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July 31, 1988
Tom Hanscom, whom you describe in the June 27 Footnotes column as "a guy who's handling a tough PR problem at the San Diego Wild Animal Park," is really going to know what a tough public relations problem is when his colleagues learn of his unfortunate "tongue-in-cheek" remark that "Being an astute and long-practicing liar, I've found my natural place in public relations." As a veteran of 26 years as a professional public relations counselor and as a past president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, I consider his attempt at humor to be ill-advised and insulting to those of us who practice ethically and who don't lie, or need to lie, to perform our function of relaying information from a client or employer to the public through the media.
June 1, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
A lunar mystery that has lingered for decades has finally been solved, thanks to data collected by NASA's GRAIL mission and some science detectives here on Earth. Back in 1968, JPL scientists made an irritating discovery while preparing for the Apollo landing: Lurking beneath the lunar surface were invisible and large concentrations of mass that the scientists dubbed "mascons. " The scientists couldn't see them, but the spacecraft could feel them. The gravitational pull where there  were mascons was significantly stronger than on other parts of the moon, and the difference was powerful enough to push a spacecraft in lunar orbit off course -- potentially leading to a crash.
July 21, 2011
NASA fans distraught over the end of the space shuttle program may find a bit of solace in the presentation "Apollo 15 + 40 Years: Serious Science on the Moon," which chronicles the fourth manned lunar landing, in 1971, through video and photographs. John Drescher Planetarium, Santa Monica College, 1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. 8 p.m. Fri. $5 general admission, $4 seniors and children. (310) 434-3005.
August 30, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
Looking for a Labor Day sky-watching plan? Keep your eye out for Jupiter.  The giant gaseous planet will be the second-brightest body in the sky, after the moon, this weekend, and you won't be able to miss it, according to The bummer for late-night partiers is that the best view of the planet will be early in the morning, some time around dawn. But early risers will have a front-row seat to the show. At 6 a.m. on Saturday morning, look low in the sky to the East to find Jupiter right next to a thin crescent moon.
December 2, 2013 | By Amina Khan
Welcome to the lunar club, China. A rocket carrying a moon rover blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province, southwestern China at 1:30 a.m. local time Monday (9:30 a.m. Sunday Pacific time). The mission, called Chang'e 3, will be the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on the moon since 1976, when the Soviet Union sent up a sample-collecting mission called Luna 24. Chang'e 3 follows two other Chinese lunar missions: Orbiter Chang'e 1 launched in 2007 to take a map of the entire lunar surface, and Chang'e 2 blasted off in 2010 to check out the moon before traveling to other points of interest in space.
April 14, 2014 | By Alicia Banks and Rong-Gong Lin II
With just a few hours left before the the first total eclipse of 2014, the Griffith Observatory is bracing for big crowds tonight and is warning of possible traffic jams for the "blood moon. " "We are expecting large crowds," the observatory said in a statement. "Those attending should expect traffic congestion and long walks from parking. " The observatory will be open to visitors, who can look up at the eclipse either from the building itself or from the grass and sidewalk areas.
August 1, 2013 | By Amina Khan
Enceladus, the icy moon that circles Saturn and shoots out jets of water, emits a much larger amount of water at the farthest point in its orbit, according to a new study published in the journal Nature. The discovery backs up a years-old theory and provides the researchers with fresh insight into this geophysically intriguing body. Enceladus, named after one of the giant children of mother Earth in Greek mythology, has long intrigued planetary scientists (as well as astrobiologists wondering if primitive life could exist in extreme environments)
September 11, 2011 | By Scott Gold, Los Angeles Times
Shaking off a two-day delay that began with swirling winds on the coast of Florida, NASA launched its GRAIL mission to the moon Saturday, seeking a greater understanding of Earth's nearest neighbor through a promising dual-spacecraft technology. The Delta II rocket carrying the paired washing-machine-sized craft that make up the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory lifted off into a blue sky from Cape Canaveral, Fla., at 9:08 a.m. About 90 minutes later, NASA confirmed that GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B had separated from the rocket, unfurled their solar panels and begun a 31/2-month trip to the moon.
October 8, 2009 | John Johnson Jr.
In the predawn hours Friday, while those on the West Coast still snooze, a rocket is scheduled to punch a 13-foot-deep hole in a crater at the moon's south pole that hasn't seen sunlight in billions of years. The purpose: to find out whether ice lies hidden there. NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, which set out for the moon in June, made a late-course correction Tuesday to better position itself to steer the rocket into the 2-mile-deep crater Cabeus at 4:30 a.m. PDT on Friday.
April 7, 2014 | By Deborah Netburn, This post has been updated. See the note below for details.
Mark your calendars, sky watchers: In one week a total lunar eclipse will turn the moon an eerie shade of red. On April 14, at 10:58 p.m. PDT, the moon will move into Earth's shadow. The full lunar eclipse -- when the entirety of the moon is shaded by Earth -- begins just over an hour later at 12:07 a.m. and lasts until 1:25 a.m. PDT.  [Updated, 11:13 a.m. PDT April 7:  The eclipse will be visible across almost the entire continental United States, most of Canada and Central America and parts of South America.
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