Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Lunar eclipse


In order to verify if the full moon is associated with sleep and activity behaviors, we used a 12-country study providing 33,710 24-h accelerometer recordings of sleep and activity. The present observational, cross-sectional study included 5812 children ages 9-11 years from study sites that represented all inhabited continents and wide ranges of human development (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Finland, India, Kenya, Portugal, South Africa, United Kingdom, and United States). Three moon phases were used in this analysis: full moon (±4 days; reference), half moon (±5-9 days), and new moon (±10-14 days) from nearest full moon. Nocturnal sleep duration, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), light-intensity physical activity (LPA), and total sedentary time (SED) were monitored over seven consecutive days using a waist-worn accelerometer worn 24 h a day. Only sleep duration was found to significantly differ between moon phases (~5 min/night shorter during full moon compared to new moon). Differences in MVPA, LPA, and SED between moon phases were negligible and non-significant (<2 min/day difference). There was no difference in the associations between study sites. In conclusion, sleep duration was 1% shorter at full moon compared to new moon, while activity behaviors were not significantly associated with the lunar cycle in this global sample of children. Whether this seemingly minimal difference is clinically meaningful is questionable.

Concepts: Moon, Lunar eclipse, Lunar phase, Month, Full moon, Orbit of the Moon, New moon, Lunar calendar


Studies indicate that a fraction of nursing professionals believe in a “lunar effect”-a purported correlation between the phases of the Earth’s moon and human affairs, such as birth rates, blood loss, or fertility.

Concepts: Earth, Moon, Dwarf planet, Lunar eclipse, Natural satellite, Ecliptic


The National Eclipse Weather Experiment (NEWEx) was a citizen science project designed to assess the effects of the 20 March 2015 partial solar eclipse on the weather over the United Kingdom (UK). NEWEx had two principal objectives: to provide a spatial network of meteorological observations across the UK to aid the investigation of eclipse-induced weather changes, and to develop a nationwide public engagement activity-based participation of citizen scientists. In total, NEWEx collected 15 606 observations of air temperature, cloudiness and wind speed and direction from 309 locations across the UK, over a 3 h window spanning the eclipse period. The headline results were processed in near real time, immediately published online, and featured in UK national press articles on the day of the eclipse. Here, we describe the technical development of NEWEx and how the observations provided by the citizen scientists were analysed. By comparing the results of the NEWEx analyses with results from other investigations of the same eclipse using different observational networks, including measurements from the University of Reading’s Atmospheric Observatory, we demonstrate that NEWEx provided a fair representation of the change in the UK meteorological conditions throughout the eclipse. Despite the simplicity of the approach adopted, robust reductions in both temperature and wind speed during the eclipse were observed.This article is part of the themed issue ‘Atmospheric effects of solar eclipses stimulated by the 2015 UK eclipse’.

Concepts: Earth, Sun, United Kingdom, Lunar eclipse, Meteorology, Wind, Eclipse, Solar eclipse


This study aimed to verify the hypothesis that the lunar cycle influences the number of pediatric psychiatric emergency department (ED) visits.

Concepts: Moon, Lunar eclipse, Lunar phase, Month, Full moon, Orbit of the Moon, Lunar calendar


Internal gravity waves are generated as adjustment radiation whenever a sudden change in forcing causes the atmosphere to depart from its large-scale balanced state. Such a forcing anomaly occurs during a solar eclipse, when the Moon’s shadow cools part of the Earth’s surface. The resulting atmospheric gravity waves are associated with pressure and temperature perturbations, which in principle are detectable both at the surface and aloft. In this study, surface pressure and temperature data from two UK sites at Reading and Lerwick are examined for eclipse-driven gravity wave perturbations during the 20 March 2015 solar eclipse over northwest Europe. Radiosonde wind data from the same two sites are also analysed using a moving parcel analysis method, to determine the periodicities of the waves aloft. On this occasion, the perturbations both at the surface and aloft are found not to be confidently attributable to eclipse-driven gravity waves. We conclude that the complex synoptic weather conditions over the UK at the time of this particular eclipse helped to mask any eclipse-driven gravity waves.This article is part of the themed issue ‘Atmospheric effects of solar eclipses stimulated by the 2015 UK eclipse’.

Concepts: Earth, Moon, Lunar eclipse, Eclipse, Ecliptic, Gravity wave, Solar eclipse, Saros cycle


Popular beliefs about the influence of the full moon on humans exist, although no solid evidence has so far confirmed these ideas [1]. Cajochen et al.[2] recently presented fascinating data on lunar cycle effects on human sleep. However, in a re-analysis of sleep electroencephalography (EEG) data in three large samples, we were unable to replicate their findings. In addition, we identified further mostly unpublished null findings, suggesting that the conflicting results might be an example of a publication bias (i.e., the file drawer problem).

Concepts: Critical thinking, Sleep, Moon, Electroencephalography, Lunar eclipse, Lunar phase, Month, Orbit of the Moon


According to the most widely accepted theory of lunar origin, a giant impact on the Earth led to the formation of the Moon, and also initiated the final stage of the formation of the Earth’s core. Core formation should have removed the highly siderophile elements (HSE) from Earth’s primitive mantle (that is, the bulk silicate Earth), yet HSE abundances are higher than expected. One explanation for this overabundance is that a ‘late veneer’ of primitive material was added to the bulk silicate Earth after the core formed. To test this hypothesis, tungsten isotopes are useful for two reasons: first, because the late veneer material had a different (182)W/(184)W ratio to that of the bulk silicate Earth, and second, proportionally more material was added to the Earth than to the Moon. Thus, if a late veneer did occur, the bulk silicate Earth and the Moon must have different (182)W/(184)W ratios. Moreover, the Moon-forming impact would also have created (182)W differences because the mantle and core material of the impactor with distinct (182)W/(184)W would have mixed with the proto-Earth during the giant impact. However the (182)W/(184)W of the Moon has not been determined precisely enough to identify signatures of a late veneer or the giant impact. Here, using more-precise measurement techniques, we show that the Moon exhibits a (182)W excess of 27 ± 4 parts per million over the present-day bulk silicate Earth. This excess is consistent with the expected (182)W difference resulting from a late veneer with a total mass and composition inferred from HSE systematics. Thus, our data independently show that HSE abundances in the bulk silicate Earth were established after the giant impact and core formation, as predicted by the late veneer hypothesis. But, unexpectedly, we find that before the late veneer, no (182)W anomaly existed between the bulk silicate Earth and the Moon, even though one should have arisen through the giant impact. The origin of the homogeneous (182)W of the pre-late-veneer bulk silicate Earth and the Moon is enigmatic and constitutes a challenge to current models of lunar origin.

Concepts: Oxygen, Earth, Solar System, Moon, Lunar eclipse, Crust, Giant impact hypothesis, Outer core


The Earth formed by accretion of Moon- to Mars-size embryos coming from various heliocentric distances. The isotopic nature of these bodies is unknown. However, taking meteorites as a guide, most models assume that the Earth must have formed from a heterogeneous assortment of embryos with distinct isotopic compositions. High-precision measurements, however, show that the Earth, the Moon and enstatite meteorites have almost indistinguishable isotopic compositions. Models have been proposed that reconcile the Earth-Moon similarity with the inferred heterogeneous nature of Earth-forming material, but these models either require specific geometries for the Moon-forming impact or can explain only one aspect of the Earth-Moon similarity (that is, (17)O). Here I show that elements with distinct affinities for metal can be used to decipher the isotopic nature of the Earth’s accreting material through time. I find that the mantle signatures of lithophile O, Ca, Ti and Nd, moderately siderophile Cr, Ni and Mo, and highly siderophile Ru record different stages of the Earth’s accretion; yet all those elements point to material that was isotopically most similar to enstatite meteorites. This isotopic similarity indicates that the material accreted by the Earth always comprised a large fraction of enstatite-type impactors (about half were E-type in the first 60 per cent of the accretion and all of the impactors were E-type after that). Accordingly, the giant impactor that formed the Moon probably had an isotopic composition similar to that of the Earth, hence relaxing the constraints on models of lunar formation. Enstatite meteorites and the Earth were formed from the same isotopic reservoir but they diverged in their chemical evolution owing to subsequent fractionation by nebular and planetary processes.

Concepts: Earth, Sun, Mars, Moon, Chemical element, Lunar eclipse, Universe, Natural satellite


Solar eclipses provide unique possibilities to investigate atmospheric processes, such as new particle formation (NPF), important to the global aerosol load and radiative balance. The temporary absence of solar radiation gives particular insight into different oxidation and clustering processes leading to NPF. This is crucial because our mechanistic understanding on how NPF is related to photochemistry is still rather limited. During a partial solar eclipse over Finland in 2015, we found that this phenomenon had prominent effects on atmospheric on-going NPF. During the eclipse, the sources of aerosol precursor gases, such as sulphuric acid and nitrogen- containing highly oxidised organic compounds, decreased considerably, which was followed by a reduced formation of small clusters and nanoparticles and thus termination of NPF. After the eclipse, aerosol precursor molecule concentrations recovered and re-initiated NPF. Our results provide direct evidence on the key role of the photochemical production of sulphuric acid and highly oxidized organic compounds in maintaining atmospheric NPF. Our results also explain the rare occurrence of this phenomenon under dark conditions, as well as its seemingly weak connection with atmospheric ions.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Carbon dioxide, Earth, Hydrogen, Carbon, Lunar eclipse, Eclipse, Solar eclipse


The aim of this study was to evaluate if there is a significant effect of lunar phases on subjective and objective sleep variables in the general population.

Concepts: Earth, Moon, Lunar eclipse, Lunar phase