Music Makeover: Smithsonian Folkways is offering free music downloads from three upcoming releases or reissues. One track each from Elizabeth Mitchell's new kid-friendly album Sunny Day and a reissue of bluegrass singer Ola Belle Reed's music called Rising Sun Melodies are available on the Folkways Web site. Two old-time versions of the song "We Shall Walk Through the Streets of the City" are also available from the forthcoming Classic Sounds of New Orleans, the 19th release in the Smithsonian Folkways Classics series.
Shark Week: Shark bites, shark tracking, shark waters, great white sharks, reef sharks, hammerhead sharks ... all of these and much more are a part of the Discovery Channel's popular Shark Week, which began on Sunday and runs through this week. The Ocean Portal blog has posted links to a few resources you can use to educate yourself on these intriguing creatures before diving into all the Discovery Channel has in store.
If You've Never Seen an Aurora... This may be your chance. On August 1, the sun blasted tons of plasma into space. It looks as though that plasma is headed our way, and when it enters Earth's magnetic field—today and possibly Thursday—it has the potential to create a visually stunning light show. The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has posted the expected schedule of possible aurora-viewing opportunities, and they will have updates as the plasma moves closer.
North Pole Cancellation Stamps: 52 years ago yesterday, the U.S.S. Nautilus—the first United States nuclear-powered submarine—made the first-ever journey to the geographic North Pole by traversing the Arctic Ocean and navigating the harrowing polar ice cap. This trip, which left out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was the second attempt by the Nautilus after a failed attempt earlier that year. In anticipation of their success, members of the crew made their own cancellation stamp and cachet stamp depicting the planting of a flag in the North Pole. The Pushing the Envelope blog features images of these stamps and the crew members who fashioned them.
Beards of Note: I like a great beard just as much as the next person. Jennifer Snyder at the Archives of American Art continues to blog about extraordinary examples of facial hair through history. This week's "beard of note" belongs to painter William Morris Hunt, renowned for his 19th century landscapes and portraits. The post also links to previous beards—and mustaches—of note so you can check out all the facial hair you've been missing.