF THE COVENANT

“There are indications that we’re excavating Bethsaida-Julia – we have to continue digging to confirm and clarify,” Prof. Steven Notley of Nyack College, the dig’s academic director, told Fox News. “This is really one of the few [biblical sites] that has remained lost.”

The Roman city of Julias was born out of the Jewish fishing village of Bethsaida during the first century A.D, according to the Jewish historian Josephus Flavius. The New Testament describesBethsaida as the home of Jesus’ apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip. Jesus also healed a blind man at Bethsaida, according to Mark 8:22-26, while Luke 9:10-17 describes a nearby location for the feeding of the five thousand people.

While many experts had previously assumed there was no human presence at el-Araj during the Roman period, this summer’s excavations have shed new light on the site. A previously unearthed Byzantine structure, for example, offered plenty of clues to the archaeologists. More than 30 coins found beneath the structure’s floor dated its construction to the 5th century A.D.

DNA DISCOVERY IDENTIFIES LIVING DESCENDANTS OF BIBLICAL CANAANITES

Below the Byzantine era level, however, Roman era pottery dating back to between the 1st and 3rd centuries A.D. was found, along with a bronze coin from the late 2nd century and a silver denarius coin of the Emperor Nero that dates from 65 to 66 A.D.

Some 6.6-feet below the Byzantine floor, a Roman period wall was also discovered. Adjacent to the wall was a large section of black-and-white mosaic floor with mortar, clay bricks and ceramic vents typical of Roman bathhouses.

The archaeologists note that Roman-style baths were uncommon in rural settlements, so their presence at el-Araj indicates an urban site, making it a strong candidate for the city of Julias.

ARCHAEOLOGISTS UNEARTH 2,700-YEAR OLD RESERVOIR IN ISRAEL

Geological research also suggests that the Sea of Galilee, the second lowest lake in the world, was at a lower level than previously thought during the Roman era. Experts had long thought the lake was 686 feet below sea level in Roman times, with the el-Araj site underwater until the Byzantine period centuries later. The Roman wall, however, was discovered at a depth of 692 feet below sea level.

Geologists studying el-Araj found that the site was covered with mud and clay, possibly from flooding of the nearby Jordan river, and abandoned sometime between 250 A.D and 350 A.D. “The Roman layer was buried at a certain period by these sediments derived from the nearby outlets of the Jordan River and Meshushim stream,” explained Prof. Noam Greenbaum of Haifa University, who participated in the excavation. “We hope to deepen and extend our study in the future in order to clarify the full picture.”

The site appears to have been resettled towards the end of the 4th century A.D. during the Byzantine period.

EXPERTS UNCOVER EVIDENCE OF ANCIENT JERUSALEM’S DESTRUCTION BY THE BABYLONIANS

The Byzantine structure at el-Araj also offers a fascinating glimpse into the site’s biblical past. Small gilded glass blocks called tesserae that form part of a mosaic were found, suggesting that the building was once an important church. Archaeologists note that Willibald, the bishop of Eichstatt in Germany, visited the Holy Land in 725 A.D., and describes visiting a church at Bethsaida built over the remains of the house of apostles Peter and Andrew. “It may well be that the current excavations have unearthed evidence for that church,” explained the archaeologists, in their statement.

Other archaeologists have been looking to prove that the nearby site of e-Tell is the location of Bethsaida-Julias.

Excavations at el-Araj will start again in June 2018. “We’re looking right now at trying to do another five seasons,” said Notley.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

NASA Mars rover tour: Batmobile-like concept vehicle aims to inspire next-gen designs

It looks like a Batmobile – and now it’s headed to a city near you.

A NASA Mars rover concept vehicle akin to something out of the caped crusader’s universe is embarking on an educational tour this month aimed to inspire the public about potential manned-missions on the Red Planet.

“Experts believe the first person to step foot on Mars is already born,” Rebecca Shireman, assistant manager of public relations for the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, told Fox News.

The 5,000-pound solar and battery-powered vehicle will be on display in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Jersey City and New York City. It is made of aluminum ad carbon-fiber and can split in two pieces, with one half being a laboratory and the other being used for scouting purposes.

It was designed by SeaDek and Parker Brothers Concepts with the help of NASA Subject Matter experts and a former astronaut. The vision was to create a vehicle that would be “as realistic as possible given the challenges of traveling on Mars,” Shireman said.

One feature on the vehicle, Shireman said, are wheels designed to let the sands of Mars slip through.

The rover will not actually touch down on Mars and parts of it were built only for appearance, but NASA hopes some of its characteristics could be incorporated into future designs.

“We would love for [the public] to be inspired to be part of the next generation of space explorers, whether that is as an astronaut or engineer or any other type of person that would be working on or with this journey to Mars,” Shireman told Fox News.

The rover will return to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida after the tour to be featured in a new exhibit opening this fall.

NASA said their next robotic rover will land on Mars in 2020 to search for signs of past life and collect geological samples.

The space agency’s Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars in 2012, is currently beaming pictures of the Red Planet back to Earth with the help of artificial intelligence that helps it pick its targets.