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There are a lot of countries that I have not seen but this place is one I would love to visit just to see the Northern Lights, I have seen them in Scotland years ago but nothing like this, stunning and it makes me shiver just looking at this photo.

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Nordic Islands are seen in their 'surreal light'

Stefan Forster has made more than 80 trips to Greenland, Iceland, Norway and the Faroe Islands, capturing some of the beauty of the Nordic landscapes.

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7 hours ago, CaaC (John) said:

There are a lot of countries that I have not seen but this place is one I would love to visit just to see the Northern Lights, I have seen them in Scotland years ago but nothing like this, stunning and it makes me shiver just looking at this photo.

Quote.thumb.png.8eaa9877ae990c14e103dbc4aeec6b92.png

Nordic Islands are seen in their 'surreal light'

Stefan Forster has made more than 80 trips to Greenland, Iceland, Norway and the Faroe Islands, capturing some of the beauty of the Nordic landscapes.

Nordic.thumb.png.23bec4bbdf9493c3af6efc82d54e7e64.png

FULL REPORT AND MORE PHOTOS

 

I think that is one of those cases where seeing it in reality is completely different from what they look like in the photos. I'm sure it's still a nice experience, but you'd be disappointed if you expected colours like that; they are extremely exaggerated in the pictures...

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13 hours ago, nudge said:

I think that is one of those cases where seeing it in reality is completely different from what they look like in the photos. I'm sure it's still a nice experience, but you'd be disappointed if you expected colours like that; they are extremely exaggerated in the pictures...

Aye, I know that but I would still like to travel there and witness their northern lights, I bet they are far better than the ones I saw in Scotland. 

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Majestic mountains around the world

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I love this one amongst the lot.  :x

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6/54

Australia's highest peak is located in Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales. It was named after Polish patriot and statesman Tadeusz Kościuszko.

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@nudge  @Bluewolf @Mel81x and any other of the Star Wars Clan  xD

 

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'Darth Vader' enforces lockdown in Philippine village

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MANILA (Reuters) - Dressed as "Star Wars" characters, local officials in the Philippines are out and about to enforce strict quarantine measures while also handing out relief packages.

With Darth Vader and Stormtrooper outfits made from rubber mats and old plastic, the youth leaders catch the attention of villagers on the outskirts of Manila, who are then reminded to stay indoors.

"We tell off residents who still go outdoors without the proper quarantine passes needed and also those who do not wear face masks. We make sure the government guidelines are properly followed," Muriel Baldago, an elected official dressed in a Stormtrooper costume, told Reuters.

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His get-up is greeted with smiles and offers villagers a little distraction from the outbreak, he added.

On May 4, also known as "Star Wars" Day and celebrated worldwide by fans of the franchise, government workers in costume also rode small wooden boats to distribute relief packs containing rice and canned goods in a nearby coastal neighbourhood.

The Philippines, whose capital and main cities are under strict quarantine protocols until mid-May, has recorded 9,485 confirmed coronavirus cases, 623 deaths and 1,315 recoveries as of Monday, government figures showed.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/offbeat/darth-vader-enforces-lockdown-in-philippine-village/ar-BB13F7lA#image=2

 

 

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Good guy Vader. 

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Supermoon lights up night skies around the world

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Skywatchers around the world have enjoyed stunning views of this month's Supermoon when the Moon appears larger and brighter.

The phenomenon happens when the celestial satellite reaches its closest point to Earth - known as a perigee - and is on the opposite side of Earth to the sun.

This month's supermoon - the third and final one of the year - is known as the Flower Moon because of its occurrence in Spring

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Canada: DNA discovery lends weight to the First Nations ancestral story

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When a woman named Shanawdithit succumbed to tuberculosis in Newfoundland nearly 200 years ago, it was widely believed that her death marked a tragic end to her people’s existence.

For centuries, the Beothuk had thrived along the rocky shores of the island, taking on a near-mythical status as descendants of the first people encountered by Norse explorers in what is now Canada. But their population was devastated by decades of starvation and diseases, and when she died in 1829, Shanawdithit was believed to be the last of her line.

New research from Memorial University, however, has found Beothuk DNA probably still exists in people alive today – a discovery that would rewrite the history of the Newfoundland’s early inhabitants, even as it confirms the accuracy of local First Nations oral tradition.

“We’ve got good evidence that we have genetic continuity from the Beothic into modern persons,” said biologist Dr Steve Carr.

But while the finding would trigger a rethink for historians, the notion is not surprising to local Indigenous groups.

Mi’kmaq oral history has long asserted a shared ancestry with the original inhabitants of Newfoundland, and local First Nations have worked closely with Carr to help lend genetic evidence to their own traditions.

“There were always connections or friendly relations going back more than 200 years ago and when you mingle that way, periodically, things would happen,” said Chief Mi’sel Joe of the Miawpukek Mi’kamawey Mawi’omi, a Mi’kmaq First Nation in Newfoundland.

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© Provided by The Guardian A miniature portrait titled ‘A female Red Indian of Newfoundland’ which is believed to be a portrait of Shanawdithit, though may possibly be a copy of a portrait of Demasduit. Photograph: The Picture Art Collection/Alamy Stock Photo

Historians believe the Beothuk are descended from a group that braved the ocean to cross from Labrador to Newfoundland thousands of years ago and whose distinct culture emerged around 1500 CE. At one point, as many as 2,000 Beothuk lived in communities scattered around Newfoundland.

For generations, they largely resisted and avoided relations with European settlers; the few interactions between the two were defined by violent encounters.

Early European settlements on the coast cut off Beothuk access to critical salmon and seals – forcing them to move further inland where they sustained themselves on caribou before finally succumbing to starvation and disease.

But Carr’s research suggests it was only a “cultural extinction”; their genetic legacy lives on.

In his study, Carr used DNA samples from Shanawdithit’s aunt and uncle – Demasduit and Nonosbawsut – whose skulls were taken to the Royal Museum in Scotland in 1828. After a long campaign by Chief Joe’s community, the remains were repatriated to Newfoundland in March.

After running samples through a genetics database, Carr was able to find his “smoking gun” – a man in Tennessee who was genetically similar to Nonosbawsut but had no known Indigenous ancestry.

With is only a small amount of data to work with, Carr hopes more samples will further demonstrate a connection.

“It’s easy to obtain the DNA sequence from somebody and you can count the number of similarities. That’s a very easy thing to do. But to reconstruct the patterns of a relationship is a very challenging problem,” said Carr, adding that further research into the known movement and connections between the Beothuk and Mi’maq was still required.

The findings also illustrate the way in which genetic uniqueness – in this case, the distinct sequence of Beothuk mitochondrial genomes – can persist intact for generations. While humans share an immense amount of DNA that traces back millennia, said Carr, the intent of his research lay in teasing out the subtle and distinguishing differences between known groups.

For years, academia has ignored the oral histories of Indigenous peoples, said Chief Joe.

“Academics are hard people to convince. They often have this mindset that ‘this the way it was’ – no matter what information we give them to the contrary,” he said.

He described a frustrating experience in a land claims court, where the adjudicator suggested the Mi’kmaq first arrived in Newfoundland in the 1700s.

“But we have an oral history of British sailors meeting our people and asking for directions. We drew them a map on birch bark. If this is the first time we had ever been on the land, how could we draw a map?” said Joe.

“It’s convenient for the government, for everyone, to ignore people who had no written history”

The community is excited to keep working with Carr on further testing, said Joe, to further strengthen the evidence of shared ancestry.

“This is a big thing for us,” he said. “But it all comes from something we already knew.”

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/offbeat/canada-dna-discovery-lends-weight-to-first-nations-ancestral-story/ar-BB13ROos

 

 

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Athens hotel ordered to demolish top floors blocking Acropolis view

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A battle over the right to enjoy uninterrupted views of the Acropolis has resulted in a five-star hotel being ordered to demolish its top two floors, in a landmark ruling hailed by residents of Athens.

Owned by Coco-Mat, the Greece-based mattress maker, the hotel — whose “breathtaking terrace” had been its selling point — opened its doors barely a year ago. Citizens enraged about the ten-storey establishment blocking their own views of the citadel took the case to the highest court in the land.

“It was a very brave decision,” said Athens mayor Kostas Bakoyannis of the ruling by Greece’s Central Archaeological Council (KAS), the country’s top advisory body on the preservation of ancient antiquities. “The Acropolis is our heart and our soul, an essential part of our cultural heritage. It’s very important that everyone can enjoy it.”

Campaigners are on a roll. This decision follows more than a year of protests against “mammoth” high rises being erected in neighbourhoods at the sharp end of tourism beneath the fifth century BC site.

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NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Ancient Tap O' Noth hillfort in Aberdeenshire one of 'largest ever'

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A hillfort in Aberdeenshire is one of the largest ancient settlements ever discovered in Scotland, researchers have said.

University of Aberdeen archaeologists say 4,000 people may have lived in more than 800 huts perched high on the Tap O' Noth near Rhynie.

Many had thought it dated from the Bronze or Iron Age.

The team said carbon dating suggested it was likely to be Pictish, dating back as far as the third century AD.

They believe at its height it may have rivalled the largest known post-Roman settlements in Europe.

Archaeologists from the university have conducted extensive fieldwork in the surrounding area since 2011.

Prof Gordon Noble, who led the research, described the discovery that activity at the site extended into the Pictish period as the most surprising of his career.

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"I was absolutely stunned when I read the results," he said.

'Truly mind-blowing'

"We took samples from the site really just to begin placing the important discoveries we have made at Rhynie over the last few years in a broader geographical context. The results of the dating were simply incredible.

"The Tap O' Noth discovery shakes the narrative of this whole time period. If each of the huts we identified had four or five people living in them then that means there was a population of upwards of 4,000 people living on the hill.

"It is truly mind-blowing and demonstrates just how much we still have to learn about settlement around the time that the early kingdoms of Pictland were being consolidated."

Aberdeenshire Council leader Jim Gifford said: "This find of historic importance will be of huge significance.

"I am hopeful that once restrictions start to be lifted, and of course when it is safe to do so, visitors from far and wide will flock to Aberdeenshire to explore this find."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-52660032

 

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South Scotland

Celebrating Scotland and Italy's links in lockdown

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A celebration of the long-established links between Scotland and Italy is being held online.

Images from across the country and throughout the decades are being shared as part of the project.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said the scheme started out as school engagement work.

Traces of Italian Scots heritage in their archives inspired a combined creative learning project in early 2020 called Removed.

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The English towers and landmarks that inspired Tolkien's hobbit sagas

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© Photograph: keenbean/Alamy Garth believes Faringdon Folly inspired Saruman’s dark tower in the Lord of the Rings.

Readers of The Lord of the Rings must surely imagine lifting their eyes in terror before Saruman’s dark tower, known as Orthanc. Over the years, many admirers of the Middle-earth sagas have guessed at the inspiration for this and other striking features of the landscape created by JRR Tolkien.

Now an extensive new study of the author’s work is to reveal the likely sources of key scenes. The idea for Saruman’s nightmarish tower, argues leading Tolkien expert John Garth, was prompted by Faringdon Folly in Berkshire.

“I have concentrated on the places that inspired Tolkien and though that may seem a trivial subject, I hope I have brought some rigour to it,” said Garth this weekend. “I have a fascination for the workings of the creative process and in finding those moments of creative epiphany for a genius like Tolkien.”

A close study of the author’s life, his travels and his teaching papers have

led Garth to a fresh understanding of an allegory that Tolkien regularly called upon while giving lectures in Old English poetry at Oxford in the 1930s.

Comparing mysteries of bygone poetry to an ancient tower, the don would talk of the impossibility of understanding exactly why something was once built. “I have found an interesting connection in his work with the folly in Berkshire, a nonsensical tower that caused a big planning row,” Garth explains. While researching his book he realised the controversy raging outside the university city over the building would have been familiar to Tolkien.

Tolkien began to work this story into his developing Middle-earth fiction, finally planting rival edifices on the Tower Hills on the west of his imaginary “Shire” and also drawing on memories of other real towers that stand in the Cotswolds and above Bath. “Faringdon Folly isn’t a complete physical model for Orthanc,” said Garth. “It’s the controversy surrounding its building that filtered into Tolkien’s writings and can be traced all the way to echoes in the scene where Gandalf is held captive in Saruman’s tower.”

Garth’s book, The Worlds of JRR Tolkien, is published next month by Frances Lincoln and is to be translated into nine languages. It will argue that many assumptions previously made about the origins of scenes from the sagas are wrong.

“We have a good idea of when Tolkien was writing each bit, but he kept his cards pretty close to his chest when it comes to his creative process. I think it has been misleading just to visit places he went to and draw simple conclusions,” said Garth. He is unconvinced by a prior claim that The Two Towers in the title of the second book of Lord of the Rings were influenced by buildings in Birmingham, including Perrotts Folly in Edgbaston.

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© Provided by The Guardian Maiden Castle earthworks in Dorset may have inspired the Barrow-downs. Photograph: Arcaid Images/Alamy

One of Garth’s key discoveries concerns an ancient battlescape that reappears across Tolkien’s writing. It has its basis in the large earthworks at Maiden Castle in Dorset, he now believes, and is best known to readers in the shape of the contours of the atmospheric Barrow-downs in Lord of the Rings.

“It is a former place of a battle with tombs, dating from a ‘deep time’; the place where the Barrow-wights captures the hobbits when they need to be released from his power,” said Garth. “Tolkien does the scene beautifully. It is one of his real talents as a writer.”

In the year before Tolkien wrote this passage, major excavations in Maiden Castle had been chronicled in a newspaper column of archaeological highlights written by his friend REM Wheeler. “Wheeler, who invented ‘stratigraphy’, the study of archaeological layers, was a great populariser,” said Garth. “The excavations in Dorset were given an awful lot of space and I am pretty confident that Tolkien read it, especially as he knew Wheeler. At the time, though, Tolkien still didn’t have a clue where he was going with his story. He… liked the setting of a place of former battles.”

The significance of Warwick and Warwick Castle in the genesis of the Middle-earth books has also become clearer to Garth. Tolkien travelled there on romantic breaks with Edith Bratt, his future wife, and his love of the trees of the area and of a particular hill can be closely linked now to the Elven forests that his fans later came to love.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/offbeat/the-english-towers-and-landmarks-that-inspired-tolkiens-hobbit-sagas/ar-BB14v6ty

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